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MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes - the real deal

MSR Lightning Ascent snowhoes - a clear winner
MSR Lightning Ascent snowhoes - a clear winner
Matt Payne

MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes


Last year I decided I wanted to get more involved in winter and spring hiking. In Colorado, that means hiking in deep snow on steep terrain. I read a ton of reviews on various snowshoes and finally made the tough decision to get the more expensive shoes - the MSR Lightning Ascent shoes. While it was a tough choice due to the steeper cost, I would not regret it one bit, and here is why:

  1. The MSR Lightning Ascents are very light-weight. This was a huge bonus for me as I do a lot of long hikes and backpacking trips. Plus, each step you take, you will be lifting the weight of the shoe, therefore, the weight of the shoe is going to impact your endurance.
  2. The MSR Lightning Ascents are made out of very durable aircraft-grade aluminum. Due to the wear-and-tear I was planning on putting the shoes through, this was an important factor, especially considering the high cost of the shoes.
  3. Heel ascenders - these awesome snowshoes come with built-in heel ascenders (see the gallery), which aid you when going up steep slopes. These proved to be a huge boon to steep hills with lots of snow. My calves were thanking me!
  4. Floatation - these shoes do an excellent job of providing floatation. I was at the high-end of the recommended weight for the size shoe I purchased, and I still was able to stay above the snow without any problems, even in deep powder.
  5. Grip - these shoes are equipped with sharp, crampon-like edges, that bite into ice and hard snow with ease, making traction up steep hills a non-issue.

I tested the shoes in a variety of locations this year, including the San Juans Mountians, near Mount Sneffels (read trip report), up Sentinel Point, a 12,000+ ft. mountain near Pikes Peak (read trip report), and up Mount Shavano, one of Colorado's 14,000 ft. mountains (read trip report).

The shoes proved to be an excellent purchase, and I would highly recommend that anyone getting into snowshoeing for the first time or even snowshoeing veterans to consider purchasing them. You can get these snowshoes directly from - they offer great deals on these MSR snowshoes, as well as all the other gear you'll need to have a successful trek into the snow-covered hills this winter!

As a bonus - I highly recommend the tote bag - it works great for strapping the snowshoes onto your backpack for those long excursions!