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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > MSR Lightning Ascent 2017 > Owner Review by Marina Batzke

MSR LIGHTNING ASCENT SNOWSHOES
BY MARINA BATZKE
OWNER REVIEW
March 30, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: MSR
Year of Purchase: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.msrgear.com
MSRP: US $299.95 (in 2017: $289.95)
Women's Sizes: 22 in and 25 in (56 cm and 64 cm) long
Listed Women's Sizes Dimensions:
22 in: 22 x 8 x 3 in (56 x 20.3 x 7.6 cm)
25 in: 25 x 8 x 3 in (64 x 20.3 x 7.6 cm)
Listed Weight 22 in Pair: 3 lb 7 oz (1.56 kg) and 25 in: 3 lb 11 oz (1.67 kg)
Measured Weight 22 in Pair: 3 lb 9 oz (1.63 kg)
Available in Men's and Women's sizes.
Optionally available and sold separately are modular flotation 5 in (13 cm) tails that I could add to the back of each snowshoe to gain added flotation on fluffy snow.

FIELD USE

San Jacinto Peak near Palm Springs, California, USA
January 2017
1 day snowshoeing: 5 miles/ 8 km
Elevation: 8600 ft (2620 m)
Temperature: 34 F (1 C)
IMAGE 1
San Jacinto - my 1st snowshoe outing
IMAGE 2
Mt. Pinos navigation on snowshoes

Mt. Pinos, Los Padres National Forest, California, USA
January 2017
1 day snowshoeing: 5 miles/ 8 km
Elevation: 8850 ft (2700 m)
Temperature: 28 F (-2 C)

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
February 2017
2 days snowshoeing: 6 miles/ 10 km and 7 miles/ 11 km
Elevation: 7000 ft (2130 m)
Temperature: 30 - 40 F (-1 - 4 C)

Mammoth, California, USA
February 2017
2 days snowshoeing: 3 miles/ 5 km and 4 miles/ 6.5 km
Elevation: 8000 - 9000 ft (2440 - 2740 m)
Temperature: 49 F (9 C)
IMAGE 3
Mammoth weekend

Mt. Pinos, Los Padres National Forest, California, USA
March 2018
1 day snowshoeing: 5 miles/ 8 km
Elevation: 8850 ft (2700 m)
Temperature: 35 F (2 C)

SUMMARY

I picked up snowshoeing as a winter hobby in January 2017. After seven years of drought, California had lots of rain in the lower elevations and the most beautiful snow in the mountains. It was a great winter for snow activities! After some online research, I bought the MSR Lightning Ascent women's snowshoes in size 22 in (56 cm).
The MSR website provides good explanations how to pick the correct snowshoe size. I knew I would do a lot of snowshoeing cross-country off-trail and the winter 2017 provided lots of deep, untracked powder snow. I knew I would not sleep outside but just be equipped with a daypack, so I calculated my weight with winter clothing plus the daypack weight. The maximum recommended load for the 22 in (56 cm) snowshoes is 180 lb (82 kg) and for the 25 in (64 cm) is 210 lb (95 kg). The MSR website recommends finding the smallest snowshoe that addresses my needs for best agility and efficiency.

Product Details:
Frame Material: 7000-series aluminum
Frame Color: light green
Deck Material: Urethane-impregnated nylon
Deck Material Color: grey
Crampon Material: Powder-coated steel
Snowshoe Closures: four black rubber straps

Looking at their underside, the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes have a fire-red toe crampon that presses down firmly into the snow with each step. The light green steel frame has two vertical steel bars with grippy steel teeth, and both sides of each snowshoe frame show strong grippy steel teeth as well, acting as side traction. MSR calls it 360 Traction frame.
IMAGE 4
The snowshoe underside
IMAGE 5
The top view

Now looking at the top side, I see a 2-piece binding: the lower binding part has two closures in a milky white color where one secures the heel and the other one loops around the front. The upper black binding part has two closures where one goes right over the center of my boot and the other one is above the toe area. MSR describes it as Women's PosiLock AT binding, with its four closures designed to create the most secure, freeze-resistant attachment for smaller footwear.

IMAGE 6
Pushing down the Televator

My snowshoes have an Ergo Televator: it is a metal bar that usually rests flat on the snowshoe nylon. Yet when I want to hike up a steep incline, I can pull up the Televator bar. Instead of my heel possibly sinking down too far, my heel now steps on the Televator bar and it increases traction, plus reduces foot fatigue.
Even though MSR says to simply flick up the Televator bar, I feel it is not that easily lifted. Instead I usually bend down and pull it up with one hand. I can press the Televator bar back down with one of my trekking poles.

The snowshoes have an L and an R embedded in the tread area, so I easily determine which shoe goes on which foot. I am wearing my wax-sealed high-top leather boots inside the snowshoes and the rubber snowshoe bindings have not caused deterioration of the boot leather at all.

I was a bit surprised that these top-of-the-line snowshoes arrived simply held together with raggedy rubber bands: one rubber band was torn when I opened the box. The other rubber band barely held the two snowshoes together. At this price level, some kind of lightweight bag or a creative, handy carrying add-on would have been a nice gesture for this priciest item in the line of MSR snowshoes.

Right from putting the snowshoes on, I have been feeling comfortable. On my very first outing up on San Jacinto, I fell forward twice and landed face first in the fresh soft snow: my mistake was that one snowshoe stepped on the other snowshoe while my body was in forward motion. Since then, I have not fallen again. I use a wider gait and that prevents me from stepping on my own snowshoe. I have done most of my snowshoeing off-trail and mostly in fluffy fresh snow. It has been a joy exploring the winter wonderlands with the MSR Lightning Ascent.

THINGS I LIKE

easy to put on snowshoe
four rubber closures provide excellent foothold
Televator helpful when hiking steep up
I feel comfortable and safe out in the snow

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

odd green color
at this top of the line price level, not even a carrying bag (instead held together with cheap rubber bands)

SUMMARY

I love my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. Right from the start, I have felt comfortable wearing them and I trust them even going up or down steep terrain. Too bad there is not always that much snow in the local Southern California mountains, so I only have a short season with my snowshoes each winter.

Marina Batzke

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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