The kind of pants you wear while snowshoeing is crucial to your hike. Any time you do any kind of winter activity, it’s important to have the right gear. Your ideal winter gear is going to keep you warm while also protecting you from the elements, so what kind of pants do you wear snowshoeing?
The kind of pants you wear snowshoeing should be a pair that won’t restrict your legs and will keep you warm. You don’t need much to keep your legs warm. Try to layer a thin, wind-proof pair of heavy-weight tights or leggings and pair them with a warmer outer shell pant for extreme cold weather.
Let’s take a closer look at the kind of pants you’ll want to wear when snowshoeing. This article will also go over some of the other essentials you’ll need for your winter hike.
Snowshoeing is a hiking activity done in the snow. During the hike, you’ll walk over the snow using a specific type of shoe. These shoes used to be wooden frames that were attached to a person’s boots. Some even use snowshoeing as a sport.
Snowshoes allow the weight of the hiker to be evenly distributed over a wider area. This makes it possible for the hiker to walk over the snow with little disruption of the frozen water. Essentially, the purpose of these shoes is to prevent your feet from sinking into the snow, where it becomes harder to hike through it.
How to Choose Pants for Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing requires a lot of lower muscle strength and mobility, which means you need to choose the right pair of pants to wear. There are a couple of things you’re going to want to consider when you shop around for the best pants. You want to anticipate the weather and decide how many layers you’ll need to wear.
How Cold Is It?
Your legs aren’t going to need many warm layers, which is very different from your torso and arms. Your legs are doing the bulk of the exercise, and they’re going to warm up fast as you move. This means you’ll only need to keep them dry and protected from the extreme cold. You also don’t want to get them wet at all.
If you’re one who sweats a lot when you’re working out, you’ll want to keep that in mind when you choose your snowshoeing pants. If you sweat through the layers you’re wearing; you’ll get colder when you stop moving for a break or something to eat.
Choose the Number of Layers You Want
Keep this in mind as you prepare for a snowshoeing hike: you can always put on more layers. The best thing to do is to start off your hike with fewer layers. As you move, you’ll be able to see how warm your legs are going to get. From there, you can add layers as you need them.
It’s a good idea to start with a simple pair of running or hiking tights. You can even try some fleece-lined ones if it’s particularly chilly outside. Bring in your pack another pair of heavier weighted pants that you can throw on top of your tights if you are still too cold after you start moving.
Pick a Material That Repels Water
It’s no secret that you get wet when you walk through the snow. Even though you’ll heat up as you walk, when you stop for a break or lunch, the melted snow on you is going to make you cold. You need to wear a pair of pants that will repel water and keep you dry as you move through the snow.
Try a pair of moisture-wicking tights or pants combined with a pair of lightweight waterproof snow pants for added warmth. The goal should always be to keep your legs as dry as possible without restricting your mobility or overheating your body.
The Different Types of Winter Hiking Pants
There are plenty of outdoor apparel brands that will have different types of winter hiking pants for you to choose from. When you start shopping for the best ones for your snowshoeing experience, remember that you want to consider layering your hiking gear.
There are two distinct types of pants you can choose from. You’ll have an inner layer type and an outer layer type. The inner layers will be long underwear and tights, while the outer layers are meant to go over those inner layers.
Inner Layer Pants
There are a couple of options for these inner layers. You can have lightweight or heavier layers, which all depend on the level of cold outside. You can go with long underwear that you would wear with a thicker outer layer for warmth. Or there are tights you can try that will repel water and keep you warm.
You can always combine your inner layer pants with a pair of outer layer pants. It’s recommended that you start simple and light because you can always add more layers later on.
Outer Layer Pants
A great example of an outer layer pant is from the Columbia brand. These men’s Bugaboo outerwear pants are perfect for snowshoeing and any other winter activity that puts you in the snow. The waterproof material will keep your legs dry and protected.
You’ll want this outer layer to pull down over your boots to keep any snow from getting into them while you walk. The Columbia pants are also designed, so the seam is sealed, which adds another protection level.
Below is a list of the best types of pants to use while you hike through the snow:
- Ski pants. Ski pants are perfect for snowshoeing. They’re waterproof and can come insulated for maximum warmth.
- Softshell pants. These are nice when you want an outer layer over your tights or long underwear. They’re also good for snowshoeing in warmer weather. They’re typically water-resistant only, so keep that in mind as well.
- Rain pants. This will also work well as an outer layer over your tights or long underwear because it will keep you dry.
Can You Wear Jeans When Snowshoeing?
Many who snowshoe do wear jeans while they hike in the snow. However, this is not recommended. If you’re planning on a short hike over well-trekked trails where the snow is relatively packed down, jeans could be fine for you. ( Also read: Is Cotton Good for Hiking? )
If your snowshoe path is long, filled with lots of off-road trails, or fresh powdery snow, jeans are a bad idea. Denim is a heavily absorbent material. It will soak up all of the water from the snow, and you’ll be left freezing even as you walk.
The material also doesn’t help to prevent wind from penetrating through to your legs. Jeans aren’t made for activities that require flexibility, such as snowshoeing. This is especially true when the jeans get wet from the snow.
Your best option is to avoid wearing jeans when you plan your snowshoeing hike.
Snowshoeing Gear Essentials
When it comes to winter activities, there’s always more you’ll need. When snow is involved, you want to make sure you’re completely prepared for that. Below is a list of the essential gear you’ll need to consider in addition to your snowshoeing pants:
- A sturdy pair of snowshoes. You want to make sure your feet stay warm and dry as they trek over the snow.
- A pair of goggles. Wind on a mountain can be brutal to your eyes, so having a good pair of goggles is vital.
- Warm hats. It’s always a good idea to keep more than one hat in your pack, especially if you encounter heavy snowfall.
- Your pack. You can keep any additional layer in your pack, as well as the provisions you’ll need on your hike.
- Warm gloves. Just like with your hat, it’s a good idea to keep a spare pair of gloves in your pack in case the ones you’re wearing get too wet.
- A good jacket. Your torso is more likely to get cold from the wind than your legs. Investing in a good jacket is important to keep in mind.
- A survival kit. If you plan on snowshoeing in mountains that are prone to avalanches, it’s a good idea to keep an avalanche survival kit on hand, as well as to read up on necessary safety measures.
The best pants for snowshoeing are going to be the ones that are lightweight, waterproof, and unrestrictive. You’ll be able to move easily in them, and you won’t overheat as you hike over the snow. Columbia has the best selection of winter gear you could look for.
They have a variety of winter gear for both men and women. Hopefully, this article has given you helpful information about the kind of pants you wear when snowshoeing.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.