Do you have snow on the ground yet? We’re lucky to live very close to the mountains, so even though you can see the grass at home, it’s just a short drive to this winter wonderland.
We were in a rush getting out this morning, and we didn’t pack what we should have to make our snowshoe hike enjoyable. About halfway through our trudge along the snowy trail, I pulled a muscle pretty badly and had to hobble back to the car.
A sad end to the day, especially because snowshoeing is one of my all-time favorite activities. The injury is already healing, but it is a gentle reminder for me to be a bit more prepared when adventuring outdoors. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some tips for snowshoeing with kids – in your backyard and beyond.
Why Snowshoeing is an Awesome Winter Sport
- You don’t need special skills and there is very little risk. It’s hiking in the winter.
- You can travel where skiers and walkers can’t.
- You need very little equipment to get started.
- Snowshoeing provides amazing exercise.
- It’s a slow sport — you can bring your camera along.
- Once you’ve bought your gear, snowshoeing is free.
Tips for Getting Your Kids Outside in the Winter
The natural world is an amazing and beautiful place, but sometimes kids are just resistant to getting out there. Before you strap on the snowshoes and head into the wilderness, you need to inspire your kids to love winter, snow, and the cold. Here are some tips for becoming an outdoor family in the winter.
- Make sure your kids are dressed properly. Get to know and love your layers — capilene, wool, fleece, silk. They will make all the difference. For more on layering your littles for outside time, check out this post.
- Bring along snacks for energy. Nothing seems to cure grouchy kiddos like a snack break in the woods. It can be as simple as a granola bar or as elaborate as a snowy picnic.
- Recruit a friend or two. Outdoor excursions are so much more fun with friends — your kids will spend less time complaining and more time giggling.
- Make it a habit. Once your kids know that the outdoors is part of their everyday world, they will accept it into the rhythm of their days. It’s not “out there”, it’s home.
- Be a good role model. Get yourself outside everyday, and please don’t complain about the weather.
Special Equipment for Snowshoeing With Kids
One of the best things about snowshoeing is that you need very little equipment. Snow boots and snowshoes will get you out the door. Poles are handy for really deep snow or climbing mountains. You can probably score second-hand snowshoes for your kids on Craigslist or at an autumn ski sale, but even if you have to buy new, they’re pretty affordable. We like Tubbs Snowglow Snowshoes (affiliate link) for toddlers, and the Atlas Spark Snowshoe (affiliate link) when they’re a bit older.
Things to Consider Before Snowshoeing with Kids
Now that you’ve got your gear, you’re ready to start exploring. There’s really no right or wrong way to snowshoe. Start by strapping on your snowshoes and exploring your yard or a local park. Walking in your snowshoes will take a bit of getting used to, especially for kids. Once you’re comfortable walking in your snowshoes, you’re ready for a little hike. Here are some tips for making it fun.
- Take it easy. How far will your kids reliably walk or hike with you? Take that number and cut it in half. Little legs will get tired quickly trudging through heavy snow.
- Bring a sled. Hiking up that hill is hard work. Make it fun on the way back down. If your kids are small enough, you can give them a ride when they tire out.
- Hot chocolate. Nothing is as exciting as a hot cup of chocolate in the woods. A little thermos may just be your best investment.
- Stop and play. Let’s face it — walking in the woods is peaceful and beautiful, but it’s not always an exciting adventure for kids. Remember to stop and have some fun. Throw snowballs. Build a snowman. Make a fort. You will remember these days forever and so will your kids.
- Don’t be above rewards. If that hill is looking a bit overwhelming for your youngsters, offer a bribe. “Hey, if we can all make it to that tree, we can stop for a snack.” Keep a stash of goodies in your pocket — trail mix, M&Ms, or fruit leathers should do the trick.
- Layer up. You will get hot as you’re hiking and you may want to shed layers, which is fine. Just be sure to put those layers back on if you stop for a break.
What’s in Your Day Pack?
No matter how short your adventure, don’t forget some basic essentials. Here’s what you need for a foray into the woods on snowshoes, whether your alone or with your kids.
- A basic first aid kit. Always bring along an ace bandage, Tylenol, moleskin for blisters, an emergency blanket, and a few packets of hand-warmers.
- Your cell phone. Bring it if you’ve got it.
- Paracord. Handy for all kinds of emergencies and adventures.
- Waterproof matches. For emergencies or for a mid-day campfire.
- A compass
- Extra socks for each person
- Food and water
- Extra mittens for the kids. They’re hands are always in the snow!
- Lip balm
Snowshoeing is such a great way to enjoy a winter day, with or without kids. The exercise will keep you warm and the beauty of the natural world will inspire you. Now all we need is just a little bit more snow…
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