Northern Lites Tundra vs. Northern Lites Backcountry 30''
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Christopher Kayler
(ChrisKayler) - F

Locale: Outside
Northern Lites Tundra vs. Northern Lites Backcountry 30'' on 01/09/2010 09:33:44 MST Print View

In the interest of streamlining gear, I'm planning on getting "only" 2 pairs of snowshoes. A pair of Northern Lites for snowshowing through powder and in relatively flat, rolling areas, and a pair of MSR Lightning's for really good traction on steep, difficut terrain.

With that said, I'm currently trying to decide between the 9'' x 30'' Backcountry and the 9.5'' x 32'' Tundra models. The weight difference is only 3 oz ... 45 oz. vs 48 oz, and I SEEM to remember the Tundra having one extra set of crampons towards the back, though I could be mistaken. I've used a pair of Atlas 1030+ before, and they definitely provide some decent flotation, but I wonder if the 32'' Tundras would be a good step up, worthwhile of the 3 oz. weight penalty? I weigh 165 lbs and carry around 30 lbs in the winter (not that I really find snowshoe "weight limits" useful ... it's all about the surface area and type of snow)

What do you guys think?

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Northern Lites Tundra vs. Northern Lites Backcountry 30'' on 01/09/2010 10:15:12 MST Print View

Andrew Skurka sold a pair of Tundras in Dec with these comments about Tundra vs Backcountry

The bottom of those Tundras look exactly like a photo on this page NL website ... the wording seems to imply that all their models have the same crampon crampon arrangement.

Christopher Kayler
(ChrisKayler) - F

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: Northern Lites Tundra vs. Northern Lites Backcountry 30'' on 01/09/2010 10:28:32 MST Print View

Hi Jim,

Thanks! I had actually seen that listing of Andrews. In fact, that is what began my tough decision between the two :)

I do find that I wouldn't mind a bit of extra flotation when on my 9 x 30 Atlas 1030+'s in deep powder conditions.

I'm definitely leaning more towards the Tundras at this point ... but still looking forward to some more input from the forum! It's hard to find ANY reviews of the Tundra online.

Edited by ChrisKayler on 01/09/2010 10:31:01 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
I concur on 02/01/2010 19:42:05 MST Print View

I have both Atlas 30" 'shoes and the new MSR 30" Lightning Ascents. By FAR the Lightnings are grippier in lateral situations. Plus their frame is more bombproof than ANY tubular aluminum frame on the market.

BTW, Good choice on the Lightning Ascents.

Edited by Danepacker on 02/01/2010 19:42:39 MST.

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Lightnings on 02/02/2010 08:00:29 MST Print View

>>Plus their frame is more bombproof than ANY tubular aluminum frame on the market.<<

Some people would beg to differ with that.

lightning ascent - frame failure

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Hmmm... on 02/02/2010 13:58:15 MST Print View

Looks more like an attatchment problem than a perimeter frame problem. I'm sure MSR will fix it for you.

How'd it happen?

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Lightnings on 02/02/2010 14:58:13 MST Print View

No idea "how" that one happened. These belong to a friend. From what he describes, though, he just looked down one day while walking, and saw the damage. They've already been replaced by MSR, so that's good. And for the record, that's the only actual frame issue I've seen with the Lightnings.

However, the bindings are a totally different story. The bindings on the Lightnings are, in my opinion, totally unsuited for the kind of terrain for which they're advertised. I've broken 3 pairs of bindings on my Lightning Ascents...in less than 1000 miles. I know at least 6 other people with similar issues.

I hope that this will all change with the new line of MSR products, but I'm not terribly optimistic. I'll probably stick with the Denali Evos, since they've proven much more durable...for me.

Doug L
(mothermenke) - F

Locale: Upstate NY
Re: Lightnings on 02/02/2010 18:51:52 MST Print View

It may be just be a geographic quirk, but folks in the Northeast have serious issues with the MSR Lightnings' durability. Just do a search on viewsfromthetop.com forums or ADKhighpeaks.com forums, and you'll find most NE hikers cant rely on them for regular use in the Whites and ADKs. The MSR Denali Evos however receive of a lot of praise.

This may be due to the rough combination of bare granite, bullet-hard ice and refrozen snow all within a couple hundred feet of trail. In soft, dry powder out West the Lightnings probably fare better durability wise.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
YIKES! on 02/03/2010 15:36:24 MST Print View

AArrggghh! MSR Lightnings breaking REGULARLY???

Say it ain't so! Hopefully MSR has fixed this problem by now with better materials.

And bindings breaking regularly?! I bought a Lightning repair kit that comes W/ two instep straps and one heel strap. Maybe I need to carry the whole d@mn kit with me when I 'shoe. :(

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: Lightnings on 02/03/2010 18:00:06 MST Print View

"It may be just be a geographic quirk..."

I sort of agree with you on this, Doug, but I still wonder about the whole problem that VFTTers have with Lightnings. My two frequent hiking buddies and I do all of our winter hiking in the northeast, all three of us use Lightning Ascents, and none of us have ever had problems with them. I've had mine for five years, my friends for three or four years. We definitely don't go easy on them in the least (wearing them on bare rock, solid ice, stomping through spruce traps, etc.), but they don't show any sign of serious wear or breakage.

The cynical part of me thinks that it's just the people who have the problems are the most vocal, so you rarely hear from the folks who really like their Lightnings. But there are definitely a lot of those stories from northeast hikers, so the regional terrain could be a major factor.

Edited by ryan.c.linn on 02/03/2010 18:02:58 MST.

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Lightnings on 02/05/2010 07:26:09 MST Print View

>>The cynical part of me thinks that it's just the people who have the problems are the most vocal, so you rarely hear from the folks who really like their Lightnings.<<

By far, MSRs are the most popular shoes around here. So it makes sense that you'll hear of more failures. I'm guessing that as the Tubbs Flex get more popular, we'll be reading of plenty of issues with those, as well.

The fact remains, though, that myself and a friend busted up 3 pairs of MSR bindings over the course of a week recently. They each had a couple thousand miles on them...and I still consider them great shoes...but I *am* thinking of looking at some other style shoes, at this point.

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: Re: Re: Lightnings on 02/05/2010 15:33:34 MST Print View

A couple thousand miles each? I've got to say, if my Lightnings last a couple thousand miles the way I use them, I don't think I'll feel to bad when they go :) What kind of terrain were you on when you busted up those three pairs? Are they approximately the same age? It seems kind of weird that with thousands of miles on them they'd all go in the same week.

I hadn't looked at the Tubbs Flex before, but I just checked out their website. Seems like they have good traction, although I'm kind of on the fence about Tubbs' binding system. I'll be looking forward to reviews once people put them through as much of a beating as the Lightnings get, and with a few thousand miles on them.

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lightnings on 02/08/2010 06:20:13 MST Print View

>>A couple thousand miles each? I've got to say, if my Lightnings last a couple thousand miles the way I use them, I don't think I'll feel to bad when they go :) <<

Agreed. I don't feel bad...but I'm also weighing other options.

>>What kind of terrain were you on when you busted up those three pairs?<<

A couple hundred miles in the Whites. Conditions were actually perfect. Not much ice or rock...mostly just slightly packed trails.

>>Are they approximately the same age?<<

Yes.

>>Seems like they have good traction, although I'm kind of on the fence about Tubbs' binding system.<<

Too good traction, in my opinion. Agreed on the binding system. I've read some complaints of toe pinch with soft boots, due to those front posts.