Snowshoes provide a centuries old and well tested means of travel through heavily snow covered landscapes. They were used by Native Americans, Eskimos, Northern European nationalities, and even by us Czechs.
The origins and beginnings of snowshoes remain unknown. They were mentioned by the Greek historian and philosopher Strabon (circa 63-24 B.C.). He stated that the inhabitants of Caucasus used large, flat pieces of animal skins to keep themselves from sinking into the snow while Armenians used round wooden discs for this same purpose. Almost every North American Indian tribe had their own type of snowshoe. The most simple and primitive type was found far to the north. The Inuits had two different types of snowshoes: a triangular model approximately 45 cm long and another with a rounder, more arched shape. Further south, snowshoes were longer and thinner. The longest ones, which were almost 2 m long, were discovered among the Cree.
Snowshoes keep a person from sinking into the snow by distributing his or her mass more evenly with their large, flat surfaces. The wearer then has the possibility of unlimited movement over the snow without leaving tracks or footprints. He or she can move over open plains, forest areas, or areas covered with bushes without any special training. Another advantage to snowshoes is that they are highly storable.