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MSR Evo Trail Review

This molded snowshoe is reliable, inexpensive, offers widespread appeal, and is compatible with add-on tails for improved flotation
msr evo trail snowshoes review
Credit: MSR
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at REI
Pros:  Inexpensive, simple, reliable
Cons:  Loud decking on crusty snow
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian McEleney and Jediah Porter  ⋅  Jan 12, 2022
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Flotation - 30% 5.0
  • Traction - 25% 7.0
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6.0
  • Bindings - 15% 6.0

Our Verdict

Simplicity merges with versatility on the MSR Evo Trail. The unibody deck and frame are a single plastic piece with an easy to use binding. Versatility is gained from the semi-aggressive traction system and optional add-on tails for increased flotation in deep snow or for carrying a heavy pack. This is a decent snowshoe not only for its wallet-friendly price tag but also for its range of applications, from beginner trails to advanced rolling terrain. The Evo is one of our favorite choices for everything but the most technical and advanced backcountry conditions. For added floatation in deep snow, check out the MSR Evo Tails.

Compare to Similar Products

 
msr evo trail snowshoes review
This Product
MSR Evo Trail
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $150 List
$149.95 at REI
$350 List
$349.95 at REI
$212.46 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$98.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$180 List
$179.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, simple, reliableRigid, precise, excellent binding security, impressive tractionGood traction, easy-to-use and comfortable bindingInexpensive, easy to use, versatileExcellent binding security, good traction, decent flotation
Cons Loud decking on crusty snowNew binding trades ease-of-use for comfortMediocre flotation for the length, strapped binding attachment isn't idealUnimpressive tractionBinding straps can be a little fiddly or uncomfortable with soft footwear
Bottom Line This molded snowshoe is reliable, inexpensive, offers widespread appeal, and is compatible with add-on tails for improved flotationThe best snowshoes in our test, complete with high end features and simple engineeringThis is a great traditional snowshoe that's outshone in a few areas by newer designsThis snowshoe does everything well and has a low price, making it a great valueWe like this fairly-priced snowshoe for everything but the most technical terrain
Rating Categories MSR Evo Trail MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Montane Atlas Helium Trail MSR Revo Trail
Flotation (30%)
5.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
Traction (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Ease of Use (15%)
6.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
Bindings (15%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Specs MSR Evo Trail MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Montane Atlas Helium Trail MSR Revo Trail
Uses Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain
Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer) up to 180 lbs (up to 250 lbs with tails) 22": up to 180 lbs;
25": 120-220 lbs;
30": 150-280 lbs
25": 120-200 lbs;
30": 150-250 lbs;
35": 180-300+ lbs
23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
22": up to 180 lbs;
25": 120-220 lbs
Weight (per pair) 3 lbs 9 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 4 lbs 7 oz 3 lbs 9 oz 3 lbs 13 oz
Surface Area 173 in² 188 in² 176 in² 191 in² 194 in²
Dimensions 22 x 8" 25 x 8" 25 x 8" 26" x 8" 25 x 8"
Crampon/Traction Aids Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Tempered steel Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth
Frame Material Steel traction rails Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Steel
Deck Material Molded plastic Fabric Nytex fabric Plastic Molded plastic
Heel Lift Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Binding/Deck Connection Hinged Hinged Strapped Hinged Hinged
Binding System Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole Nylon straps with cam buckles, rubber strap with plastic buckle Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole Rubber straps with pin-in-hole
Flotation Tails Sold Separately? Yes Yes No No No
Men's and Women's versions? Unisex Yes Yes Unisex Yes
Sizes Available One size (22") 22", 25", 30" 25", 30", 35" 23", 26", 30" 22", 25"
Tested Size 22" 25" 25" 26" 25"

Our Analysis and Test Results

MSR has been making plastic snowshoes for a very long time. Over the years, those models have ranged from those aimed at the technical user to models designed for small children. All have featured a wallet-friendly price, simple design, and versatility suitable for a wide range of experience levels and terrain conditions. They also tend to be quite durable.

Performance Comparison


msr evo trail snowshoes review - on the trail with the evo.
On the trail with the Evo.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Flotation


Flotation is a snowshoe's number one job. The deck and frame of the Evo Trail is a single plastic mold that is lightweight. This untraditional design initially had us wondering how well it would manage snow conditions, and we were pleasantly surprised to find it excel on packed snow as well as fresh snow.

A rigid deck can give a snowshoe more flotation than the surface area might imply. The single piece of plastic that comprises the deck of the Evo is quite stiff, and two longitudinal steel rails on each snowshoe also contribute fore to aft stiffness.

The short frame length is only available in a single size. At size 22, the Evo is best for packed snow and off-trail travel in steep terrain. MSR also sells add-on flotation tails that increase the length by six inches, augmenting the flotation noticeably.

msr evo trail snowshoes review - deep snow is not this model's forte without the supplemental tails.
Deep snow is not this model's forte without the supplemental tails.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Traction


Increased traction is the second most important benefit we get from a snowshoe. The semi-aggressive traction system on the MSR Evo is best suited for groomed trails, packed snow, and rolling hills. Only the gnarliest of terrain and conditions might justify burlier traction. The crampons are on a full rotation-pivot binding for an unencumbered range of motion. Three brake bars are designed into the plastic decking and perform well on moderate rolling terrain, resisting slipping on the way up and especially on the way down.

The under-foot crampon teeth and lateral crampons are made from powder-coated steel. The under-foot crampons dig into hard-packed snow for security through each stride, while the lateral crampons are best for side-stepping and provide some uphill and downhill traction as well.

msr evo trail snowshoes review - the evo traction situation.
The Evo traction situation.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Stride Ergonomics


Energy-efficient walking is what we want, and our testers found that the short length of the Evo made walking a little more natural. The compact size is nice on trails and firmer snow and feels less cumbersome for first-time snowshoers to hike in. A shorter snowshoe is also generally more agile and easier to walk down steep slopes in. Both of these are important qualities on steep, almost technical, alpine terrain. Couple that with the precision of a hinged binding and, the diminutive Evo can sometimes be an appropriate choice for steep alpine terrain.

Drawbacks of the walking comfort of the Evo include the loud nature of the plastic decking and the lack of shock absorption in the rigid hinge and deck combination.

msr evo trail snowshoes review - the evo's hinged binding means the snowshoe rotates freely around...
The Evo's hinged binding means the snowshoe rotates freely around your foot.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Ease of Use


The Evo is one of the easiest snowshoes in our test to use. Novice snowshoers will appreciate the simple unibody design that lacks daunting features and components. For experienced snowshoers, the Evo has semi-aggressive traction that engages with each step and binding straps that work in freezing temperatures.

Add-on flotation tails (sold separately) are easy to attach for increased stability and flotation. However, without the tails, the short length makes strapping the Evo to the outside of a pack the least punishing of all of our models. They also travel well in a car or checked baggage.

msr evo trail snowshoes review - the binding is three simple rubber straps.
The binding is three simple rubber straps.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Bindings


Regardless of what sort of snow conditions our testers encountered or what shoes we had on our feet, the Evo Trail remained securely fastened with no question of security. Posi-lock bindings offer an easy-to-use buckle system that provides flexibility and security. The rubber straps cross over the feet to pull through buckles that resemble those found on belts. Once pulled tight, there is no way they're coming off.

On rigid boots like those used for snowboarding or mountaineering, tight straps are not a concern. On softer hiking shoes and even winter running footwear, the straps on the Evo can constrict blood flow and may create pressure points. Hikers who normally wear softer footwear should consider a snowshoe with a binding that wraps around the foot more or features some foam padding.

The other comfort concern is strap placement. With small boots, the upper binding straps rest against the ankle creases, which can be uncomfortable. Our testing team has observed that hikers who are new to snowshoeing need practice striking a balance between having the straps too tight (and thus cutting off circulation) and too loose (leaving them less secure).

msr evo trail snowshoes review - this model sports a very secure binding.
This model sports a very secure binding.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Value


The MSR Evo is durable, easy to use, and versatile enough for novices and experts alike — all at a great price. Some of our testers have used this snowshoe for many years with no problems. They're among the cheapest in our review, and they're a great value.

Conclusion


These are good snowshoes because they are versatile, simple, and stable on and off-trail. They are suitable for novices and experienced winter hikers. The simple, lightweight design is sized for both men and women to explore winter landscapes comfortably. Indeed, the simplicity and low weight alone kept some of our testers reaching for them even when conditions might have called for a larger snowshoe. If you need a reliable snowshoe but don't have much money to spend, this is a good choice.

msr evo trail snowshoes review - we often chose these snowshoes for their simplicity.
We often chose these snowshoes for their simplicity.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Ian McEleney and Jediah Porter
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