Looking for a new outdoor hobby this winter? Pack up and traverse the snowy trails! The question is, which will you like more? Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing? While this is purely a personal preference once you get down to it, let’s explore all the pros and cons of each! No matter which you choose, you’ll have fun this winter season!
Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing—What Are They?
Dating back centuries, the origins of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing started out as more of a necessity than for fun, with people using them to traverse snowy landscapes to get from one location to another. Today, they’re fun wintertime activities that many enjoy!
While both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are essentially a form of hiking, snowshoeing is more like classic hiking, with specialized footwear strapped to the feet that helps to distribute weight more evenly, making it easier to walk on top of the snow! Comparably, cross-country skiing uses a similar concept, except with skis! Unlike downhill skiing, skiers use their own momentum to glide across the terrain using poles for stability and leverage!
Interested in picking up one of these awesome winter sports, but still aren’t sure which is for you? Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding between snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!
With all things considered, snowshoeing is easier for beginners to pick up and learn more quickly than cross-country skiing!
Snowshoeing equipment is less expensive, with a great pair costing you anywhere from $50 to $250 or more. Overall, snowshoeing requires less equipment. You just need a good pair of boots or hiking boots, snowshoes, and perhaps some ski poles for stability on more difficult terrain.
Snowshoes are undeniably lighter weight than skis and all the additional equipment! This is a great advantage to consider when packing your RV, or if you’re planning on backpacking in the backcountry, where weight is definitely an issue.
Snowshoes are more versatile over different types of terrain. You won’t have to stick to groomed trails or worry about getting caught on logs, branches, or other debris! You can even snowshoe around your backyard or city park if you wanted! They’re also more efficient than cross-country skis in deeper, more powdery snow!
These are better for scaling up to higher elevations, and oftentimes come with ice picks or metal cleats to traverse over ice easier. They also allow you to change direction a lot faster and more efficiently, which is great when you’re exploring!
Can use them for hunting and other activities, not just for a recreational stroll!
Compared to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is the slower of the two options. This isn’t exactly a terrible thing, especially if you like to stop and look at the scenery often!
Some winter adventurers find snowshoeing boring. This is definitely a personal opinion, but some people don’t like the slower pace of snowshoeing compared to cross-country skiing!
A lot of skiers condemn snowshoe use on groomed trails, as it can create unevenness on the trails, which is less than ideal for skiers.
Cross-country skiing is generally more athletic than snowshoeing, making it great if you’re looking to get a rigorous workout! They do make smaller snowshoes that make it possible to run in the snow, but for the most part, skiing will give you more of a workout!
You’ll get more speed by cross-country skiing, as it’s quicker to glide on skis than walk on snowshoes.
You’ll almost always be guaranteed a smooth terrain, as many state and national parks keep trails groomed throughout the winter months!
You’ll need more equipment for cross-country skiing: skis, bindings, special boots, and poles. In turn, it makes cross-country skiing considerably more expensive than snowshoeing!
Because cross-country skiing is more involved and can be more aerobic than snowshoeing, it takes more skill to be able to master it.
Skis are definitely not as versatile as snowshoes, as they can easily get caught under logs or branches, which can be a painful and difficult situation to maneuver! You’ll want to stick to groomed trails for the most part, as rugged terrain presents more opportunity for getting stuck and/or injured.
In order to enjoy cross-country skiing, you’ll more than likely have to travel to do it, as not all parks or trails are smooth enough for it.
Cross-country skis aren’t as ideal for traversing landscapes with moderate to steeper elevations. You can still make it work, but it takes a considerable amount of time and skill to make your way up steep inclines.
What do you think? It’s totally a personal preference, but if you’re looking to start out on one or the other, these pros and cons of snowshoeing versus cross-country skiing will help you to decide which to try out this winter! Which one are you going to try? Comment to let us know, or leave us some other tips or considerations if you’re an experienced snowshoer or cross-country skier!