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MSR Revo Explore Review

This is a decent snowshoe with a weird flaw - it falls off unexpectedly
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Price:  $220 List | $219.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Good flotation and traction
Cons:  Falls off unexpectedly, can be uncomfortable with soft footwear
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 10, 2020
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Flotation - 25% 6
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Stride Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Binding Comfort - 10% 6
  • Ease of Use - 10% 7
  • Binding Security - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The MSR Revo Explore performs a snowshoe's basic tasks, preventing post-holing and slipping well. The heel lifter gives some versatility for sustained uphills. The ratcheting straps on the binding were fairly easy to put on and take off. However, the lone strap across the top of the foot can become a pinch point. Also, our testers found that the release lever on the buckle of the toe strap can be a bit too responsive, leading to the unintentional loss of a shoe! This snowshoe is a good choice for winter hikers who want to get off the beaten path about half the time and generally wear footwear with a stiff upper.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
MSR Revo Explore
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $219.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$319.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$259.95 at Amazon$199.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$200 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Good flotation and tractionRigid, precise, excellent binding security, traction, flotationFully featured for steep and technical useGood traction, and an easy-to-use, comfortable bindingLarge, with unique hybrid hinged deck/binding interface
Cons Falls off unexpectedly, can be uncomfortable with soft footwearNew binding trades ease-of-use for comfortLoud decking and bulky harnessMediocre flotation for the length, strapped deck/binding attachmentLimited traction
Bottom Line Good flotation and traction but can fall off if you're not paying attentionOur overall champ combines simplicity and high-quality materials, features, and engineering.This is a top-scoring model with excellent traction and comfort.This average performer will keep most winter hikers happy.One of our favorite snowshoes for deep snow.
Rating Categories MSR Revo Explore MSR Lightning Ascent Tubbs Flex VRT Atlas Montane Louis Garneau Blizzard II
Flotation (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
10
Traction (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Stride Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
4
Binding Comfort (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Binding Security (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Specs MSR Revo Explore MSR Lightning Ascent Tubbs Flex VRT Atlas Montane Louis Garneau...
Uses Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Deep snow
Optimum weight loads per tested size. Per manufacturer. 120-220 lbs 120-220 lbs up to 190 lbs 25: 120-200 lbs, 30: 150-250 lbs, 35: 180-300+ lbs 150-250 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4 lbs 4 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 4 lbs 9 oz 4 lbs 7 oz 5 lbs 6 oz
Surface Area 194 sq in 188 sq in 179 sq in 176 sq in 282 sq in
Dimensions 25x8 in 25x8 in 24x8 in 25x8 in 31x10 in
Crampon/Traction aids Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon
Frame material Steel Aluminum Steel traction rails Aluminum Aluminum
Deck material Molded plastic Fabric Molded plastic Nytex fabric LG "Lightec" fabric
Heel Lift Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Binding/Deck Connection Hinged Hinged Hinged Strapped Hybrid Hinged and Strapped
Binding system Ratchet straps with plastic buckles Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole Boa Nylon straps with cam buckles, rubber strap with plastic buckle Boa
Flotation tails sold separately? No Yes No No No
Men's and Women's versions? Women's version availible Women's version avalible Women's version avalible Women's version avalible Women's version avalible
Sizes Available 22, 25 22, 25, 30 24, 28 25, 30, 35 825, 930, 1036
Tested Size 25 25 24 25 930

Our Analysis and Test Results

MSR has made snowshoes for a long time and currently makes many different models. The Revo Explore has respectable flotation and traction. While they're easy to put on, we found a problem with them staying on.

Performance Comparison


This snowshoe does well overall but it can fall off unexpectedly!
This snowshoe does well overall but it can fall off unexpectedly!

Flotation



This is the most important job a snowshoe has to do, and the MSR Revo Explore does it decently. It's in the middle of our testing pack when it comes to square inches of surface area for the length (we tested the 25-inch model).

The deck tapers towards the tail, but only slightly, for a minimal loss of surface area. The steel frame and plastic deck are fairly rigid; our testers felt this enhanced the flotation.

This snowshoe performs well in our flotation metric.
This snowshoe performs well in our flotation metric.

Traction



The Revo Explore has a respectable amount of traction. The binding cleat sports two large steel teeth. Part of the binding hinge attachment is a lateral steel rail that is toothed. This falls just under the ball of the user's foot. The steel frame is serrated throughout. The plastic deck sports some lateral ridges underneath and behind the user's heel. These are slightly recessed and won't engage on the firmest of snow.

Traction aids. Note the slightly recessed plastic ridges
Traction aids. Note the slightly recessed plastic ridges

On steep downhills, it's natural for a lot of a hikers weight to be on the back of the snowshoe. Our testers found that the longer deck, coupled with only a pair of fairly shallow plastic ridges in the back, meant that this model can be a little squirrely when heading down steep firm snow.

Stride Ergonomics



The Explore has a rigid, hinged connection attaching the binding to the deck. While many of our testers prefer the precision this gives, the lack of flexibility can lead to an unnatural gait on well-packed or groomed trails. The same is true of the deck materials and construction. Their rigid properties are a boon on steeper rougher ground, but feel clunky on the flat and firm.

The rigid deck felt a little clunky on hard-packed snow  or rocks!
The rigid deck felt a little clunky on hard-packed snow, or rocks!

The deck tapers slightly, just under an inch from where your toe sits to the tail of the snowshoe. This makes it slightly harder to step on the back of the other snowshoe. The Explore has a pair of heel lifters (MSR calls them "Ergo Televators") for use on long consistent uphills.

Binding Comfort



When used with stiff or very well insulated boots, we found this to be a reasonably comfortable snowshoe. With only two straps holding the snowshoe to you boot our testers tended to keep both ratcheted down pretty tightly. With softer or more flexible footwear we suspect that this could lead to pinching in the area of the toe strap. MSR has added some foam padding here, which may help mitigate the issue.

The two ratchet-strap binding was comfortable on boots with a sturdy upper  like mountaineering boots.
The two ratchet-strap binding was comfortable on boots with a sturdy upper, like mountaineering boots.

Ease Of Use



Our testing team was somewhat divided on how easy it is to use the Revo Explore. Those of us familiar with snowboard bindings instantly understood how to use and adjust the ratchet straps. For the non-snowboarders amongst us there was a bit of a learning curve. That being said, once we figured out how the tightening and release levers worked on the ratchet buckle these are pretty fast to put on and remove.

Binding Security



This was the most disappointing metric for the Explore. Almost every tester had it fall off their foot spontaneously at least once! After some investigation, we think we found the cause. When the toe strap is cranked down really tight, the release lever is on a bit of a hair-trigger. It's easy to bump it unknowingly - on rocks, plants, or a trekking pole) and let the strap out of the buckle. Since there is just one strap on top of your foot, you then step right out of the snowshoe!

The black lever makes adding tension easy. The red lever makes releasing it easy too  but sometimes too easy!
The black lever makes adding tension easy. The red lever makes releasing it easy too, but sometimes too easy!

Wearing the snowshoes on the correct feet can help mitigate this problem. This keeps the buckle on the outside and prevents it from being bumped by the other snowshoe. Still, it's easier than we would like to trigger the release lever unintentionally. Since there's only one strap on top of our feet that often means losing a snowshoe.

Value



These are in the more expensive half of the snowshoes in our review. While they're not bad, we think there are some similarly priced or less expensive models out there that perform as well.

Conclusion



The MSR Revo Explore performs a snowshoe's basic tasks fairly well, but there are some areas (like staying attached to your foot) where our testers were disappointed.

Weighing the Explore for our specs chart.
Weighing the Explore for our specs chart.


Ian McEleney