On a cold winter day, there’s no better way to keep your toes dry and toasty than a pair of warm boots. Today’s Wonder isn’t about just any old boots, though. We’re talking about mukluks!

Have you ever heard of mukluks? Some of you might even own a pair or two. If not, you’re sure to want a pair after you read today’s Wonder.

Mukluks — sometimes called kamik — are soft boots originally created by the Inuit and Yupik peoples of the Arctic areas of Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. They resemble traditional moccasins with higher, boot-like tops.

Mukluks were traditionally made from the skin of reindeer, seals, moose or bear. The word “mukluk” comes from the Yupik word (maklak) for the bearded seal.

Today, people often use the word “mukluks” to refer to any type of soft boot made to be worn in cold weather. Modern “mukluks” sometimes look a lot like high-top sneakers.

Traditional mukluks were very light and allowed hunters to move quietly. Others who didn’t wear them hunting might decorate their mukluks with pompons or colored beads.

To make them warmer, mukluks could be lined with the fur of Arctic animals, such as rabbits, foxes and raccoons. These natural materials also gave mukluks one of their best cold-weather qualities: breathability.

Mukluks allow air to circulate around the foot. This is especially important in the Arctic. If you wear boots that don’t allow perspiration to be released back into the air, sweat can accumulate inside the boot and freeze, causing frostbite.

Using animal skins made mukluks like a second, thin layer of skin on the feet. Animal skin is naturally water-resistant, so mukluks kept water and snow out as native peoples traveled across the Arctic hunting for food.

Today, boot manufacturers often use the style and design of mukluks in modern boots. Uggs, for example, are a popular modern style of boot that were inspired by the warmth and strength of traditional mukluks.

Another modern piece of footwear — slipper socks — also owes its design to mukluks. Instead of animal skins, slipper socks are usually made of wool attached to a soft leather sole.

 

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  1. Wow, so cool. I want some mukluks now. They sound soft but the real investigation is are they soft. I am an agent from the NCFSINN stands for (National Crime Fighting Scene Investigators Non Negotiators). Price Line Negotiators are our enemies. Okay back to the subject. Mukluks sound so cool. I can’t wait to get some. Well, this is me out. Bye.

    • Wow, Austin! We think it must be cool to be an agent for the NCFSINN! Thanks for checking out Wonderopolis today and for letting us know another cool thing about you! :-)

    • We had a WONDERful President’s Day, Jesse! Thanks so much for asking! We like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder…we can’t wait to see if you’re correct! :-)

  2. My name is Tate. I think that tomorrow’s wonder will be looking for prairie dog homes in the Midwest United States! Can’t wait to see if I’m right!

    • We can’t wait either, Tate! Thank you for hanging out in Wonderopolis today and for letting us know what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about today’s Wonder, Leira’! Did you know we have a whole BUNCH of past Wonders of the Day about sports? It’s true! You can explore one or all of them by searching through our SPORTS category. Here’s a link that will take you to it: http://wonderopolis.org/category/sports/. Happy WONDERing! :-)

  3. Before reading the information our predictions are:
    Nolan-Type of shoes that give you luck.
    Kelly-A shoe that has fur on the inside and outside to keep you warm.
    Larissa-A type of shoe.
    Sam-I think mukluks are shoes that are used to climb in the Himalayan Mountains.
    Gavin-I think mukluks are a type of boot that keeps your feet very warm.
    Audrey G.-I think they were used a long time ago.
    Foxx-I think they are the warmest types of boots.
    Emily-I think mukluks are mud shoes.

    Have a “terrific” Tuesday day Wonderopolis!

    • Those are some REALLY WONDERful predictions, Mrs. Phillips’ WONDER Class! We think you guys are so super smart! We hope you have fun exploring today’s Wonder of the Day® and learning all about MUKLUKS! :-)

  4. Here are some of our thoughts about mukluks:

    1. How much do they cost in the stores?
    2. How long does it take to make them?
    3. Do you have to wash the animal fur before you make it into mukluks?
    4. Besides the video, where can we learn more about how to make them?
    5. Are there diseases in the fur when you get it from hunters?
    6. Where do you get the material (fur and skins)? Do you get it from hunters?
    7. This is not a question, but Kaylee (a 3rd grader in our class) is wearing Uggs today.

    Here are some predictions about tomorrow’s wonder:

    1. a prairie dog
    2. the book “Little House on the Prairie”
    3. where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived
    4. the prairie
    5. a prairie wolf

    Thanks for your WONDERful WONDER!

    • All your extra WONDERing about mukluks is AMAZING, 2/3 Class–New Century School–Verona, WI! YOU GUYS ROCK! We’re so glad you visited Wonderopolis again today and let us know all these amazing thoughts you had! We also think your predictions about tomorrow’s Wonder are GREAT! :-)

    • We like how Mrs. Armfelt’s 3rd graders WONDER, Mr. P.! We found a web page we think they (and all of our other Wonder Friends) will appreciate. It features some modern day mukluk artists and how the tradition of making mukluks has been passed down through many generations. Here’s the link: http://www.manitobah.ca/artists.php. Happy WONDERing! :-)

    • That’s a SUPER prediction, Mrs. Schneider’s class! We hope you and our other Wonder Friends who have thought about tomorrow’s Wonder are correct…we would really LOVE to WONDER more about prairie dogs! :-)

  5. We love Mukluks! Our favorite ones are made right here in Ely, MN at Stegers. You may remember the famous polar explorer, Will Steger, it’s the same family.

    The boots have been worn by numerous expeditions from the North Pole to the South Pole, and on the Iditarod Race Trail in Alaska.

  6. The boots look old, but they’re the right warm boots called mukluks. Mukluks keep you warm in snow and in the cold. You can make your own mukluks. Thanks for the great wonder, wonderopolis!

    • Thank YOU for the great comment, Josh! We like receiving your comments and hearing about the cool stuff you learn while exploring the Wonders of the Day®! Say hello to your classmates at Kerrick Elementary for us today, OK? :-)

  7. Hooray for Mr. P in the library sharing the WONDER and hooray for Mrs. Armfelt’s class for writing a great question. Thanks Wonderopolis for the link. I will share it with my 5th grade students in my class. The wonder is spreading around out school. Rock on BES school!!

    • Those are both AWESOME questions, Zane! We’re not sure how long it takes to make a pair of mukluks, but we do know it requires skill and special “mukluk-making” knowledge that has been passed down through many generations. Thank you for checking out today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  8. Greetings Wonderopolis,
    We didn’t know that mukluks were made out of reindeer, seals, moose or bears! We learned that mukluks sometimes look like high top sneakers. Now since we know what a mukluk is, we want a pair! We just learned our lesson for the day by looking at today’s wonder.

    • Hi there, Kathryn and Ella! We think it ROCKS that you learned so many interesting facts about mukluks by exploring today’s Wonder of the Day® together! Way to go! :-)

    • That’s really AWESOME, Anastasia! Thank you for sharing your family’s personal connection to today’s Wonder about mukluks! Maybe you can share what you learned about them today with your dad! :-)

  9. I was really close to guess today’s wonder.

    I loved today’s wonder!

    I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about horse shoes. I think you already know what I am going to say here. Take a guess.

    Sorry it’s so late, I had to go to school today.

    • We’re happy you left us another comment today, TJ! It’s fun to learn at school AND in Wonderopolis! Thanks for being such a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We’re glad we have so many SUPER COOL Wonder Friends like you who enjoy reading AND learning new things in Wonderopolis, Leah! Thanks for leaving us this great comment today! :-)

    • That’s a really neat connection to this Wonder of the Day®, Hannah! Thank you for sharing it with everyone in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We’re glad you thought today’s Wonder was cool, Paige! We think YOU are really cool for always visiting the Wonders of the Day and leaving us AWESOME comments! We hope there is a Wonder about bugs coming up very soon! :-)

  10. I think that today’s wonder is pretty cool. But, as I live in Australia, it would be a bit silly to have warm mukluks. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    • We like meeting new Wonder Friends from all over the world, Rusty! Thank you for letting us know you live in Australia! We like your guess about the next Wonder, too…we’ll all have to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see if your guess is correct! :-)

    • Hi, Hannah! Thanks so much for your comment today! We’re pretty sure that hunters use the more plain and efficient mukluks when they’re hunting and use the special, “decorated” kind for celebrations and non-hunting events. :-)

  11. Hi, wonderopolis. I love today’s wonder. I don’t know what mukluks are, but I would read about them now. When I watched this video, I thought, wow, mukluks are cool. People should wear them in Alaska to be much much warmer in the freezing temperatures over there. So here it is to you people for my opinion…I suggest to wear mukluks to be much much warmer. Last year at Santo Domingo Pueblo, we had little snow. Bye wonderopolis!

    • We like your idea of wearing mukluks to be much warmer, Aleia! Thank you for sharing a little about where you live, too! We appreciate learning more about our AWESOME Wonder Friends! :-)

  12. Hi, wonderopolis. I think mukluks are very cool! In school this year, we have learned about the Inuit people. My birthday is on Febuary 21st, too! Thanks for making me wonder.

    BYE BYE! :0)

    • We are happy to hear that you had a bit of background knowledge about mukluks and the awesome people who wear them before you explored this Wonder, “Person in OH!” Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  13. Señora Waingort’s grade 2 class says: we are inspired that you made a wonder of the day about mukluks. How long does it take to make mukluks?

    • We’re so glad this Wonder inspired you to WONDER even more about mukluks, Señora Waingort’s grade 2 class! We’re not sure how long it takes to make mukluks, but we think it depends on lots of different factors, like the craftsperson who is making them, what size they are, and how they are decorated. We think it must take a lot longer to craft a pair of the really decorative mukluks used in celebrations (with bead designs and fur) than a plain pair of “working” ones! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What are mukluks?
  • Where did the name mukluks come from?
  • What are mukluks made from?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to learn about some other ways to keep your toes warm and toasty in the winter? Even if you don’t have or can’t find mukluks, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure your feet stay warm even in the coldest months:

  • Keep your feet dry! One simple equation to remember in winter is this: dry feet = warm feet. If you’ve ever had snow slip into your shoes in the winter, you know how miserable — and cold — wet feet can be. One way to keep your feet dry is by wearing waterproof boots. Also make sure your pants cover the tops of your boots to help keep unwanted moisture out.
  • Wear shoes or boots that breathe. No, we don’t mean they’re alive. We mean they allow perspiration from your feet to escape into the air rather than staying inside your shoes and making your feet damp.
  • Don’t wear cotton socks. Instead, choose socks that are made of fleece or a special material that wicks away moisture. Cotton socks absorb moisture and keep it close to the skin, which can make your feet colder. Socks that wick away moisture transport it from your feet back into the air, keeping your feet nice and dry.
  • Choose shoes or boots with good insulation. When you shop for winter shoes or boots, look for ones that are insulated with materials that help keep the cold out and the heat in.

 

Still Wondering

Children can use any old shoe with the Whose Shoes? Using Artifacts to Teach Reading and Rhyming Patterns lesson from ReadWriteThink, and the Artifact Analysis Questions provided will help children see it in a whole new way.

 

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will head to town to look for little houses on the prairie!

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