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MSR Revo Explore Review

Good flotation and traction but can fall off if you're not paying attention
msr revo explore snowshoes review
The two ratchet-strap binding was comfortable on boots with a sturdy upper, like mountaineering boots.
Credit: Jessica Haist
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Price:  $250 List
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 20, 2022
51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Flotation - 30% 5.0
  • Traction - 25% 7.0
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 5.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 4.0
  • Bindings - 15% 3.0

Our Verdict

The MSR Revo Explore performs a snowshoe's basic tasks, preventing post-holing and slipping. The heel lifter gives some versatility for sustained uphills, and the ratcheting straps on the binding are 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! Still, the Revo Explore 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.
REASONS TO BUY
Good flotation and traction
REASONS TO AVOID
Falls off unexpectedly
Can be uncomfortable with soft footwear
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 20, 2022, to reflect results after adding new models to our lineup.

Compare to Similar Products

 
msr revo explore snowshoes review
This Product
MSR Revo Explore
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $250 List
$249.95 at REI
$150 List
$149.95 at REI
$240 List$225.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$100 List
$111.85 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Good flotation and tractionInexpensive, easy to use, versatileLarge, easy stride, great flotationCompact, uniquely excellent stride ergonomicsGood flotation, inexpensive
Cons Falls off unexpectedly, can be uncomfortable with soft footwearUnimpressive tractionHeavy, heel lifter is clunkySmall footprint and flexible deck creates limited flotationLess reliable binding technology, poor traction
Bottom Line Good flotation and traction but can fall off if you're not paying attentionThis snowshoe does everything well and at a low price, making it a great valueAn all-around snowshoe that tilts its preferences to the wild and deep environmentsExcellent compact snowshoes for packed trail and firmer snow when flotation isn't the main concernIf you're not getting out much or going far, these budget snowshoes could be right for you
Rating Categories MSR Revo Explore Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Big S... TSL Symbioz Elite Chinook Trekker
Flotation (30%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
2.0
7.0
Traction (25%)
7.0
5.0
4.0
9.0
2.0
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
5.0
7.0
4.0
8.0
4.0
Ease of Use (15%)
4.0
9.0
5.0
5.0
3.0
Bindings (15%)
3.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Specs MSR Revo Explore Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Big S... TSL Symbioz Elite Chinook Trekker
Uses Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Deep snow Groomed trails Spring snow and groomed trails
Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer) 22": up to 180 lbs;
25": 120-220 lbs
23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
up to 225 lbs S: 65-180 lbs;
M: 110-260 lbs;
L: 150-300 lbs
22": 90-130 lbs;
25": 130-210 lbs;
30":180-250 lbs;
36": 250-300 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4 lbs 4 oz 3 lbs 7 oz 5 lbs 2 oz 4 lbs 9 oz 4 lbs 4oz
Surface Area 194 in² 207 in² 256 in² 162 in² 205 in²
Dimensions 25 x 8" 27 x 9" 32 x 10" 22 x 8" 25 x 8"
Crampon/Traction Aids Steel crampons, rails, and teeth Steel crampons and rails Steel crampons Many steel teeth Aluminum crampons and teeth
Frame Material Steel Aluminum Aluminum Composite Aluminum
Deck Material Plastic Nytex nylon Polyurethane fabric Composite Polyethylene fabric
Heel Lift Yes Yes Optional Yes No
Binding/Deck Connection Hinged Hinged Strapped Hinged Strapped
Binding System Ratchet straps with plastic buckles Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole Rubber straps with plastic buckles Combination of rigid plastic, nylon straps, cam locks, and ratchet style straps Ratchet straps with plastic buckles, nylon strap with ladder-lock buckle
Flotation Tails Sold Separately? No No No No No
Men's and Women's Versions? Yes Unisex Yes Unisex Unisex
Sizes Available 22", 25" 23", 26", 30" One size (32") S (20.5"), M (23.5"), L (27") 22", 25", 30", 36"
Tested Size 25" 26" 32" M 25"

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, and while they're easy to put on, we found a problem with them staying on.

Performance Comparison


msr revo explore snowshoes review - this snowshoe does well overall but it can fall off unexpectedly!
This snowshoe does well overall but it can fall off unexpectedly!
Credit: Jessica Haist

Flotation


This is the most important job a snowshoe has to do, and the Revo Explore does it decently. 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, and our testers felt this enhanced the flotation overall.

msr revo explore snowshoes review - this snowshoe performed well in our flotation metric.
This snowshoe performed well in our flotation metric.
Credit: Jessica Haist

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, and 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.

On steep downhills, it's natural for a lot of a hiker's 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 the Revo could be a little squirrely when heading down steep, firm snow.

msr revo explore snowshoes review - traction aids. note the slightly recessed plastic ridges
Traction aids. Note the slightly recessed plastic ridges
Credit: Ian McEleney

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

msr revo explore snowshoes review - 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!
Credit: Ian McEleney

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 you figure out how the tightening and release levers work on the ratchet buckle, these are pretty fast to put on and remove.

msr revo explore snowshoes review - weighing the explore for our specs chart.
Weighing the Explore for our specs chart.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Bindings


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 your 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 since added some foam padding here, which may help mitigate the issue.

Still, 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), which can let the strap out of the buckle. Since there is just one strap on the top of your foot, you then step right out of the snowshoe when this occurs.

msr revo explore snowshoes review - the black lever makes adding tension easy. the red lever makes...
The black lever makes adding tension easy. The red lever makes releasing it easy too, but sometimes too easy!
Credit: Ian McEleney

Wearing these 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 the top of the feet, that often means losing a snowshoe.

Should You Buy the MSR Revo Explore?


The Revo Explore is a decent all-around snowshoe. Our testing team think it is a good choice for the hiker who wants to get out a bit more in the winter but isn't planning on any particularly remote or technical trips.

What Other Snowshoes Should You Consider?


Hikers looking for a good versatile snowshoe would do well to consider at least two other models. The MSR Evo Trail has a bit less flotation but is superior in most other ways, especially the bindings, which are easy to use and secure. The MSR Lightning Ascent is one of the top snowshoes in our review and does everything we expect from a snowshoe quite well. The flotation of these models can be increased with the aftermarket tails.

Ian McEleney
 
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