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MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes Review

This is a solid snowshoe with great traction and versatile bindings that will have no problem taking you into a wide spectrum of snow types and terrain levels.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $140 List | $139.95 at REI
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
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 11, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Flotation - 30% 7
  • Traction - 25% 9
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Bindings - 15% 8

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $139.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$319.95 at REI
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$199.95 at REI
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$199.95 at Amazon$189.95 at Amazon
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Pros Affordable, great traction, easy to use, versatileStellar traction, heel lifts for steep terrain, easy to use, add-on flotation tail compatibleGood traction and flotation, excellent binding system, heel liftGreat traction, Boa binding system, comfortable binding, easy walking, quietExcellent traction, comfortable bindings, fantastic stride ergonomics
Cons Plastic frame is loud, requires those with a narrower gait to widen their steps, straps flop aroundExpensive, front of binding difficult to navigate with thick gloves on, side and back stepping are laboriousA bit heavy, tail flips up a lot of snow, toe shape feels a little wideBoa system is more finicky and less repairable than a strap system, on the heavier sideBinding system potentially isn't secure, doesn't float well unless you're very light
Bottom Line Great traction and versatile bindings mean you will have no problem heading into a wide spectrum of snow types and terrain levels with the Evo.If superior traction and versatility out in the steep and variable backcountry terrain is what you're looking for, the Lightning Ascent delivers in spades.The Montane is an easy to use snowshoe that offers great features for mountainous and technical terrain.The Blizzard III with its impressive crampons and good flotation will make for happy snowshoeing no matter what the terrain.The Flex RDG offers fantastic traction and great stride ergonomics for women while being easy to use and comfortable.
Rating Categories MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes Lightning Ascent Atlas Elektra Montane Louis Blizzard III Tubbs Flex RDG - Women's
Flotation (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
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6
Traction (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
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8
10
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8
10
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9
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
10
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6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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9
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
10
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7
10
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8
Bindings (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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7
Specs MSR Evo Trail... Lightning Ascent Atlas Elektra... Louis Blizzard III Tubbs Flex RDG -...
Uses Flat and variable rolling terrain All terrain All terrain Flat, rolling and mountain terrain Variable rolling and mountain terrain
Optimum weight loads (per size) Without tails: 180 lbs, With tails: 250 lbs 120-210 lbs 120-200+ lbs 100-200 lbs 80-150 lbs
Weight (per pair) 3.56 lbs without tails, 4.4 lbs with 4.19 lbs 4.36 lbs 4.4 lbs 3.5 lbs
Binding mount Full Full Fixed Full Full
Binding system DuoFit Paragon Binding Wrapp Swift binding Boa binding CustomWrap binding featuring the Boa Closure System
Crampon Steel traction rails and brake bars DTX Crampon All-trac toe crampon Traxion HCS front crampon & V-rail crampon Traction rails and carbon steel toe crampon
Frame material Plastic frame and decking with steel traction rails Aluminum Aluminum V-frame 6061-T6 Aluminum ErgoStream Plastic frame and decking with steel traction rails
Deck material UniBody deck - injection-molded plastic Nylon Nytex decking EDGE molded polymer Plastic advanced Torsion Deck
Surface area (for tested size) 174 in² without tails, 220 in² with 180 in² 176 in² 189 in² 151 in²
Dimensions 8 x 22" 7.25 x 25" 8.5 x 27" 8 x 25" 8 x 22"
Flotation tails sold separately? Yes, 6" Yes, 5" No No No
Load with tails (per size) Up to 250 lbs Up to 270 lbs N/A N/A N/A
Men's and Women's versions? Unisex Yes No, women's specific Yes Yes
Sizes Available 22" 22", 25" 23" and 27" 22" and 25" 22"
Size Tested 22" plus 6" add-on tails 25" 27" 25" 22"

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.

Performance Comparison


The Evo is a straightforward unisex model good for all types of terrain.
The Evo is a straightforward unisex model good for all types of terrain.

Flotation


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.

The Evo's decent float was made even better with the use of add-on flotation tails.
The Evo's decent float was made even better with the use of add-on flotation tails.

Traction


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.

Burly toes plus a series of horizontal traction rails and teeth that run vertically down each side equals good traction indeed!
Burly toes plus a series of horizontal traction rails and teeth that run vertically down each side equals good traction indeed!

Stride Ergonomics


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.

Being a unisex model  the Evo  for some  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 narrower gait.
Being a unisex model, the Evo, for some, 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 narrower 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 — 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 Evo is very easy to strap into  though it is a bit more awkward to walk in than many of the models geared toward a narrower gait.
The Evo is very easy to strap into, though it is a bit more awkward to walk in than many of the models geared toward a narrower gait.

Bindings


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.

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.
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 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.

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 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.

Value


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.

For all but the steepest terrain  the Evo is a fantastic purchase with a ton of versatility.
For all but the steepest terrain, the Evo is a fantastic purchase with a ton of versatility.

Conclusion


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.

With burly traction  versatile bindings  and an affordable price point  the Evo is a snowshoe that is easy to enjoy.
With burly traction, versatile bindings, and an affordable price point, the Evo is a snowshoe that is easy to enjoy.


Penney Garrett