The MSR Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes
are indicated for use in all terrain. They are a unisex
snowshoe that can be worn on either foot. They look
like an aggressive and rugged type of snowshoe. These
snowshoes do not appear to be lacking in the traction
category. There is quite an abundance of steel on the
underside of them. That makes me think
that they can bite into anything. The underside has
steel traction blades with saber teeth running lengthwise
down the sides of the snowshoe. The heel does not have
a crampon but has plastic molded braking bars below
the crampon and foot plate area.
are very lightweight, easily the lightest ones I have
ever owned. The snowshoes are designed
with a tapered tip and tail to make walking easier and
let me use a more natural stride. So hopefully I will
not be tripping over my feet and they will work well
with a woman's stride.
The snowshoes come with two hefty rubber
bands to secure them together when not in use. I like
the idea that I can secure the snowshoes together with
these hefty bands. The flotation tails came with one
rubber band of the same type.
The decking is constructed of a hard
synthetic material and the straps are made of rubber
type of material. There are a total of ten metal rivets
running along the sides of the snowshoes to hold the
saber teeth in place. There are two metal spools near
the tail of each snowshoe. These spools are to lock
the flotation tails into place. Metal rivets are what
secure the binding to the crampon plate. The crampon
is a hinge type with four teeth and the crampon plate
itself is attached to the steel traction blades with
a pin/lock type of fastener. Very impressive.
The bindings are designed to allow
easy entry and exit from the snowshoes. This binding
is referred to as a stand-up binding by the manufacturer.
The snowshoes have a crampon extension plate that is
designed to eliminate heel drift and a four-strap binding
that is meant to provide a great fit and a secure attachment
to the snowshoe. The binding plate also has some nubs
on it, which I assume are to help secure the foot into
The snowshoes are donned by opening
the binding and laying it flat with the front straps
off to the side. After stepping into the snowshoes I
adjust my foot to the proper position by aligning the
ball of my foot centered over the crampon hinge and
the area marked "ball of foot here". The manufacturer
recommends that if large boots are being worn with the
snowshoes that there is adequate room between the tip
of the boot and the boot hole so that when the boot
rotates forward there is enough clearance that the boot
does not hit the deck. Well it looks to me that there
is a lot of toe clearance since the toe opening measures
3.5 in (9 cm).
There are three rubber foot straps
and one rubber heel strap on each snowshoe. The straps
have holes in them to place the metal tongue of the
tension buckle to secure them in place. There is one
tension buckle and one anchor buckle on each strap.
The straps can also be adjusted for length on the anchor
buckle or by cutting the length. The anchor buckle has
a metal tongue to keep the strap at the desired length.
It is recommended to tighten the straps
starting at the toe strap first. They are threaded through
a D-ring buckle type of metal fastener to the binding
body of the snowshoe. I pulled the binding strap snug
and placed the metal tongue of the fastener ring into
one of the holes on the strap. I placed the tongue into
a hole that gave me adequate tightness so the snowshoes
would not fall off my feet. The heel strap has the same
type of strap system as the foot straps. To fasten the
heel strap I pulled the straps to the desired tension
and placed the metal tongue of the tension buckle into
the hole on the rubber strap. There is one plastic clip
(retainer buckle) on each foot and heel strap. This
is to secure and tuck away the straps that are hanging
down or flopping around. The manufacturer recommends
that the heel strap is positioned with the tension buckle
towards the inside of the foot.
The Televator heel
lifter is designed to reduce calf fatigue to make climbing
easier and more efficient. The Televator bar is located
below the heel when my foot is placed in the snowshoe.
It consists of a metal bar that pivots with a plastic
tab. It is put into action by lifting up on the tab
until the Televator bar snaps upright. After making
the ascent the Televator is released by pushing it down
flat against the snowshoe decking. The Televator is
not to be used on flat, downhill, or low angle slopes.
The Televator reminds me of walking in 4 in (10 cm)
The Denali Evo Flotation
Tails are modular tails that are designed to work with
the Denali Evo and the Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes.
They are designed to provide more flotation in deep
snow or when carrying extra weight such as a pack.
The flotation tails are
installed by loosening the knob on the tails. The center
tab and the holes on the tails are lined up with the
metal spools on the snowshoes. I pushed the two pieces
together and they snap into place. When the tails are
correctly placed on the snowshoes the metal spools are
in the lower (smaller hole). The knob on the tails is
tightened to secure the tail in place.
Snowshoes with tails
The instruction manual that was
provided with the snowshoes has detailed information
on snowshoe techniques on steep terrain and some user
tips. There are also some instructions on donning the
snowshoes, flotation tails, and using the Televator.
There is also sizing and warranty information in the
included manual. The manual is written in six languages
I looked at the MSR website prior to
receiving the snowshoes and I found the site to have
the basic specifications of the snowshoes such as measurements
and weight. The website also had snowshoeing exercise
information and sizing information listed. There were
also explanations of the key features of the snowshoes.
When the snowshoes arrived I was very
impressed. They arrived with the optional flotation
tails which are an additional purchase to the snowshoes.
The construction of the snowshoes appeared to be of
a high quality and very rugged with all the teeth. I
just can not get over how lightweight they are with
all those metal teeth.
During the past two months the Denali
Evo Ascent snowshoes were worn in the following locations:
Day snowshoeing hikes Wasatch
Mountain Range in Utah: Multiple locations.
The snow conditions varied from 4 in (10 cm) to over
14 in (36 cm) of fresh snow. The weather was below freezing
on all the day trips with snow, sunny skies, and windy
conditions on various days.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah:
This was a one night trip with the camp elevation at
8,000 ft (2,438 m). The daytime temperatures were from 36 F (2 C) and a nighttime temperature
of 5 F (-15 C). There was snow on the ground from a
trace amount to almost 3 ft (1 m) drifts. Hikes were
from 3.5 mi (6 km) to 6.5 mi (10 km) in length.
Wasatch Mountain Range, Utah:
This was a one night solo trip. Elevation of about 8,000
ft (2,438 m). The nighttime low was 10 F (-12 C). There
was an overnight snow shower with a trace amount of
Wasatch Mountain Range, Utah:
This was an overnight trip with two people. Elevation
of about 9,200 ft (2,804 m) with a low temperature of
approximately 14 F (-10 C) with wind gusts. Snow started
to fall in the morning hours just before departing camp.
in the Field
During the past two months the Denali
Evo Ascents were worn on day trips and overnight backpacking
trips. The trips ranged from 3 mi (5 km) to 12 mi (19
km) in total length. The snow conditions varied from
wet snow, fluffy powder, to layers of graupel.
I am very impressed with the Denali
Evo Ascent snowshoes. They are actually the first pair
I have owned in many years that provide normal foot
alignment when the bindings are secured. There has been
no heel or foot drift during the past two months of
testing. I can not say if the lack of foot and heel
drift is from the crampon extension plate or the nubs
on the binding plate. It can be a combination of the
extension plate, the secure binding system, and the
design of the binding plate. Since there was no heel
and foot drift I did not encounter any arch pain, knee
or hip discomfort, or leg cramping.
The bindings proved easy to fasten
with gloves on. I had more difficulty donning the snowshoes
while wearing mittens. This is mostly because my mittens
are bulky. I always found myself donning the snowshoes
by fastening the toe strap first. This is the way the
manufacturer suggests and I just found it easier for
me to get a more secure fit by fastening the bindings
in this manner. The binding are super easy to secure
and adjust. The bindings are referred to by the manufacturer
as stand-up bindings. I found that I could easily don
the snowshoes by sliding my foot into the straps while
they are partially fastened into the tension buckle.
I made sure that the ball of my foot was centered over
the crampon hinge by placing it over the words "ball
of foot here". I then secured the bindings by pulling
the side of the straps tight near the tension buckle
tight and then I placed the metal tongue of the buckle
into the hole in the strap. I used the retainer clips
to hold the excess strap length into place. For every
trip I completed this process for all four straps on
each snowshoe. I must say that on no trips did the strap
pop out of the tongue on the tension buckle.
I found that I was able to wear the
Denali Evo Ascents with both my winter pac style boots
and with two different types of GORE-TEX backpacking
boots. With both pairs of boots there was adequate toe
clearance with my foot positioned correctly over the
crampon hinge. There was even some room to spare. While
wearing some previous models I found that I would trip
over my snowshoes while walking. Not with the Denali
There were times I found that I did
not need the extra length and surface area of the flotation
tails. In these cases I would carry them attached to
the outside of my backpack. I found the flotation tails
have become easier to attach to the snowshoes over time.
But it is still easily accomplished by lining up the
center tab and the holes on the tails with the metal
spools on the snowshoes. Then just snapping them into
place. The tails are sometimes stiff to remove. I hit
myself in my chin with the tail attempting to remove
them from the main body of the snowshoes.
I really like the adjustability of
the Denali Evo Ascents have with the removable flotation
tails. This just makes the snowshoes so much more versatile.
Not only does it save weight by not having the excess
surface area in shallow snow but it also saves energy
and reduces fatigue. I have used the flotation tails
primarily when the snow was deeper than 6 in (15 cm).
I used the televator heel on one occasion.
The position of my heel felt strange as it was lifted
from the snowshoe deck and supported by the metal bar.
I felt like I was walking in platform shoes. The televator
heel was easily snapped into place. However, I did have
difficulty lowering the televator heels on one of the
snowshoes. I had to sit on the ground to release it.
I did like the position of my leg and heel in relationship
to the snowshoe in this position. I will need to further
experiment with the televator heel during further testing
of the snowshoes.
I found that the Denali Evo Ascents
provided excellent traction on downhill descents. There
were no instances of me slipping downhill because of
lack of traction. The side rails grip into packed snow
exceptionally well. With the flotation tails in place
the snowshoes sank about 6 in (15 cm) to 14 in (36 cm)
of snow carrying a backpack with approximately 29 lb
(13 kg) of weight. I found that the snowshoes floated
while descending downhill.
So far I am very impressed the traction
and the flotation of the Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes.
I am also very impressed with how easy the binding system
is to use. What I like best about these snowshoes is
that my foot is correctly aligned in the binding system.
There is no foot, arch, heel, knee, or hip pain while
Finding an abundance of snow
that is easily accessible for short trips and
day hikes in Southern California has been trying.
I was spoiled living in Utah with lots of snow
in my backyard. During the past two months the
Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes were worn on two overnight
trips in the following locations:
Jacinto State Park, California: The elevation
at Round Valley was 9,100 ft (2,774 m). There
was snow on the ground with clear skies and no
precipitation. The temperatures were 33 F (1 C)
for a high and low of 19 F (-7 C). This was a
6 mi (9.66 km) trip. The snow was hard packed,
icy, and slushy in some areas. Base snow: over
3 ft (0.91 m).
Jacinto State Park, California: I went
back to this area for another night of backpacking.
There was still snow on the ground. We camped
at 9,100 ft (2,774 m) and the temperatures were
a mild 50 F (10 C) for a high and 25 F (-4 C)
for the low. This was a 6 mi (9.66 km) trip. The
snow was hard packed, icy, and slushy in some
areas. Base snow: 2 ft (0.61 m) and less.
Snowshoeing on some hard packed snow.
in the Field
After using the Denali Evo Ascents
for the past four months I must say that I absolutely
love them. They are comfortable, do not give me leg
and foot fatigue or pain, they have great traction,
and I love the Televator that allows me to travel the
steeps. All and all I had a wonderful experience testing
During the past two months of testing
the Evo Ascents saw less powder and more icy and hard
packed snow conditions. Initially on one of the trips
to Round Valley I wore my Yaktrax traction devices.
The snow and ice was balling up and I was not getting
any traction on the snow. So I put on the Evo Ascents.
There was no issue of the snow and ice balling up under
my feet or under the crampons.
On my two backpacking trips during
this testing phase I wore my GORE-TEX backpacking boots
since the temperatures were warmer. There was no need
on either trip to use the flotation tails since powder
was nowhere to be seen. The snowshoes transitioned nicely
between the icy, hard packed, and slushy snow that I
encountered. The crampons bit through the icy snow and
I had no instances of sliding down the icy, hard packed
In the final stages of testing I did
have the opportunity to use the Televator more as I
climbed steeper slopes. I must say that this is one
of my favorite features. It gave me the opportunity
to easily climb steeper slopes without much effort and
no calf fatigue. It definitely allowed me to go places
that I could not even dream of in my other snowshoes
and with much ease. The only difficulty is that sometimes
the Televator is challenging to release. Especially
when I am standing on a steep slope and I have to release
it for a decent. I found myself struggling to keep my
balance while trying to release the Televator. This
is mostly because sometimes it required extra force
to release the Televator. But, it is still one of my
My other favorite feature is the removable
flotation tails. I enjoyed the fact that I can have
one pair of snowshoes that can be shorter for hard packed
snow and longer for powder conditions. I do not like
walking around on hard packed snow with big snowshoes
that I end up tripping over my feet with, plus I don't
want to walk with the extra weight. I just like the
versatility the flotation tails provide. They make the
Evo Ascents a 2 in 1 snowshoe (one snowshoe with two
options-extra flotation for powder or minimal flotation).
The bindings have held up well with
no stretching that I could tell. At times when donning
them I had difficulty recalling which snowshoe was the
right and the left . The manufacturer suggests wearing
them with the tabs on the inside of the feet when they
are fully fastened. But, naturally I found myself donning
them with the tabs on the outside of the foot when they
were fastened. I had to really think about the correct
way of putting them on my feet since they are not marked
right and left. Anyway, I did have them placed on the
wrong feet twice. But, I really did not tell a difference
in my gait. I would like to see them marked right and
left, it would just make donning them according to the
manufacturer's directions easier.
I think these are a great pair of snowshoes
that can go pretty much anywhere that snowshoes would
allow a person to go. They are lightweight, versatile,
adjustable, comfortable, and easy to don and doff. I
will be using these for many more seasons.
- Ease of binding use
- Alignment while walking
- Versatile and adjustable with
- The function of the Televator
Things That Are So So:
- The Televator was at times
difficult to release
- The flotation tails can be
difficult to remove when new
- The snowshoes are not marked
left and right
Televator in action
concludes my long term report. Thank you Cascade Designs
for providing me with the opportunity to test these