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SUL - Snowshoes - MYOG - Part 1
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Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
SUL - Snowshoes - MYOG - Part 1 on 04/22/2006 21:00:38 MDT Print View

I own a pair of Northern Lites, the Backcountry Rescue model as I liked the bright orange. When I bought them I thought I needed the larger size snowshoe. They have worked very well for me and they are very light at 43oz for the pair. I also bought them at the end of the season and got a nice discount on the price.

Since I bought them my gear weight has come down A LOT. I also had a chance to use some smaller snowshoes and have wanted the smaller size ever since.

I have been making gear for warmer weather hiking thinking I may be able to get out for a long hike by Sept this year. For several reasons that time frame has to be pushed out a few months and it now seems it will be Fall or early Winter. When ever I will be ready.

I have shifted my MYOG projects to colder weather gear with a new pack frame system and bigger bag. It will still be very light but it might weight as much as two pounds.

I have had also been working on a pair of full cover (trail runner) gaiters. To take advantage of a few new ideas such as the
Kahtoola Flight Snow Travel System


I am turning that project into a set of very light over-boots for my trail runners. After talking to Kahtoola and re-reading the show review I realized that this is a new Snowshoe System and it is coming out the first of Oct. This gave me some new ideas for a very light snowshoe that with a couple of small changes should work with my trail runner over-boots.

I had tried to make a snowshoe out of tubing at one time but was not very successful at bending the tubing. I didn't give up on the snowshoe idea just put it on hold. I had remembered seeing a snowshoe that wasn't made with tubing but could not remember who made it. Last night I started looking and found the MSR Lighting Ascent Snowshoes.



It is an interesting design idea but the 22" model I found a picture of weighs 3 pounds 8 ounces and uses flat Aluminum for the side part.

My snowshoes will be a much lighter cousin and I will replace the Aluminum with Titanium for the side part. The Titanium for the edge on ONE snowshoe will weigh less than [4 ounces]. It will have two cross pieces of Titanium under the deck part that will act as crampons. I don't have an estimate of the weight for those two pieces yet but they will not weigh much.

Cardboard Model 22" long by 8" at the widest part:




New Snowshoes size vs Northern Lites Backcountry Rescue model:



For the first working version I will use a plastic material called POLYGAL for the deck. It is strong and light weight at 0.1 gram per sq inch. The weight of the POLYGAL for ONE snowshoe will be less than [2.5oz]. The POLYGAL is very ridge and should hold the more flexible Titanium in place.

I am working on several ideas for the bindings. I am looking for certain parts and how I make the binding will depend on finding those parts. If that fails I will make a simple binding like you see on the old wooden snowshoes.

The weight of one complete snowshoe should be in the 9oz to 10 oz range maybe a little less. I am hoping for less but the weight is in the details.

Edited by bfornshell on 04/22/2006 22:40:42 MDT.

AK Hiker
(akhiker) - F
Snowshoes on 04/23/2006 18:20:47 MDT Print View

Very interesting Bill!

A few questions:
- Where did you get the Polygal?

- Looks like the flat metal route is a good idea, and better than tubing. Tubing is tricky to bend without the proper tools.

- Where did you get the titanium? I have bought from Thru-hiker.com and for other applications bought from different large suppliers.

- How thick of titanium will you be using?

- What grade of titanium will you be using?

- I was actually thinking about making my own titanium crampons, in the future, but snowshoes would be nice too. I just don't think I am an extreme SUL in the winter!

Good luck on the snowshoes. I am looking forward to your progress. Looks like they will be pretty expensive snowshoes, but certainly light!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
SUL - Snowshoes - MYOG - Part 1 on 04/23/2006 20:01:47 MDT Print View

Thanks AK Hiker for your interest.

A few questions:
Q1- Where did you get the Polygal?

A1- I buy it at a local Plastic Supply Company.
Here is the web site for PolyGal I was able to buy a half sheet (2' x 8') left over from a job and I got it real cheap.


Q2- Looks like the flat metal route is a good idea, and better than tubing. Tubing is tricky to bend without the proper tools.

A2- For me and the tools I have the flat metal route may be my only solution.


Q3- Where did you get the titanium? I have bought from Thru-hiker.com and for other applications bought from different large suppliers.

A3- The flat sheet Titanium I use all comes from
Thru-Hiker. This should answer the next 2 questions.

- How thick of titanium will you be using?

- What grade of titanium will you be using?

Q4- I was actually thinking about making my own titanium crampons, in the future, but snowshoes would be nice too. I just don't think I am an extreme SUL in the winter!

A4- I have a pair of the steel Kahtoola crampons and they only weigh 23oz for the pair. They fit my trail runners well and work fine for how I use them. I thought about trying to make a lighter pair out of some of the Thru-Hiker Titanium and one day I might. I was ready to buy a new pair of Northern Lites " Elite" snowshoes but when I called the store where I bought my last pair there were out of stock. The store will call and see if NL's has any left. It was during this time that I realized the new Kahtoola product was an Over Boot (1 pound +/- each boot) for a trail runner and a new shoeshoe. While I wait to see what they look like I decide to try and make a lighter snowshoe. The "Elite's are 18oz each so my first goal is something half that weight or in the 9oz range.

My SUL (might be able to call it that) snowshoe is not for heavy duty snowshoeing. It is to have a very light snowshoe to carry while hiking and for the time I might need them to get past a deep place or just hiking on a snow covered trail. Testing will be necessary to see what the limit might be for these.

The next trick will be a lighter Over Boot that works on my shoeshoes like the Kahtoola Flight Boot and also has some kind of crampon on it. For this I need to see the Flight Boot up close.

Q5- Looks like they will be pretty expensive snowshoes, but certainly light!

A5- What ever the snowshoes cost me to make it will be less than buying a new light weight set. I had to decide how much I wanted to spend per ounce for these. I could have made the deck out of Carbon Fiber Sheet but it really costs a lot and I mean a lot.

The PolyGal cost around $25 I think, it was a cash deal and I don't remember for sure. I also will not use very much of the half sheet. I could have used Aluminum and might still make one out of some I have and see how it works. I am sure the points will not hold a sharp edge as long as the Titanium but I might have a plan for that. I have to call the place I buy my metal from and see what grade Aluminum I have. I know they carry several grades. The cost of the Aluminum vs the Titanium is a lot. Not a lot of money just a big percentage difference. There would also be some difference in weight on the Aluminum version.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: SUL - Snowshoes - MYOG - Part 1 on 04/23/2007 16:50:01 MDT Print View

ever make them?

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
SUL - Snowshoes - MYOG - Part 1 on 01/22/2010 10:28:08 MST Print View

I started this project a couple of years ago. I stopped working on it when Thru-Hiker.com ran out of their stock of Titanium sheet material. I had enough to make the snow shoes but decided I might want to use that material for other things.

I received a question this week that asked about the status of the project. I replied with an answer close to the above comment. I was asked about using Aluminum instead Titanium. Back when I started this I had made part of an Aluminum full size pattern. I can buy aluminum that should be strong enough.



I have steel replacement crampons from another set of snow shoes to attach to the shoe harness part that would provide grip on ice so an outer frame of Aluminum could work.

About this same time I was able to buy at a very deep discount a pair of both the Northern Lites - Backcountry Rescue and a pair of MSR - Lighting ??

I don't live close to an area that gets snow very often. With these two different types of snow shoes I have what I need when I can get someplace to play in the snow.

I have played with several different designs since I stopped working on this and one day I may dust off this project, go to aluminum and finish it.

This was to be a pair of SUL snow shoes for "normal" trail use.

Benjamin Moryson
(hrXXL) - MLife

Locale: Germany
MYOG Snow Shoe on 01/26/2010 15:30:38 MST Print View

How thick is the aluminium of your prototype and how did you cut it???

Very nice work and thx for the photo.