MSR Lightning Tail
An ingenious way to increase your snowshoes' carrying…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $41
An ingenious way to increase your snowshoes' carrying capacity or flotation. They're lightweight, easy to carry on or in your pack, and can be attached and removed quickly without removing your snowshoes.
- Lifetime warranty
- Only available in black.
The MSR Lightning Tails are a great way to basically have two pairs of snowshoes. You can buy a smaller pair of snowshoes for better maneuverability and attach the tails when you need better flotation or are carrying a heavier load.
They attach very securely and use your own weight to stay attached. With the tails attached my Lightnings are 35" long, with slightly less flotation than a 35" or 36" tube-framed snowshoe that's generally an inch or two wider.
As I mentioned in my MSR Lightning Ascent 30 review, they do cause the rear of the snowshoes to float better than the front, which is definitely noticeable, but not a deal breaker. I wish they were available in all the frame colors MSR offers, but I guess black goes well with all of them.
The MSR Lightning Tails are a must-have for owners of MSR Lightning snowshoes. You may not use them often, but you'll be glad you have them when you need them.
The notches at the rear of the snowshoe where the tail attaches.
Slip the tail frame over the rear of the snowshoe frame.
Engage the studs in the notches.
Pull the loop up and over the rear of the snowshoe. The second pair of studs press against the underside of the frame.
The tail fully attached.
A view from the underside.
It took a few times to figure out how to attach these…
Source: received it as a personal gift
It took a few times to figure out how to attach these tails without taking my snowshoes off, but once I did, they're the easiest, fastest things on the market. They weigh next to nothing so there's no reason not to take them, especially if you're going off-trail into deep snow. There's a heavy duty rubber strap that holds them on and the drawback is that in cold weather, the rubber is stiff and takes some effort to stretch enough to go over the back of the snowshoe.
- Easy to attach once you know what you're doing
- Rubber strap is difficult to stretch when cold
- Not intuitive and came without instructions
I'm a big fan of MSR snowshoes and own both the Evo and Lightning models. While the tails on the Evos were simple to figure out, the Lightning tails came with no instructions and took me several tries before I finally got it.
Once I did, the process to attach them is so simple and user friendly, I was surprised it took me so long. You basically step onto them, grab the rubber loop and pull the strap up and over the back of the snowshoe. So easy and convenient since you don't have to remove your shoes to attach them.
At first glance, they they look like they couldn't possibly hold up to any type of abuse, especially the kind the Lightning snowshoes are designed for. I was SO wrong! They are extremely durable — the deck is heavy duty plastic and neither it nor the rubber strap which holds them on have cracked in 3 years of regular use. The frame is made of aircraft grade aluminum which is flexible and super tough.
These tails are very lightweight, unlike the Evo tails which are made from solid, injection molded, high-impact plastic. The Lightning tails weigh in at about 9 oz. and aren't bulky so they're easy to pack for off trail adventures. They add an extra 5" of length to the snowshoes giving them the extra surface area needed for deep snow and/or heavy packs.
At $50, they're a bit expensive but if you're willing to shell out nearly $300 on the Lightning snowshoes, the added cost for the tails is totally worth it. Obviously, both the shoes and the tails are designed for die-hard backcountry snowshoers so if you fit the bill, get 'em!