For thousands of years, the snowshoe has been an invaluable tool for humans living in cold, snowy climates. According to the United States Snowshoe Association, the earliest known instances of humans using snowshoes date back more than 6,000 years, and it is thought that the tools were brought to North America by the ancestors of the modern-day Native Americans.

While the modern, aluminum-framed snowshoe has evolved significantly from the bent-ash and rawhide shoes of days gone by, the function remains the same. Distributing a person’s weight evenly across a larger surface, the snowshoe allows one to traverse on top of deep snow rather than trudging through it. The trick is, the snowshoe only works if the conditions are right.

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