You just need a few key pieces of gear to get out and run on snow. Find a pair of running snowshoes to go with your trail running shoes and wear light, waterproof layers. Here’s what I recommend…
With so many options on the market today, it is difficult to decipher what is the right equipment to get. Since this is all about running I’m only going to discuss snowshoes designed for running.
Atlas Snow-Shoe Company leads the charge in my eyes. Especially west of the rockies, they have cornered the market and rightfully so, they have one of the best running snowshoes on the market.
Others worth considering, though, are: Redfeather, Northern Lites, DION Snowshoes and TSL. (TSL running snowshoes are hard to find in retailers in the US but are the most popular running snowshoe in Europe.)
Regardless of brand, you need a snowshoe that is specifically designed for running.
Shoes & socks
Considering the weather will plays significant role in your experience, it’s important to pick a running shoe that suits the environment. Note: you do not want to snowshoe run in hiking boots.
You can probably get by with your normal running shoe if you don’t intend to be out for more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, invest in a pair of goretex running shoes. They will reduce the initial moisture infiltration and assist in keeping your feet warmer once they are wet.
Gators and wool socks are the other two components that round out what is needed at the basic level. Chemical tow warmers that stick to your socks are an option for really cold conditions.
I mentioned wool socks, but the rest of the way up needs to be nestled in layers. Big puffy jackets are not a good option. I tend to wear a winter tight for my legs, typically CWX. They wick the snow off your body better than a lose fitting winter pant.
On my core I will often have 2-3 layers. The initial layer should be a synthetic moisture wicking layer, followed by a secondary layer for warmth with built-in ventilation. Then the third layer is for the elements.
To help stay dry I often use a thin wind breaker that has been protected with a water seal. This layer often gets shed quite quickly, but is still good to have since it weighs nothing and takes up no room.
Hands & head
Gloves requires a bit of trial and error. Temperature and your own body heat will dictate whether you want a thinner or thicker glove. I often bring two pairs with me, both thin.
A beanie or ear protection is also vital. Even though new research shows that only 7-10% of your overall body heat is lost through your head, it is still important to be protected.
And don’t forget the basics: sunglasses, sunscreen, water, fuel, a GPS watch, and a cell phone.
Your entire backside tends to get very wet due to snow flying off the snowshoe tails. Keep this in mind when planning your clothes and packs.
Bring dry clothes and footwear to change into afterwards if you’re not close to home.
All of the above rounds out my gear list. You can invest in additional items like poles or anything else that keeps you comfortable in the wilderness. I like to keep it as simple as possible. The less gear, the better.