Adventures in snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a wintertime activity that can be enjoyable and healthy for all ages.

Enthusiasts say that snowshoeing is truly an activity that anyone can enjoy — from children to seniors. As long as a person is able to walk, he or she can also try snowshoeing. According to research provided by Snowsports Industries America, 40.8 percent of snowshoers are women, 9.4 percent of snowshoers are children (ages 7 to 11), and 44.2 percent of snowshoers are between the ages of 25 to 44.

There are a number of reasons to try snowshoeing:

* It is a relatively inexpensive sport to try because there is limited equipment and most of it can be rented.

* Snowshoeing provides a unique perspective on the outdoors.

* The activity is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, as the shoe and the snow provide an added measure of resistance while walking. The sport helps burn more than 600 calories per hour and can help you burn 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed.

* Snowshoeing is easily a social group activity.

* It poses little risk for injury.

One of the main advantages to snowshoeing is that oftentimes the first time you head out you’ve easily grasped the concept. Unlike other sports that take practice to master, snowshoeing only requires a few steps before it is mastered.

Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years. Archaeologists have not been able to determine when the snowshoe was first used, but it is known that snowshoes were used more than 12,000 years ago. It is believed the first snowshoe was made from solid wood and animal skins. Natives of North America relied on a form of snowshoe to traverse the landscape during hunting and other chores.

Although the first snowshoe designs were made from what people could find and were primitive in nature, they set the course for more intricate designs and high-tech materials.

When selecting snowshoes, beginners can choose among recreational snowshoes. Usually, these snowshoes work best on simple terrain that doesn’t require a lot of steep climbing or descents. For avid snowshoers or those who compete, aerobic snowshoes or ones designed for hiking are more durable and may be the smart buy.

Many experts advise against purchasing used snowshoes, because you won’t be sure what you’re getting. Snowshoes can be rented, but they are relatively inexpensive to buy new, ranging from $100 to $300. Snowshoes are sized according to your weight. The most common sizes are 25, 30 and 36 inches. Working with an educated retailer will ensure you get the right size shoe.

Snowshoeing can be done anywhere there is snow. It doesn’t require marked trails. Just be sure to go with a partner the first time around to ensure safety should you get stuck out in the wilderness.