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The serrated bottom-edges on MSR's Lightning Ascents won't double as kitchen knives, but they will give you crazy traction on snow.

Thanks to serrated edges along bottom of the frames, the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes provide 360-degree traction on hardcore, steep terrain (let's face it—slippage doesn't always occur in a straightforward manner). MSR also knows that snow kick-up and heel drag are lame, so they made the Lightning Ascent's tail with a rocker design. The aerospace-grade aluminum frame is super light for all-day hikes, and MSR's ergonomic Televator heel lifter minimizes calf fatigue so you can climb longer and farther. True-Hinge steel crampons provide stability, and the reinforced decks add durability. *Please see sizing chart for size tips.

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Here's what others have to say...

4 5

Awesome but not perfect.

Great snowshoes. They are the only pair I've owned so I can't really compare them to any others but they perform well enough that I wont be looking that get anything else.

The only thing I could really complain about is the binding system can be pretty annoying, but if you just spend sometime to properly adjust them to your boot then you should be good. I have had a problem with the ends coming loose of the clips that are supposed to hold them in place, but the binding doesn't come loose from this; it is just annoying.

Anyone ever try these with ski boots? ...

Anyone ever try these with ski boots? Last backcountry ski trip, I was up to my thighs in snow - too steep for skins and too soft for crampons. Is this even a reasonable idea? How have others dealt with this situation?

Best Answer Responded on


If your ski boots are crampon-compatible (you mention crampons, so I assume you've used them in this context before), I'd be willing to give these a shot. I personally have never tried wearing these with anything other than hiking/mountaineering boots. As far as being reasonable: if they DO work with your ski boots and you're comfortable with the added bulk and clumsiness that is inherent to snowshoeing, these are comparatively light-weight and strap nicely in place of your skis when you're on the way back down...

Happy trails!

Write your question here...Is there a...

Write your question here...Is there a difference between this on sale Lightning Ascent and the regular priced one?
Will the accesory tails fit on these green ones?

Responded on


The regularly priced MSR lightning ascents are the new 2011 model, and will probably have some minor improvements. However, being a proud owner of this model I doubt you'll ever need more snowshoe. Just make sure they have the correct size for you. I'm sorry I can't help with the accessory tails; I've never needed them. However, color shouldn't be an issue as long as you have the correct model.

Happy trails!

Responded on

These do NOT accept the Lightning tails. I just received both these shoes and the tails from and the tails do not work (the only time Backcountry has given me bum advice). The shoes do not have the notches in the frame that the tails need.

I called Cascade Designs, and they said that some of last years shoes (the ones on this page) do have the notches though, as they made that design change before the brand new 2011 Lightning Ascent shoes came out.

5 5

AF canyon

I picked up my MSR's last winter and they are amazing. The design allows these shoes to handle a wide range of snow conditions. I got the 25" and weigh about 160. The heel lifter makes a huge difference on those steep ascents. The bindings are easy to use and glove friendly. Plus I can't pass up the amazing green paint. The women's narrower design is perfect for my wife.

AF canyon
5 5

look no further

I have to many good experience with these shoes to write about. They have allowed me to experience some beautiful places in the Sierra Nevada Moutains I could have never went with a lesser shoe. They are lightweight, have comfortable bindings that stay on the first time, are great for climbing, and have good traction for up and down hill. Place them in your shopping cart and have just bought your last snowshoe.

look no further
5 5

Bought a pair for two

I bought a pair of 25's for by girlfriend and myself (5' 4" n 5'6") and carry a 30lb pack because I plan on hitting some fresh snow. You can go smaller if stay on the packed trails. The back strap is a little long but you can tuck it under the 3rd strap with no issues. I added one more clamp for the front strap because I had issues with the strap sliding back out of the single clamp. You can probably get by by turning the front one around. I was on a icy trail that was steep and everyone else was sliding around. These shoes rock because I never sliped around like the others.

5 5

An Excellent Product !

Having been a wood and rawhide shoeshoe'er I was somewhat apprehensive moving into aircraft aluminum. Fear not. . .I should have done this long ago. These are great snowshoes. The televator heel is outstanding. The binding system rocks. We were in 3-5 feet of snow for two days and I never had any trouble moving around. I would strongly recommend these to anyone starting out or anyone making the transition from rawhide.

I wear a size 15 wide shoe. Will these...

I wear a size 15 wide shoe. Will these snowshoes fit my boots?

Best Answer Responded on

They will. However, based on the size of your shoe, I would get the 30 inch snowshoes. 25 inch snowshoes would also work, unless you're planning on going into the backcountry and breaking trails in 30+ deep snow.

I would say that the MSR Lightning Ascents might be the only snowshoes to fit a size 15 boot.

Responded on

Being size 14 myself (6'5", 340lbs), I am guessing gaf is another big person. Be sure to consider your weight when deciding on 25 vs 30 and with/without tails. I went with the men's ascent 30 and am considering the 25s for my wife. I agree with Jason size 14 Baffin "Impact"boots fit just fine in the Ascent 30's I bought.

Snowshoeing newbie needs some gear. ...

Snowshoeing newbie needs some gear. 160+daypack = 175 lbs. or thereabouts. 6'-1". Looking to climb mountinains in NY state - Catskills, Hudson highlands, Adirondacks. Typical northeast conditions of slush, ice, semi-deep powder. Debating between evo ascents (rented, enjoyed) and lightning ascents. If lightning ascents, 22" or 25". Thoughts?

Best Answer Responded on

Hey man, I started snowshoeing in the Adirondack High Peaks & around Central NY, where I live, last year. I purchased the Atlas 12 Series 25's and am more than pleased. I did a few peaks last winter & can't think of one reason not to recommend them to anyone. Good luck!

5 5

Big Ed

I am using the shoes in Colorado and they have performed extremely well. They are especially stable in steep climbs.
They are , also, light and the flotation is quite good in deep powder.
I have not tried to pack them but they appear to be well designed for this purpose, light, relatively small and easy to get in and out.
My only criticism is the rear strap will not stay at the same location. Perhaps I am not using it properly. Once they are on the bindings stay put and are very well designed.
Overall, I would rate them a Five Star and very superior to my experience in owning Red Feather and Sherpa shoes

I am wondering, instead of all these...

I am wondering, instead of all these one-size-fits-all bindings, why doesn't someone make a snowshoe with a 3-pin binding? What is the weak link in this idea....the 3-pin boots?

Best Answer Responded on

It could work on flat terrain, but would a 3-pin design offer enough leverage to allow the front crampon points to dig in? With the traditional strap-on design, the entire weight of your body is on those crampon points when weighting that foot because of the pivoting platform your foot is strapped to. I would imagine that with only the tip of the shoe in contact (as with 3-pin bindings), it would be difficult to leverage the crampon points into hard packed snow and ice. So, to recap, for flat, non-icy conditions, I think it could work. But it likely would be dangerous on inclines.

5 5

Lightening Ascents set the standard

I don't think there is anything more I could ask for in a snowshoe. Traction is always there, good comfort, light weight, easy on/off (although sometimes the excess binding straps come out of their little holders when cinched down - easy enough to reach down and place the excess back in - I might cut this someday, but for now I can't bring myself to modify such a fine piece of gear!)heel lifts along with the added traction of the serrated edges really separate these apart from others when climbing. I also noticed that the bindings on these when compared to other pairs I have tried really work well when moving across side hills as they allow flex this keeping an upright stance.

Bottom line - great snowshoe!! I would and have already recommended these to friends.

has anyone tried to strap a soft snowboard...

has anyone tried to strap a soft snowboard boot into these? if you have, how has it worked?

Best Answer Responded on

I use the Ascent with soft snowboard boots every BC weekend, they work great. The straps are long enough to wrap around the toe end of the 'oversized' style of a snowboard boot and the heel locks you solid. These are my third set of snow shoes and I rate the MSR's as the the best.

Also with practice I can now transition faster than anybody in my group.

4 5

Great, but get the 30's for powder

The best part about these shoes is the plastic straps. These do not freeze up like a nylon strap, and they can be used while wearing big dumb mitts. Also, the straps can be shortened by cutting the non-handle end to eliminate excess. If you choose this route, remember to ensure that you have enough strap for your largest boots and to measure twice and cut once.

I recommend folks get the 30's if they are going to be dealing with powder. I sank to my hips in powder in 25's and 175 lbs of gear (bodyweight + gear). On more hard-packed snow, smaller sizes are acceptable.

The teeth and grip on these snowshoes is exceptional, especially on hard-packed snow and ice. The teeth dig in and hold nicely. I have distinct marks on mine where the paint has rubbed off due to wear, but the points themselves are holding up nicely after two seasons of use. I also have not had problems or durability issues with the clevis pins that hold the bindings to the snowshoe body

The grips are also acceptable for deeper powder. The side-to-side bars underneath the decking help to prevent slippage on uphills and downhills. Like all snowshoes, they are easiest to use when you have trekking poles (unless an iceaxe is necessary) in deep powder.

The elevators on the heel should be moved forward about one inch. Otherwise, my heels (mens size 9) on my hiking boots and winter mukluks slip off too easily. It is a nice touch for long, steep inclines. If you stay out of the mountains, you don't need this feature. (those who frequent rolling hills also need not apply for ascent feature).

Finally, while these snowshoes are not the lightest out there, they are an acceptable weight and do not cause excess fatigue. For storage, they can be packed flat for carrying on the top of a pack should shoes not be necessary.

5 5

Best I Have Used

I have used many styles and makes of snowshoes over the years, from old-fashioned wood/rawhide to thermoplastic MSR Denalis, in deep/dry snow and shallow/wet snow. These are the best snowshoes I have every used. KEY POINTS: 1) The deck attaches to the frame on the inside, so there are no decking straps to wear out or break if you end up walking on anything but deep snow. 2) The pivoting binding is much better than the "spring-loaded" straps on other models, which simply waste energy by making you lift the entire snowshoe (and which on some models flip snow on your calves). 3) The lifters on the Ascent model make climbing much easier. I still use my Denalis occasionally because of their flexibility (removable tails), but these provide more flotation for deeper snow and are quieter. Most MSR equipment is excellent, and this is one of their best efforts.

How do the Lightning's and MSR shoes in...

How do the Lightning's and MSR shoes in general handle traversing of hills? I've heard that MSR shoes don't pivot laterally, just fore and aft. If that's true are the Atlas' any better?

Best Answer Responded on

The MSR Lightning and Lightning Ascent snowshoes are designed to bite into the side of the hill when traversing. Because of the thin frame, you get much more penetration into the snow (even hard snow) than the tube of the Atlas snowshoes. Because of this, Atlas decided to allow their binding some movement. MSR felt that a more stable, solid pivot was important and to allow the snowshoe's frame to sink deeper into the snow.

One unique feature of the Lightning snowshoes is that the whole frame articulates allowing some movement to occur, kind of like a suspension for your snowshoes. This is far different from a standard tube-style snowshoe which doesn't flex at all. So, essentially, MSR has moved the flexing from the binding and pivot (no flex) to the frame (flex), unlike Atlas which engineered their snowshoes to allow the binding to flex but not the frame. I personally feel that it is a huge benefit that the binding and pivot are solidly set into the snowshoe without movement vs. it moving or flexing. This makes controlling the snowshoe much easier (i.e. side stepping, backing up, getting up after a fall, etc.).

Also worth mentioning is the incredible traction you get with the Lightning snowshoes when compared with any other snowshoe on the market. Because it mimics a cookie cutter when slicing into the snow, you simply don't slip. Rather than relying on a couple of sets of crampons riveted on to the bottom, the Lightning's frame acts as the crampon. Nothing compares! So for traversing a snowy slope and climbing up a steep hill, even in powder snow, there is not a better snowshoe on the market!

5 5

Grippy vertical gainers

These are light, they have a heel elevator, they have mini steel crampons = they rock. I have the 30" I am 5'8" 155 lbs. Good float with a day pack on in dry fresh powder. The best thing about these is I barely notice they are there until the mountain gets steep and I flip up the televator and notice my friends are exerting themselves more for the same vertical gain. These really shine on icy hard pack and steep terrain. For flat land I'd get something cheaper.

I have never snowshoed before, but plan...

I have never snowshoed before, but plan on starting this year because i just moved to Montana. I don't really know what snow conditions i will be in but i assume that there will be some deeper powder, which seems to be the only issue with these shoes. Never been through a winter here so not sure what to expect here, i plan to be mostly in the Beartooth-Absaroka mts and Yellowstone. From all the reviews ive read, in any conditions other than deep powder, these shoes are unrivaled. For now, i only want one pair of shoes. Im 6 ft 3 in and 225 lb with out gear. Are the 30's the right shoes for me?

Best Answer Responded on

I'm kind-of a big guy too and I've found the 30's to be the answer for me. In any condition you can only hope for maximum flotation from a snowshoe. I backpack too so I need to account for the weight of a winter-stuffed-backpack too.

4 5

Design masters.

Rarely do you put snowshoes on in the parking lot and keep them on the entire time. If you plan to access backcountry, especially to ski, climb, or ride, you have to expect that these puppies will eventually go on your back. (see image) Therefore, weight and size in a snowshoe is also super important, beyond performance. On the flat stuff most snowshoes work pretty much the same. But with the Lightning MSR has created a fluff flotation device that climbs hills with ease, busts windcrust, spares posthole nightmares, and bites in on side-hill traversing slogs- all in a lightweight design.

Design masters.