Walking In Snowshoes

There is about 6 inches of snow on the ground around here and more coming tonight, the weather girl predicting another six inches overnight…so….getting into the cottage might become a bit of a challenge for some…but not for anyone with a pair of snowshoes!

Snowshoes have been around…well…forever, and although they are often credited to North American indigenous people, it’s very likely they were used in Europe well before the founding of North America. Although there are many styles and shapes depending on the origins, where they were used and what for, the basic premise is the same, to help a person ‘float’ on top of deep snow by distributing their weight.

Originally, snowshoes were made with hardwood frames and rawhide lacings, a style continued to this day in some circles, but the trend today is toward lighweight metal or plastic. The traditional snow shoes were tied to the wearer’s foot using an special method that allowed quick release. These days they have more elaborate harness apparatus, but usually all are ‘quick release’

Many years ago I used to wear snowshoes rabbit hunting. I used boot laces for a snowshoe harness that went over the toe and tied around the heel using a typical bow. One pull on the lace and the bow came undone and the shoes came off…it actually worked very well. But back to today’s snowshoes.

Although snowshoes were once a staple to trappers, hunters and others who had to be able to move through deep snow, snowshoes have become a recreational pasttime as well, allowing for exercise and travel in the woods on a winter day. It’s an excellent form of exercise and fresh air.

It’s also amazing how easily you can move over deep snow, not only quickly but quietly. A far cry from roaring through the drifts on a snowmobile or four wheeler. However, even on a snowmobile, carrying a pair of snowshoes is a good idea, if it breaks down in deep snow, a pair of snowshoes might get you out of the woods easier than floundering through deep snow in your heavy boots.

Although traditional snowshoes were often fairly long and narrow, with a ‘tail’ a popular design are called “bearpaw snowshoes” that are rounded on the ends and usually much shorter.

Once you get used to this style, which is a little different than the longer ones, they are quite easy to use. I preferred the bearpaw for rabbit hunting because they were slightly easier to manouevere in thick woods. At one time in my life I had rabbit hounds and my buddy and I hunted no matter what the weather. If the snow was deep but crusty, the little beagle dogs would stay up on top of the frozen snow, and we would follow in snowshoes. Without the snowshoes, we would have been unable to move without constant struggling in deep snow that wouldn’t hold our weight.

These days, anodized aluminum is the preferred choice for snowshoe frames, such as these Pacific Outdoors Subzero 10-by-32 Snowshoe

These snowshoes have all the features a person could ask for and will support a person weighing up to 275 pounds, and have an adjustable heel strap that fits nearly all boot and shoe sizes. These are a long way from my old wooden snowshoes and boot lace bindings…..

© 2009 – 2012, Rob Dares. All rights reserved. Cottager Online/The Cottage Chronicles / Rob Dares material is copyrighted, please contact me if you wish to inquire about reposting etc All prices quoted for products are subject to change, customer is responsible to confirm price with seller.

2 thoughts on “Walking In Snowshoes”

  1. I love the look of old wooden snowshoes, but I have a pair of modern ones for myself. I use them almost every day to walk around our farm with the dogs. Apparently snowshoeing is the hot “in” thing these days, and sales are way up!

  2. Rob – while I was watching the video – I kept waiting for the lady to fall (cuz you usually post some funny videos) – LOL!! I love my snowshoes – but like Knatolee – love the look of those wooden ones too.

Leave a Reply