Friday, February 21, 2014

Thoughts on snowshoes

I am no skier... yet, but I do need some (easy) means to propel myself in snowcovered terrain. The easiest way to do that would be with snowshoes. However I do find very little on the subject here in Sweden. Appearantly it is all skis around here, yet some internetdigging brought some interesting iformation to the surface. Gustav Vasa appearantly used them when he was caught by people from Dalarna, while he was moving toward Norway. I found a bit of information about the use of snowshoes in Sweden at around 1500, but other than that information seems to be sparse.... or well hidden.
What I found seems to originate from "Olaus Magnus Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, bok IV, kap. 13", according to

I kept looking for images too and strangely enough I found it all at a site called Digitalt Museum.
The following images come from their databank and give some idea on shape, size and materials used.

A snowshoe belonging to the collection of friherre Emanuel Thure Cederströms (1848 - 1920), which he donated to the university of Uppsala in 1918. I could not find anymore information on this type, how it was used etc.
Info on this snowshoe here
A type of snowshoe from the Sundsvall museum. It doesn't look awefully hard to make and I suspect it actually does increase flotation on the snow. No info on how old it is or where exactly is originates from.
I found another, similar one, with more space between the slats and that originates from Uppland 1912
info on this type here
I love the next one!
Appearantly produced between 1850 en 1900 and can be found in the armémuseum, so it obviously has a military origin. The design of the shoe itself is very similar to WW2 snowshoes as used by The Brittish, US and even Germany.
How the ski would make going easier..... I don't know.
Info here
The next one dates from 1940 and was donated to the armémuseum by Försvarets Materialverk, meaning Defence matérialfactory.
It is made from a metal frame with weaved leather strands. Length 780mm. Width 300mm
The snösko fm/1968. There are version with a metal frame and bambuframe. The webbing is woven cloth.
If I chose to get snowshoes, and I most löikely will, it will be this type. It seems to provide better floatation, the webbing is not so much prone to damage or distortion by wet conditions and it just seems a better type for negotiating filling and rocky terrain. They do come with cleats, if I am informed correctly.
You'll find even snowshoes for horses in Sweden;

Swedes in Canada


  1. I am quite sure the two pairs on the top is horse snowshoes also.

    1. I think you might be right, given the shape and size.
      Maybe the tarred woodskis gave some tracktion?
      I find it very hard to find any information on either snowshoe or ski. Maybe I am just looking in the wrong paces or maybe the information is passed down verbaly, yet I have to come across a good reference that deals with either in every aspect and in regard to this terrain. Maybe some armymanuals??
      Most wooden skis either end up as walldeco or firewood... Were they that bad or is it modern day complacency?

    2. Sowshoes was never a hit in Scandinavia. At least not the North American kind. Why ido not know, but skis works well enough (or even better) if/when used correctly.
      And I don't think you will find to much info about snowshoes in Scandinavia, except for the small short distance ones.
      Wooden skis isn't bad, but modern skis are better and cheaper. You probably won't find new quality wooden skiis for less than NOK2500. Take a look at these:
      There are some Swedish wooden ski producers to, but I do not remember their name.
      I would recommend that you find a pair of used Fisher E99 or similar, equip them with skins and start training. Once you master them you have a very usefull and versatile tool.

      Or you could do like this guy:
      (I think I've sent this link before).

    3. I'm a stubborn SOB, so I'll just go for the wooden ones for now. I have them and they are quite cheap secondhand around here. Plus I get satisfaction from working with and mending this ols stuff.
      I'll try to dig up some army manuals. They are used to pulling sleds with skis. I'm curious to see and learn how they did it.

    4. I think the wooden ones will serve you just fine. But if you intend to pull a sled with them, you definately need to get your hand on a pair of skins (or maybe they are called "fells" in english).
      You won't get enough grip to pull a sled without them.
      They come in various types and price ranges: (genuine seal fells).
      The seal skin ones isn't exactly cheap....
      Didn't find any swedish suppliers, but I am sure they sell them in Sweden to.

  2. I've also wondered about snowshoes in Fenno-Scandia. I imagine they were used long ago before the development of skis and then fell out of use. I have seen an engraving depicting Saami people where they were wearing snowshoes.


    1. I guess Lapland is less rocky then the lower parts of Scandinavia?'
      Either way it is an area of the outdoorlife I will have to discover from base 1 and see what works for me.