Monday, January 18, 2021

Snowshoes get more popular, and it's a good time for them

Snowshoes on the Falls in the River Trail in northern
New Hampshire. (Miles Howard for The Washington Post)
Looking for some calm and quiet at a turbulent time? It's also the snowiest time of the year, and that presents an opportunity: hiking with snowshoes, and it's becoming more popular.

"You can blast through the forest on a snowmobile, like Wile E. Coyote strapped to a rocket. Or you can strap on snowshoes and disappear into the silence of the frozen white woods, floating atop the powder," Miles Howard writes for The Washington Post from northern New Hampshire.

"Because of the pandemic, I’ve been tucked away indoors for too long, every muscle in my body is too tight, and, with hospitals overwhelmed with covid patients, I don’t feel like taking the physical risks of skiing or of scaling mountains with crampons. Snowshoeing is comparably low risk, beyond exposure to frigid weather, and the inherent social distancing of the sport seems to be speaking to Americans weathering the pandemic winter. Back in early spring, the market research firm Snow Sports Insights noted that snowshoeing participation grew by 12 percent."

Outdoor-equipment firm REI told Howard that its snowshoe sales have quadrupled in the past year. “We’re seeing increased enthusiasm in people embracing new outdoor activities (cycling, snowshoeing, running, hiking) and turning to the outdoors to find solace away from the pandemic,” REI’s senior public affairs manager Courtney Gearhart told him.

And it's cheap, Howard writes: "Other than a solid pair of snowshoes ($100 to $250) and a pair of trekking poles ($25 to $75) to stabilize yourself and avoid pitching over into a deep snowbank, there’s not much of an entry barrier to this sport — though first-timers looking to head deep into the outdoors should consider taking a basic introductory lesson on snowshoeing . . . Otherwise, you just pull on your warmest socks and snow boots, toss your snowshoes in the back of your car, and choose your own wintertime labyrinth to explore."

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