Landon, Backcountry Ambassador
I love snowshoeing. Any day outside in the snow is a good day. However, getting snowshoeing newbies outside is even more gratifying and exciting than going it alone. Being able to share my love of snowshoeing with first-timers is a total blast, but making sure your newbie friends have a good time is important so you can get them hooked straight from the start.
A couple of weeks ago I took my sister and her husband out for their first time snowshoeing. They honestly had no idea what to expect. My brother-in-law actually said he was somewhat expecting to be using the old-school wooden snowshoes. That wasn’t the case and he was excited to borrow a pair of my Tubbs FLEX VRT’s. I made sure they had the proper gear and the right terrain for their first time.
I have a few pairs of snowshoes so they were able to borrow some extra pairs I have which made things easy. If you plan taking out some friends and don’t have extra pairs don’t fret, rentals are easy to find and especially cheap. If you live close to a university, check there first. Many colleges have outdoor programs that include gear rentals at a very low cost, even for non-students. Once I got my sister, Avery, and my brother-in-law, Trever, set up in my extra Tubbs Snowshoes they were excited, but we weren’t quite ready to rock.
Those new to the outdoors, especially winter sports likely don’t have much in the way of proper clothing; baselayers, midlayers and outerwear. For this reason we picked a day that the weather was projected to be mild and nice. This meant nobody needed baselayers or special outerwear. It was partly cloudy with temps just below 40 degrees. This meant that when Trever showed up in jeans it wasn’t a big deal. I brought along some of my extra jackets, gloves, gaiters and other items to supplement any lack in gear to make the day more enjoyable. While proper gear makes a trip more enjoyable even cotton and jeans are okay on a nice day (I know, I hate cotton, but it works if the conditions are mild). The key here is to make sure your newbie friends have clothing that will keep them warm and comfortable, so picking a nice day for those that don’t have the best apparel is a good idea.
I love lots of climbing and difficult terrain when I’m out snowshoeing, but this is much less suitable for a snowshoeing newbie even if they are in great shape to begin with. With this in mind we chose a snowshoe/cross country ski park with marked trails and relatively little elevation gain. We ended up snowshoeing down from the park center about 3 miles to the same park’s main downhill Ski Resort where we just caught a bus back to where we hard parked. This made for an easy day in fresh snow with beautiful views; a perfect trip for a snowshoeing newbie.
Our route started us out around a beautiful frozen lake into a dark forest of pine trees. I took Avery and Trever up a steep incline to show a few features of their Tubbs Snowshoes, namely the heel lift and extremely awesome traction of the FLEX series. After the short climb we scampered back down onto the trail where we meandered around the lake then into the forest again as the cloudy skies began to open up to a warm and sunny afternoon. They were both impressed with how easy walking and hiking in snowshoes was. The both commented multiple times how easy and fun it was; music to my ears!
After taking advantage of the bus system back to our cars we grabbed some lunch together, which is always the best way to end an adventure.
Since that trip a couple of weeks ago Avery and Trever have both mentioned a few times how much they enjoyed it and we have made plans to go again on a little more aggressive terrain. I have seen the results of trying too much with a newbie and it usually results in turning the excitement of a new sport into a decision not to do it again. Take your time with your snowshoeing newbie friends and introduce them into the sports slowly and at their pace. Doing so will ensure that they have a great time and want to come back for more. In doing so you will create a forever snowshoe buddy.