FIRST, WHAT TERRAIN? What do you plan on being in most often. The Trail Series is best suited to flat or rolling terrain, the Explore Series excels at off trail travel and puts a priority on comfort and fast, easy use. And the Ascent Series is perfect for mountain travel.
Next, choose the deck type that suits your needs, opting for either the durability of the plastic Revo deck or the ultralight weight savings of the aluminium Lightning deck. Once you’ve chosen the series and deck type, choose the smallest snowshoe size that will support your carrying weight, typical snow type (packed, icy, or powder) and gait type (wide or narrow).
Keep in mind you can always extend the flotation of your chosen snowshoes with an MSR Modular Flotation tail.
• Minimalists and recreationalists on flat trails or rolling hills: Trail Series. • Hiking on and off trail; all day comfort & ease of use on extended trips: Explore Series. • Mountaineering, aggressive backcountry pursuits and rugged terrain: Ascent Series. • For extending the flotation of your current MSR snowshoes: Modular Flotation Tails.
YOUR WEIGHT, PLUS GEAR The more you weigh, the more flotation you need. While snowshoeing, be sure to consider your body weight PLUS the gear and clothing you’ll be wearing on most of your snowshoeing adventures. Include an estimate of your backpack contents as well.
MAXIMISE YOUR RANGE You don’t want to buy a giant pair of snowshoes for the extra floatation on that once a year trip, if you spend 80% of your time on established trails or in consolidated snow.
SNOWSHOE SIZES FOR BIG SHOES All MSR bindings are designed to accommodate a Men’s US 6 – 13 (Men’s and unisex shoes) and a Women’s US 5 – 13 (Women’s shoes). However, should you have a larger size shoe, or use a large-shelled boot (like a snowboarding or plastic mountaineering boot) in the upper range of this sizing, we recommend considering the TriFit or DuoFit bindings on the Evo Ascent and all “Trail”-designated shoes. These strap bindings allow for the widest range of adjustment to ensure proper alignment of large boots over the snowshoe’s pivot point.
Here some related MSR Summit Register Blog posts that may also be of interest.