Snowshoe Repairs

By , December 9, 2012

We’ve gotten some snow on the homestead over the last few days. The weather band says more is on the way—possibly a lot more. I finally got around to a job that’s been waiting for my attention for almost a year: repairing one of my snowshoes.

Snowshoe before repair job

The blown out snowshoe. Lacing on right side broken, one rivet on the left side of the toe basket and two on the right side missing (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I broke it last winter when we were tracking a moose on the southern edge of our property. The day was not particularly cold, no less than 18° F, but the plastic thong lacing on my back deck broke. I also lost three of the four rivets that held my toe basket in place, causing a total blow out on that foot.

I spent too much time that season trying to find the plastic lacing to repair the shoe. There used to be a lot of modern-style snowshoes that featured laced decks, but I suddenly realized that they’d become rare. I assume this is because the lacing breaks easily.

Snowshoe after repair

. . . and, repaired. Paracord lacing on right side, new rivets (silver) among the old (black) (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I cast around for some kind of line to repair the shoe, and eventually settled on parachute cord—or paracord, as it is commonly called. I also got a rivet gun and some pop rivets to replace the lost fasteners on the toe basket.

After that, it was merely a matter of procrastination. I’ve been rotating on a short list of ongoing projects lately, making a bit of progress on two or three of them each day. The snowshoe repair job got put off every day unitl last night, when I buckled down to it.

It turned out to be simple. The lacing pattern is far more basic than some snowshoes I’ve seen. I laced it up, tightened it well, then secured it with a couple of good knots, and seared the frayed ends. Then I tacked the decking back together in the proper places using pop rivets backed with washers.

It looks good. I have yet to test it; that will come if the snow develops. But I expect it’ll hold just fine.

This is the most used of my four pairs of snowshoes. My favorites are the old-style wood and sinew modified bearpaws. They’re trusty, beautiful, and simple. However, in some conditions, and especially if it’s icy, I’m trail hauling, or pulling the pulk, I like the modern snowshoes, with their improved claw grips. I have a secondhand pair that needs some of its lacing replaced as well, and this pair I just put back on the active list. I like its bindings the best, particularly the toe basket.

My “best” pair is the one I have yet to try out. These are the pair of fancy MSR Lightning Axis I won from REI in a Haiku contest. I never got around to trying them out last winter; they’re still new in the box! I’m procrastinating on the decision to use or sell them even better than I did on getting around to the repair job on the other pair.

4 Responses to “Snowshoe Repairs”

  1. Julie says:

    My snowshoes always flip snow at me from the back. Do you think it’s the snowshoe design or should I be modifying how I snowshoe? I really enjoy your blog. I was born in Alaska but haven’t been back since I was 3 years old. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Julie, I experience this sometimes, too. I think it comes more from how you’re walking. I walk in snowshoes as if I were wearing scuff slippers, or thongs, when I don’t want them to slap on my heel. That would be more lifting each foot parallel to the ground, moving forward and setting it down again, rather than the more natural heel-to-toe step we use in normal walking. See if that doesn’t cut down on the snow flinging. It should also keep you from digging a toe into the snow, and possibly tripping you. I don’t know if you experience that, but when I start feeling snow hitting my back, I know a face plant will be next if I don’t adjust my gait!

  3. Julie says:

    Mark,
    Great advice! Can’t wait for snow so I can give it a try.

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    That’s funny, Julie. It rained the morning after I repaired my shoe. We almost always get a thaw around the Winter Solstice, so I expected it. Still, it’s hard not to indulge in a little magical thinking.

    Yesterday I put a coat of spar varnish on all of the family’s traditional snowshoes, but there’s no rain in the forecast today.

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