Traditional Wood and Leather Snowshoe Construction

The snowshoes were an innovation that can traced back to the native peoples of Maine and Canada, who undoubtedly produced thanks to the mother of all invention: necessity. Beginning as clumsy, webbed foot-like instruments, snowshoes were continuously rebuilt and improved; both the frames and stringing were tinkered with until they resembled something closer to the shoes we know of today.

Snowshoes are essentially required equipment for sportsmen during the winter, especially for adventurers and trappers. When both roads and trails alike are covered in snow, the easiest method on foot by far is using the snowshoe. Snowshoeing is also a great leisure activity for outdoor enthusiasts as well, allowing anyone to get some invigorating exercise while exploring forests and trails.

Generally, modern snowshoes are built similarly across the board, though differences in frame size and shape are common to support different environments. The hide stringing can also vary, with a range of patterns produced. The frame, or bow, is usually made of ash and can be bent into many shapes, despite its great strength at a light weight. The shape depicted above is a general purpose snowshoe, standard in shape and parts.

Cross braces are fitted neatly into the frame, using the perfect fit to make the shoe as sturdy as possible. These two braces are spaced between 15 and 16 inches apart, dividing the shoe into three parts: the toe, centre and heel.

The filling of the frame is usually a strip of hide, laced through hole drilled in the wood tightly. Filling in the center is comprised of heavier strips of rawhide; this is the area that bears the most weight of the user, and subsequently has the heaviest wear. In the heel and toe are lighter-weight fillers, with smaller mesh, as the areas do not wear as frequently.

This is a great Image of the different snowshoe pieces and names for snowshoe parts.From Popular Mechanics in 1915

Not much has changed!