If you enjoy walking or regular hiking, why not try snowshoeing in Lapland? This form of hiking allows you to roam easily across deep snow and it’s a lot of fun being part of the outdoor community.
Snowshoeing is a popular winter activity because it is more practical to explore a snow-covered landscape when you are wearing the correct footwear. The Scandinavian Travel Group has lots of organized snowshoe activities that are hugely popular with visitors to Lapland. As you hike out in nature, you also get to enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Snowshoeing in Lapland is a sociable activity too. Meet fellow snowshoe walkers who share your sense of adventure and love of snow hiking.
Snowshoes are specifically shaped to help you walk over the top of deep snow without sinking in the white stuff up to your knees. They are bigger than ordinary footwear for a good reason. The snowshoe design distributes the weight of the person over a larger area. This stops your foot from sinking into the snow, a feature often referred to as “flotation”.
How to snowshoe
Snowshoeing in Lapland is easier than cross-country skiing and you will quickly get used to walking in snowshoes. Once the snowshoes are strapped to your hiking boots, practice walking in your natural stride. The more confident you become, the faster and further you can go. Modern snowshoes with improved traction make climbing easier. You can also kick the toes of the snowshoes into the snow to make steps on steeper slopes. If you use poles, you can use them to help pull yourself up hilly areas. When you ascending, “step sliding” will stop you from going too fast and toppling over.
4 fun snowshoeing experiences in Lapland
You don’t have to buy expensive snowshoes. You can rent snowshoes with poles from our company. Guided snowshoeing tours are also a great way to explore scenic Lapland. The Scandinavian Travel Group activities include the following:
- 1. NIGHT SNOWSHOEING HUNTING FOR AURORA Snowshoeing is not just a fun daytime activity. You can snowshoe at night and chase the Northern Lights. Our reliable guide will drive you to the top of Levi mountain where you strap on your snowshoes and join the mountain trail for a guided walk. Don’t forget to look up! On a clear night, you can marvel at the glittering stars and if lucky, maybe even see the spellbinding illumination of the auroras. After an invigorating snowshoeing hike, you can relax around an open fire and feast on freshly-cooked Finnish sausage and enjoy a traditional Finnish hot berry juice while listening to stories about traditional life in Lapland. This program is in Levi.
- 2. SNOWSHOEING FOR BEGINNERS This is a great introduction to snowshoeing in Lapland. You are looked after by an experienced guide who will show you how snowshoeing is done. Once your snowshoes are strapped on you will go on an easy hike at a steady pace that goes on a 4-5km loop alongside the Levi fell. As you make your way along this winter track, keep a lookout for the local wildlife. Snow grouses and foxes are a regular feature of winter nature. There is time to stop for breaks and refreshments before hiking back to the center. This program is available in Levi.
- 3. PANORAMIC SNOWSHOEING ON LEVI MOUNTAIN Take snowshoeing to great heights on this tour. After a car transfer up the Levi mountain, this hike takes off through some of the most scenic spots in Lapland so make sure you bring your camera. As you snowshoe to the top of Levi fell with its vast panoramic vistas you are reminded how beautiful the world is when we take a moment to stop and enjoy the view. During wintertime, the Lappish fell landscapes are breathtaking. After this memorable snowshoeing in Lapland experience, there is still time for refreshments and a break before heading back down the mountain. This program is available in Levi.
- 4. SNOWSHOEING IN ROVANIEMI If you are planning a winter break in beautiful Rovaniemi, then add snowshoeing to your itinerary. This snow hike is around 2,5 hours and the snow trails take you through the heart of the winter wilderness. You can snowshoe with confidence knowing that you are in the safe hands of an experienced guide who knows the route and recommended scenic spots. You have to be reasonably fit to get the most out of this experience. Snowshoeing across unspoilt snow heightens the sense of discovering new places.
The distinctive shape of snowshoes
Traditional wooden snowshoes have a hardwood frame, webbing, hinge points and rawhide bindings. White ash or birch wood was typically used. The wood was steamed to help bend it into a distinctive oval, paddle or teardrop-shaped frame. The frame was laced with strips of rawhide, a natural material to help ensure a comfortable fit.
Snowshoes inspired by nature
We only need to look to nature to see where our ancestors got their inspiration for making snowshoes. The snowshoe hare moves effortlessly over snow thanks to its large feet. This larger, flatter shape of foot is easily recreated in the shape of an oversized snowshoe if you have the right materials and techniques.
History of snowshoes
Historians suggest that snowshoes originated in Central Asia around 6000 years ago. Those traveling from Asia to North America wearing this kind of footwear are likely to have inspired others to embrace the design. There were also reports in 2016 that the oldest snowshoe in the world had been discovered in the Dolomites dating between 3800 and 3700 BC. However, the more familiar webbed version of the snowshoe as we know it is linked to the indigenous people of North America.
Native North Americans made great use of snowshoes. Different tribes fashioned their own style and shape of snowshoes to suit different regions and terrains. For example, the Athabascans on the West coast made snowshoes with upturned toes. Other tribes went for longer, narrower designs. The shoes were often named after tribes. The Huron snowshoe has a more “paddle” shape while a more front-pointed shoe was named after the Ojibwa tribe. However, snowshoes are mainly used today for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime.
Battles, trappers and traders
As the snowshoe’s design evolved their popularity soon caught on. By the late 17th century, Europeans realized the benefits of snowshoes when French voyageurs fur traders traveled throughout the land of the Cree, Heuron and Algonquin groups of indigenous North Americans. Fur traders and trappers needed reliable footwear that would help them navigate areas of deep snowfall. Snowshoes also made a notable appearance during the French and Indian Wars. In 1758, the Battle on Snowshoes occurred when French/Indian and British troops battled in snowshoes.
Teardrop and Bearpaw snowshoes
The traditional wooden snowshoes have different names inspired by the shape of the frames. For example, the "teardrop" snowshoes are rounded at the front with a distinctive point at the back end, which gives it the shape of a tear. The “bearpaw” snowshoe has a more curved heel instead of the pointed teardrop tail.
Snowshoes over time
Snowshoes have come a long way since the first design thousands of years ago. In the 1960s, manufacturers swapped wood and rawhide materials with neoprene, aluminum and reinforced vinyl. The rawhide strips for the laces were replaced by neoprene. Lighter aluminum replaced the wooden frame. These days, snowshoes are much lighter than the traditional designs because they are mostly worn for recreational purposes like fun snowshoeing safaris in Lapland.
The Western snowshoe
Traditional wooden snowshoes got a major upgrade in the early 1970s thanks to Gene and Bill Prater, they developed the first metal-frame shoes that were more lightweight and practical for winter mountaineering. After testing and experimenting with different materials, they finally opted for an aluminium oval frame and the lacing was upgraded to neoprene for a more modern finish. This synthetic decking offered more flotation and had bindings that could easily adjust to different sizes of boot. Gene and Bill Prater went on to form Sherpa Shoes. Gene Prater explained, “I have used the word “Western” as a design or type because these snow-shoes are so different from wood-frame laced models.
The latest snowshoe designs benefit from improved design technology and durable materials. The results are greater comfort and increased maneuverability. Some are built to conquer all terrain with their lightweight frames and steel crampons for excellent traction on steep grades and icy conditions. The features include:
- • Flexible frame to maximize grip on uneven terrain.
- • Spring-loaded suspension for a more “natural” walking experience.
- • Superior heel-lift for comfortable uphill walking.
Race snowshoes for sprinting in snow
If you like going faster, you can wear sleeker-shaped snowshoes adapted for running in snow. They have an adjustable spring-loaded suspension for an energy-saving rebound. Titanium heel and toe crampons ensure you have plenty of grip without weighing you down.
Choosing your snowshoes
There are so many different makes and models of snowshoes. Think like the Native Americans when it comes to choosing the most appropriate snowshoe. They went for designs that suited the terrain they had to cover. Where do you plan to go snowshoeing? If you are hiking somewhere and the snow is deeper and lighter, go for a larger snowshoe for better flotation. It will stop you sinking into the snow. If the snow is more compact, go for a smaller size snowshoe.
Take into consideration your weight and how much gear you are carrying. The specs of the snowshoes will list a “maximum recommended load” and the recommended type of terrain. Look at the length of the snowshoe. A longer snowshoe is going to make it easier to travel through powder because there is a larger surface area. However, a longer snowshoe makes it more challenging on steep terrain. A shorter snowshoe is perfectly adequate for flat, even trails with hardpacked snow.
When to go snowshoeing
The winter months in Levi and Rovaniemi in Lapland are the perfect time to strap on your snowshoes. Part of the fun of snowshoeing is taking in the sights of a beautiful winter wonderland. There is nothing quite like a peaceful hike through wild forests or a walk to the top of a snow-glittered mountain. If you are wearing the right clothing, snowshoeing in winter is an unforgetting experience.
What to wear snowshoeing in Lapland
- • Make sure to wear waterproof boots. People mostly prefer to wear hiking boots with their snowshoes.
- • Wool socks are also a good idea because they draw moisture away from the body. Snowshoe bindings will adjust to fit your shoes.
- • Dress in thermal layers. Wear a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. This makes it easier to adjust your clothing if you get too hot or too cold when snowshoeing.
- • Wear waterproof gloves and a hat or balaclava.
- • Gaiters if you plan to hike in deeper snow.
It’s up to you whether or not you use poles. They do help with balance if you plan to trek over more difficult terrain or if plan to hike where the snow is particularly challenging.
Be mindful that you are sharing the winter trails with other walkers. Here are some points to bear in mind.
- 1. Be observant and don’t stop in blind spots where there is a risk you could be knocked over or cause a collision. If you need to take a break, move off the marked trail.
- 2. Pay attention to the different trails. Don’t snowshoe or walk on skiing trails.
- 3. If you stop at campfire sites or cafes along the trail, dispose of litter responsibly or take it home with you.
Keeping safe snowshoeing in Lapland
If you are going on a snowshoeing safari in Lapland be mindful that it can get very cold in the winter season. It can be unpredictable too. Sunshine can quickly turn to snow blizzards. Daylight hours are limited so consider this when you are planning your route. It is important to wear proper clothing to avoid hypothermia. You might feel warm while you are snowshoeing but you will quickly cool down when you stop for a break. It is useful to carry an up-to-date trail map and compass. Local maps will highlight any cafes or restaurants on the mountain or along the winter trail.
9 useful snowshoeing tips
- 1. Check the weather forecast before you set off on your hike. Winter weather can be unpredictable and you could end up lost in a snowstorm.
- 2. Start with a short hike until you get used to walking in snowshoes. Then you can plan a longer excursion.
- 3. It is a good idea (and safer) to snowshoe with someone else. Tell someone what route you are hiking and when you plan to return.
- 4. Listen out for snowmobiles to avoid accidents.
- 5. Plan your time. Take into consideration the limited daylight, snow conditions, the weather and how many people are in your group. People’s experience and physical condition will determine how fast or slow you snowshoe.
- 6. Pack plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized on your hike.
- 7. Take your cell phone (make sure it is charged). The emergency number in Finland is 112.
- 8. Dress in warmly in layers.
- 9. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses. Winter sunshine and snow is a bright combination.
BOOK SNOWSHOEING IN LAPLAND
The Scandinavian Travel Group tours can be booked online or email us: email@example.com and our travel agent will be in touch. Or call/WhatsApp/Viber +358 400 514 530.
Click through the different safaris and tours on our website for inspiration. Or contact us directly if you would like to find out more about our winter activities.