Winter 2020: Let’s Try Something New
From work and school to our days off, the Coronavirus pandemic has touched almost every aspect of our lives. And along with it came a cascade of stress, fear, and anxiety that can’t be ignored. For many of us, one way to combat difficult feelings like these is by going outside and connecting with the awe, beauty, and adventure of nature. Normally, powder-covered ski resorts and freshly groomed terrain parks are some of our favorite ways to get outdoors in winter. But this year, between safety concerns and resort restrictions, we thought: hey, maybe it’s time to try something new.
Even in a pandemic, there are still a lot of great ways to safely get out there and breathe in that crisp mountain air, enjoy some fresh powder, or perfect a new snow trick. Check out our guide to COVID-compatible winter activities:
For the lift-loving resort skier
Although many resorts across America are still planning to open this season, the reduced lift capacity and required reservations mean it could be difficult to hit the slopes like seasons past. Of course, nothing is going to fully capture the thrilling feeling of carving perfect groomers or bombing chutes, but here are a few alternative activities to try out this season:
Cross-country skate skiing
A great substitute for downhill skiing, skate skiing offers that same satisfaction of finding your rhythm in the snow. Compared to classic cross-country skiing, skate skiing doesn't require a tracked course, so you're free to glide your way across freshly groomed snow.
Winter speed hiking
Lots of folks see a trail packed with slush and mud and think, “No thanks,” but we see the potential. With some ankle-high gaiters, a set of lightweight trekking poles, and a pair of grippy hiking shoes, winter speed hiking can be really rewarding. Similar to downhill skiing, you’ve got to be agile and attentive, and then suddenly, you find your flow and just want to go, go, go.
KEEN tip: Lightweight, waterproof, and super grippy, our women’s Terradora boots and shoes and men’s Venture boots and shoes are perfect for fast-paced jaunts in the woods. Built with the support of a hiking boot and the traction of a trail runner, they’ll keep you going mile after mile.
Lots of downhill skiers say they aren't all that interested in the slower pace of snowshoeing, but when the world feels overwhelming (like it does right now), a slower pace can be a welcome thing. Pressing your snowshoes into pristine powder or seeing the sunlight burst through the forest canopy offers a different perspective on snow flow. Plus, unlike at the resort, your dog can join in on the adventure. (See our Snowshoeing 101 guide here.)
KEEN tip: Some boots are better for snowshoeing than others. Look for a pair that are lightweight, insulated, and made with snowshoeing in mind. Built with a gaiter clip so gaiters stay put and a shellback heel to avoid snowshoe heel slip, our men’s and women’s Revel boots are a KEEN favorite for snowshoeing.
For the terrain park snowboarder
For those snow lovers used to spending long days at snow parks, the possibility of spending a season away from your favorite features can seem like a major loss. If hitting rollers or catching big air just isn’t in the cards this season, check out these refreshing alternatives to park time. They may not capture the exact same satisfaction of landing that backside 360, but if you’re lucky, you’ll still get a face shot of snow spray across your goggles.
Fat bike snow riding
It turns out you can go fast on a fat bike. For a new type of snow thrill, rent a fat bike, find a snowmobile trail or packed down backroad route, and prepare to get shreddy. Things may start out slow, but once you get the hang of it and find a nice compacted descent, you’ll be flying.
If snowboarding is your winter activity of choice, watch out – snowskating might rival your current boarding obsession. Like a skateboard for the snow (but slick and grooved on the bottom for snow tracking), a snowskate lets you flip and slide around the neighborhood or the local skate park. No snow park needed.
One KEEN family has enjoyed bringing their snowskate to sled hills for years.
KEEN tip: Flat, grippy shoes are best for snowskating. Plus, since there’s snow involved, they should be nice and warm too. We recommend the insulated Elena boot for women or the fleece-lined UNEEK SNK waterproof chukka for men.
Find a good hill, build a few snow jumps and bring out the ol’ snow tubes for an alternative version of terrain park play. You may be surprised at how much air you can catch in a tube.
Don’t have a good pair of winter boots yet? Check out some of our favorite boots for snow and cold here.
This winter might not be what any of us expected, but hopefully, we can all still get out there and enjoy some cold-weather recreating (remember, it's good for you!). Who knows, maybe you’ll even find out that one of these alternatives was your passion all along.