Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes
Display Avatars Sort By:
Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes on 10/25/2009 21:32:42 MDT Print View

Just bought a 30" pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes at REI Boulder W/ the 20% sale cupon. The "Ascent" version has a a flip-up heel prop to lessen calf muscle strain on long climbs.

I got max length 30" version for the flotation. I'm a backcountry skier and can easily handle that length.

I own a 30" pair of 800 series Atlas snowshoes but they don't have enough lateral traction.

Last year in the last hour of an Avalanche I course I slid 50 ft. down a steep hill and hit some saplings hard with my left shoulder when using the Atlas 'shoes. Never again. My new Lightning's serrated frame sides laterally grip like mad in the shorter version I tried last year.

I like the absolutely bomber strength of the MSR Lightning series,especially the frame. No wories about breaking the frame when coming down hard on a rock or buried tree stump. The orange color is not my favorite but I'll live with it. The Hypalon sheet is very durable from a rental report I heard (of the shorter versions). MSR also has a very easy-to-use binding, especially with heavy gloves on. It's made from a rubbery thermoplastic that won't freeze up.

Seriously, the U. S. military should try this snowshoe for their elite forces.

Now all I need is snow!!! LOTS of snow! Please Ullur...


Edited by Danepacker on 10/25/2009 21:42:01 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Good traction but... on 10/25/2009 21:37:05 MDT Print View

Bought some last year and returned then to Crampons on frame -- great for traversing steeps. Also makes it much easier to face plant. Especially with heavy pack. The lifter is nice. The binding is awesome -- even with mittens.

Went with a Crescent Moon model. Lower profile. Yet to try them. Bring on the snow!

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/25/2009 21:42:59 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Face planting, Hmmmm... on 10/25/2009 22:00:01 MDT Print View

Well, perhaps the Lightning 'shoes have so MUCH traction with their 3 toothed crosspieces & rotating toe crampons that the may not exactly glide over snow. But I bought the suckers for "gription" and that's what they've got. Face planting ain't fun so I'll take your post as a cautionary tale.

I'll have to see how they are for cross country travel in terms of ease of striding. Hope they don't have too much drag.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
MSR Lightning Ascent on 10/25/2009 22:35:34 MDT Print View

I used the female version--my wife's--to see if I wanted to get myself a pair (the only difference is that they are .75" narrower than the men's version). I've used them for all types of terrain and have grown to love the levitator bar on steep climbs. I've also used them for running so I don't see why you would have any problems with them at all. The bindings are wonderful--virtually zero heel drift.

The only downside that I can tell is the crampon that is attached to your foot has shorter teeth than normal, but I haven't found that to be an issue.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Thanks Zack on 10/25/2009 23:21:21 MDT Print View

Thanks for the good report on the MSR Lightning 'shoes.

I'm going to use them a lot this year as I'll be winter camping as much as possible in my nearby Spring Mountains.

Lots of trails there too steep for comfortable skinning on skis. Plus I'll need teh "gription" of my Lightnings for pulling my pulk.


Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Face planting, Hmmmm... on 10/26/2009 10:33:14 MDT Print View

I'll caution on one other Lightning surprise. I got a pair of Ascents last season (short version, older model with one fewer binding strap). Grip and control are as described--they're quite good on steep and uneven terrain where other shoes slide and/or roll underfoot. The free-floating binding takes some getting used to for someone like myself who's used to spring bindings as used by Atlas, Crescent Moon, Tubbs et al.

My caution is that I've tripped and fallen forward, catching my shin on the shoe's straight and surprisingly sharp front edge. This HURTS and will actually split skin open if done with sufficient force. I may try to fit a bumper of some sort up there this season, because I doubt I've done this for the last time.

Second caution is the ascent gizmo can fold closed unexpectedly.

Despite all I'd love to see MSR pull out the stops with a lightweight version with Ti frame and lighter decking and binding. These shoes at, say, two pounds would be awesome.



(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Have you tried Northern Lites? on 10/26/2009 12:34:23 MDT Print View

Have you tried Northern Lites snowshoes? They are lighter, have excellent floatation and I believe they may be a bit narrower and easier to walk with (though I haven't checked width against comparable MSR). I'm not sure how they compare with the MSRs for edging sharper slopes, having not tried the MSRs, but I would imagine the MSRs might be a little bit better in that regard. Looks like you get a little better edging at the expense of heavier weight and wider width.

I always wanted a heel lifter, but after reading about your experience with them closing, I'm not so sure anymore. How often does that happen, and is it a problem with new models?

You can't see them, but we're wearing Northern Lites Backcountry Recons and Elites in my avatar photo. Used them to snowshoe +12 miles around Mansfield, VT after a huge snow dump of about 2 1/2 ft. BTW, with light fluffy powder, you can still really sink breaking trail with any snowshoe, even with 30 in. decks. It can be real work.

Edited by mountainwalker on 10/26/2009 12:39:54 MDT.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Levitator bar on 10/26/2009 15:19:02 MDT Print View

I've never experienced the heel lift bar dropping unexpectedly on me--although I do always make sure that it is fully 'on' as it will go when I use it. I could see just lifting it up and thinking it's 'on', but not having it all the way up.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Have you tried Northern Lites? on 10/26/2009 20:24:01 MDT Print View

"I'm not sure how they compare with the MSRs for edging sharper slopes, having not tried the MSRs, but I would imagine the MSRs might be a little bit better in that regard. Looks like you get a little better edging at the expense of heavier weight and wider width."

That pretty much sums it up. Sidehilling on steep slopes or coming down steep slope, the Lightning Ascents are far superior. Vice versa on gentler terrain.