After the ISPO in Munich we went to Gaschurn in Austria to test our MSR Lightning Ascent and MSR Revo snowshoes (provided by MSR) as well as the MSR Flight 2 and MSR Deploy TR-2 poles in the Alps.
Patrick, who is originally from the Bodensee and studied Tourism in Vorarlberg proposed our destination. Another, maybe more suitable place for testing snowshoes would have been the Bartholomäberg in the same valley. However, since we found an affordable accommodation nearby in Gaschurn we decided to take the lift up to Nova Stoba (2015 meter above sea level) and to explore the area.
Once we arrived on the top of the mountain we were welcomed with a fantastic sunny weather and a great scenery. The white peaks of the Alps were glowing in the sun and it was not that cold either.
Since most of the area was prepared for skiing we had to get away from the main ski slopes.
Luckily there was a ‘Winterwanderweg’ (winter walking track) which we followed and found a nice area where we were able to walk with out in our new winter shoes in the deep snow.
MSR Revo Ascent and MSR Lightning Ascent Review
We both noticed immediately that both snowshoes felt lighter on our feet compared to the ones we had before. Closing and opening the snowshoes worked fine but Patrick found that it was slightly easier to get into his old pair of snowshoes (Tubbs Xplore).
Another difference we noticed was that the MSR Revo Ascent had a little less surface to float on the snow. Of course it was something to be expected as it was the smallest size and the snowshoes come also in bigger sizes. Moreover, this was not a major issue either as the smaller size and lighter weight made those MSR snowshoes more mobile and in case more surface is needed, it is also possible to add flotation tails, which function on a modular principle.
The grip on both snowshoes was also excellent. Patrick just found that the snowshoes should have slightly more grip when walking down a steep hill. However, we are not sure if other snowshoes would have performed better. Walking us a steep hill was a breeze in any case.
We just flipped our Ergo Televators up (installed on both MSR Revo Ascent and Lightning Ascent models) and they took a lot of stress off the feet, making it unnecessary to bend forwards in the boot as we walked. In addition, the external steel teeth helped a lot to get a proper grip in the snow on our way up.
MSR Flight 2 and Deploy TR-2 review
We also had an opportunity to test the MSR Flight 2 and the MSR Deploy TR-2 adjustable winter poles on our trip which we also received from MSR. The number ‘2’ in them indicates that they consist of two sections. Besides this, there are also similar 3-section poles available from MSR which allow you to pack them even smaller. The 2-setion poles takes slightly less time to expand (especially in case of Deply TR-2) but if you have a smaller bag you should probably opt for the 3-section version of both poles.
So what is the difference between the MSR Deploy TR-2 and the MSR Flight 2? Well the main difference is that the MSR Deploy TR-2 is made with a trigger release adjustment mechanism, which makes it much easier to open and to close if you are wearing gloves and you can easily adjust the length of the pole with just one hand. In the long run, of course, the more complex something is, the more there is a chance that it will fail. That is why if you want to make sure that there is no such an option, you might want to go for the simpler and more straightforward system used in the Flight models.
Another difference is the weight. The MSR Flight 2 is 205 grams lighter than the MSR Deploy TR-2. On the other hand, this bulletproof technology means that you need to spend more time adjusting their length as it has to be done by small increments and you definitely require both of your hands.
Another ‘winter’ feature of the poles is the possibility to easily adjust the length of the breakaway winter straps while wearing gloves that on made it quite easy to adjust the strap around the wrist much better.
Finally, unlike most summer poles, the maximum length of the MSR Flight 2 and the long version of MSR Deploy TR-2 is 140 cm, which is a very useful thing if you have to walk in the deep snow or downhill. The minimum length for each pole is 105 cm and 115 cm accordingly (the standard version of MSR Deploy TR-2 is also 105, but then it cannot extend further than 130 cm). Taking this into account, when it comes to versatility, it is possible to say that MSR Flight 2 has the best range of all four versions of the poles.
MSR Snowshoes Backpack
We also received MSR Snowshoe Bags from MSR, which were specially designed to carry snowshoes and poles as one pack, which is a brilliant solution, especially if you have to carry them for a long time (it has a side handle and a shoulder strap).
However, if you are planning to take additional items with you on your snowshoeing trip you should rather consider getting a bigger backpack as there are no bigger compartments on the backpack to carry additional gear (with exception of a small zipped pocket on the outside and special space for the flotation tails inside).
In general, we were satisfied with the MSR snowshoeing gear and we would recommend it to anyone planning a snowshoeing trip with light but quality stuff. We have also tested the MSR snowshoes in Norway.