Make your own snow shoes

December 14, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Snowshoeing is one of the safest winter activities around and can be enjoyed by anyone at any age, says Alan, who's a snow-shoe maker and historian. He's teaching us how to make our own traditional snowshoes and talk about the differences in modern snowshoes.

The origin and age of snowshoes are not precisely known, although historians believe they were invented from 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. Types
Traditional snowshoes have a hardwood frame with rawhide lacings, similar to the shoes Native Americans made for generations.

Most Modern snowshoes are made of materials such as light metal, plastic, and synthetic fabric.

Basics of Making

Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation."

In addition to distributing the weight, snowshoes are generally raised at the toe for maneuverability. They must not accumulate snow, hence the latticework, and require bindings to attach them to the feet.

Step 1: Start with an empty frame

Step 2: Begin latticework

Step 3: Finalize the bindings

Using Snowshoes

  • Snowshoes are a great way to explore the winter wonderland. It's inexpensive and a good activity for all ages; if you can walk, you can snowshoe!
  • Renting vs. Owning: Several outdoors stores carry snowshoes, like REI, Gander Mountain, Lands End, etc. Traditional wooden snowshoes are available from Country Ways in Minnesota,, Iverson Snowshoe Company in Michigan,, GV Snowshoe Company in Quebec, Canada, Prices range from $75 - $300. Some parks and sporting goods stores in Michigan rent snowshoes for around $20/day or $35/weekend.

    Ludington State Park is offering daytime and evening snowshoe-making classes in December and January. Participants will weave a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes, similar to the ones Native Americans made for generations.

    The cost for making a pair of snowshoes is $180 and includes the pre-formed wooden frames, lacing, high-quality bindings and personal instruction. Classes are designed to be fun, informative and interesting. Because this is an activity that requires concentration over long periods of time, it is suggested for ages 18 and older.

    These hand-made snowshoes can be used for hikes throughout the winter, given as holiday gifts and used as a decoration. Snowshoeing is an easy, inexpensive way to get outside and burn some calories during the winter months.

    All classes are held at the Ludington State Park's Warming Shelter. The park is located at 8800 West M-116 in Ludington. Note that some of the classes are split over two days.

    • Dec. 15 and 16: 6:30 to 10 p.m. both evenings
    • Dec. 28: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Jan. 7 and 8: 6:30 to 10 p.m. (Fri.) and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Sat.)
    • Jan. 28 and 29: 6:30 to 10 p.m. (Fri.) and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Sat.)

    Class size is limited and reservations are required. To make a reservation, please call Ludington State Park at 231-843-9261 or email Alan Wernette at

    Guided Snowshoe Tours & Moonlight Walks

    The Ludington State Park is offering free guided snowshoe walks on Saturdays in January and February, weather permitting--so think snow! These one and a half hour guided programs will take you past some of the most beautiful State Park scenery, through woods and snow-covered sand dunes. There are two walks each Saturday-- an afternoon hike at 3 pm, and a 7pm Moonlight Walk.

    To learn more about snowshoe making classes and guided tours for a weekend getaway, be sure to check out or

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