MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes Review

25" Lightning Ascent 07526
Product Rating: 
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Bottom 360 Traction Fram
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Front Crampon
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Posilock AT Binding
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Back Ergo Televator
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Top
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - Ergo Televator in Action


The Lightning™ Ascent snowshoes are MSR's most aggressive snowshoes designed for all-terrain adventures. Features include 360° Traction™ frames, aggressive steel cross members, Pivot™ crampons, and Ergo™ televators. The MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes are built to explore mountain terrain with the Ergo™ Televators which reduce fatigue and increase traction on the steeps. The televators engage with a simple flick of a pole grip. Optional 5" modular flotation tails are available. Frame color available in black or yellow. The MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes have a lifetime warranty and are made in the USA.


Size: 8" x 25" (120 to 220 lbs)
Type: All-Terrain
Material (frame): Aerospace-grade Aluminum Alloy
Material (decking): Urethane-impregnated Nylon
Binding: PosiLock™ AT
Crampons: Steel Pivot
Weight: 3 lbs. 14 oz. (per pair)

Initial Thoughts (10/09/11):

I decided to start this season with a new pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes on the recommendation of a friend. I do a lot of climbing and the Ergo™ Televators on the Lightning Ascent snowshoes really intrigue me. I have often front-pointed in other snowshoes, which quickly becomes tiring. The televator mechanism can simply be described as a small metal bar that can be flipped up for your heel to rest on. It lifts the heel about 2.25 inches (approximately 18°). They feel pretty substantial and up to the task of supporting my weight.

I am used to tubular framed snowshoes, so the vertical blade frame on the Lightning Ascents is new to me. I am able to push or pull on the sides of the snowshoes and temporarily distort the frames (they give quite a bit with moderate pressure). I don't see this as an issue, just different than tubular frames, which are more rigid. I really like how the frame is toothed for traction. I suspect this will provide a firm grip on steep terrain.

The PosiLock™ AT bindings have a pivoting steel base plate with a two-point front crampon. It provides a more rigid attachment between boot and snowshoe compared to a fixed-rotation binding. I like how this keeps my foot straight instead of having a tenancy to move to one side or the other in fixed-rotation bindings. The four straps feel very durable and are easy to use even with gloved hands. The Lightning Ascent PosiLock&trade AT bindings easily accommodate both my pac boots and mountaineering boots (men's size 10.5).

Initial Field Test (10/16/11):

I recently climbed Mount Hood partly as an excuse to try out the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. The upper part of the mountain is the only place with snow this time of year and the steeper terrain is the perfect testing ground for the Ergo™ Televators. The snow was frozen solid with a slope angle around 30°. I used the Lightning Ascents for about 1,500 vertical feet of ascent with the televators up the entire time. I have one word to describe the televators: AWESOME! For me, they are the coolest thing since sliced bread. I am still amazed at how comfortable they are to climb in. Normally I would have used crampons on this stretch of the climb in the same conditions, but I definitely prefer the Lightning Ascent snowshoes. Although heavier than crampons, I found my body less fatigued with the Ergo™ Televators on the Lightning Ascent snowshoes. This more than makes up for the weight penalty. Traction was better because I was able to put weight on the entire snowshoe.

I found that another benefit of the Lightning Ascents is their compactness, which makes strapping to a pack very easy. The bindings store nearly flat, so the snowshoes can nest together. The temperature on my trip was just above freezing with moderate winds, but my cold, gloved hands were easily able to strap the bindings on and off. I was initially worried about this as I really like the bindings on the Atlas 10 series snowshoes (although they are very bulky). All my fears have been put aside and I am very happy with the PosiLock&trade: AT bindings.

I wasn't able to test the flotation of the MSR Lightning Ascents because of the snow conditions, but the traction was phenomenal. I didn't slip at all on the slick icy snow, whether I was headed straight up the slope or traversing across it. Either way, the snowshoes kept a firm grip on the slope. They were very comfortable to walk in except when traversing across steeper slopes (although I don't find any snowshoe or crampon really comfortable when traversing across icy slopes). I am very satisfied with the Lightning Ascents so far and look forward to using them all winter.

See Mount Hood adventure where the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes were used.

Extended Field Testing (01/22/12):

I have been using the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes for the past three months. They have worked flawlessly on every trip, from flat hikes to mountaineering. They have proven to be easy to put on and secure while in use. They have worked on a multitude of different boots equally well. They pack well due to how flat they are when stacked together. I like how the bindings work in that they do not throw snow up the back of my legs. I can't come up with a single complaint, which doesn't happen very often.

See Mirror Lake and Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, Shellrock Creek, and Badger Butte adventures where the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes were used.

Final Thoughts:

The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are by far my favorite pair of snowshoes I have ever used. I happily bring them along on most my winter adventures. They are lightweight, durable, and function flawlessly on any terrain I use them on. I highly recommend them. Available from amazon.com.

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