Make Your Own Snowshoes

Learn how to make low-cost snowshoes from natural materials.

| November/December 1972

Click on Image Gallery to see referenced figures and diagrams.

Up here in Wisconsin, other far northern states and Canada, it's not unusual for four feet of snow to cover the ground in February.

At that time of the year, snowshoes are the only workable means of cross-country transportation and it's really a trip to strap on a pair, walk four miles through the woods, observe lots of wildlife . . . and never see another person or a road.

The only trouble (for me, at least) is that snowshoes cost about $40 and, last January, I didn't have $10—let alone $40—for such gear. I decided to make my own from natural materials and labored through several tries to construct a fancy bent-wood pair. All such attempts failed, however, since our area has no ash trees (and ash is the only wood that really takes and holds the proper curves when steamed and bent into snowshoe frames).

Eventually I gave up trying to build for pretty and decided I'd just build for stout by making my snowshoes from whatever creek saplings and string I had on hand, The finished gear you see in the pictures with this article cost me only one day's labor. It won't win any beauty contests, that's for sure, but it does keep me on top of the snow.

The frames of my down-home footwear are long, fairly straight sticks that are not too crooked, about as thick as your thumb at the small, not much bigger on the other end and four to five feet long (choose the longer lengths for taller people). Try to take your framing members from spots in which the saplings are obvious ly growing too thickly and cut sticks that are springy enough to bend somewhat without breaking.

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