Saturday, December 11, 2010

Coroplast snowshoes- it SOUNDED like a good idea...

If necessity is the mother of invention, snow day boredom is the drunken dorm-mate who will ultimately get you picked up by the campus police.

If you're outside of the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area, you may only be cursorily aware of the current snow-tastrophe.  We've gotten about 12 inches so far (300mm for you post-Imperialists) and are expecting another 4-6 (100-150mm).  I managed to get my car safely embedded into a snowbank off of the snow emergency route I live on (read the rules regarding that here- it's harsh but necessary), and, after digging and pushing out a few more people on the walk home, I got bored.

My work has been throwing out shoebox sized coroplast boxes for a while now; and being, as I am, on the verge of collapsing into full-on hoarding behavior, I've been picking them up and carting them home.  I've probably rescued about 800- there's a stack taller than I am at the Hack Factory.  Anyway, I use these things for everything- as boxes for storing stuff, dividers in my toolkit, a platform to spread out my compost on, whatever.  So, of course, faced with the reality of 18" (with drifts) of snow in my front yard, I decided to make snowshoes!


So, the basic construction is pretty simple- the beaver tail at the bottom of the picture folds up behind my boot, and the two pieces of knotted fabric strips tie around my ankle and over my toes.  All the folds are held together by a few layers of packing tape- I'm not bringing diptheria serum to Nome, here, so I don't really care for long-term viability.  I just wanted to walk around on top of the snow a bit.  I've always wanted to try it.

So, without further ado, here's a video of me trying them out...It didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped.



So, my post-mortem:
First, they aren't rigid enough.  They really just fold up around my foot and then I sink down to bedrock anyway.
Second, they are too big towards the instep.  That's what all the goose-stepping was about- once I sank into the snow, the plastic very helpfully fanned back out, necessitating a wide stance and a longer-than-optimal pace length.
Third, the lack of a frame and a really strong shoe connection means that it's really more like trying to walk with a someone throwing a small sled under your foot with each step than on a snowshoe- I slipped and slid both foot on the plastic and plastic on the snow- that's why I fell at the end.

Did I do ANYTHING right?  I think so...the packing tape seems to have held up well, and the pieces of fabric I used as ties were really nicely sturdy and big enough to easily be done and undone with gloves on.  I think a piece of lathing or similar light but sturdy material across the toe and heel edges would've probably made them work reasonably well, but I don't have anything like that in the house and I really didn't feel like trying to slog out to the garage.

It was fun, anyway, and a good way to kill an hour on a snowy day.

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