The MSR Evo Trail is a fantastic snowshoe that has no problem tackling terrain of most levels and types. It is a simple, no-frills, unisex model that is extremely versatile and easy to use. The binding system accommodates large ski or snowboard boots, and the lightweight plastic frame is compatible with optional 6" flotation tails. These let you increase your flotation and weight capacity without having to buy another pair. With fantastic traction and a very comfortable price point, the Evo is a purchase you can feel confident about for most every kind of adventure, and it was a clear choice for one of our Best Buy awards.
MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Affordable, great traction, easy to use, versatile
Cons: Plastic frame is loud, requires those with a narrower gait to widen their steps, straps flop around
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Evo Trail 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.
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, flotation is 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.
We have to admit, initial impressions of this shoe were that it looks cheap and as though it won'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 because 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.
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 for narrower-gaited humans as other models we tested that are designed with this specifically in mind.
Many of our testers 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 while wearing these. Once you head out into deep snow, however, the plasticy sound fades away.
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 — they must be adequately 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.
It's also important to pay careful attention to how each foot is placed on the deck 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 bindings on the Evo are secure if properly tightened, though the tails of the straps don't always stay in their retainer clips and like to flop around. It doesn't compromise their integrity; it just looks messy.
It is vital with the Evo to pull the rubber straps tighter than you may initially think you need or want 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.
None of the models we tested had bindings that we found uncomfortable. But we did score the Evo 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 bit 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. However, as long as you pay attention to these things when strapping in, all will be well.
This snowshoe is a fantastic value, a clear winner for versatility on a budget, and is a Best Buy winner in the men's category too. It's one of the best shoes in our review in regards to traction and has the option of adding flotation tails.
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 Best Buy winner is a solid purchase for any gender.
— Penney Garrett