Simply put, snowshoeing is easy, which is what makes it so appealing to such a wide range of individuals. Photo courtesy of Mike Schirf
The introduction of the new lightweight, inexpensive snowshoe in the 1950s brought about the rapid rise in the sport’s popularity. It was even, at one point, the fastest growing winter sport. And it’s one of the safest, too.
“I have seen growth in snowshoeing year after year,” says Lori Lee, author and owner of snowshoeutah.com. “It continues to grow as people become more aware of it and become more aware of the resources. There are hundreds of snowshoe trails along the Wasatch Front. I get e-mails and requests all winter from people interested in getting into snowshoeing, asking where to go and what to do, and telling me they want to get their kids into snowshoeing.’’
The Outdoor Industry Association, which measures participation in various sports, reported in its latest survey that the growth in snowshoe participants jumped from 3.4 million in 2009 to 4.8 million in 2010, an increase of 11 percent. Which, says Lincoln Clark, assistant manager at REI, has resulted in a leveling off of buyers.
“People don’t want to have to learn to ski, but they want to get out in the winter,” he says. “From a retail standpoint, people buy gear and get involved, but aren’t inspired to buy new equipment every year.” You don’t have to update your equipment as often as you do skis or skates, he notes, and a good pair of snowshoes, like those from Tubbs or Atlas, can last forever.
Alisha Niswander, owner/guide of Mountain Vista Touring in Park City, says the evolution of new equipment has made a huge difference, especially where it comes to snowshoes for women. She adds that some people choose snowshoeing over cross-country skiing “because they have more control, especially going downhill.”