Jan 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm #1254370
I got the complete lowdown on the new MSR snowshoe range written up over on my blog. Six new models, sorted in three categories. Best addition are Floatation Tails which can be switched on as needed to provide more surface area. The Axis looks real good for the people who are in the mountains, while the Lightning Flash is their UL model which should do fine in all but the most extreme conditions.
I leave you with this teaser ;)Jan 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm #1565357
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I just used my new MSR Lightning Ascents on a solo trip this week. The Spring Mountains near Las Vegas had 3 ft. of recent snow in the woods when I snowshoed in W/ my 50 lb. pack (due to heavy Mt'n. Hardwear -20 F. Polarguard Delta sleeping bag and TNF Tadpole tent.).
Because the pack was so heavy I sank in about 6" (15-16 cm.) with each step. Arduous hiking. I SHOULD have used my 210 cm. Asnes Norwegian army skis and G3 climbing skins. Better flotation and easier striding. But the Lightning ascents were extremely easy to put on and remove with heavy gloves. I love their unique and foolproof bindings. And for 30" snowshoes they gave excellent service. Much better grip ascending than my 30" Atlas snowshoes.
Anyway, there was a big storm last night and I woke up this morning with 2 ft. (60 cm.) of new snow. I had dug a pit in my vestibule last night to make sitting to cook easier B/C there was far too much wind and blowing snow to cook outside. I used my favorite winter stove, an MSR Dragonfly. Scrambled eggs and a turkey bacon sandwich never tasted so good. Plus a mug of hot chocolate to drink while reading my novel and listening to the howling wind and snow beating on my tent fly. I felt very snug and warm.
By this morning my veatibule pit was FILLED with spindrift from the very high winds and heavy snow. I awoke at 7:10 AM to the sound of a 105 mm. howitzer used by our avalanche control team at the nearby ski resort where I'm a ski patroller. Then one of the artillery shells released a BIG avalanche and I could seee the powder rising several hundred feet.
As I broke camp it took me 1/2 hour do dig out my tent. Good thing I took my avalanche shovel! On the way back I was sinking in 8" with each step and longing for my skis.
Still, I had a great time and finished 1/2 of a paperback novel in my tent last night. (What else can you do when if gets dark at 5 PM?) Thank God for lithium batteries and current regulated headlamps.
Oh yeah, at 10:15 PM I was startled awake by the growl of a mountain lion. I'm sure it wasn't a bobcat because the growl was deep AND not more than 50 feet away! I yelled at it a few times and then turned on my headlamp and began reading my novel again to steady my nerves. Never heard the big cat again.Jan 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm #1565364
Yeesh, so many snowshoes to choose from now!
I have a pair of 2005 Lightning Ascents, and I consider them to be pretty much the perfect snowshoe. They only have two straps on top, compared to the more recent three straps (which seems like it would make putting the snowshoes on more tedious). They have amazing traction, they're exceptionally durable (though I've heard many secondhand stories of them breaking), and they've carried me through some crazy day hikes in the past five years. If any of the new models could be considered an improvement, I'd love to try them out.
The new quick binding seems intriguing, as does the variety and range of weights. Can't wait to hear some firsthand reviews on the Lightning Axis and Flash.Jan 23, 2010 at 7:19 am #1565449
Eric, I really dislike the binding to be honest. I go as far to say that its rubbish and the new Speedlock bindings on the Axis (which is like the Lightning Ascent with different binding) would be my way to go. Anyway, sounds like you had a great time outside on your trip! Roaring back at the mountain lion, now that's the way to go!
Ryan, five years and still going strong, that's awesome quality. As i said above, I think two straps would be sufficient and way more convenient, I'm always closing the front strap again after a while because it opens and dangles around. If yours are still fine, I'd just continue with them, really. Yes, the new models are nice (All black ftw!) and have good features, but if you're good with yours, why invest into new ones? The Flash, while lightweight at ~1400 g don't have the heel lifter, and I find that little thing a blessing. So useful, really. Maybe loan a pair once they're available and then decide?
I did a video review of my 2009 Lightning Ascents , so for those who're in the market go and have a look.Jan 23, 2010 at 10:06 am #1565495
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
This may have been an acquaintance of the mountain lion that came to visit you at 10:15 PM. It was a big one, 317lbs, shot near Wenatchee, WA three days a go during the same prolonged snow storm you were weathering.Jan 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm #1565620
Just used mine, too. Ah, I love my snowshoes….
You're right Hendrik: the two straps on mine are entirely sufficient for holding my foot in place. I don't know why they felt they needed the third, but I guess you can always take the middle one out on your own.
I also have the dangling strap, as you can see in my picture. The little clip to hold it from flapping snapped after a while, but I don't mind. Since the straps have some stretch to them, I find that if you crank down on them they never come undone, despite the flapping. This works well with the stiff leather boots I use. I imagine that if I switch to trail runners with overboots, the tight strap might be less comfortable, since the strap will be tightened on my foot rather than on the boot.
I definitely won't be getting a new pair for a while. Have I mentioned I love these things? :)Jan 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm #1565635
@thomdarrahLocale: Southern Oregon
I have always used trail runners as footwear with my Lightning Ascents and have never had issues with the straps causing problems. I use an elastic band, slid over the strap, to tuck the end into after adjustment is made.Jan 23, 2010 at 5:13 pm #1565644
Good to know, Thom! I just recently discovered Forty Below's Light Energy Overboots, and I think someday I may try them out with my trail runners. If the snowshoe straps work fine with them, I guess that means even more years of use with my Lightning Ascents. Sweet.Feb 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm #1570700
@jumpbackjackLocale: Armpit of California
Here kitty kitty. I'll go hiking with you Richard any time, or hunting for that matter. Nice cat we can't hunt them in CA. they are protected. JackFeb 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm #1571726
Quick report on the 2010 MSR "Shift" youth snowshoe. It's 7" x 19.5" and rated for 70 to 125 pounds. Very similar design to the Denali Evo. Steel toe and rail crampons (confirmed by a magnet even though the hang tag says aluminum. Price was good (List $90, on sale $70, free with Moosejaw points!).
I was thinking they might be good for dense Southern California snow- but alas my size 10 Montrail Hardrocks are a bit too wide in the forefoot to fit- no way to widen the opening either. The spec's say up to men's size 8.
My 6 year old on the other hand loves them. He got them as an early 7th birthday present. We snowshoed in Sequoia National Park over the weekend where there were several feet of base plus 1-2 feet of fresh snow. He never sank more than 6" even when I was sinking most of the way into the fresh snow. They are fairly easy to use, the binding doesn't ball up with snow, and narrow enough that a 50" tall kid doesn't walk like a duck.
The binding has three straps- heel, toe, and mid-foot. The middle buckle has a nice design that lets you completely remove the strap from one side making it easier to get in and out. Oddly the front and middle strap are the same length- it seems the middle one should be longer.Feb 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm #1572793
Hendrik – nice blog, good info.
This is my first year with snowshoes. I have MSR Denali classics with 8" tails. My plan is to upgrade next year or so. I'm in Eastern US. We've had some big snow storms this Winter. Hopefully I will try them in West US if I work out a trip with my son. So far they've been fantastic. Much better than postholing.
Richard – WOW! That's a huge cat. Did you post the details anywhere? Congrats.Mar 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm #1583218
Eric – The MSR snowshoes (especially the ascent models) are great for crusty snow. However, for deep snow, they aren't especially good. Given the conditions you described, I'm not surprised you struggled. A bigger, old fashioned pair would have been better that day.
My wife has the opposite problem. We gave away our first generation MSR snow shoes (with the annoying bindings) when we bought a pair of Northern Lights. I love the things. However, she finds that she regrets the lack of control (I don't mind slipping now and then). So, we're going to use our REI dividend on a pair of MSR snowshoes (probably an ascent model) for the crusty stuff. One big plus is that she won't be able to tease me quite so much about all my skis since she will own two pairs of snow shoes. Oddly enough, neither pair would be great in deep dry snow (luckily, we usually go skiing under those conditions).
Hendrik — Thanks for the blog.
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