Thursday, January 7, 2010
Moose-hide moccasins best for snowshoeing
For about 20 years I have worn the exact same pair of moose-hide moccasins when I go snowshoeing. Talk about your durable footwear! I snowshoe almost every day in the winter.
I grew up in Red Lake wearing moccasins in the winter. There just wasn't the footwear back then that is available today such as felt pacs.
We wore moccasins with three pair of socks and our feet were perfectly comfortable, even in temperatures of -40 C which is also 40 below F.
There is no moisture at these temperatures. Walking in loose snow is like walking in feathers or in packed snow like a sand beach. All you need is something to keep the snow out of your socks.
Moccasins do this perfectly and because they are soft and not binding, are much, much warmer than stiff footwear like rubber or leather boots.
Mind you, today's felt pacs are excellent and have the advantage of preventing your feet from getting wet in slush or wet snow. But they are also heavy, cumbersome and difficult to snowshoe in.
You can put felt liners in moccasins too but I find I prefer to just have a felt insole on the bottom. It cushions your foot where it strikes the bar on the snowshoes.
These moccasins came from the Treasure House in Red Lake which is located across the street from the Government Dock.
They have lots of moose-hide slippers with intricate beadwork and fur trim as well as the winter moccasins like mine and moose-hide mitts and gauntlets.
All of these are made by native women from north of Red Lake.
My moccasins were smoke-tanned but I believe all of the moose-wear they sell today are commercial tanned and so don't smell smoky.
It takes incredible skill to make this footwear. The beadwork style is unique to the maker's family.
Check it out the next time you come to Red Lake. It's the Treasure House.
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