MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Let me start off by saying I’m a big fan of gear made in the USA. There are some fantastic companies right here in America making top notch gear at great prices. You can call these companies and actual people answer the phones! It’s the people who use the gear they make. When it comes to my hard earned cash, I like to keep it in the family so to speak.
One such company is MSR, Mountain Safety Research. They also own Cascade Designs, Thermarest Platypus and a few other well know companies. If you spend much time in the backcountry, chances are you have some of their gear.
For my first gear review I decided to cover my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. I did a lot of research before pulling the trigger on these. I read the reviews, some good, some not so good. It seems at some point they had an issue with the cross support weld letting go. I’ve had no such issue and I haven’t babied them at all. I went to my local EMS and talked to some of the folks there whom I’ve come to trust. After looking over the dozens of choices, I ended up with a pair of the 30 inch shoes.
I’m not a little guy. I’m 6”1” and over 240lbs before I put a pack on. I’m also pretty rough on gear. I’m not one to go easy on my stuff and that’s one reason I try to buy the best gear I can. Buy once, cry once.
The Lightning Ascents didn’t disappoint. I picked a great year for new snowshoes. We got plenty of snow here in New Hampshire this winter. As I type, there is still snow to be found in the Whites. I was out 2 -3 times a week all winter, mostly locally with a few trips up North to climb the Presidentials, Mt Pierce and Eisenhower, as well as Welch and Dickey to name a few.

MSR Snowshoes

The terrain varied from flat and gently rolling to steep and icy. I always had plenty of traction. The serrated edges of the frame and cross supports got a good bite on even the sketchiest surface. These things really shine on steep ascents with the crampons on the bindings and the Televators. If you’ve never tried the Televator setup you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s basically a spring loaded bar that you can flip up with a trekking pole that raises your heel up off the snowshoes and helps transfer weight where it’s needed for optimum traction on steep terrain. Very sweet.
4lbs 7oz. They look heavier than they feel (only 7 ounces more per pair more than the Evo Ascent). I feel like the aluminum will stand up to more abuse in the long run. So far so good.
I was a little skeptical about the bindings in the beginning but I quickly got used to getting them on and off without any issues. Even on -15 degree mornings, the rubber never felt stiff or brittle. Getting in and out of them with mittens on was no problem and once they were on they never loosened up or needed adjustment.
Bottom line
If I lost them, I’d go buy the same thing again.

6 thoughts on “MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes”

    1. Yes I’m a big proponent US made products that are well made and have good customer service. Backpacking gear is a unique market that is very competitive with the Chinese manufactures. I’ve found much higher quality for the same or less money with much better customer service. Its one of the reasons I started blogging about gear.


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