MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe Review

Editor Cory McLaughlin

Just the Facts:

Now even more reliable thanks to new tougher decking, our ultralight snowshoes are built on a solid foundation of our advanced 360° Traction frames and deliver a level of security that tubular frames simply can’t—especially on traverses. Dual-component PosiLock AT bindings offer our most secure attachment, while aggressive steel cross members and easily engaged Ergo Televators back you up with every step. And like all of our snowshoes, Lightning Ascents offer the all-condition adaptability of our Modular Flotation tails.

  • Unrivaled Traction: 360° Traction frames deliver edge-to-edge grip, and split teeth of Torsion2 crampons better distribute forces for more continuous contact—delivering unmatched traction on any terrain, in any conditions.
  • Secure Attachment: Two-piece, independently conforming PosiLock AT bindings create our most secure, freeze-resistant attachment, regardless of footwear.
  • All-Condition Adaptability: Add-on Modular Flotation tails allow you the maneuverability of a smaller, primary snowshoe with the added, on-demand flotation of optional, 5-inch (13-cm) tails.
  • Uphill Efficiency: Ergo Televators reduce fatigue and increase traction on the steeps with an ergonomic design that engages with a flick of a pole grip.

Made in the USA of US and Imported Parts

msr snowshoe


Product Specs

  30 IN 25 IN 22 IN
Color Black, Silver Black, Silver Black, Silver
Weight per pair (Standard) 4 lbs 9 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 3 lbs 13 oz
Weight per pair (Metric) 2.08 kg 1.8 kg 1.73 kg
Width (Standard) 8 in 8 in 8 in
Width (Metric) 20 cm 20 cm 20 cm
Length (Standard) 30 in 25 in 22 in
Length (Metric) 76 cm 64 cm 56 cm
Binding type PosiLock PosiLock PosiLock
Televator Yes Yes Yes
Gait Unisex/normal width Unisex/normal width Unisex/normal width
Footwear size range (Standard) 4.5 M – 15 M 4.5 M – 15 M 4.5 M – 15 M
Footwear size range (Metric) 35.5 – 49.5 35.5 – 49.5 35.5 – 49.5
Load (Standard) 150 – 280 lbs 120 – 220 lbs Up to 180 lbs
Load (Metric) 68 – 127+ kilos 54 – 100+ kilos Up to 80 kilos
Load w/ tails (Standard) 180 – 300+ lbs 120 – 280 lbs Up to 250 lbs
Load w/ tails (Metric) 82 – 136+ kilos 54 – 127 kilos Up to 114 kilos
Country of Origin Made in the USA of US and Imported Parts Made in the USA of US and Imported Parts Made in the USA of US and Imported Parts




My Story:

Let it Snow! Ever since I can remember I have loved the snow. Every year I dream of having to tunnel out of my front door. The snow brings with it a peace and tranquility that I have not been able to find in anything else. It makes everything look clean and new and it even helps to drown out sound. For me the winter is my favorite time of year and every new snowfall brings with it a glow of happiness inside my heart.

As you all know, snow can also create some serious obstacles and can make even the most simple of tasks challenging. Walking in snow will truly show you just how out of shape you are. When attempting to hike in the deep snow it does not take long to know that you are not going to win this battle unassisted. Luckily, us winter loving snow enthusiast can find relief through the use of well-made snowshoes. Snowshoes provide a steady platform on which to stand/walk without sinking into the deep frozen white gold.

My first experience with snowshoes was during military training. We sat freezing in our government issued cotton clothing strapping what looked like large tennis rackets to our feet and clumsily began our trek. It was there I realized the usefulness of snowshoes but knew that I had to explore some other options. I tried several different pairs over the years none of which really seemed to be the “AH HA” pair that I was looking for. This winter I found myself sitting on my truck bumper strapping my feet into a new pair of MSR Lightening Ascent Snowshoes. It was testing day and I was up to the challenge.

The first thing that I noticed was how light these things are. I can barely even feel them on my feet and that is a good thing as weight brings about fatigue and I don’t have time for that when I’m out on an adventure.

The binding is simple to use and hold your foot very secure to the shoe. They easily accommodate large boots which are necessary during an activity that is entirely done on ice. They also do a fantastic job of securing your foot to the shoe while navigating uneven terrain. Add in the Televators for uphill travel and you have a dynamite combination here.   

The overall traction and toe spikes on these shoes are freaking awesome! It’s like strapping a snow eating mako shark onto your feet. These shoes are going to grab snow and ice on just about any type of terrain and make sure that you can keep moving. 

The weight rating on these shoes is realistic and I found that they did a completely satisfactory job of keeping me elevated on the 5 feet of snow that I was trudging through.

msr snowshoe review


I used my Lightning Ascent Snowshoes on a 5 mile alpine hike that was entirely off trail. The terrain ranged from flat meadows to hills with fallen timber and large rocks. I walked until the snow faded and I was able to pack my shoes onto my pack and keep moving. I am excited to say that these are the best pair of snowshoes I have used to date. I can’t wait to get back into the hills and start my next adventure with yet another great MSR product. Fine job guys!         

msr lightning snowshoe review


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What can be done better?

I can’t find anything that I would change with these great shoes. The only caution that I would bring up is that the binding straps are rubber and thus not invincible. It would be good to have a spare set of straps in the event that one was to break. I don’t think this would be an issue to worry about but it would be nice to be prepared.


I give the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe a solid 5 stars.   

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability