As you may be able to tell by the snow and rain that’s falling in many parts of the country, winter is here. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside until spring.
Take a look at some of these weird but super fun winter sports that can keep you entertained despite the cold.
Fat bikes, which have extra wide, grippy tires for riding on snow, have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years, especially in places like the Midwest and Alaska. They’re goofy looking, but they make winter riding possible, and, more importantly, fun.
According to our friends over at Bike, “While fatbiking on the snow is generally much slower than riding dry trails, the lower friction and alien texture of snow — when conditions are good — replicate the sensation of ripping trails at full speed.
“It is a blast. Shallow pitches become technical descents, crashing doesn’t hurt nearly as much, and power sliding corners has never been easier or more fun.”
Get the Gear: The Surly Pugsley was one of the first fat bikes and is still one of the post popular.
It might seem like a novelty sport dreamed up by bored cowboys in western towns like Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but skijoring — being towed on skis behind a horse, dog or vehicle — originated in Scandinavia in the 19th century as a way for military messengers to travel faster.
It’s turned into something that Slate calls “skiing meets the rodeo meets Medieval Times,” where skiers navigate slalom gates and hit jumps. You can test your skills at events like the World Championships of Skijoring in Whitefish, Montana, which the North American Ski Joring Association sanctions.
Get the Gear: We can’t give you great advice about finding a horse, but allow us to recommend a helmet like the Smith Vantage.
With the growing appeal of kiteboarding, it’s not surprising wind junkies have made it into a winter sport. Snowkiting — riding the wind power on skis or a snowboard — started off in the flats, but snowkiters have started getting into much more technical terrain.
A huge perk is the ability to be propelled uphill. Start with a trainer kite, in a flat open area, with someone experienced as your guide.
Get the Gear: The kite you choose will depend on the terrain and wind you’re dealing with, but these trainer kites are a good place to start your search.
Sailors in the Midwest and New England had to figure out a way to get through the winter. Their solution: Wait for the lake to freeze, then get out in a boat with skate-like runners instead of a keel.
If you can handle the cold, ice boats, which sail across the surface at super high speeds, are almost more fun than sailboats.
Get the Gear: A lot of ice boats are still hand-built, but you can find small companies that make them, like Blade Runner.
Ice climbing, a combination of rock climbing and technical mountaineering, isn’t anything new. But facilities like the Ouray, Colorado, ice park, where you can learn ax skills, are making it more accessible and interesting to a larger crowd.
Get the Gear: Ice Climbing is gear intensive. You’ll need crampons, axes and screws in addition to your standard climbing gear, like a rope and a harness.
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