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MSR Snowshoes Heel Strap Hack – Tape it Closed

MSR Ski Strap Bindings

Most MSR Snowshoes have a rear binding that closes with a stretchy ski-style strap. It’s designed that way so that the snowshoes lay flat when lashed to a backpack, making them easier than snowshoes with bulky ratchet-style bindings. They’re also compatible with all boot types, virtually indestructible, and easy to replace, even if you do manage to tear one.

The ski-strap style rear binding is used on the:

But the rear heal strap can be tricky to close when you put on the snowshoes and it does have a tendency to open at least once a day. It’s not a showstopper because they are great snowshoes, but it’s an annoyance. It doesn’t matter if the top straps pop open, since they’re easy to reset. But that rear heel strap requires twisting and stooping at a weird angle and can hurt your knees in the process.

Close the heel strap and tape the ends shut so it can’t open
Close the heel strap and tape the ends shut so it can’t open

There’s a simple way to prevent the rear strap from coming undone and that is to tape the end to the main strap on the setting you prefer with duct tape or some other durable sticky tape (I’ve used super-sticky Tyvek Tape above). This limits their use to one pair of boots, but it can still be easily removed and re-taped if you want to switch to a different pair of shoes that are wider or have a different length.

Taping the rear heel strap works because you can step into the binding from above. It also ensures that the front of your boot will always be positioned the way you like it, with enough front clearance so your boot can rotate over the front crampon without hitting the frame.

Another view of the taped heel straps
Another view of the taped heel straps.

A friend told me about this hack and it works great. I’d thought about replacing my trusty MSR Evo Ascents because I was getting so sick of that heel strap, but this taping hack had restored “our relationship.” Try taping that heel strap and you’ll see what I mean. This hack is a winner!

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  1. This was the same problem I had with the older Denali’s we had, so when I wanted to get a pair of shoes for steeper climbing, I went with Atlas. I have two years now on the Atlas shoes and although the back strap is similar, I have not had the problem. Reaching back to re-do the back strap is not an easy feat for those of us who are “flexibility” challenged as you mention. We still have the Denali’s and use them for hiking in the lower elevations, so I will try this on them next time we take them out. Thanks.

  2. Great idea. On a hike to Mt. Jefferson yesterday, one heel strap on my MSRs came loose twice. Under the best circumstances, you have to be a contortionist to fasten the back straps, but doing it in single-digit temperatures with bare or lightly gloved hands makes it exponentially harder.

  3. I use a zip-tie to keep the heel strap closed. It works well and allows for adjustment. If I use a different boot, I can adjust the heel strap so the foot is position correctly on the snowshoe.

  4. I been using double sided hook-n-loop tape for this sort of thing for years. Looking at my “briefcase” (daypack), I see that I’ve got about five little pieces holding the strap ends, I know all my big packs also have it. It grabs really well, the loops seem to be very durable, too.

    Here’s an example:

  5. Have seen people use small thumb screws to do the same thing. I’ve been to forgetful to do it once I get home after a hike. Like the idea of setting it up the same every time.

  6. I’ll second the zip tie solution for the back. On the front straps, take off the clips and turn them the other way to reduce the number of times they come loose. I also put elastic hair ties on the straps to slip the ends under so they don’t flop around. Still looking for the perfect solution for this as the hair ties collect snow in some conditions, like last weekend.

  7. what kind of tape is that?

    • Can’t you read?

      • George: Can’t you be a somewhat reasonable, kind human being? Apparently not. Yes I now see the part about the tape… When I originally read it he article I skimmed it and must have missed it. Not a big deal. I deserved an ignore from Philip regarding my comment. I think it is really pathetic, however, that you took the time to be an **** and respond the way you did. Try to be nice to people. Seriously just try it, I dare you— it feels good!

  8. I had a pair of Lightening Ascent but the poslock binding the rivets popped out two at the front and one at the back and on my Revo to so contact MSR got the repair and ordered a new one for spare,Then I found out just by luck that the bindings fit the MSR Denali’s these I have had for 25 years 4 pairs and the bindings was just worn out so tried and yes the fit plus access to the rivest so can replace with small bolt because the Lightening Ascent lay flat on the canvass so bolts would brake though, so I have reused my Denali’s why so many snowshoes one so family can come out with me plus I find the Denalis with the large tails great for breaking trail where I find the Ascent good for trails already done. Hope this helps loads of phots to show too

  9. I’ve had a pair of MSR Lighting Ascent ‘shoes that I tried Phil’s hack with years ago-make it much easier to get the snowshoes on.

  10. I just looked, Amazon no longer has the bolts, but an 8-pk of clips. Reviews are good.

  11. I like the different ideas. I bought some of the clips some years ago to help with the problem and they did help. I just don’t get the opportunity to shoe much. was out yesterday and my back straps broke so I’m replacing all straps.
    Love your site

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