snowshoes, footgear enabling the wearer to walk on soft snow without sinking. A snowshoe consists of a light frame of tough wood or aluminum, roughly the shape of a large tennis racket, which is strung with caribou skin or other material and is attached to the shoe in back of a central crossbar in the frame. A primitive form of snowshoe is that used by the Eskimo and Native North Americans, but the designs differ considerably. The Eskimo use one shape that is triangular, about 18 in. (46 cm) in length, and another that is nearly circular. The Cree, farther south, use a long narrow hunting shoe, about 6 ft (2 m) in length; in open country and for speed this type is the most suitable. The toes are slightly turned up to prevent catching if there is a crust on the snow. The shoes worn by lumbermen are about 3.5 ft (1 m) long and proportionately broad, while a tracker's shoe is at least 5 ft (1.5 m) long and very narrow. Manufactured snowshoes are often made with the moccasin attached. Snowshoe races are now popular at winter carnivals, and the sport is governed in the United States and Canada by the International Snow-Shoe Congress.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.