Is there any technique that helps not to sink into the snow with every step and/or walk more efficiently? With standard hiking shoes.

The focus of this question is not on keeping feet dry and/or using any other materials such as snow shoes/equipment. (Like this question does.)

I just did a good 7h and 20km hike in deep snow in normal shoes with a friend of mine. Every step we sank in more or less 30 cm. In our 7h hike we did not come up with any technique in the first 3h and after that we just wanted to get done with it...

  • the question is about 'Walking technique' not an appliance for walking in snow, this makes it different from the existing question – vladiz Feb 1 '16 at 22:49
  • the question is nominated to be reopened and moderators or other users have to vote for reopening – vladiz Feb 2 '16 at 15:40
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    All you can do is fall back to the physic basics: "When you walk in snow with your normal, foot sized shoes, your weight is distributed only along the length and width of your shoe, so the pressure on the snow is high and you sink into it." you need to decrease the pressure, Pressure is defined as force/unit area. Force in this case is the force of gravity on you. Thats: F=ma. So our only 2 options if we are going to decrease pressure is to either decrease your mass or increase the area on the bottom of your foot. Is there a technique to increase the area on the botom of the foot when walkin? – Arsaceus Feb 5 '16 at 8:52
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    @Gdalya all I can think of is 2xDisposable plate + some chewing gum to stick it under your shoes. that's a quick fix that wont last for long but it helps a bit – Arsaceus Feb 11 '16 at 9:12
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    If it is powder snow, instead of taking steps you can drag your feet and clear a path. This would not be more efficient or easier if you are alone, but if you are in a group, you can make a trail for the ones behind with such method. The others would have much easier time while the one in the front has to use more energy. You can cycle through the group when the front person gets tired. (Basically like a wolf pack) – Mert Karakaya Mar 2 '16 at 9:03

In general, when you are faced with difficult physical activity and you'd like to do it more efficiently, one of the tried and true methods of increasing efficiency is to repeat the activity over the course of several weeks or months until it is no longer difficult. This is often referred to as "exercise" (source):

  • physical activity that is done in order to become stronger and healthier
  • a particular movement or series of movements done to become stronger and healthier
  • something that is done or practiced to develop a particular skill

If the walking technique in general is causing any confusion, one rule of thumb I personally like to remember is "left, right, left, right", although some choose to start with the right foot instead. In snow, while more effort may be required, the general idea is the same (with practice and a little luck, this "alternating foot" technique can be applied to mud, sand, and many other terrains as well).

Essentially, it is something along these lines:

enter image description here (image source)

You may have to lift your knees slightly higher because the laws of physics dictate that your foot and the snow cannot occupy the same space at the same time and so it will be resisting the motion of your feet, but the most important thing to remember is to keep up the alternating pattern (you can get yourself into trouble quickly if you attempt "left, left, right, left" -- I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty).

There are a couple other hacks you can try as well to combat physical exhaustion. In particular there are three techniques known colloquially as "drinking water", "eating food", and "taking breaks" - over the long run these can ultimately increase efficiency. Alternatively, if all else fails, there is one I personally refer to as "turn around and go back home".

Of course, proper equipment can also help, and the consequences of intentionally hiking 20km in deep snow with hiking shoes should not be unexpected. This was discovered roughly 4,000 years ago, and that solution has survived the test of time for good reason.

Cover a plastic plate with duct-tape and flip it upside down so that it makes upside down arc.

If it can't sustain your weight add more.

  • This is a good idea, but not an answer to what the OP asked: "How do I walk more efficiently without additional equipment?". – Adam Zuckerman Mar 14 '16 at 20:28

It really depends on the snow. As a nordic skier I spent a lot of time on all different kinds of snow. And all you need to do to keep yourself up, so anything that adds more surface area without adding more weight will help, try buying some light weight wide shoes, like Altras for instance.

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