How to Build Emergency Snowshoes

How to Build Emergency Snowshoes
Snowshoes were used centuries ago to maneuver through the snow for survival. Although often used for sport today, snowshoes can save your life during a blizzard, while camping and hiking or when your car stalls in a remote area. A few branches, string and some innovation is all you need to get started. Look for branches that are wide and long, and trim away any twigs or sharp points that make it difficult to walk. You can also fashion some emergency ski poles to navigate through the snow.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Branches
  • String
  • Knife
Step 1
Locate two thick branches about 3 feet long. A branch that has smaller branches and twigs on each side and spans about 10 to 15 inches wide will help float your snowshoes on top of the snow. Although you will walk on the center of the branches, the extra twigs on each side will offer balance and stability. A fir, pine or spruce tree works well for emergency snowshoes. If you can't climb the tree to cut them down with a knife, look for thick branches in the forest cover near fallen trees.
Step 2
Tie a piece of 2-foot-long string at the base of the branch. Choose the end you cut off to tie the string. Wind it a few times around the base and snap taut to see if it's secure and does not bend the branch.
Step 3
Tie the string again from the base to the opposite side to stabilize it. Keep the string loose enough to allow the branch some give without splintering its wood. Ensure that all points and branches are facing forward and up and not against the ground. You can lightly trim the snowshoes by snapping off twigs and branches that are in the way.
Step 4
Place your shoe on the branches and tie the string through the front shoelace. Continue lacing toward your ankle. If your shoes do not have laces, tie them directly around the your feet until they feel secure. Do not tie your shoes too tightly to the snowshoes. Your snowshoe should drag near the heel and pivot around your toes.
Step 5
Test your snowshoes. If the fronts stick into the snow, they are probably too tight. Adjust the string and walk around until you are able to maneuver through the snow. Your emergency snowshoes will still sink a little into fresh powder. You should be able to move with more ease and speed than in your regular snow boots.

Tips & Warnings

Look for branches that tip upward at the front.
Use extra branches as ski poles.
Pick your foot up completely when you walk. Shuffling could cause your snowshoes to break.
Sidestep on hills to preserve your snowshoes.

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