A solid pair of snowshoes can mean the difference between a brisk walk and a knee-deep slog. Whether they’re ash and hide, or aluminum and neoprene, ongoing maintenance and a few emergency-repair tips will keep you on top of the white stuff.
Both traditional and modern snowshoes benefit from an end-of-season wash with mild soap and water to remove dirt and salt.
After the shoes dry, take care of the various materials: When the finish on wood frames and rawhide lacing becomes worn, brush on a coat of glossy, ultraviolet-inhibiting, exterior or marine (spar) varnish. Preserve and waterproof leather bindings with saddle soap, neat’s-foot oil, or Sno-Seal. Synthetic decking materials on modern snowshoes are often waterproof and UV-protected, but if age is taking a toll, wipe the decking with a plastic protectant like Armor All, or silicone spray from the automotive aisle of the hardware store. If synthetic decking is fraying at the edges, passing a flame from a lighter or match quickly over the threads should clean them up. A thin coat of light machine oil will prevent rust on carbon steel components.
Store your snowshoes upright in a cool, dry place. Mice (and dogs) will chew leather straps and rawhide lacing; hang your snowshoes from a wire to prevent rodents from getting at them.—Michel Roy
3 inner tube fixes
Got an old inner tube that won’t float? Use it to:
1 ] Fashion no-buckle snowshoe bindings that are as good as the originals.
Get the pattern here.
2 ] Make straps to replace a broken binding.
3 ] Cut rubber strips to weave together damaged webbing.
Your Snowshoe tool kit
A broken snowshoe is a Survivorman problem if you’re winter camping or mountaineering. Even if you’re just meandering over the fields, it’s still a drag. You can make many repairs trailside or back in the cottage—with a few basic supplies.
Make a splint for broken aluminum tubing or cracked ash frames with a couple of hose clamps and metal tent pegs or large nails (even short lengths of branch in a pinch). You’ll need a screwdriver to tighten the clamps—it’s near the wine opener on your multi-tool.
Also known as “nylon zip ties,” these ratch-eted strips can draw almost anything together: Repair a snapped binding attachment point, secure webbing or decking to a frame where a rivet has broken, or mend webbing by looping cable ties.
If the synthetic decking tears, check with the snowshoes’ manufacturer; many can repair it. Meanwhile, Gorilla Tape, Hurricane Tape, or another tough adhesive strip should hold. Tape won’t make an effective patch if the decking is cold and wet; dry and warm the snowshoe first.