The ABCs of Snowshoeing!

During a rather nasty mid-winter freeze and thaw cycle, our tremendous snowshoeing conditions are being challenged. But we will persevere, and come out of this weather cycle ready for another 2-3 months of snowshoeing, which will overlap with the beginning of paddle season! So we offer a lightweight blog entry, with a few tweaks and updates from a similar one posted a few years ago! Think Snow! Think Spring!

The ABC’s of Snowshoeing

“Now I know my ABC’s, aren’t you very proud of me” So goes the rhyme we all learned as little children…and learning the alphabet opened the door to a world of endless opportunities! Well, getting involved in snowshoeing opens many doors as well, doors to experiences in the outdoors that are always changing, exhilarating, and allow you to be a part of a winter wonderland. Here are just a few “ABC’s” of snowshoeing…a fun way to share some of the lingo that winter outdoors folks may toss around!

Avalanche   A large amount of snow that slides down a slope or mountain, burying anything in its path. Avalanches are extremely dangerous, and anyone who snowshoes in mountainous terrain should be aware of avalanche dangers

Binding   Bindings attach your boots to the snowshoes; Tubbs provides several binding options, designed for a snug and comfortable fit.

binding 2


Crampon  Sharp metal traction devices on the base of snowshoes, to aid in traction on slick surfaces; they may be integrated along the frame, or may be attached to the base of the binding or rear decking of the snowshoe.

tubbs review 6

Decking The surface of the snowshoe which provides the support and flotation above the snow surface. In traditional wooden snowshoes these are made of woven, lacquered rawhide strips. Modern snowshoe decks are made of a variety of synthetic materials, which may be contained within a frame, or may be a molded surface without a frame. The Tubbs Snowshoes snowshoe selector tool describes the wide variety of snowshoe decking material available.

Elevation Gain    Indicates the strenuousness of a hike or climb, essentially, how much climbing is involved; many trail guidebooks provide this information, as elevation gain is important to know, along with trail distance.

Frame   The outer edge of the snowshoe, to which the decking is attached; it provides the shape and structure for the snowshoe.

Gaiters  Water-resistant fabric “sleeves” that  covers the lower leg and ankle, to keep snow out of your boots.

gaiters ice


Heel lift   A metal bar at the heel area of the binding, which can be raised and lowered; Raising the heel lift reduces calf fatigue on steeper ascents.


Incline   What you go up…and then you come down!

Jerky  A high-energy snack popular with many outdoors folks

Kiosk   An open, usually wooden, structure found at many trail heads, upon which may be posted trail maps, regulations, registration books, and other useful information.

tubbs60 23jan sterling valley 28


Leave No Trace  Refers to a set of ethical principles, which promote conservation, and minimizing recreational impact on nature ( i.e. pack it in, pack it out!) For snowshoers, the nastiest violations we usually encounter are dog poop ( yuk!) and the dreaded post-hole!

griff april babcock 17 posthole c


Mountains   The geological formations which call to us, and where we must go!

Night   A great time to get out on your snowshoes! Bring a headlamp, a hot beverage, and listen to the amazing sounds of darkness….it is especially amazing during a full moon.



Outdoor Preparedness   Being ready for whatever you may encounter during your snowshoeing expeditions…dress appropriately, know first aid, have your maps, keep hydrated, watch the weather…stay safe!

Poles   Snowshoe poles can aid in your stability, especially on difficult terrain. The poling action also helps your workout include more upper body exercise.

moosalamoo 15


Quinzee   A snow shelter made by hollowing out a large pile of snow. The quinzee can provide warmth and protection as an emergency shelter.

Register  Signing in at a trailhead; helpful should you require assistance, as it may indicate your destination, companions, and time of departure and estimated return.

trail register

Sunscreen  It is important to protect yourself from the sun, even in winter!

Traverse   Travelling across a slope; secure the edge of the snowshoe into the slope before stepping. Poles and crampons are helpful for a safe traverse.

Uphill   Climbing direction which can result in your becoming sweaty, even in cold temperatures. Be sure to wear a wicking base layer to help keep you dry. Avoid cotton!

Views One of the best benefits of snowshoeing! Amazing vistas, across mountains and valleys, rivers, and fields….You may be amazed at the wildlife you see in a winter environment.

tubbs57 19jan wcsp 8


Winter Fitness  Snowshoeing is a great activity for improving overall fitness, and may burn 400-1000 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of your travels across the snow.

Xanthocomic  The kind of snow you do not want to eat!

Yield   The snowshoer going down the hill should yield to the snowshoer coming up the hill…a standard of trail etiquette.



Zipper Pull   You can get attachments to your jacket zipper that can make it easier to adjust zipper while wearing gloves; some have thermometers, lights, or whistles on them.

So that’s the snowshoeing alphabet…the most important letters? F-U-N !



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