Will snowshoes work on sand?

With all of the most recent articles and discussions on using snowshoes on sand, I had to give it a try. Living in San Diego, there are some 70 miles (113 km) of coastline that provide plenty of opportunities to see what snowshoeing is or at least get a feel for whether snowshoes work on sand. I decided to go to Coronado for several reasons. First of all, there is a big and wide beach with varying depths of sand. Second, there are small dunes, and third, it’s just beautiful there.

I put on my Altas Elektra snowshoes and head for the main rescue tower going straight to the small dunes. The dunes were no more than 4-5 feet in height I guess. Then I moved forward slowly and deliberately. I also walked / crossed, trying not to mind that I was snowshoeing on the sand. Finally, I took a step towards the beach and wandered there for a little while. After that I returned to the dune area. Overall I spent an hour snowshoeing at Coronado beach.

Coronado offers a wide beach, small dunes and varying depths of sand, perfect for snowshoeing. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien

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Snowshoeing experience

Here is my assessment of whether snowshoes work in sand from this single snowshoe experience.

Flotation on sand

The float is there, that’s for sure. Without a doubt, it is easier to walk on the sand with snowshoes than with a pair of shoes, flip flops / flip flops or sandals. The wider racket platform provides more stability.

I like / prefer to walk on the beach barefoot rather than snowshoes. Why? This is the beach! However, one of the advantages of snowshoes over bare feet is when the sand is hot and it burns your feet. A hike on the beach in summer is possible with snowshoes on your feet.

In fact, I would suggest that snowshoeing at the beach in the form of a longer distance hike is a great alternative for exercise!

Read more: Summer days on snowshoes

Man using snowshoes on a beach with tower in background

When using your snowshoes in the sand, be sure to clean them afterward to remove grains of sand and salt water. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien

How sand / salt water affects snowshoes

As for the beach, the only place I didn’t use the snowshoes was by the water. There the sand is firm and it is easier for bare feet or shod feet to walk.

Most importantly I didn’t take my snowshoes there as the salt water / sea water is very corrosive. Having seawater on the snowshoes was not something I wanted to do. Considering this corrosiveness, I immediately washed my snowshoes in fresh water on the way home, as I do with all beach / ocean gear. It is essential to do this if you want your equipment to last longer. The salty air has an impact on the long term wear and tear of anything at the beach.

As far as corrosiveness goes, when I finished snowshoeing I inspected my snowshoes and noticed sand in every nook and cranny of the snowshoe bindings and decking. The question that immediately came to my mind was, over time, would the granularity of the sand cause more wear and tear on the snowshoes than when using them on snow? My immediate reaction was: yes. So, it is very important to wash off the sand from the snowshoes when you are done snowshoeing.

Read more : Try out your snowshoes on the sand and go snowshoeing

man on snowshoes standing on dune near beach

When I used my snowshoes on the small dunes, the crampons were useful and provided more security than the shoes. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien

The grip on the sand

On the small dunes, going up and down and crossing them was a lot like snowshoeing. I won’t say it was the same as I felt there wasn’t quite the stick of the crampon on the sand as it was in the snow. Of course, the type of snow could affect this rating.

Overall, however, I felt that walking the dunes and wanting that confidence, that sure footing was there, certainly more than walking in “normal” shoes or flip flops / sandals.

Kick the sand

I forgot to bring my gaiters for this outing. Gaiters are needed, and there are a few varieties. The sand lifted the back of my legs a bit and fell into my shoes. By the time I finished my outing I had about a tablespoon of sand in my shoes. Sand in shoes could cause friction and blistering problems. So don’t forget your gaiters (like the Kahtoola INSTgaiter)!

close up of snowshoes in sand while man is walking

Gaiters are recommended so you don’t get sand in your shoes when snowshoeing. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien

Try sandhoeing

Again, and all in all, snowshoeing at the beach is a great way to mix things up when you consider the myriad of beach activities one can do. Also bring gaiters and maybe hiking poles, and off you go! When finished, be sure to wash / rinse your gear in fresh water, removing sand and salt deposits from your rackets.

Have you ever tried snowshoeing? If so, do you think snowshoes work well on sand, what has been your experience and what differences have you noticed compared to snow? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Read more : Snowshoe outing for WWF Nature 5K

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