MSR Revo Explore Review
Cons: Falls off unexpectedly, can be uncomfortable with soft footwear
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MSR Revo Explore
|Price||$230 List||Check Price at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Good flotation and traction||Good traction, easy-to-use and comfortable binding||Fully featured for steep and technical use||Inexpensive, easy to use, versatile||Inexpensive, simple, reliable|
|Cons||Falls off unexpectedly, can be uncomfortable with soft footwear||Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped binding attachment isn't ideal||Loud decking and bulky harness||Unimpressive traction||Loud decking on crusty snow|
|Bottom Line||Good flotation and traction but can fall off if you're not paying attention||This is a great traditional snowshoe that's outshone in a few areas by newer designs||This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight||This snowshoe does everything well and has 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|
|Rating Categories||MSR Revo Explore||Atlas Montane||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||MSR Evo|
|Stride Ergonomics (15%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||MSR Revo Explore||Atlas Montane||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||MSR Evo|
|Uses||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and steep terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain|
|Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer)||22": up to 180 lbs;
25": 120-220 lbs
|25": 120-200 lbs;
30": 150-250 lbs;
35": 180-300+ lbs
|24": 120-200 lbs;
28": 190+ lbs
|23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
|up to 180 lbs (up to 250 lbs with tails)|
|Weight (per pair)||4 lbs 4 oz||4 lbs 7 oz||4 lbs 9 oz||3 lbs 9 oz||3 lbs 9 oz|
|Surface Area||194 in²||176 in²||179 in²||191 in²||173 in²|
|Dimensions||25 x 8"||25 x 8"||24 x 8"||26" x 8"||22 x 8"|
|Crampon/Traction Aids||Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Tempered steel||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails|
|Frame Material||Steel||Aluminum||Steel traction rails||Aluminum||Steel traction rails|
|Deck Material||Molded plastic||Nytex fabric||Molded plastic||Plastic||Molded plastic|
|Binding System||Ratchet straps with plastic buckles||Nylon straps with cam buckles, rubber strap with plastic buckle||Boa||Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole||Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole|
|Flotation Tails Sold Separately?||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Men's and Women's versions?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unisex||Unisex|
|Sizes Available||22", 25"||25", 30", 35"||24", 28"||23", 26", 30"||One size (22")|
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.
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.
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 this model could be a little squirrely when heading down steep, firm snow.
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 tail of the snowshoe. This makes 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.
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.
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.
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 the top of the feet, that often means losing a snowshoe.
The Explore is on the higher end price-wise of snowshoes in our review. While it's not a bad option, we think some similarly priced or less expensive models out there perform as well or better.
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.
— Ian McEleney
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