MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe Review

MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes feature a new Hyperlink Binding which only has two straps, that are secured with snowboard-style ratchet bindings over the front of the foot and behind the heel.

The MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe is a recreational snowshoe that features the new Hyperlink ratchet binding system (also available on the MSR Lightning Explore Snowshoe) which is much easier and faster to put on than the plastic strap binding used on MSR’s backcountry snowshoes, like the MSR Lightning Ascent.

MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe

Weight
Durability
Binding
Traction
Flotation
Comfort

Excellent

The MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe is a recreational snowshoe that features the Hyperlink ratchet binding system which is much easier and faster to put on than the four plastic strap binding used on MSR’s backcountry snowshoes, like the MSR Lightning Ascent.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight per pair: 3 lbs 13.5 oz (actual) – Size 22″, mens
  • Modular tail extensions available
  • Width: 8 inches
  • Length 22 inches
  • Gait: Unisex/normal width
  • Right and Left Snowshoes: Indicated on binding
  • Adjustable Gait Angle: No
  • Footwear size range: 4.5 M – 13 M
  • Recommended Load: Up to 180 pounds

Like many of MSR’s other snowshoes, the Revo Explore has a wrap-around metal frame with teeth stamped into it to provides extra traction, especially good when walking across a slope with one foot higher up than another. This is in addition to a crampon under the ball of the foot and a toothed cross-piece at mid-foot. While less aggressive than the more expensive MSR Lightning Ascent (which has two toothed metal cross pieces instead of one), the traction on the Revo Explore is perfectly adequate for most conditions you’ll encounter including packed snow or ice.

When deployed, the wire televator lifts up your heel reducing calf fatigue when climbing uphill and making it feel lik eyou're stil walking on level ground.
When deployed, the wire televator lifts your heel reducing calf fatigue when climbing uphill and making it feel like you’re still walking on level ground.

Like MSR’s more technical snowshoes, Revo Explore Snowshoes have televators to reduce calf fatigue when climbing hills. Televators are wire bails that flip-up under your heel and lift it up, so it feels like you’re walking on a level surface even though you’re snowshoeing up a hill. These can be easily lifted up by hand or using the tip of a trekking pole, and whacked back down using a trekking pole handle. Frankly, I wouldn’t buy any snowshoe that didn’t have this feature. Once you try it, you’ll be a believer.

The Revo Explore Snowshoe also features lightweight plastic decking that is riveted to the frame, which flares out widely in front of the toes to provide for better flotation. The front of the decking is curved upwards, enabling easier walking over level terrain.

The New Hyperlink Binding

If you’ve ever had problems engaging the 4-strap snowshoe binding that MSR uses on their Ascent Series Snowshoes, the hyperlink binding will be a welcome relief. Consisting of just two straps, you only need to set the heel strap once, so you can step into the binding cradle and secure the front strap in seconds, not minutes, even while wearing gloves in cold weather. The hyperlink bindings are very secure and won’t let your boots go or come accidentally undone when snowshoeing across rough terrain, even when the snowshoes are put under heavy torsional stress.

The hyperlink binding does have several limitations however which are worth knowing before you purchase snowshoes with it. First, the front strap is quite short, and while it will fit over most single layer insulated winter boots it’s not long enough to fit over higher volume mountaineering boots or pack boots. If you need a longer strap, call customer service at Cascade Designs (the parent company of MSR) and they’ll send you 8″ and 10″ straps for larger boots (the 10″ straps were not available when the product started shipping to stores).

Next, the hyperlink binding is quite bulky making it difficult to stack snowshoes flush with one another because the rigid foot cradle gets in the way. This can make snowshoes with the hyperlink binding more difficult to stow into the narrow shovel pocket on the back of many winter backpacks. This is not an issue with the MSR snowshoes that use the 4 strap plastic binding and can lay flat against one another, making them much easier to pack when space is at a premium.

Binding is Frozen Shut
Hyperlink Binding is Frozen Shut

The hyperlink binding is also susceptible to being frozen shut (shown above) if you get it wet during a stream crossing or in wet snow. When ice freezes under the red release lever, you need to have some kind of tool handy to chip it away before you can release your boot from the binding. Otherwise, you’ll be trapped forever in your snowshoes. :-)

While none of these issues are showstoppers, they do illustrate the tradeoffs between the hyperlink binding used on MSR Explore Series Snowshoes and those on the MSR Ascent Series.

If ease of use is your primary concern, then the Revo Explore will likely meet your recreational needs. They are very good snowshoes. If not, then I recommend you upgrade to the MSR Lightning Ascent or the Revo Lightning Ascent  with their 4 strap binding system.

Disclosure: MSR provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a sample pair of Revo explore Snowshoes for this review. 

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