For Christmas 2015 we decided to purchase a family gift of snowshoes. We figured we liked to hike as did the kids so making the backcountry more accessible in the winter was going to be a good thing.
Well the gift didn't start on the right foot with us being in Ontario where in theory we'd have boat loads of snow. Christmas day dawned to 11C and rain and a 6 year old that was disappointed about snowshoes. While that 6 year old didn't really warm up to the snowshoe experience, I've made heavy use of my MSR Revo Trail Snowshoes.
My weight is usually in the 200 – 210lbs range which means I need to go with a longer shoe. Out of the MSR line the Revo Trail in the 25" version was within our budget for the family gift.
If you look at the specs on the Revo Trail you'll note that the 25" version without the tails says it holds 220lbs. Given that one of my regular loads is a 30lbs toddler I'm clearly pretty much always over the suggested weight limit of the shoes. Even with being over the recommended load for the Revo Trail, I've never noticed any issues with the shoes supporting me and the loads I'm carrying.
If you do notice issues with the Revo Trails holding your weight or you are already over the maximum suggested weight, then look at the tails they offer for the snowshoes. With the tails the Revo Trail suggested weight goes up to 280lbs which would mean they handle me and my heaviest winter loads with weight to spare.
Traction with the Revo Trail
One of the trips I took last March was a hike that started on a local dirt trail which then spent much of the day in very wet sloppy loose snow as I worked my way a few mountains back down past Elk Mountain towards Mercer in Chilliwack BC. There was lots of very steep slippery sloppy snow that just got more sloppy as the day went on and the sun blazed overhead.
Throughout this 20km day, these shoes provided excellent traction. While I did end up taking a few small slides, for the most part the Revo Trail snowshoes stayed exactly where I put them when I stepped.
Probably the biggest knock against them is that they don't have the 'Televator' which some of MSR's higher end snowshoes have, like the Lightning Ascent. The Televator is a bar that you can lock in an up position to raise your heel while climbing. This means that your foot is flatter while the snowshoe is inclined. This can save a bunch of energy, but has never felt like a must have in a set of snowshoes especially when you consider the extra weight it would add.
I've always found MSR Snowshoes easy to put on. Simply stick your foot in the crampon and pull the 3 big stretchy straps over your boots till they're tight. Really it's two straps over the foot and a third that wraps around the heel. I've always found that these 3 simple straps stay fully secure and are easy to operate with gloves on, unlike some other styles of retention that are more like a belt threading through a buckle.
Sometimes I want to wear my snowshoes with my regular hiking boots, the Thunder III GTX, and sometimes I want to wear them with my trail running shoes, the SpeedCross 3 and now 4. While they fit well on both pairs of footwear, they're significantly more comfortable when I'm wearing my Thunder III GTX boots. Mainly it comes down to the boots having more structure so when the straps are tight I can't really feel them on through the boots. With the lighter weight shoes the straps dig in a bit at the toe, especially the buckles. I've still done 4 hours in my shoes with them when I had a few hours of trail running to do at the beginning and end of my day. It's doable, but the boots definitely make them more comfortable.
The MSR Revo Trail also has excellent grip. I've had them out on warm sloppy days where I covered 10km in them and cold days with hard packed snow. In every condition I've encountered they've had plenty of grip for the terrain.
Yes, the MSR Revo Trail has been a great snowshoe to own. They fit in my bag nicely and they're comfortable and sturdy without being crazy heavy. It would be nice if they had the Televator, but outside of that I can't think of a feature I need that they don't have.