The Evo by MSR is both versatile and burly. It's one of the best snowshoes we tested for varied terrain of all levels. With impressive traction, easy-to-use bindings, and good flotation, this is a great snowshoe to have as part of your winter arsenal. This is particularly true if you like to keep your options open in regards to where you go and what boots you have on your feet.
The Evo is a straightforward unisex model good for all types of terrain.
Initially unsure what to expect from the Evo's humble plastic frames, we ended up quite pleased with their performance in this category. They float very well, even without using the supplemental flotation tails.
This snowshoe is great for both packed and fresh snow, but we do recommend the additional tails if you plan to spend a lot of time in deep fresh powder. The tails take the 22" shoe to a generous 28," and with the extra surface area, we achieved some of the best float in our test. Without the tails, our float was decent but not the best. We scored the Evo based on performance without the tails because it's an additional $50 purchase that many people won't want to make.
The Evo's decent float was made even better with the use of add-on flotation tails.
We have to admit, some of our testers initial impression of this shoe was that it looked cheap and as though it wouldn't perform very well. We're glad to report that was not the case at all. The Evo performed at the top of the pack for traction.
On beginner packed trails without much snow, the Evo can almost feel like overkill the traction is so good. But as soon as you're out on trickier terrain and deeper drifts, you'll be glad for the aggressive stick. We felt secure and safe and cruised steep and icy intermediate hills with ease. This shoe does not offer heel lifts, so it isn't the best for long stretches of climbing. But you'll be good to go on moderate rolling terrain.
Burly toes plus a series of horizontal traction rails and teeth that run vertically down each side equals good traction indeed!
This is one area that the Evo fell a bit short of others in our review. Being a unisex model, it doesn't feel as natural to walk in as other models we tested that are designed specifically for a woman's gait.
We felt a tiny bit clunky and cumbersome while walking in this snowshoe. It is easy to have one foot collide with the other at regular intervals if you don't widen your steps a bit. On top of that, the plastic frame and decking are loud, especially when walking on packed trails, so don't expect to be sneaking up on any animals in these. Once you head out into deep snow, the plasticy sound fades away.
Being a unisex model, the Evo did not feel as easy to walk in as many of the women-specific models we tested. Here the Evo walks next to the Flex RDG, which is much better at accommodating a woman's natural gait.
Ease of Use
This is a very easy and straightforward snowshoe to use. The bindings are comprised of simple straps and buckles, and there are no additional complicated features to contend with.
The straps on the Evo can be a bit annoying to deal with as they must be properly tightened, or they have the tendency to come undone while hiking. We're talking so tight you'll think you're overdoing it. If you're wearing smaller boots, the long straps will also flop around.
And you need to pay careful attention to how each foot is placed before cinching everything down. If you don't, it's very easy to have your crampon in different places on each foot and cause everything to feel wonky and weird. All of these things are minor issues, but they do affect the overall experience a bit and walking in these isn't the most natural.
The Evo is very easy to strap into, though it is a bit more awkward to walk in than many of the woman-specific models we tested.
The bindings on the Evo are secure if properly tightened. Even if the tails of the straps don't always stay in their retainer clips and like to flop around. It just looks messy. It doesn't actually compromise their integrity.
It is important with the Evo to pull the rubber straps tighter than you may initially think you need or want to in order to achieve the proper angle on the buckle tooth. If you don't do this, the straps can work their way undone. This is simply part of learning the nuance of the shoe. Once you've got it all figured out, you'll be solid. We did not find this binding to be insecure or worrisome in the slightest.
This snowshoe is burly with one of the more secure binding systems we tested. The straps do require that you get them sufficiently tight before taking off though, or they can potentially work their way undone.
None of the models we tested had bindings that we found uncomfortable. But we did score our two MSR models, this one and the Lightning Ascent, a bit lower because the individual straps, while very versatile, can make getting everything tightened uniformly more difficult.
Belt-style buckles mean that it's common to have a strap that feels just a little too tight or a little too loose, because there may not be a hole in the perfect spot. It is also easier to create pinch points and inconsistencies between the two feet if they are not placed on the decking in the same place. But as long as you pay attention to these things when strapping in, all will be well.
The individual straps of the Evo binding system are very versatile and decently comfortable, providing you get them tightened evenly around your foot and between your two feet.
The Evo is great for everything from packed trails to deep snow, beginner to semi-advanced terrain. We felt secure on ice and slopes and loved that the bindings allow for large footwear like ski or snowboard boots. If you want to push into truly advanced backcountry areas, we recommend the MSR Lightning Ascent, but for most everything leading up to that, this is a wise and happily frugal purchase. We love the versatility of being able to add flotation tails and also share the shoe with any size or gendered person.
For all but the steepest terrain, the Evo is a fantastic purchase with a ton of versatility.
This snowshoe is a fantastic value at only $140 and is the Best Buy winner in the men's category too. We chose the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous for our main Best Buy winner because it is easier for women or small framed individuals to walk in, but the Evo is our clear winner for versatility on a budget. It's better than the Rendezvous in regards to traction and has the option of adding flotation tails. Both snowshoes are a steal considering all you get for the price, so pick one based on the style of snowshoeing you want to do and the types of terrain you plan to be in the most.
The Evo is a simple yet competent snowshoe with excellent traction, highly versatile bindings, and more-than-adequate flotation. You will be able to feel secure and confident on everything from flat, packed trails to icy rolling terrain. You'll also have the option of add-on flotation tails if you want to upgrade your weight capacity and flotation ability. All in all, this is a solid purchase for men or women at a very reasonable price.
With burly traction, versatile bindings, and an affordable price point, the Evo is a snowshoe that is loved by men and women alike.