Jan 29 2007

Roycroft Snowshoes

Published by at 5:15 pm under Plant Materials

This type of survival snowshoes I have long wanted to build. I think they look horrible to be honest with you, but the simplicity was appealing. A warning: To save time, I used sisal ropes on this project. Sacrilegious, I know, but hopefully you will forgive me. 🙂

First, You need ten small trees and 6 short halves. Try to use as small sticks as possible to reduce the weight. I used aspen, a very weak wood and consequently needed to use bigger sticks to compensate. If I’d used birch, rowan or even willow I would have been able to reduce the weight to more comfortable levels.

Anyway, bind 5 thick ends together onto a crosspiece, with some spacing. This will be the rear end.

Decide where the binding will be and bind another crosspiece onto it. The binding needs to be a little in front of the tipping point to make the snowshoes work properly. Measure where the heel of the shoe will fall and bind another crosspiece there.

Bind together the tip and lift it by binding it to the front crosspiece.

Make bindings. Just a thread over and one behind the shoe. Duplicate it to produce two snowshoes (hardly needed to say that, did I?).

Compared to traditional Canadian snowshoes, this is a terrible piece of equipment. Heavy and ungainly, but still far better than going without any snowshoes at all. For denser snow I would rather go for the traditional Norwegian style, which is much less encumbering. With the fluffy stuff we have here these days, you can clearly tell the difference. Below: Wading in the snow without snowshoes.


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One response so far

One Response to “Roycroft Snowshoes”

  1. Carmen MacKenzieon 08 Jan 2020 at 11:07 pm

    I can see why you didn’t like them. The snowshoes you made would have been very heavy. A few suggestions:
    1. Use spruce saplings. They’ll be flexible all year long, the wood is light, flexible and tough, and it’s easy to peel the bark off.
    2. Take the bark off. This reduces weight, but it also allows the shoes to dry faster (important for the bends in the tips).
    3. Don’t use a crossbar at the back. Use overhand knots to get your spacing. This reduces weight, but also provides more flexibility, which you’ll appreciate when you’re walking. It will also help them to float better.
    I can’t tell for sure, but your snowshoes don’t look like they’re balanced. Your heel block should be two finger-widths above the balance point. This will make it much easier to walk in the snow, as your points will naturally move up with each step.
    The benefits:
    – they cost nothing
    – easy to repair
    – can be made quite quickly
    – narrower than snowshoes, which helps to walk normal, rather than bowlegged to accommodate for the width of snowshoes
    – float on the snow better than commercial snowshoes (Canadian or otherwise)

    Once I had made a proper pair, I never returned to commercial snowshoes again.

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