Our snow-ready ash wood frames hand-laced with rawhide last many a winter. Versatile rounded design for moving silently in brush and forest. Each pair custom-made in Michigan. Ships 4-5 weeks from date of order. (
These wooden snowshoes are made to float silently over soft powdery snow. Rather than sinking deep into a fresh fall, snowshoes distribute your weight over a larger area, so you stay on the surface of the snow rather than fighting your way out of it. The frames of these shoes are rounded in the back and the front for maneuverability so you can walk between the trees in a forest, then across open fields or up and down gentle hills.
And unlike aluminum snowshoes, wood is silent, so you can see all the rabbits, partridges and deer that you didn’t just scare away.
The Bearpaw Showshoes are made by Iverson, the last wooden shoe company it the U.S. For 50 years, Iverson has operated out of a tiny town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, near Lake Superior. In the winter, winds blowing over the lake drop 400 inches of snow on the town, so they’re no strangers to snow.
Iverson uses Ash wood from the surrounding area, though not just for convenience. White Ash is strong with a long, straight grain that bends well and holds its form. The wood is flexible even when it’s cold, meaning it doesn’t become brittle and prone to snapping. Ice build-up on aluminum snowshoes can create a slippery sledding effect, one you won’t have to worry about with wooden shoes.
The open rawhide lacing acts as traction and lets snow filter through. Solid bottoms on aluminum shoes collect snow and essentially turn into shovels on your feet.
The snowshoes have double the floatation of aluminum shoes of similar weight. Iverson has improved the foot harnesses of their snowshoes, so they tighten easily with the pull of a couple of straps. No more fumbling around with frozen leather in the middle of a hike.
The bindings have a black leather foot bed and black nylon webbed straps.
Snowshoes are also available without the bindings.
Tighten the snowshoe harness around your footwear and go out into the snow. These shoes can take a maximum of 200 pounds, something to keep in mind if you're going off to collect a cord of firewood.
The snowshoes are made to be sturdy so there shouldn't be much to worry about while you're walking. The only thing to avoid is "bridging". If you are going to step on something, step on it with your whole foot. Don't put the toe of the snowshoe on a stone and the heel on a log, with your foot hovering over nothingness. It'll take a pretty heavy person to snap it this way, but it's best not to try.
Iverson snowshoes are triple-dipped in protective varnish. To keep the shoes protected, apply a layer of spar varnish with a paint brush once a year. Spar varnish (also called marine varnish) was originally made for boats but works great for snowshoes because it is water resistant and elastic. With the right treatment the shoes will last three lifetimes, if you slack on it, they'll only last for one.
Let the shoes (and the rawhide) dry fully after each use.
If the shoes need to be re-laced, send them back to Iverson's. They re-lace shoes that are upwards of 50 years old.
Iverson's snowshoes are made in twenty steps, all of which are done by hand in Shingleton, Michigan. The wood is cut, steamed, shaped and kiln dried. Holes are drilled and hardware attached. After the first dip in varnish, the frames are sent to the lacers, who mostly work from home, knotting the rawhide into place. The whole shoe is dried for 4-5 days and dipped three more times in the varnish before shipping out.
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