6 Steps To Build Expedient Snowshoes

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Snowfall in the mountains can make traveling difficult. It would be nice to be able to walk in the snow, but if you left your snowshoes behind you could sink waist deep in snow. Use these steps to build expedient snowshoes.

1. Cut willow branches

Willow branches or red twig dogwood will work. Cut many branches the diameter of your finger and as long as your arm. Cut eight more branches the diameter of two fingers put together and as long as your arm.

2. Weave the branches

At your camp, weave the branches into the bases for snowshoes. Place several of the small diameter branches into the earth so they stick straight up in a line a quarter the span of your fist apart. The line of branches should be straight and as long as your arm.

Weave several of the smaller diameter branches between those stuck in the dirt forming a crosshatch of woven branches. When all rows have been finished, remove the crosshatch from the ground and repeat creating another crosshatch.

3. Build the frame

Notch the thick ends of two of the larger diameter branches so the ends fit together in an X pattern. Use cordage and a clove hitch knot to secure the branches together. Bend the branches to form an oblong with a bulge toward the front center with a diameter as long as your forearm. Lash the rear ends together. Repeat this process three times.

4. Fasten the bases to the frame

Place a frame on the ground. Place a crosshatch on top of the frame, centering it as much as possible. Place a second frame on top of the crosshatch, matching the position of the first frame as closely as possible. Secure the frames together with cordage tying the crosshatch to the frames as well. Repeat this process with the other set of frames and crosshatch. Trim the crosshatches to the frames with a knife.

5. Make fastenings

Cut twelve more branches. Measure them so they fit across the top frame of your snowshoes. You’ll need two for the toe of your boot, two for your instep and two for your heel.

That’s six per snow shoe. Position these fastening so your foot is positioned in the middle of the snowshoe. Attach to snowshoes with cordage and clove hitch knots.

6. Wearing the snowshoes

Place your foot on the snowshoe. Attach the snowshoe in place by tying cordage to the fastenings and your boot. Repeat.

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