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MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes Review

This affordable shoe is equipped with stellar traction and versatile bindings, making it a wonderful pick for varied terrain levels and snow types
msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review
For all but the steepest terrain, the Evo is a fantastic purchase with a ton of versatility.
Credit: Matthew Blake
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $150 List
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 23, 2022
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Flotation - 30% 7.0
  • Traction - 25% 8.0
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7.0
  • Bindings - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The MSR Evo Trail is a fantastically versatile shoe that will instill confidence no matter what kind of terrain you're on. The binding system is simple, and its adjustable nature allows for a snug fit on a wide range of boots. Since the shoe itself is actually quite short, we found that flotation, while adequate, could have been improved. However, we couldn't have been happier after we added the six-inch flotation tails (sold separately). The crampon and teethed side rails provide amazing traction, and the lightweight frame is easy to strap onto a backpack for travel. Between the simple binding system, stellar traction, and affordable price point, you can feel confident in these shoes on most adventures. It is for this reason that the Evo was a clear choice for one of our Best Buy awards.
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Stellar traction
Wide fit bindings
REASONS TO AVOID
Loud on packed snow
Duck waddle for those with a narrower gait
Straps can flow around a little
Editor's Note: We updated this review on December 23, 2022, after testing the newest version of the Evo Trail which has an improved binding system.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   
Price $150 List
$149.95 at Amazon
$220 List
$219.95 at REI
$240 List
$239.99 at Amazon
$150 List
$149.95 at REI
$179 List
$134.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Affordable, stellar traction, wide fit bindingsComfortable and simple binding system, carbon steel crampons, uniquely placed heel crampons, quietEasy and natural stride, unique 3-crampon traction system, easy binding systemEasy binding adjustments, excellent traction, flexible, budget-friendly, good for packed snow, lightweightLightweight, springy, easy to use bindings, appropriate for running
Cons Loud on packed snow, duck waddle for those with a narrower gait, straps can flow around a littleExtra rotation causes shin impact, mediocre flotation on fresh snowSubpar float on unpacked snow, only supports 200 pounds, bulky heel liftLoud, below average float on fresh snow, straps flop aroundDoes not float or shed snow well, awkward to walk in, minimal traction on steep terrain
Bottom Line This affordable shoe is equipped with stellar traction and versatile bindings, making it a wonderful pick for varied terrain levels and snow typesWith its outstandingly comfortable binding system, decent floatation, and stellar traction, this snowshoe is perfect for casual useA snowshoe with an extreme teardrop shape and three hefty crampons for a natural stride and extra tractionA lightweight snowshoe perfect for beginner terrain with easy-to-adjust bindings, great traction, and flexible deckingWhile this isn't the shoe for floating on deep snow drifts, if you want to run and skip your way down the trail it's a blast
Rating Categories MSR Evo Trail Snows... Tubbs Wilderness -... Crescent Moon Leadv... Atlas Helium Trail... Crescent Moon Eva Foam
Flotation (30%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Traction (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
7.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
6.0
Ease of Use (15%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
Bindings (15%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
2.0
Specs MSR Evo Trail Snows... Tubbs Wilderness -... Crescent Moon Leadv... Atlas Helium Trail... Crescent Moon Eva Foam
Uses Flat and variable rolling terrain Day hiking Technical mountain terrain and packed snow Trail walking Rolling Terrain & Running
Optimum Weight Load (per size) 180 lbs 21": 80-150 lbs
25": 120-200 lbs
30": 170-250 lbs
Up to 200 lbs 23": 80-160 lbs
26": 150-220 lbs
30": 200-270+ lbs
Up to 200 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4.0 lbs 4.1 lbs 4.2 lbs 3.0 lbs 3.2 lbs
Binding Mount Full Full Full Full Static
Binding System Paraglide Quick-Fit Binding Cam buckle quick pull loop and ratchet heel strap Wrapp Stretch Velcro hook and loop binding
Crampon Steel traction rails Cobra Toe Crampon
Tubbs Heel Crampon
3 stainless steel crampon system featuring the climbing "toe" claw design Toe crampon Ice spikes
Frame Material Martensitic steel Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Dual Density EVA Foam
Deck Material Polypropylene Nylon Nylon Nytex nylon Dual Density EVA foam
Surface Area (for tested size) 174.5 in² without tails, 220 in² with 228.0 in² 192.9 in² 205 in² 166.7 in²
Dimensions 8" x 22" 9" x 30" 9.5" x 29" 8" x 30" 24" x 8"
Flotation Tails Available? Yes, 6" No No No No
Load with Tails (per size) Up to 250 lbs N/A N/A N/A N/A
Men's and Women's Versions? Unisex Yes Yes Unisex Unisex
Sizes Available 22" 21", 25", 30" 29" 23", 26", 30" 24"
Size Tested 22" plus 6" add-on tails 25" 29" 26" 24"

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Evo Trail by MSR proves versatile and durable. After extensive testing, this shoe ends up at the top of our list for its ability to perform well in varied terrain of all levels. Between its spectacular traction, simplistic binding design, and great flotation with added tails, this snowshoe might be just what you've been looking for! This is particularly true if you like to keep your options open in regard to where you go and what boots you have on your feet.

Performance Comparison


msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - the evo is a straightforward unisex model good for all types of...
The Evo is a straightforward unisex model good for all types of terrain.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Flotation


While we were not sure what we could expect from the small plastic frames, we were pleasantly surprised. The Evo Trail provides a good amount of float for those within the ideal weight range, even without using the additional tails. For those who weigh in a little heavier, the tails work wonders.


The Evo held its own, flotation-wise, on all different kinds of snow, but we found the additional flotation tails particularly useful on deep fresh powder. The shoes are roughly 22 inches, but with 6 inches of additional tails, they jump to a generous 28 inches in length. While we were mostly content with the flotation sans tails, we feel there is some room for improvement here. We scored the Evo based on performance without the tails as they do not come with the snowshoes and are therefore an additional expense. However, if you choose to purchase these shoes, we highly recommend pairing them with their tails.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - the decent float is made even better with the use of add-on...
The decent float is made even better with the use of add-on flotation tails.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Traction


Our first impression of the Evo Trail was that it was made of seemingly cheap material and, therefore, would not perform well. Most snowshoe decking is not made entirely of rigid plastic. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we took our first few strides up a steep hill and did not slide at all. Overall we are very satisfied in this department as the Evo can take on most terrains with its hefty crampons, side rails, and textured underside.


The Evo sometimes feels like they are too much. They work fine on mellow hikes, but with the hefty traction rails and crampons, these puppies stick to the snow aggressively on flat-packed trails. That being said, you will be thankful for the aggressive traction as soon as you step into deeper drifts. You'll feel safe and secure cruising steep and icy intermediate hills. This shoe does not offer heel lifts, so it isn't the best for long stretches of steep climbing, but you'll be good to go on moderate rolling terrain.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - the evo trail has a burly toe pick plus a pair of teethed metal side...
The Evo Trail has a burly toe pick plus a pair of teethed metal side rails topped with perpendicularly placed plastic rails on the bottom of the decking - a recipe for stellar traction.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Stride Ergonomics


So far, we have been raving about how the Evo comes equipped with up-to-par flotation and out-of-this-world traction, but stride ergonomics is one category it falls short, at least for some. This unisex model has a somewhat wide decking, which forces our narrower-gaited humans to widen their natural step.


Due to the width of the Evo Trail, most of our test subjects felt as though they had to adopt a little bit of a duck-footed waddle. The front, or toe side, of this shoe is the widest part, so to avoid quite literally stepping on your own toes, you have to point them outward. And, while we are impressed with the float the plastic decking provides, we don't love how noisy it is. Many people take the time to pop into nature for quiet serenity, and this snowshoe can cause a ruckus, particularly on a packed trail. You could always view this as a challenge to get out further and deeper so you can really enjoy the shoes where they shine the brightest.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - being a unisex model, the evo trail proves more difficult for those...
Being a unisex model, the Evo Trail proves more difficult for those with a narrower gait to walk normally in.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Ease of Use


We love a simplistic binding system. Why overcomplicate things with unnecessary straps and buckles? MSR does a great job of keeping the Evo Trail binding straightforward; however, there is still room for improvement. The bindings are simple in theory but can be difficult to fasten. The ends of the straps on the front are hexagonal rubber tabs. To strap them down, you have to squeeze them into a rubber strap keeper, which can be difficult to do with thicker gloves on.


When strapping into the Evo Trail, pay careful attention to how each foot is placed on the deck before you synch down the straps. Since the shoe is unisex, it is built for all different shaped and sized feet. The area to place your foot is large, leaving more room for error. If you don't ensure that the crampon is under the ball of your foot, your step may be a little off. It is also important to note that the Evo Trail does not have a heel lift, making extra steep terrain more tiresome to tackle. While these issues are minor, and we still love this snowshoe, these things are worth considering if you are comparing styles.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - once adjusted properly, the evo trail binding are very comfortable...
Once adjusted properly, the Evo Trail binding are very comfortable and secure.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Bindings


Overall the Evo bindings feel secure when fastened tightly. The stretchy webbing evenly distributes tension across the forefoot, and the heel strap placement assists in a truly secure fit. Other binding fastening systems like the BOA are easier to adjust on the fly, but those models can cost up to twice the price.


The whole binding system on the Evo Trail is very stretchy, which, when fastened correctly, makes them super secure — but they require an extra tight synch to ensure that security. The heel strap tucks into a strap keeper, which must be positioned at the end of the strap before tightening, or you'll end up with a little flopping. That being said, the updated binding is much less floppy than its predecessor. Overall the Trail is secure and comfortable, but it's a little harder to take on and off than some of the highest performers in our test suite.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - once we discovered the tips and tricks we had no issues strapping in...
Once we discovered the tips and tricks we had no issues strapping in and out of these bindings, but there are more user friendly options on the market.
Credit: Matthew Blake

As a unisex shoe, the Evo Trail is meant to fit an assortment of boots, but, no surprise, the longer straps are better suited to wider and larger footwear. While this system is simple, it requires a little finagling to be its best self. Every snowshoe is unique, and this one requires a tighter fasten and some forethought. Once we discovered this, we had no worries or complaints.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - the burly evo trail has a very secure binding system but the straps...
The burly Evo Trail has a very secure binding system but the straps require a very tight pull in order to stay neatly tucked away.
Credit: Matthew Blake

Should You Buy the MSR Evo Trail?


The simple design, adaptable bindings, superb traction, and adequate flotation of the Evo Trail make it a wise choice for those looking to take on varied terrain on a tight budget. This snowshoe fosters a sense of security and confidence on all terrain, although the hefty traction sometimes feels like a little much for flat, packed trails. The bindings take a minute to fasten, but they are very comfortable, and the add-on flotation tails are a great accessory if your load varies from hike to hike. If you don't mind a louder snowshoe that takes a minute to get in and out of, this is a truly budget-friendly option.

msr evo trail snowshoes snowshoes women review - the burly traction, versatile bindings, and affordable price point...
The burly traction, versatile bindings, and affordable price point makes the MSR Evo a great fit for most.
Credit: Matthew Blake

What Other Snowshoes Should You Consider?


If you're looking to stay in the budget-friendly realm but want an easier-to-operate binding, the Tubbs Wilderness is amazing. It's much quieter than the Evo Trail and offers a similar level of traction. If money is no object, the MSR Lightning Ascent and Atlas Range-MTN are some of our highest performers. The Range-MTN has a very comfortable binding that you can adjust with one hand. If you plan to tackle particularly icy terrain, the TSL Symbioz Elite is the shoe for you.

Hayley Thomas
 
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