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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > MSR Revo Ascent 2017 Snowshoes > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

MSR REVO ASCENT Snowshoes

Initial Report - Nov 17 2017
Field Report - Jan 23 2018
Long Term Report - Mar 27 2018

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 200 lb (90.7 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

Mountain Safety Research (MSR) a Cascade Designs, Inc. brand

Year of Manufacture:

2017

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.cascadedesigns.com

MSRP:

Not avaiable

Sizes:

two sizes available 22" and 25" (56 cm & 64 cm)

Listed Weight (pair):

4 lbs 5 oz (1.92 kg) / 4 lbs 9 oz (2.04 kg)

Measured Weigh (pair 25 " / 64 cm size):

4 lbs 10 oz (2.09 kg)

Product pix

Product Description:

The MSR Revo Ascent snowshoes are intended to be durable and versatile for the most rugged and demanding conditions. Among its features are a rugged "ExoTrac" deck, "PosiLock" bindings, televators and DTX crampons and external steel teeth.

Initial Report

November 17 2017

Side viewI have owned a pair of the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes for a number of years now. I have loved them. They are tough light and provide great traction and flotation. I had only one minor complaint regarding the televators and upon looking at these it appears they have addressed that. I am looking forward to using these and see how well they perform.

MSR snowshoes are available in a number of different combinations using aspects from a couple of product lines. The EVO and REVO line of snowshoes have injection molded plastic decks to make them durable, with the REVO's having an external perimeter of steel teeth for added traction. The ASCENT line use two-piece, independently conforming PosiLock AT bindings and televators. These bindings are secure and freeze resistant, and accommodate a wide range of footwear.

The PosiLock binding utilize 4 rubber straps. 3 across the top of the foot and one around the heel. They have a wide range of adjustability. These are attached to a very aggressive set of crampons, which are attached to the frame of the snowshoes by way of two pivots. The external frame of the snowshoes consist of a steel band with teeth that surround the shoes. The molded deck is riveted to the steel frame and include molded ridges on the underside to provide additional traction. On the rear end of the deck is a steel bar "televator". This bar can be lifted into place under the heel to lift the heel for climbing.
Note in the old version of the Lightning Ascent snowshoes I have, this bar is strait making it difficult to raise into place. This version has a bend which creates a gap between the Televator and the deck of the snowshoes to make deploying them easier.

An initial examination of these suggest they are well constructed and I found no obvious flaws or potential problems. 

Likes
  • Secure bindings that accommodate a wide range of footwear
  • Aggressive traction
  • televator bars for improved climbing performance

Dislikes
  • None

CramponsLable

Field Report

Jan 23 2018
Use:On trail
  • Nordic Ski Patrol - 6 days
  • Overnight snow camping – 1 night
My use of these snowshoes during my ski patrol days involve the following. I typically snowshoe in the morning, evaluating and if necessary packing down the snowshoe trails, and performing other minor trail maintenance if necessary. In the process I dig out the entrances to the bathrooms and assist/educate customers as necessary. On occasion I have to haul gear or rescue toboggans and/or clear or pack the snow around the toboggans for easy access. Then I switch to skis for the afternoon.

One particular day I performed my normal morning duties, spent the afternoon testing and evaluating a potential ski patrol candidate (putting in more distance than normal), then switched back to snowshoes to accompany a guided evening snowshoe trip (only about 45min on the snow). Needless to say I was quite tired by the end. During the guided trip we experienced a rather tricky stream crossing. I had to go off trail and bushwhack around the group, leaping over a section of the stream in order to get ahead of the group and assist people in making the crossing. Obviously if my snowshoes were not firmly attached to my boots and the shoe/bindings not strong, this would not have been possible. I would not have even attempted that maneuver in some entry level snowshoes. I would also mention that one section of our snowshoe trail is a mix of mud, flowing water, rocks and branches about 6' (2 m) long. These shoes are durable enough to allow me to simply walk across this section without concern that a sharp rock or branch might puncture or otherwise damage the shoes.

For the one overnight trip, after a day of patrolling I hiked back into the trees at the far end of the lake and set up my hammock. I love snowshoes for snow camping as they make it really easy to pack down a nice flat area for my camp.

As mentioned in the Initial Review I own an older Ascent version of these shoes. They have the same bindings and I like that I am able to get them on/off even with gloves on. I also have found these bindings to be quite strong and durable (the bindings on my old ones still look/perform like new), but there are a few things about them I struggle with. Since these use tension of the strap to keep them secured on the pin, I tend to over tighten them to ensure they do not come loose, resulting in pain in my foot. I often have to stop and loosen one or more straps after a short while of use. There are small clips intended to keep the loose ends of the straps from flopping around (and potentially coming unhooked), and on a few occasions I have had them slip out of these clips and flop around. Overall I would say this is a very strong and durable binding system, but probably overkill for most of what I do. When in rugged terrain and during hard use I appreciate knowing they are unlikely to break or come loose, but most of the time it is unnecessary and I wish I had a simpler binding system. (All I ask is absolute customized perfection for everything I might do. Is that too much?)

The shoes themselves seem bullet proof. The plastic deck and steel frame & hardware give me confidence to do just about anything without fear of damaging them. The trade off is weight. These are rather heavy in my view, but not unreasonably so given the advantages. I would also mention how noisy these can be. On packed and or groomed snow the shoes make a very notable clickity clack clickety clack sound (reminiscent of a train at a crossing), but I would note these are no louder than any other hard deck snowshoes I have used. So this is not a problem, just something worth noting should noise level or stealth be a consideration. For example were I a hunter or otherwise want to go quietly through the snow, I doubt I would choose these.

Regarding traction and flotation. I don't think I can ask for more in this area. These shoes provide the exceptional traction I was expecting (based on my other MSR Ascent shoes). The steel frame provides reliable 360 deg traction allowing me to climb, descend, and even sidehill with confidence. The toe crampons provide an impressive and very satisfying bite into packed snow/ice. One irony is that I find the excellent flotation, can negatively impact the shoes traction in soft snow. Due to the flotation, the snow does not get compacted as much so the edges/crampons simply have nothing to hold on to. So on steep soft snow I find I need to stomp or at least firmly place my step in order to compact the snow enough to reduce the risk of sliding. I would not consider this a problem, just something to be aware of.

One of my favorite features of the snowshoes is the heel lifts. The design of these allow me to simply reach down with the handle of my trekking poles to extend/retract them. As opposed to the earlier design that requires me to reach down with my hand (sometimes having to remove my glove). As such I use the feature more often, and am quite pleased. The heel lifts make ascents far easier. It has become a "must have" feature for all my snowshoes.

SUMMARY
Overall there really is nothing about these that I do not like. There may be a few things that are a little over kill or over engineered for most of what I use snowshoes for, but that is no fault of the product (maybe I just need to be more adventurous). See likes and dislikes in the Initial Report above.

Long Term Report

Mar 27 2018
Use:Side hill
  • Nordic Ski Patrol - 4 days
  • Overnight snow camping – 1 night

After a somewhat uneventful winter, I managed to get some really good use out of these snowshoes during the 2nd phase of the Mountain Travel and Rescue training I attended (required training for the Ski Patrol).  We met early in the morning and took the chair lift to the top of the ridge where we were required to locate our starting point (using map/compass or GPS) then travel to a given watpoint in the wilderness just outside of the ski area boundary where we had to construct an emergency shelter for our team (of 3). Each team then had to use only map/compass to navigate through dense forest and rugged terrain 1 mile (1.6 km) to different watpoints for each team. We recently received a series of spring storms dumping fresh powder on top of the existing base (a mix of soft snow and ice layers). The result was a mix of easy walking, nasty side hilling, some short but really steep climbs (up and down), and dangerous (often hidden) tree bowls. We then did some additional travel on a mix of groomed and ungroomed snow eventually ending at a given watpoint to construct snow shelters, spending the night. In the morning after conducting mock search and rescue missions we finally snowshoed all the way back down on the groomed ski runs to the Lodge (my thighs were screaming by the time I made it down and I could barely walk the next day). Conditions ranged from about 31 F (0 C), calm and sunny, to 19 F (-7 C), blowing wind and snow (about 4 inches / 10 cm of fresh powder).

I was impressed with the ability of the snowshoes to sidehill on ungroomed snow. They provided stable support and firm grip despite the loose snow. They also provided excellent floatation even in the fresh powder and soft snow (I was carrying about a 40lb / 18 kg pack). Where these snowshoes excelled was in the climbs. I was able to easily extend/retract the heel lifts as needed using the handle of my trekking pole and these snowshoes gave me the grip and stability to climb with confidence. Most notably was one member of my team was using snowshoes totally unfit for these conditions, so I ended up having to kick steps into the steeper parts of the hill in order for him to climb or sidehill. I have never had a pair of snowshoes that allowed me to kick steps like this. Some of the folks in this training chose to use skis with skins, and a couple of times I had to help pull them up some of the hills as they could not get enough traction. During our recap and evaluation of the trip one of the topics that was brought up was having the correct gear for the conditions, and these snowshoes were specifically mentioned as a standout for performing as well as they did.

A nice start to the tripIt was not all champagne and caviar however. There were a few minor inconveniences. In the morning I found the bindings a little hard to operate and get adjusted correctly. The rubber was stiff from the cold and my fingers were even stiffer so I had trouble gripping and handling the straps. It took me a couple of tries to get the straps to hold and I had to adjust them a couple of times before I got them right. On one foot I left the toe strap a little loose to improve circulation (trying to help keep my toes warm, my boots were not quite up to the conditions) and noticed the binding clip would rub on the side of the shoe with each step. This was not a problem, but it was a bit distracting and got a little annoying after a while.

I can’t say these are the best snowshoes (for any/all conditions) I have ever used. As previously mentioned they are overkill and rather noisy for compact or groomed snow, and are a bit heavier than others I have used. But for the conditions I encountered during that last outing, I can think of no other pair I have ever used I would rather have had with me than the MSR Revo Ascent’s.

Now that this test is over, I am trying to decide on my future use of these. On one hand these performed very well for the worst conditions I encountered, but I also have snowshoes I prefer for general use across most conditions I normally encounter. I expect I will hang on to these for occasional use when I expect harsh conditions and/or to loan out, but will most likely eventually trade or donate them  to someone who is likely to put them to better use (I like to donate my extra gear whenever possible) but I know these will be very hard to give up.


This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at MSR / Cascade Designs and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this wonderfull product.

 



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