The snowpack can be tricky and uneven. Hidden soft spots and hard objects lurk within. Use poles to enhance your balance—and to assist your recovery in the event of a tumble.
Upgrade three-season trekking poles for winter use by swapping in a pair of winter baskets to prevent the tips from sinking into the snow. Note there is no meaningful functional difference between “snowshoe” poles and “trekking” poles.
The best footwear for snowshoeing is an insulated, waterproof boot with a stiff sole.
Avoid soft, squishy winter footwear; snowshoe bindings can uncomfortably compress them, reducing circulation and warmth.
You can snowshoe in hiking boots, though they provide minimal insulation. Consider investing in a pair of neoprene overbooties to keep your feet toasty.
Wear gaiters to keep snow out of your boots. Skip the snowshoes (and avoid the extra effort) if your boots don’t sink above the ankle, unless you need the traction underfoot.
Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.