Best Safety Tips
For Snowshoers
Including Resources

by Diane Spicer

Meet Hiking For Her's Diane

Snowshoeing safety tips from Hiking For Her give you three important ways to enjoy your winter hike without compromising your safety. #snowshoeing #safety #winterhiking #safetytips


You want the best safety tips for snowshoers, right?

Let's not waste another minute with a long winded wind up.

Here's the delivery, in three part harmony: basic safety tips for snowshoeing. These include:

  • Planning
  • Smarts
  • Flexibility

Of course we start with planning! It's the key to a safe snowshoe trip.


Safety tips for snowshoers:
it's about planning

There are several things you've got to be on top of before you head out the door.

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as they say.

And for this vigorous winter sport, planning is your ticket to safety.

Especially if you're heading into mountainous backcountry!


Destination planning

Let's lump weather and location together.

Be proactive:

  • Check the weather forecast for the exact area you're going to be in. Here's a great weather site to use.
  • If avalanche terrain is part of your plan, check that forecast as well. Use avalanche.org.


Gear and nutrition planning

Your body is your vehicle into the snowy wonderland, so treat it right.

Use Hiking For Her's snowshoe gear guide.

Heed these snowshoeing food and drink tips.


Now let's turn to the second major way

to stay safe as a snowshoer.



Safety tips for snowshoers:
it's about smarts

You've got two things to be smart about:

  • physical surroundings, including weather
  • group dynamics
Lenticular clouds like these mean the weather is changing


Be smart about terrain and weather

Winter hiking adds a brand new dimension to the joy of the trail.

It also adds new worries.

Examples: dealing with the cold and adjusting your pace to accommodate conditions.

  • Dress in appropriate moisture wicking, insulating layers by using Hiking For Her's guide.
  • Pacing recommendations are here.

And you will meet brand new hazards as a winter hiker:

  • tree wells that can trap (or even smother) you
  • icy stream crossings
  • unreliable snow bridges

Be especially alert for them as you move across the terrain.

If you have even a shred of doubt about your ability to surmount them, turn around.

There is no shame in knowing that you need a stronger outdoor skill set for snowshoeing. Keep reading for tips on how to tackle that deficit.


Play it smart with human interactions

Every group has leaders, whether by overt agreement or tacit understanding.

If you're the leader, you have responsibility for pacing, destination, safety, and morale.

  • Presumably, you've been on snowshoes many times before.
  • You've got a plan up your sleeve for when things change, or don't work out.

If you're following someone's lead, you've got responsibility for keeping up.

And speaking up.

  • Not feeling great? Say so, and adjust the group pace.
  • Energy level flagging? Have a snack and sip some water to keep your stamina flowing.

No matter your role, you've got to pay attention to the people who are snowshoeing in front of and behind you.

  • If someone looks tired, cold, or otherwise not enjoying the day, speak up!

And not only that, you need to communicate clearly.

Women seem more willing to talk about what's going on. Yet we are hesitant to inconvenience anyone.

Here's the deal:

If you have to be the one who brings up a problem, so be it.

  • It's better to talk it through than to ignore it until you can't ignore it any longer. That's when bad stuff happens.

A note about solo snowshoeing

While I have done this, I don't recommend it any longer.

Why not?

Short winter days.

Unpredictable weather patterns.

Thin margins for staying safe in the face of an error or injury.

Increased fatigue due to heavier winter gear.

All these make me hesitant to recommend solo snowshoeing to anyone.

And with age, comes wisdom.

  • Why take chances in the winter? is the mantra I use as a smart snowshoer. 


Now we move on to our third big snowshoeing safety topic.


Safety tips for snowshoers:
it's about flexibility

Here's where most women shine: being able to change plans on the fly when it's clear that Plan A is not working out.

A few examples:

  • The weather is changing fast. The route is becoming obscured. Visual contact within the group is deteriorating.
  • Your terrain becomes more difficult than your map indicates. This is sometimes due to the scale of map you're using.
  • A gear malfunction slowed down the group. But you came to the rescue with your gear repair kit!

I urge you to let go of the rigidity of a plan to make it to Location X, no matter what.

Don't let your trail companions talk you out of what you know, or feel, to be the right decision for you.

  • When you're tired, the group, or part of it, should turn around.
  • When you have a gut feel that something is not right, turn around.
  • When conditions change, bail on the plan.

And when you just don't feel the snowshoeing love, you know what to do!


Resources for safe snowshoeing

If you're going to be spending your day on snow, know how to approach it.

For example, if you're heading into steep terrain, learn the basics of avalanche safety.

Backcountry Babes runs courses and trips.

More of a do-it-yourself-er? Read this:

Another source of outdoor education for snowshoers: classes and events at REI Co-op.


Snowshoeing is a blast!

Female snowshoer with Tatoosh Range behind herSilence and the snowshoes on your feet are the perfect recipe for a fantastic snowshoe hike!

The freedom of tromping over snow laden hills and valleys wearing snowshoes?

It is something you have to experience for yourself, at least once!

  • By using these tips, you're way ahead of most folks who head out on snowshoes.
  • Here are even more detailed snowshoe safety tips I've pulled together for you.

Relax and enjoy your snowshoe trips by heading out prepared, smart and flexible. 

Let me know if you need answers to questions, I'm here to help.


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Home page > Snowshoeing Tips >

Best Safety Tips For Snowshoers


Female hiker leaning on boulders with hiking poles and backpack

About the author

Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.

She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for nearly five decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.



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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.


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