Snowshoeing for kids is a terrific outdoor sport for kids and families of all ages.
We love to snowshoe! It’s especially fun going right into the forest, making your own trails, and having a secret adventure.
You don’t need to be athletic or particularly nimble. If you can walk, you can snowshoe!
Plus, snowshoes fit into cars much easier than skis!
SnowshoEing FOr Kids: Gear & Outdoor Tips
The great part about snowshoeing for kids is you don’t need expensive equipment!
See the bottom of this article for suggestions on what to look for in selecting snowshoes for kids
Layering is key! We find we quickly get hot and take off layers (though kids lose heat more quickly than adults)
Jacket: Depending on where you live, a lightweight, water and wind-resistant shell jacket is all they need (worn over a long-sleeved top base layer). Insulated jackets are usually too warm; you will sweat a lot once you get moving! TIP: Bring an insulated jacket in a backpack, though, for snack breaks, stops, or if you decide to pull them in a sled on the way back if they get tired.
Pants: Option 1: Synthetic or wool material brushed on the inside (fuzzy) and water-repelling (soft shell) on the outside. Option 2: Long underwear under lightweight, waterproof/breathable shell pants or Option 3: Lightly insulated ski pants, though these may get too hot on long adventures. Avoid jeans or other such cotton pants (cotton gets cold when wet). Choose pants that are loose enough to allow movement but not too baggy.
Long underwear (top and bottoms): Wear a lightweight base layer under an outer jacket and pants for chilly days. Choose wool or synthetic fabrics that wick moisture and dry quickly (never cotton). Choose close-fitting but not constricting.
Footwear: Most snowshoe bindings work with any footwear. But for the most comfort, choose lightweight, insulated winter boots with good ankle flex. Even hiking boots work if they are waterproof.
Gaiters: Wet socks are the worst. I love my gaiters! Gaiters provide a waterproof seal between the top of the boot and the bottom of the pants, covering from the bottom of the boot laces to your calf or knee. Good gaiters prevent snow from creeping in and soaking your boots or pant legs.
Socks, Mitts, Scarves & Toques
Socks: select wool or synthetic fibers (again, no cotton). Hiking, ski, or snowboard socks work well, as does any light padding for cushioning feet and ankles.
Toques: There’s that Canadian word again! A lightweight wool or synthetic close-fitting hat is best for chilly weather and snack breaks, especially if it’s a little windy make sure it covers the ears and fits well.
Gloves: again, select synthetic or wool gloves. For colder days, mittens are warmer than gloves. If it’s very cold or wet outside, you can always add an insulated, waterproof/breathable outer shell to a pair of mitts.
Eye Protection (Optional)
Ski goggles or kid-specific sport sunglasses (with a string retainer for when not in use) are options for added comfort and eye safety
Bring some snacks for some breaks, which add some fun but also provide a little more energy on cold days.
Bring with you a thermos, or save for a reward when you return home. Hot chocolate and marshmallows are undoubtedly the kid-voted favorites!
Bring a Toboggan (TIP)
If your kids get too tired, you can pull them back instead of carrying their poles, gear, or kids themselves! This way, the trip back can be fun too. And adults get in extra exercise 😛
First Snowshoeing Trips
It’s a good idea to snowshoeing with kids with small, brief trips at first (especially for very young kids)
Ten minutes in the yard: Getting all the gear on and going out into your own yard is a good start. This first quick experience will keep it fun while introducing the gear to kids and getting the kinks out.
The next time, you could go somewhere a little more exciting:
- Choose a well-marked, well-traveled trail. It’s easier to use a ready-made trail rather than make your own. Send an adult first to cut a trail the kids can follow, and an adult at the back to keep an eye on things.
- A flat trail is best (no hills)
- Short duration: For newbies or snowshoeing with young kids, set expectations low and prepare for lots of breaks
- Bring snacks for lots of snack breaks and hot drinks. Stop frequently for breaks and play to break the trip up.
- Future trips: Make it more fun with scavenger hunts, animal spotting, or animal tracking. See this article for some suggestions and free downloads.
- TIP: Snowshoes don’t go in reverse. If you step back, the pointy tail goes into the snow, which usually means a fall. Instead of backing up, make a U–turn.
INTO THE BUSHES
We love just heading into the bush, but this probably isn’t the best option for beginners.
Getting tangled in brush, stuck between fallen trees, or whacked in the face by branches is generally no fun.
You can see so many creatures in the forest as expertise and age increase. It’s so peacefully quiet and beautiful!
Kids’ snowshoes are sized small, so they fit smaller feet and legs, with smaller strides and straddles. They are usually one size fits all and are easy to adjust for multiple years of growth.
The size is more dependent on weight than foot size. Weight is calculated using a child’s weight and their gear. Bindings are easily adjustable and accommodate numerous types of footwear and growing feet!
Once a kid reaches over 80 or 90 pounds, move to a snowshoe designed for women. These are lighter, narrower, and shorter than standard unisex snowshoes.
Tip: When fitting the binding on the shoe or boot, make sure the straps are snug but not too tight that they hinder circulation.
Examples Of what to look for:
MSR Tyker series fits up to 80 lbs/36kg, has bindings designed for smaller hands that resist freezing, fit almost any footwear, and has molded plastic traction bars instead of steel for parent-friendly traction. The 3-point crampons at the toe for extra traction and fit kids shoe sized 7.5-13.5 (or adult 1-4.5)
MSR Shift Youth: for kids ages 7–12, a fully adjustable binding system that resists freezing, is easy to get in and out of with gloves, suitable for a wide range of footwear and quickly growing feet, tapered tips and tails for easy, natural gait, metal traction points for excellent edge-to-edge traction which are molded into the deck to reduce weight. Fits kids’ shoe sizes 1–7, and up to size seven men’s shoe size.
The Lil Sis