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MSR Evo Ascent
Check Price at REI
$279.95 at REI
$149.95 at REI
|Check Price at Backcountry|
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$111.85 at Amazon
|Pros||Simple, good traction, easy to walk in||Fully featured for steep and technical use||Inexpensive, easy to use, versatile||Inexpensive, simple, reliable||Good flotation, inexpensive|
|Cons||Poor flotation, slower to put on||Loud decking and bulky harness||Unimpressive traction||Loud decking on crusty snow||Less reliable binding technology, poor traction|
|Bottom Line||These simple and durable snowshoes can pretty much do it all, except for float through deep, soft snow||This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight||This snowshoe does everything well and at a low price, making it a great value||This molded snowshoe is reliable, inexpensive, offers widespread appeal, and is compatible with add-on tails for improved flotation||If you're not getting out much or going far, these budget snowshoes could be right for you|
|Rating Categories||MSR Evo Ascent||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||MSR Evo Trail||Chinook Trekker|
|Stride Ergonomics (15%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||MSR Evo Ascent||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||MSR Evo Trail||Chinook Trekker|
|Uses||Spring snow and steep terrain||Spring snow and steep terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and groomed trails|
|Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer)||up to 180 lbs (up to 250 lbs with tails)||21": 80-160 lbs;
25": 120-200 lbs;
29": 190+ lbs
|23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
|up to 180 lbs (up to 250 lbs with tails)||22": 90-130 lbs;
25": 130-210 lbs;
36": 250-300 lbs
|Weight (per pair)||3 lbs 14 oz||4 lbs 6 oz||3 lbs 7 oz||3 lbs 11 oz||4 lbs 4oz|
|Surface Area||183 in²||195 in²||207 in²||183 in²||205 in²|
|Dimensions||24 x 8"||26 x 8"||27 x 9"||24 x 8"||25 x 8"|
|Crampon/Traction Aids||Steel crampons, rails, and teeth||Steel crampons and rails||Steel crampons and rails||Steel crampons and rails||Aluminum crampons and teeth|
|Frame Material||Plastic and steel||Aluminum||Aluminum||Plastic and steel||Aluminum|
|Deck Material||Plastic||Plastic||Nytex nylon||Plastic||Polyethylene fabric|
|Binding System||Rubber straps with pin-in-hole||Boa and rubber strap||Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole||Rubber net and straps with pin-in-hole||Ratchet straps with plastic buckles, nylon strap with ladder-lock buckle|
|Flotation Tails Sold Separately?||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|Men's and Women's Versions?||Unisex||Yes||Unisex||Unisex||Unisex|
|Sizes Available||One size (22")||21", 25", 29"||23", 26", 30"||One size (22")||22", 25", 30", 36"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
MSR has been a leader in plastic snowshoes for over 20 years, and they've been making some version of the Evo Ascent that entire time. Over the years, the design has changed very little. While it's starting to feel a bit dated now, our testers think it's a case of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
This metric is the reason you're reading this review. The primary quality that determines flotation is the number of square inches the deck provides. The Evo Ascent has about 183 square inches of flotation. This is on the lower side for our review, but not unexpected for a 24-inch long snowshoe. The rigid deck also has a slight taper, which reduces the surface area.
These downsides have upsides, of course. A relatively short length and a slight taper make the Evo Ascent much more nimble on tricky mountain terrain. Flotation can also be augmented with the purchase of add-on "tails."
When it comes to traction, this model shines. It boasts four sharp steel teeth under the toes and two steel rails that run almost the whole length of the deck. Ridges molded into the plastic deck round out the traction feature set. This basic design has been the same for many years, and for our testing team, it's the benchmark for snowshoes designed for mountainous terrain.
In this metric, we look for features that line up with the overall use case of the snowshoe. In this case, that's rugged backcountry terrain, and the Evo Ascent walks like a mountaineer. The heel lifter is a little hard to engage and disengage but stays firmly in place when needed. The deck-to-binding attachment is hinged, which is what we like on this type of snowshoe. That usually means that the snowshoe is a little clunky on firmer ground. While the Evo Ascent are not made for dancing, the short length means that they're as easy to walk with as they could be.
Ease Of Use
This binding has been on MSR snowshoes for well over a decade. Three rubber pin-in-hole straps cover the forefoot, and one secures the heel. These straps are easy to figure out, and they're also quite durable and easy to replace if they do break — it's no wonder this is the snowshoe of choice for rental fleets and guide services. That said, while this used to be one of the easiest-to-use bindings, newer designs require fewer steps to put on and take off.
Our experienced team of testers found this binding to be quite secure and comfortable. The caveat is that we have a lot of experience with rubber straps like these. With rubber pin-in-hole straps, there is a fine line between having them tight enough to be secure but not so tight that they cut off circulation when worn with soft footwear. Hikers that are new to this style of strap should try them out a bit before taking them out on a cold day. Stiffer footwear will be more forgiving with this binding style.
Should You Buy the MSR Evo Ascent?
These are snowshoes for the occasional or regular snowshoe user who wants a simple and intuitive set of features and wants to buy one set of snowshoes and not think about it again for a decade. They're not for hikers in areas that have deep and soft snowpacks. Those folks need more flotation and should look at a different model or the tail accessories for the Evo Ascent.
What Other Snowshoes Should You Consider?
Hikers who want features for steep above-treeline terrain and more flotation should check out the Tubbs Flex VRT. It has all of the mountain features and a larger deck for more float. For a slight step down in traction (and weight) but a step up in flotation, check out the Atlas Helium Trail.
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