Can I ask a dumb question? Does it really take a clinic to snowshoe? It’s pretty much just walking, right?

Answer: Snowshoeing’s not that simple if you really want to be serious about it.
Snowshoeing can be a pain with the wrong gear.

I started out with a giant pair of old Alaskan-style snowshoes with leather laces and split-ash frames and the most difficult binding south of the North Pole.

Snowshoes have come a long way since then and I have a backcountry pair I love.

First, you’ve got to decide what type of snowshoeing you’re going to get into.

If you’re just going to hit a few groomed trails or snow-packed roads, you can probably get by with recreational snowshoes. They are going to be lightweight, not too expensive and have a binding that’s easy to operate.

If you’re going to go off-trail exploring in the backcountry, you are going to want something a little more beefy so you can climb steep terrain. Generally, off-trail snowshoes and bindings will be a little more stout to handle the rigors of bushwhacking in powder.

If you are getting into backcountry touring, you’ll also want snowshoes that will give you the flotation that you need in powder.

You’ll also have to take into consideration how much weight you’ll be carrying when you choose the size of the snowshoe.

Say you’re going to be carrying a daypack full of gear and your snowboard to get some great backcountry powder turns. Your snowshoes need to handle the weight.

You might just want to run on the trail. Yes, there are fitness snowshoes for getting a workout on a packed, snow-covered road or groomed trail. They are lighter and smaller, but don’t try to get off-trail with a pack. You’ll sink and find hiking pretty difficult.

There also are different styles of snowshoes for women.

Snowshoe experts recommend getting the smallest size of snowshoe that will support your weight in the type of snow you will be trekking. You might rent a few times to get a feel for what style you want.

Snowshoe clinics also are valuable because you’ll learn about places to go.

There’s no sense in trekking off the road somewhere and getting up a steep, blind, brushy canyon that will ruin the outing for you and your family.

There are snowshoe clinics detailing this and more information you may find helpful. Keep a lookout for them.