The MSR Evo is a fantastic snowshoe that will have no problem taking you into terrain of all levels and types. This is a simple no-frills unisex model that is extremely versatile and easy to use. The binding system will accommodate large ski or snowboard boots, and the lightweight plastic frame is compatible with optional 5" flotation tails so you can increase your flotation and weight capacity without having to buy another pair of snowshoes. With fantastic traction and a comfortable price point, the Evo is a purchase you can feel confident about for all but the most technical and advanced backcountry terrain.
MSR Evo - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Affordable, great traction, easy to use, versatile.
Cons: Plastic frame is loud, requires most women to widen their gait a bit, straps flop around.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Evo by MSR is both versatile and burly and was 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, particularly if you like to keep your options open in regards to where you go and what boots you have on your feet.
The Evo has a simple lightweight plastic frame that we honestly weren't sure would float all that well at first glance. But we ended up pleasantly surprised and found we could actually float well, even without the additional flotation tails that MSR offers. 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. Our favorite shoe for flotation was the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous, the model that just eked out a win over this one for the Best Buy Award. The shoe that had the most trouble floating was the Crescent Moon Gold 13 due to its weight and very narrow tail.
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 super well. We're glad to report that was not the case at all. This snowshoe performed at the top of the pack for traction. On beginner packed trails without much snow, they were overkill, and felt too sticky — it was easy to get caught on the teeth a bit. But as soon as we got out into some real snow we felt secure and safe and were able to navigate some steep and icy intermediate hills with relative ease. The only model we found better for traction was our Editors' Choice winner, the MSR Lightning Ascent which has heel lifts and a considerably larger toe crampon, making it the ideal choice for advanced icy terrain and climbing. The model we had the least traction in, especially on any sort of incline, was the Tubbs Xplore - Women's.
This is the one and only area that this snowshoe was just a bit disappointing. Being a unisex model, it didn't quite measure up to other shoes we tested that are designed specifically for a woman's gait. We felt a bit clunky and cumbersome while walking, and it was easy to have one foot collide with the other at regular intervals if we didn't widen our steps a bit. On top of that, the plastic frame and decking is loud, especially when walking on packed trails, so don't expect to be sneaking up on any animals in these. However, we still liked the Evo better than the Tubbs Xplore - Women's which, despite being a woman-specific shoe, felt wide and awkward to walk in on packed trails. Our favorite model for being able to keep a natural gait was our Top Pick for Ease of Use, the Tubbs Flex RDG - Women's.
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 fancy features to contend with. Despite all that, we only awarded the Evo a 7 out of 10 for this category because the straps can be a bit annoying to deal with as they must be properly tightened — in fact tightened more than you may think feels correct — or they have the tendency to come undone while hiking. If you're wearing smaller boots the tails of the straps like to flop around also. And finally, walking in these wasn't the most natural or pleasant. We gave the top score, and the Top Pick award for Ease of Use, to the Tubbs Flex RDG — Women's because we loved the efficiency of the Boa bindings and the fact that we could walk almost completely normally.
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 and doesn't actually compromise the binding integrity. But it is important to pull the rubber straps tighter than you may initially think you want or is necessary in order to achieve the proper angle on the buckle tooth. If you don't do this the straps will pretty easily work their way undone. We scored the MSR Lightning Ascent — Women's higher because they have an additional toe strap, and awarded a perfect 10 to the Crescent Moon Gold 13. The Crescent Moon has a fantastic SPL (single pull loop) system on the front and a burly ratchet strap on the back. Our lowest score went to the Tubbs Flex RDG because the Boa binding system has very thin wire cables left exposed to the elements that, if broken, will render the whole system useless.
None of the six 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 also mean that it's common to have straps that feel just a little too tight or a little too loose. Our top score for binding comfort went to the Crescent Moon Gold 13. The flexible polymer straps across the front allow for smaller adjustments and very even tightening.
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.
This snowshoe is a fantastic value at only $140. The Evo is the Best Buy winner in the men's category and was a close runner-up for us on the women's side too. We chose the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous instead because it was easier for our women testers to walk in, floated better, and is the same price. But the Rendezvous isn't as good on steep icy terrain and doesn't have 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 MSR 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, and MSR offers 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.
— Penney Garrett