User Review: MSR Men's Lightning Ascent
Price Paid: $270
I have had a pair of the men's 25 inch lightning ascents for over two years now. They are, in my mind, the best snowshoes money can by.
Mine are the model previous to what is on the store shelves as of December of 2010. Please keep in mind my review reflects that fact and does not reflect the new model (although the new model upgrades would probably increase my rating to a 5).
These snowshoes grip and grip well. I have been on numerous group outings and it really gives me perspective when I can easily go uphill, downhill and sidehill with ease. While others, wearing slip and slide, especially those with snowshoes whose frames are tubular. Proper technique and physical abilities of a snowshoer are always paramount, these snowshoes will take you to your max potential.
Pros: Lightweight (surprisingly the same or less than others), the BEST traction, intuitive and calf-saving heel bar for uphill, bulletproof and easy to use bindings, very-very durable construction, very field maintainable with a repair kit purchased at almost any store that sells MSR snowshoes.
Cons: No ability to use flotation tails (new models DO have this ability), plastic clips to hold excess binding straps (although you can trim them at home to reduce the excess and the new model has metal rivet style clips), and as mentioned in a previous review use of gaiters is a good idea (but the are almost always necessary for snowshoeing anyhow).
I am 6'8" 235lbs.(close to 265lbs with all my gear) and as noted use the 25 inch models. On everything but the most groomed/packed trails I do experience a moderate to heavy sinking (varies greatly on the composition of the snow/layers). But, using 30inch snowshoes all the time is such a pain.
I was really pleased to see that the new model is capable of accepting a 5inch flotation tail, making a 25inch snowshoe a 30inch one when you need it. Versatility. Isn't that what makes a happy consumer.
I think I will make myself wait one more year before buying the new model (who has the money to go out and buy a new pair every year or even every couple of years these days).
In conclusion the MSR Lightning Ascent are the best snowshoes your money can buy. As a side note MSR also came out with very similar model called the Lightning "Axis" this year which the only difference is the bindings (one pre-set strap over the top of the foot versus 3 for the lightning ascent). Now, I for one am much more comfortable having 3 straps instead of one. Call me superstitious.