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How to Make Emergency Snowshoes

Knowing how to build a makeshift pair of snowshoes can help you walk to safety if you get caught in deep snow.


  • Step 1: Find tree branches Gather two tree branches, approximately three feet long and 15 inches wide, that have lots of clusters of smaller branches on either side. Ideally, the front of each branch should tip upward.
  • TIP: Fir branches work best for snowshoes; spruce, pine, and willow are good, too.
  • Step 2: Find ski poles Find two bare branches that you can use as ski poles.
  • Step 3: Assume the stance Lay the branches on the ground parallel to each other, with the wider part of the branches facing forward. Position yourself near the front of the branches.
  • Step 4: Tie them to your feet Tie them to the tops of your feet with whatever you can find—string, a cord, or even a piece of clothing or plastic garbage bag that you’ve ripped into strips.
  • TIP: If you’re wearing lace-up shoes or boots, thread the string or cord through the laces to help your shoes stay in place.
  • Step 5: Do some high stepping Lift each foot completely off the snow as you walk; shuffling may break the branches. When it comes to hills, side step.
  • FACT: The first snowshoes were used over 4,000 years ago.

You Will Need

  • Tree branches
  • String
  • cord
  • or fabric strips

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