Here’s a look into my thought process on winter shoes for Minnesota and Alaska as I figure out what gear I need to stay warm in Winter.
Like much of the winter gear I’m investigating, breathable winter boots are awfully pricey. Steger boots, the boots commonly recommended for winter travel, are $200. Workshops on making mukluks at North House Folk School are $280. My question, as always, is can I make that myself without shelling out a bunch of $$$?
[Pictured: Mukluks from Steger]
Making breathable boots by hand is no small feat, let alone boots with hard soles like Stegers. There are ways though as people do sell the hard rubber soles for winter boots, like here on Etsy. I have a couple ideas on how to attach the soles to the mukluks. There is no non-toxic way I can think of though. Likely I would use Barge cement, or something similar. That’s likely what Stegers uses.
Here’s the steps of what I’d likely do: 1) Make a stitchdown turnshoe with whitetail deer buckskin (I’m not interested in tanning elk and don’t have access to moose). A stitchdown turnshoe means that the upper of the shoe would be stitched down onto a piece of thick bark tan sole leather. 2) Glue the sole leather to a piece of thick shoe rubber (designed to hold on to rubber soles better than leather). 3) Glue on either a flat Vibram sole, or a sole that wraps around the base like on Stegers.
Another aspect of making winter shoes is usually people get them larger than their actual foot size so they can fit wool felt liners. There’s three options I can think of: 1) Felt my own liners 2) Get felted sweaters and sew a liner (I did this for buckskin mittens and it worked well) 3) just get liners from Steger for $20.
The book Snow Walker’s Companion has patterns on making mukluks. As does Lure of the North, along with DIY winter moccasin kits.