- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
The general MSR snowshoe design which essential makes it a huge floating crampon is light-years better than the typical design. The Lightning Ascent is the gold standard Backcountry Guide Snowshoe. The televator is amazing, perfectly designed in its simplicity and how well it functions. It makes a world of difference. The bindings are amazing, with big mittens they are easy to adjust, and provide a solid complete connection. They are easy on easy off one handed, but they will stay secure all day. The binding adjustment is easy to tweak so it accommodates your unique stride perfectly. They are bombproof. Bombproof! The fact that the entire perimeter is a sheet of spikey metal crampon means you can maneuver in gnarly terrain far better, climbing over down trees or trudging through underbrush, or just going up icy terrain; all without worrying about bending dainty tubing. You can do stuff with these you just can't with others. Also, the MSR tails are awesome, so if you don't usually have deep snow or carry lots of gear you can size down, just get the tails for the occasions you need more surface area. The tails go on real easy and make a huge difference.
That said, you might not need this much. If you live somewhere flat you can just get the lightning flash, and if you live on varying terrain, but don't need the high performance bindings the lightning axis are just as good (the same minus the bindings)
If you don't anticipate much more than the occasional quick jaunt, or are new to snowshoes, the MSR Evo series share some of the great design elements are light and inexpensive.
If you were originally planing on spending $200 on snowshoes, spend a little more and get these, they make difficult terrain more pleasant, and they will far outlast any others on the market. These seriously deserve twenty stars. I know I won't have to replace them for a very long time, and I won't let my friends get anything else.
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