View Full Version : MSR Lightning vs Conventional Snowshoes?

01-31-2005, 07:52 PM
I'm new to snowshoeing, and very happy with my Yukon Charlie 930's and my Atlas 1030's. A friend just had me over to try these against the MSR Lightning Ascents. Their strength seemed to be their very low weight, replacable straps, and overall crampon style. But they just don't have the surface area to provide the floatation that a 30" shoe offers.

MSR's strength - is it in backpacking and mountaineering, and less preferred for general snow travel? I'm happy with what I have, but my friend wants to know whether to keep the MSR's or return them for one of the more usual styles.

Appreciate partricular comments from owners of both styles, that know where & when each has its strengths.

Peter from snowy Plymouth, MA

01-31-2005, 08:16 PM
They are designed for traction, not float. In New England, we get a lot of ice so these snow shoes would be good for ascending mountains.

I recently got a pair of the MSR Denali Ascents, which have optional add-on tails to increase foat. I have used the tails quite a bit locally (in Massachusetts) but up in the Whites I took the tails off. It looks like there is no place to add tails on the Lightnings.

01-31-2005, 09:42 PM
What you see is what you get, so check the weight ratings. The Lightning Ascents won't take a big bugger like me with a full pack, but for the lighter load of a day hike they at least have the right rating. Since the snow all fell in Plymouth, instead of the mountains, mine remain relatively untested, but the one time I did use them it was nothing but grip. I love them, and wish it would snow, in the mountains, dammit!

02-01-2005, 06:45 AM
Take a look at this thread (http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=4697) for a poll about snowshoes. There are also a lot of good comments about different types.


Jay H
02-01-2005, 06:57 AM
I checked them out a bit ago, their weight ratings are odd, according to the website I saw, I would take an 8x22" since my packweight (daypack) and me would be below 150lbs but I really think that a 22" length is too short for many of the trails I snowshoe on.

Pricewise, what was good about the old MSR Denalis was that they were inexpensive (relatively), making them fairly accessible to many hikers. The lightning ascents seem to put them in competition to a lot of other mfgrs, including those of Northern Lites, which are lighter in the 8x25 size than the 8x22 MSRs.

Looking at the crampon pattery, it looks like it uses the actual frame for side traction, which is a novel idea, just hope the frame is durable enough for the constant banging on rocks here. What I like about traditional laced snowshoes (like my Sherpa Klimbers) is that the lacing itself kind of acts as a good gripper too.

These are just my 2 cents anyway, best bet is if you can try a bunch of them in different conditions out.


02-01-2005, 07:45 AM
I recently bought a pair, but have only used them once so far. They are very light, and you notice the difference. They also fit very well on the back of my Osprey Aether 60.

I haven't tried them in deep snow, but 95% of my snowshoeing is in the Daks on the approach trails, which are hard packed.

They're pricey, but I looked at it as a long term investment.

The Denali's with the tails weight quite a bit more.

02-01-2005, 08:40 AM

How much does your friend weigh? The 25-inch Lightning should have a comparable float to a 25-inch Tubbs, Atlas, Sherpa, etc. style snowshoe. If your friend is 150 pounds or lighteer, the 25-inch Lighting should be fine for day trips, in my opinion.

Other things worth thinking about when deciding on snowshoe size:

1) Do you always hike with four or more people? If so, you can err on the smaller side in my opinion, because you will have four people to rotate the lead position breaking trail. If, on the other hand, you typically go out by yourself, you may want to err on the larger side.

2) Do you stick primarily to well packed trails? If so, again you can err on the smaller side. If you do a lot of winter bushwhacks, you may want to err on the larger side.


02-01-2005, 09:02 AM
Do a search for Lightning Ascents on the site, there was a strongly worded post against them in the past 6 months from Chomp, who would not elaborate further.

I would treat them as 1.0's, unproven.

02-01-2005, 09:37 AM
Since the shoes have been out for a while now, I'll elaborate a bit. My impression is that the Lightnings are a light shoes designed for light loads. Fully loaded with winter gear, I'm about 250 lbs, so that is clearly not a light load. My feet also pronate some, meaning I wear out the sides of my shoes first. If you study the design of the Lightnings, you will see that the frame of the shoe is a narrow piece of metal. Since I pronate, I found that the outside edge of the shoe was slicing through the snow, and taking my ankle with it. Shoes with a traditional tube frame do not suffer from this problem. Also, the MSR Ascents do not suffer from this problem either. This problem was most evident to me on heavy snow. The shoe would not settle for me, it would start slipping to the side, and eventually the outside edge would slice into the snow.

Michael M
02-01-2005, 10:45 AM
I agree with Warren, I would love to try them, but I am going to wait until there is more use and endorsement.

Even with children I have never considered being an early adopter :D