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

MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe



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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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 four plastic strap binding used on MSR’s backcountry snowshoes, like the MSR Lightning Ascent.

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.

Struggling to secure the 4 strap plastic binding on MSR's higher end Ligtning Ascent Snowshoes designed for backcountry and technical use.
Struggling to secure the 4 strap plastic binding on MSR’s higher end Lightning Ascent Snowshoes designed for backcountry and more technical use.

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 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 the 4 strap binding system used 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.

Manufacturer Specs

  • 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

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

Updated 2016.

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  1. Phil-

    MSR has a longer front strap available in a kit. I don’t know if you contact customer support if they will provide one.

    • Just checked their web site. The replacement straps cost $12.95. I will call customer support when they open for more information, but it’s not clear whether these straps are any longer. Have you had to deal with this issue yourself?

      • Well, that’s good, but why the heck didn’t they just make the strap longer to begin with? Don’t a lot of people hike with big boots on in the winter?

        But I’m glad this system is better than the four-strap system. I HATE those bindings passionately. I wonder if you can buy this binding system separately and put it on the Lightning Ascents?

      • ok – I spoke to customer support at Cascade Designs and they’re sending me extra 8″ and 10″ straps for free. The 10″ straps weren’t available when the product shipped. I’ve updated the review above with this information.

      • ‘Don’t a lot of people hike with big boots on in the winter?’ – Precisely! I was so dismayed about this, after I got my revos through the post, I wrote a stinking review on MSR website (not sure if it will get posted). I wish I’d seen this page when I did my research, but who the hell would ever suspect such a basic manufacturing oversight?
        With difficulty, I finally managed to get the strap to reach around my sportiva 4000s (I’m euro size 11). The best technique seems to be to fasten the heel strap in the first notch, so you can place your heel as far back as possible, then with brute force and a bit of angling I can get the instep strap to reach the first notch. Once in, it can be tightened 2 or 3 more notches with the lever, as can the heel strap until you have a secure fit.
        Well the hell not just make it with a few cms more strap though! Any other mountaineering product has excess strap, which you just cut away if it’s annoying.

      • If you contact Msr customer service they’ll send you longer straps. Still…

  2. Call MSR customer service to buy separately. I did this to upgrade my ‘Lightning Axis’ shoes and I much prefer them over the originals.

  3. Phil did you have any issues with the bindings compressing the sides of your foot? I bought a set of the Lightning Explores since I was intrigued by the much simpler bindings. They were just as easy to put on as I had hoped they would be but neither my wife nor I could tolerate the compression on the sides of our feet (me) or along the top (my wife). In the interest of full disclosure neither of us have the best of feet which probably contributed to the discomfort.

    Just after I returned them I came across the new Tubbs Flex VRT. Long story short I ended up buying a set for both my wife and myself. About as easy as it gets to put on\take off and they have very aggressive traction. I feel vaguely guilty about leaving MSR but the Tubbs are just what we were looking for.

    • Actually I didn’t, and it’s one of the things I always check for when evaluting any kind of traction device. Pressure on top of my toes really bothers me, but I didn’t experience any or side pressure like you describe with the hyperlink binding. I guess the lesson to be learned is to buy things like this at a place with a good return policy in case they don’t work out.

    • Hi Jim,
      Thanks for helping me make a decision this aft. I went to MEC to pick up some 22-in Revo Explorers. When they didn’t have my size, I shopped other nearby stores for them. One retailer was extolling the virtues of the Tubbs Flex VRT’s. When googling comparisons, your story helped me make up my mind:)

      Are you still enjoying yours?



  4. Do they make extension tails for these?

  5. Oh sorry, didn’t read carefully enough

  6. TUBBS Mountaineers.

  7. Morning, this the second year for using these snowshoes. I’m very pleased with one acception, they make a lot of noise. While all ‘plastic snowshoes’ are a problem in this respect, my Revo Explorers are even more so with a constant squeezing. I sound like the tin man in the Wizzard of Oz.
    you’re correct, the front strap is short and just fits over my size 12 Sorel Conquest boots. I’ll contact the manufacturer for the longer strap.
    An additional benefit is these snowshoes are significantly lighter then the lightening. The Revo Explorer is more the adequate for my hiking in the White’s.

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