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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > MSR Shift Snowshoes > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

MSR Shift Youth Snowshoes

Initial Report - Jan 5 '10
Field Report - Mar 19 '10
Long Term Report - May 18 '10

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 42
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)
Torso: 19"( cm)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. 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. My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information

Mountain Safety Rearch
Year of Manufacture:
Manufacturer’s Website:
$US ??.??
Weight Listed/Measured: 2 lbs 7 oz (1105 g) / 2 lbs 8 oz (1148 g)
Youth 3 - Men's 8 (33.5 - 41 EU)
Measurments Listed/Measured Width: 7 in (17.8 cm) / Same
Length: 19.5 in (49.5 cm) / 19 in (48 cm)

Image courtesy of Mountain Safety Rearch
Image courtesy of Mountain Safety Rearch

Product Description:

The MSR Shift snowshoe utilizes the same proven durable all terrain design of the MSR Denali, but scaled down to fit Kids. The manufacturer describes them as being “engineered for adventurous preteens”.

Initial Report

Sue in our front yard
Tester’s Bio:
These are being tested primarily by my 12-year-old daughter Susan but her sister Grace (8 years old) will also be testing them. The girls have both been hiking and backpacking with me but have never worn snowshoes. Sue snowboards and Grace started skiing this past Spring. Sue wears US 9 shoes and Grace wears US 1-2. Sue weighs about 117 lbs (53 kg) Grace 55 lbs (25 kg).

Initial impressions
The shoes arrived attached together bottom to bottom with a large rubber band holding them together. Initially I was going to throw the rubber band away, but then realized it might come in handy for storing the shoes. The first thing I noticed was the bindings. The bindings consist of three straps, two that cross the foot (toe & instep) and one longer that wraps around the heel. Each binding consists of two buckles and there are three different kinds of buckles used. The primary buckle used on all three straps is a simple buckle with no moving parts. The strap is wrapped around the buckle and the fixed pin holds the strap from slipping. The heel and instep straps have a slightly different version of the primary buckle where the strap is held in place without having to wrap around the buckle. The toe uses a basic friction buckle. The secondary buckles are used to adjust the straps to the desired length, and the primary buckles are used when putting the shoes on and removing them. The bindings look easy to use and highly adjustable. All of the various parts and materials used in the bindings look well made and durable.Grace
The next thing I noticed was how the plastic deck was molded directly around the metal traction bars. A simple but effective design that should be quite durable. The traction bars have a nice saw like serration to them. The crampon plate is riveted to the bindings and attached to the traction bars with a single axle. We are a bit surprised that the pivot is a bit stiff and Susan noticed the first time she wore them that they would not always swing away and back as easily as she would like. I hope that this will free up with wear (I don’t see any recommendations on lubrication). While the 2 point crampons are not as aggressive as I anticipated, they look to be very strong, and are not overly sharp or pointy (probably a good thing for a product intended for kids). In addition to the traction bars and crampons, there are traction features molded directly into the bottom of the shoes. While these look like they should greatly enhance traction, I worry about the combination of the stiff deck and all of this surface might be a problem in sticky wet snow.
While examining the shoes we noticed that a mirror image of the MSR logo was molded into the bottom of the shoes. In the right conditions this should leave a legible impression of the logo in the snow (cute).

Trying them on:
First Susan tried them on with her rubber snow boots. We were able to get them on with almost no adjustment, but it was clear that for extended use we would need to shorten the straps. She wore them around in the thin layer of snow we had in our front yard for a bit and had no trouble learning to walk in them. We then had Grace try them on with her much smaller rubber snow boots. I had to shorten the straps some, and it was obvious that while I would need to shorten the straps more, it should be possible for both girls to wear them with little or no adjustments in between. Grace, aside from a bit of trouble getting down the 3 steps to our back yard, had no trouble and immediately started to walk around the yard spelling her name out in the process.
points of concernIn addition to how adjustable they are, I was impressed at how easy it is to attach and remove the bindings. I look forward to having the girls try them while wearing gloves and maybe even mittens.
Susan has now worn the shoes to walk across the street to the neighbor’s house to care for their cats. She has absolutely no problem putting them on or taking them off by herself. However I have noticed a bit of wear on the tips of the crampons probably from when she walked across the pavement to the neighbors house. They look to be coated with some sort of paint and this has chipped off. I also notice a bit of rust on one of the shoes where the axle enters the traction bar. I will need to keep an eye on this.

Likes and dislikes:
We like the easy to use crampons. The design looks durable (kid proof?). So far there is nothing about these we do not like.

Field Report

Field Report - Mar '19
UsageSusan and Grace resting
All of the usage has been in the Eastern Cascades at between 3000-4000 f (1000-1200 m), with temperatures hovering at or a little below freezing. All of them short trips lasting from 1-3hrs.
  • Three trips at various spots along Washington Hwy410 where we walked for a short distance to find a suitable area where we tried the shoes on various terrain from rolling flats to steep inclines approximately 50deg .
  • One trip off of Hwy12 above Dog Lake where we looked for a suitable snow cave location.
  • One day trip on the groomed trails of White Pass Alpine ski area (White Pass Washington).

This has been a poor year to test snowshoes in the Pacific Northwest. Normally we can go snowshoeing within a few miles of my house. This year we have had to drive over an hour to find anything close to usable snow, while scheduling trips to avoid rain. UGH!

Try as I might, I can find nothing about these shoes to criticize. The bindings have been easy for Susan to operate, even with gloves on. And they are versatile enough to fit both Susan and Grace with minimal adjustment. On most of the trips we spent some time playing. During these play breaks the kids would toss the shoes haphazardly where ever they were and they would get covered in snow. The shoes did not ice up and the bindings remained pliable and easy to operate.
Susan climbing up the hillThe all-plastic deck is tough and durable, so I don’t worry about them damaging them, despite how good my kids are at destroying things. The shoes seem to be able to handle their tripping over their own feet and the normal thrashing around in the snow that kids do. How they manage to not break an ankle or tear apart the bindings while rolling around in the snow, I have no idea.
The way the cleats are molded into the plastic looks to be quite durable and strong. So far aside from some minor surface scratches they are showing no sign of wear (despite Susan walking on bare pavement a few times). I convinced Susan to try walking up some rather steep terrain (I estimate 50deg or more). Despite some initial hesitation, she walked up the steep snow with increasing confidence as she found the shoes to provide good traction. However, no amount of assurance from me would convince her to walk back down, she took of the shoes and did a ‘penguin slide’ (glacade) back down.
Susan getting ready to come back downAside from our first trip where we had about a foot (30 cm) of fresh snow over packed snow (we had a great snowball fight), the snow condition for the rest of the trips were typical ‘Cascade Concrete’ (packed snow/ice) with a few inches (5-10 cm) of heavy snow over the top. In these conditions floatation has not been much of an issue. However the compact snow/ice makes for uneven, undulating, and unforgiving terrain with small but deep ruts and depressions. The Shift snowshoes have performed well under these conditions, providing stable footing in the uneven terrain.
In the Initial Report I mentioned how the crampon pivots were a bit stiff. These have loosed up with use and are functioning nicely.

The MSR Shift Snowshoes look to be a very good design for kids: Tough and simple.

Cold and tiredHaving fun now!

Long Term Report

Long Term Report - May 18 '10
Usage:Showing shoe
A single 6mile (9.6 km) round trip in the Washington Cascades –Leech Lake to Deer Lake. Elevation 4500-5200’ (1400-1600 m). Temperatures were just above freezing at the parking lot and a little below freezing at the lake.

We only got a single opportunity since the field report to use these. But during this trip they got quite a workout. We started out on dense wet snow at the parking lot, followed groomed trail for a while (the White Pass Alpine trails had just closed for the season the previous weekend), then some un-groomed trail and finally bushwhacked through some deep fresh snow and steep terrain (an ill-conceived “Shortcut”). The shoes performed admirably. Despite a few falls in the deep snow, the bindings held firm, not coming loose or allowing her feet to shift.

We really have no complaints about these snowshoes. They have performed better than expected and endured a bit of abuse with little or no indications of wear aside from what is noted in my previous reports above. The bindings are simple and secure, and Susan has had no trouble in getting them on or off, even when wearing gloves. The molded plastic design seems quite tough and durable, and well suited to use by kids. These may not be the lightest snowshoes available but I believe for kids (at least my kids), ease of use and durability are more important than saving a bit of weight. In my initial report I mentioned the axles were a bit stiff. These have loosed up a bit with use and function fine. The bit of rust I mentioned in my initial report has completely disappeared. This must have been just on the surface.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this product! In fact I anticipate purchasing a second pair so next winter both girls will have a pair.
Sue falling on steep terainStopping for a rest

This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at MSR and for the opportunity to test this fine product.


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