Snow depth at Alpine Loop Summit
Ski Poles: Generally regular ski poles are a little shorter than you need for snowshoeing so the adjustable ones are preferred but don’t add a great deal of worth over the regular ones. So if you have regular ski poles I wouldn’t spend the money on adjustable. Put them at the bottom of your priority list.
Boots: Good, nice fitting leather hiking boots with some “thinsolate 400 gm” insulation is preferred. Snowshoes will generally fit almost any kind of boot. I’ve seen guys use ankle high trail-running shoes with their snowshoes. I don’t like the heavy boots with rubber bottom and sheep skin lining. They usually don’t fit well and are too heavy and hot.
Gaiters: These are high priority. You must keep snow from getting in your boots and these form a seal from your pants past the top of your boots to prevent any moisture from entering your boots. You don’t need the string that goes under the boots if they just keep the top of the boot sealed off. I prefer the shorter gaiters that come just above the top of your boot and don’t go clear to the knees.
Clothes: We wear long leg and arm underwear with a lined nylon-type shell on the bottom and long sleeve jersey with a thin hoody on top. Then a fleece vest that can easily be removed and stashed on a camelback-type hydopack. For emergency needs, carry a down coat with a hood in case of the need to stop for an extended period of time. Glove liners are usually sufficient for your hands but have good insulated mittens to put over them for extra cold days or wind conditions. Dark wrap-around sun glasses are essential. Goggles are not recommended because they fog up easily. I like a baseball cap to shade the sun from my eyes and with the thin hoody my ears are plenty warm. Most of the time I don’t put the hoody up.
Common Rookie Mistakes: Camelback hydration pack is a must rather than carrying bottles. BUT the mistake is made by not draining the water back into the bladder at the start of the hike and after each drink. You must keep the tube drained or it will freeze in about 5 minutes. Tuck the end of the tube inside your shirt at your neck line. This keeps the condensation at the end from freezing up.> Bring a light snack to eat such as trail mix, energy bar, crackers, cheese, partially cooked potatoes, etc. Not all of these but just what ever you like to snack on if the hike is 3 hours or more.> Don’t dress too warm… but pack a warm coat as an emergency way to stay warm if you have to stop for some reason. It’s nice to have a warm coat when we stop for lunch on long hikes.> Try your snowshoes on at home and get the straps adjusted to your boots before you arrive at the start point. It is amazing to me how many people get there and have never even tried them on and didn’t know how to put them on or which was the right or left shoe. I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence by pointing this out but it always happens after Christmas EVERY YEAR to someone.> Arrive early enough to be ready to hike at the appointed time. A rookie mistake is getting there just as everyone is leaving and then having trouble getting the shoes on etc. We don’t wait for anyone.
Things to take or borrow:Snowshoes (I will bring them for you)
Poles (I will bring them for you)good fitting hiking boots and socks
long underwear (wicking fabric not cotton)
Nylon pant shell or equivalent wicking fabric
long sleeve shirtfleece vest or jacket
Wind breaker or heavier jacket for the windy ridges
gloves or mittens
Gaiters to keep snow out of boots (I will bring an extra pair)
hydration pack with 100 oz of drink (water or sports drink diluted)
light snack, peanut butter sandwich, trail mix, crackers, cheese are examples
ear warmer or cap to cover ears when needed.
Don’t pack too much. A heavy coat is not needed.