Although I’m by no means an expert on minimalist footwear, from what I have seen and read winter provides the greatest challenge for minimalist-footwear enthusiasts. Although there are certainly minimalist options available for colder weather, there is nowhere near the variety of options that there is for the warmer months. I wanted to share an option that my husband and I have recently started using – traditional moccasins! Perhaps better known as mukluks… but the kit from Lure of the North we used called them moccasins, so that’s the terminology I’ll use. We decided to try out these moccasins as footwear on our winter camping trips, where we travel by snowshoe, dragging a toboggan, and sleep in a canvas tent with a wood stove. Conor had done some tripping with the owners of Lure of the North, and had been impressed with how their moccasins performed – their comfort, warmth, and, perhaps most notably, how quickly they dried in the tent at night. Homemade Winter Moccasins We ordered our moccasin making kits from Lure of the North, a neat northern Ontario company run by a young couple living off-grid in a canvas tent. You can choose from a variety of materials, colours, and trim. We opted for deer skin lowers and boar skin uppers, to create a wrap-a-round style of moccasin (alternatively, you could use canvas for ‘tube style’ uppers). The instructions and kits were great. I have basic sewing skills, and Conor had basically no sewing experience, but the instructions were clear and, although it was bit intimidating when we first unpacked the materials and instructions, once we dove in it was fairly straightforward. Of course, our work isn’t perfect, but it’s adequate and functional, and still looks pretty good! We worked in bursts, but all told it was probably about a solid weekend of work to complete the project. For the materials we chose it was mostly hand sewing, with a sewing machine required for one piece of reinforcing trim. I believe the canvas style requires more use of a sewing machine. Conor used his on a week-long trip with a friend, and we both used them on a recent long weekend trip. It was C-O-L-D, and we were traveling on some pretty tough terrain with steep climbing, but the moccasins were great. They were very comfortable, stayed put in the snowshoe harnesses, and once our feet warmed up they stayed cozy all day. Their next test will be a 7 day trip over the upcoming March break. And we can’t ignore that it’s a neat feeling to be making and using our own gear, instead of always buying the ‘latest and greatest’ high tech outdoor gizmo. For both our winter and summer expeditions we’ve been leaning more towards the traditional side of things over the past couple of years, and making more and more of our own gear, and it really adds a new (and satisfying) element to the experiences.