The weather in Northern Nevada limits hiking as it does in other parts of the United States, so one alternative that is closest to hiking is snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is similar to hiking in that you get to enjoy the outdoors while getting a great workout. The differences are that you need snowshoes and possibly other gear that you do not need for hiking and you need additional layers of clothing. Snowshoeing is a great alternative to hiking when you want to get out but the snow is too deep for hiking.
Snowshoeing burns more calories than hiking; depending upon how vigorous you snowshoe it is 50% or more calories burned. You will also be 1.5 to 2 times slower snowshoeing than you will hiking. A good reason that you burn more calories besides the difficulty of snowshoeing is the cold temperatures. Your body fights to keep you warm while in the cold and snow. The correct layering of clothing can offset some of this body heat loss. For all of these reasons snowshoeing is a good way to burn extra calories and stay in hiking shape in the winter. Care for your body is more important during snowshoeing, as the elements are more severe than normal hiking conditions.
Additional gear is required for snowshoeing with the obvious being the snowshoes. You might also consider different special shoes to wear with the snowshoes instead of your regular hiking boots. Trekking poles can be used for some hikes but are more likely used with snowshoes and help with balance. Cold weather gear such as gloves, parkas and snow pants are some other additions to your normal hiking gear. Adding these few items to your hiking gear provides the opportunity to ‘hike’ year-round.
Safety is a key aspect to take into account when deciding whether to hike on the trails or snowshoe off the trails. If the trails are well groomed with packed snow you can use hiking boots with spike grips, think chains for your boots. If there is more than a few inches of powder consider snowshoes, so you do not ‘posthole’. Post holing could hurt you by twisting or straining body parts and irritates other snowshoers by messing up the trail with big postholes. Being safe with the weather is also more of a consideration during snowshoe season as cold and snow are more prevalent. Safety is always important when exploring the outdoors but snowshoeing adds elements.
Try out snowshoeing it is a great addition to your hiking experience.