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Retailer Review: MSR Paragon Snowshoe Bindings

New bindings and add-on tails raise the ante on snowshoeing.

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Bill Bernhard testing the MSR Paragon bindings
Tester Bill Bernhard tests out the new Paragon bindings on MSR’s Ascent Lightning snowshoes.Courtesy

Some snowshoers work up a sweat just by adjusting their bindings at the trailhead. MSR’s new Paragon binding system—launching September 2019—re-engineers and simplifies the task by introducing a pull tab for easier strap adjustments for the perfect fit. After sliding my boot into the binding of the Ascent snowshoe and cinching the heel strap snug, I was locked in and ready to embark on a fun adventure. Meanwhile, my friend continued to fiddle with his older, ratchet-style bindings. I couldn’t help but rub in the awesomeness of these bindings a little bit. 

MSR’s Lightning Ascent snowshoes (pictured) and Revo Ascent snowshoes will offer the new Paragon binding.

The TPU mesh and heel strap performed well, even at temperatures of minus 15° F on a 5-mile loop in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I pulled as hard as I could on the heel strap halfway through the hike to see how it stretched in the cold. The stretch of the heel strap was the same as when I first put them on. I also noticed I didn’t have any pressure points from the binding the whole time I was hiking. I enjoyed not feeling the straps across the arch of my foot, like you do with other snowshoe bindings. In short, they fit comfortably and like a glove (or boot, in this case).

I added the Lightning tails before heading out (adding tails increases floatation in deep powder or are for larger body types). If you’re thinking it’s a hassle to add tails, think again. You don’t even need tools. You just slide a notch located on the backside of the snowshoe into the tail bracket. The hardest part is pulling a rubber loop over the back frame of the snowshoe to secure the tail in place. Since it’s an easy on and off process, I won’t hesitate to add these whenever the trail calls for extra float, or when I’m carrying a heavier backpack.

 How well will the MSR product sell?

At Roam’n Around in Rapid City, South Dakota, MSR’s simple, yet durable, Paragon bindings will be a game changer for snowshoeing adventurers of all skill levels. The easy deployment and adjustment will be a big selling point for both beginners and experts.

During the winter, we create a wall display to highlight the most useful products for the varying winter weather. The Black Hills provide a beautiful and accessible winter playground with different trail systems. Some of the best winter experiences are getting off the beaten path and blazing your own trail. These snowshoes could be part of that display, Plus, we have an area where customers can try on snowshoes with their hiking boots. We help adjust the bindings to the proper fit, so they are ready to use the snowshoes as soon as they leave the store.

We currently sell and rent MSR snowshoes. These new bindings will be offered on the Lightning Ascent (MSRP $320) and the Revo Ascent (MSRP $260). The price point for the Revo Ascent fits our core market most. I hope MSR adds this binding to all snowshoes in their lineup. 

This review is part of our new Retailer Review program, written by retailers, for retailers to help guide their buying decisions and provide brands honest feedback from those selling their products.