MSR Revo Explore ReviewJanuary 1, 2015
- Hyperlink binding
- Incredible traction
- Multiple sizes available
- Noisy on crusty snow/ice
- Not perfectly compatible with all boots, especially lightweight boots.
The MSR Revo Explore upholds MSR’s reputation for offering the best shoes for climbing (and descending) steep and deep slopes. The Revo’s aggressive toe-to-tail traction and gentle taper makes it ideal for trudging through tricky snow conditions and tight trails. The simple but effective two-strap Hyperlink binding secures easily to an assortment of footwear, though we did have some trouble getting a totally secure fit on light hiking boots. All in all, every one of our test team members dubbed the Revo Explore this season’s Best in Class snowshoe.
Ease of Use
The ratcheting Hyperlink binding straps make for any easy on-and-off process, even with gloves—easier, even, then the Boa system found on other shoes since some of the Boa reels can be a bit tricky to operate while wearing gloves. The heel elevator bar, meanwhile, snaps up easily with a flick of a pole tip, and stays up as long as you need it. It then drops back down out of the way with another flick of the pole tip. Without question, I found this the easiest to use and most secure heel elevator in the class.
With just two straps—one at the forefoot and one at the heel—I was nervous about binding security during my first foray into the field. My fears proved unfounded, however as the binding not only go on quickly and easily, but they hold the Revo firmly in place regardless of the rigors of the trip. I climbed high on the flanks of Mount Rainier, traversed the steep slopes of Mount St Helens and scrambled over countless trees in the old growth forests of Washington’s southern Cascades on these shoes and they held firm throughout. The only knock on the two-strap Hyperlink binding came from my snowshoe running tester—he found the binding to be a bit unstable when used with his light ‘running boots.’ To get a firm, secure fit, he had to ratchet the straps too tight for comfort across his forefoot. Other testers failed to duplicate this problem, but the fact that it came up is worth noting for snowshoers who prefer lightweight footwear for snow travel.
Traversing, Ice, Technical Conditions
The MSR Revo Explore excels in steep, icy and technical conditions. The Revo’s aggressive toe-to-tail traction can’t be beat (except by other MSR models). Using the Revo’s I confidently climbed on treacherous “Cascade Concrete” snow packs in areas where I would have turned back with any other shoe—I used the Revo’s in conditions better suited to crampon use instead of snowshoes without trouble.
The narrow decks and modest tail taper make the Revo’s some of the most comfortable-to-use snowshoes I’ve experienced. With any snowshoe, a bit of ‘duck-walk’ stride is required—the simple fact of adding that much surface area below your feet means you won’t have a ‘normal’ stride—but the contours of the Revo minimize the straddle-legged stride as much as possible without compromising flotation.
The molded decks provide good surface contact, ensuring maximum flotation for the size. With two sizes available, matching flotation to conditions is possible, though to be truly exceptional powder shoes, a third larger size would be needed. I also experienced a bit of snow-loading—accumulation of snow on the deck tops—in truly deep stuff, in part because the 25-inch decks weren’t quite big enough prevent me from sinking deeper than I’d like in the true power conditions.