How to Make Snowshoes in the Forest

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Getting caught in heavy snow without snowshoes is a horrible experience. Plowing through inches of deep snow will drain you of strength faster than anything and slow you down. Snowshoes increase movement speed, whether snowshoeing, skiing cross country or hiking a trail. You’ll be able to get out of the cold faster if you can build an emergency snowshoe.

The easiest way to make snowshoes in the forest is by cutting down thick vegetative boughs and strapping them to your shoes. You’ll need a sharp knife and a 50-foot cord.

Why Do You Need Snowshoes In The Forest?

Trudging through the snow while wearing regular shoes is complex and slows you considerably. It’s also very easy to sink in the snow, especially if it’s freshly fallen, powdery snow. Snowshoes prevent the wearer from sinking in the snow while walking or running.

Snowshoes spread your weight evenly over a larger surface area because of their larger sole. This makes it possible for you to walk on snow rather than through it. Also, snowshoes prevent foot sinking and increase movement speed while walking on snow.

Snowshoes increase sprint speed if you’re engaging in snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Snowshoes vs. Regular Boots

The fundamental difference between a regular boot and snowshoes is how they’re built. Regular boots are built for everyday use, while snowshoes are specially built for walking on snow. Snowshoes are built with spikes, creating more friction between your shoes and the ground.

This friction is necessary for walking on slippery surfaces such as snow. It’s also necessary for going up and down hills, especially on hardpack snow.

Steps to Make Snowshoes In The Forest

So, how do you make snowshoes in the forest if you ever find yourself in a snit without your snowshoes? Regular shoes might get you through easy terrain but not difficult terrain. Snow conditions also matter.

The forest provides most of the materials you’ll need to make an emergency snowshoe. You’ll need ropes in addition to thick boughs cut from branches of trees. Not everyone has a rope packed away, so let’s start making a rope from scratch.

How to Make Ropes in The Forest

There are several rope-making methods, some of them long and arduous. However, since our focus is instant ropes, your best bet is grass or fiber ropes. You’ll get top-quality ropes with minimal effort if you’re lucky enough to find a cedar tree.

The first step is to find dry grass. I recommend the yucca plant. Once you have your dry grass or have pulled the strips of fiber from a cedar tree, the next step is to buff. For fibers, buff by rolling back and forth on your thigh or palm. For grass, you can buff it by beating gently with a stone.

Next is the process of rolling the fiber or grass into ropes. There are many ways to do this properly. The idea is to twist them together till they form a tightly coiled length of rope.

Now that you have ropes handy, it’s time to build your snowshoes.

Step One: Finding Wood

Since you’re already in the woods, finding wood is a matter of locating the right trees. The kind of wood you’re looking for is something supple and strong that you can easily bend into shape.

Once you find this, cut eight 4-feet long sticks and one longer stick that’ll serve as the cross piece.

Step Two: Building the Frame

Separate your sticks into two bundles of four sticks each. Bind the ends of each bundle together firmly to form the frame of your shoes. Pay attention to your knots so that they don’t come undone.

Step Three: Webbing the Frame

Webbing is important as it helps distribute your weight evenly. You can use strips of fabric or ropes for this and tiny pine needles. Weave a tight webbing across the length and width of the frame and fill it in with needles.

Step Four: Add the Cross Piece

Cut the longer stick into two sticks of at least 8 feet each. Tie each stick firmly one inch from both ends of the frame, one for your toes and the other for your foot.

Step Five: Binding Your Shoe

When binding your shoe to the frame, it’s only the toe part that you need to tie to the frame. Your heels need to be able to rise while you’re walking. Take a length of binding attached to the cross piece and wrap it around your heel area, and you’re good to go.

What Kind of Snowshoes are Best for Hiking in the Forest

When it comes to choosing a snowshoe for hiking in the woods, there are two factors to put into consideration. One is maintenance; the second is the terrain you’ll be hiking through. Traditional snowshoes, made from animal hide and wood, require more tedious maintenance than modern snowshoes.

On the trail, you don’t always have the luxury of time to clean your snowshoe, so aluminum snowshoes are the best option to go with. Aluminum snowshoes also come in various styles suited for different terrains like flat or rolling terrain.

Tips and Precautions for Winter Hiking

Winter Hiking in the backcountry can be tricky due to several reasons. It’s easy to derail from established trails in deep snow because sign boards may get covered in a blizzard. It’s even worse if you’re not prepared and don’t have the appropriate gear. Here are a few tips for surviving:

  • Wear weather-appropriate clothes that can preserve your body heat and handle cold.
  • Pack your snowshoe even if it isn’t snowing heavily when you leave. Weather conditions can change rapidly.
  • It’s vital to get the right size when picking out a snowshoe. It increases balance.
  • While skiers would go for shoes that increase sprint speed and ski poles, you should go for adjustable poles and snowshoes that are hike friendly.
  • Wear sturdy and waterproof boots that are suitable for wet conditions.
  • Pack snow baskets, extra head warmers, and thick socks for your feet while packing your gear


Winter activities ranging from skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding to winter hiking are a great way to burn more calories during the winter months. Wear protective clothing and snowshoes as you go out to enjoy these activities. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need snowshoes in the forest, I hope this article will help you make an emergency snowshoe and get yourself out of danger.