Traditional Gear For Boreal Forest Snowshoe Expeditions

Traditional gear for a life in the boreal forest in winter.

In the photo is my kit for snowshoe expeditions and winter camping excursions in northern Maine and further north. Starting in the bottom right is my axe, a 3.25 lb. head on a 30″ handle. Moving clockwise to the left is my 3-strake toboggan for hauling everything. I made this one a while back out of birch. Following clockwise is my canvas canoe pack, used to hold personal kit such as clothes and sleeping bag/pad, group gear and a stuff sack full of cook pots. Above that in the white bag is a canvas tent. To the right of the tent bag is a wood stove (made by Don Kevilus at Four Dog Stove and in hard use since I acquired it in 2001), on top of which is a white canvas bag with two folding saws in it. To the right of it, on an 8-foot pole, is an ice chisel, which is used to test the ice for safety and to chip water holes for drinking water. To the right of the chisel are my snowshoes, outfitted with low-tech bindings made out of cord. I first used this style of binding in 1994, and have used nothing else since.

What is conspicuously absent from this photo are the food bags, which had yet to be retrieved from the campsite in the woods when I shot this photo. With enough food, this kit allows me to live for extended stays in the frozen forest. Most winters it works out to be between 3-5 weeks of living out.

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