Make your own snowshoes and use them to get your winter exercise for years to come!
I am reviewing these on Christmas Day because this kit was a very special gift quite a few years ago, but I love them as much as ever.
When I received this kit it only cost $69. It now costs $139, but it is still a great bargain for wooden snowshoes. Of course you have to do the work yourself, but that is half the fun!
What you receive from the company is a pre-assembled wooden frame made of straight grain white ash (the best for snowshoes), nylon webbing, instructions and the harnesses (for your boots- so you can attach them to your feet).
I spent about a week in the evenings weaving the decking of the shoes according to the instructions. Then the shoes need at least two coats of polyurethane. This gives them that wonderful honey color (the webbing is white when you lace it), and preserves the materials against the snow and wet.
The shoes come in several styles and sizes. These are the Ojibwa (Chippewa) style (pointed at both ends) in the small size, 10 x 48 inches. The web site gives more information on how to choose a size or style. You can also read my articles about choosing snowshoes.
Why and How to Choose Wooden Snowshoes
How to Select Wooden Snowshoes (Part 2)
Snowshoeing Can Burn More Calories Than Skiing
Snowshoe Training Program Beginner to Athlete
I recoat the polyurethane every few years because it will wear off the bottom a little bit, especially if you use them in icy conditions very much. And if it wears off the lacing is much more susceptible to wear and breakage. But with careful lacing at the beginning and a little care along the way these will last a lifetime or two and become treasured heirlooms in the process.
The company that carries these kits is called Country Ways, and they have a number of other products as well, including pre-made snowshoes, and snow-shoe webbed furniture.
I would say that the difficulty of putting the kit together is medium. It’s not a project for a novice, but once you get the hang of the very few knots needed it’s simply a matter of following the directions and finishing them. However, it’s not a project for the impatient. It will take at least a few days to complete, even if you did nothing else, because you have to wait for the polyurethane to dry between coats.
The only negatives I see in this product are the inherent ones of wooden snowshoes- you have to care for them a tiny bit more than aluminum and nylon ones. And you could upgrade, and have purchased rawhide for the webbing to be completely traditional. But I have to say that the nylon cord makes a very good looking snowshoe.