Quote Originally Posted by alexmtn View Post
I'm a frequent hiker and hike leader. In addition to my own personal experiences with gear, I get to observe and talk with folks in my groups about what they're using. My hiking is centered on White Mountain routes with substantial elevation gain, trailed and untrailed, along with comparable destinations in ME and VT. My MSR Evo Ascents have 'supported' me in the aforementioned endeavors for over a decade. Their chief strengths are (1) bomber ruggedness over/through rocks, roots, heavy spruce and associated traps; (2) unsurpassed traction on steep snow up, down, and traversing; (3) streamlined enough to slip through dense brush; and (4) bindings that will not fail on steep traverses or in vicious tree tangles and won't ice up in wet but cold conditions. The drawbacks: (1) the bindings, while superior in performance, do take some effort and skill to position and fasten; (2) the snowshoes are very noisy/clattery when cruising over packed surfaces; and (3) they would not be my first choice for galivanting across powdery meadows and open trails, though they do hold their own when breaking trail, even without the optional tails (which I rarely find a need for).

The only worthy substitute I've seen in this performance category is the Tubbs Flex ALP. Folks love them, principally because of their super-easy-to-use bindings and their flexible, less clattery deck. Like the Evo's, they're also very grippy and nimble, and somewhat rugged. If I had to replace my snowshoes this minute, I'd likely stay with the Evo's: I value their amazing ruggedness, as I don't want to be in a field repair situation while swimming through dense spruce in several layers of powder. And the bindings: I love to hate them, but boy do they work, and for when I really need them to release such as in a spruce tangle, they won't pick that moment to freeze. Also, the steel side rails on the Flex are intentionally curved so as to keep in place when facing downhill. I like to 'mini-glissade' down steep trail pitches when the snow is copious, and it's harder to do on the Flex.

And good news: if you don't have crazy steep/rough/bony applications in mind, there are lots of fun options to consider as you go for a suitable (for your intended range of conditions) balance of traction, flotation, ease of use (binding), weight and cost.

Agree with everything in this post as my MSR Denali’s begin their 19th season and my MRS Evo’s begin their 5th or 6th. I like the televators to relieve calf muscles on long steep stretches and I never carry crampons in the Whites unless climbing water ice in gullies as these shoes grip any ice that I encounter on trails or off trails. I have heel extenders for deep snow conditions, but have not used them since I was bushwhacking wNHHH a couple decades ago when we had deeper snowpacks. I recommend carrying an extra pin and cotter ring for the bindings as I once sheared one and wire or thick plastic zip ties do not last long. A small tool with needle nose pliers is useful for replacing the pin and cotter ring.

I still have old Sherpas, Stubbs, and Atlas shoes in my closet, but they only get used now as loaners if I have more than one friend wearing one of the MSR pairs.