MSR Lightning Flash Snowshoe Review
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Jan 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm #1283967Addie BedfordBPL Member
Companion forum thread to:Jan 11, 2012 at 5:13 am #1823087Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
>> The weight difference is not that large: the measured weight of the Flash is 3 pounds 6 ounces (1.53 kg) per pair, and the Elite weighs 2 pounds 6.1 ounces (1.08 kg) per pair, a difference of 1 pound (454 g). Yes, a pound (454 g) is significant if you are carrying the snowshoes, but the choice gets down to whether you need the extra traction or not. In gentle to moderate terrain, the Elite (which has aluminum alloy crampons) is adequate; but in steeper terrain and sidehills, the Lightning Flash is king.
The last statement – it's worth focusing on. This snowshoe is all about traction on steeps, sidehills, and one more scenario – in icy conditions. By nature of this snowshoe's design, it's also quite a bit more durable.
But the former statement about the weight – 1/2 pound per foot makes a difference on the pack, sure. But the difference is dramatically felt on the foot. So, if you don't need the aggressive design, the Northern Light's are a noticeably lighter shoe on the feet and utter joy to use on a winter tour.Jan 11, 2012 at 7:23 am #1823123Eric SwabMember
Nice timing on this review!
I have been looking at the Lightning Ascents in hopes of gaining better side hill traction for the more varied terrain I seem to be dealing with lately. I have the Northern Lites Quicksilver 30's and when crawling over downed trees and crossing stuff they are pretty loose and clunky, not much side bite either. I am thinking a shorter shoe with the fixed toe pivots and a better side rail would be better, then I could add tails if necessary.
Will points out that these drag a lot in regular "touring type" conditions due to the two fixed cross bars. Can anyone offer a comparison on the Lightning's versus the EVO shoe which is the plastic design? They have three molded cross bars, but do not extend the full width, so they may drag less. They are heavier though, would the EVO's be a better "middle ground" shoe?
It seems the only difference between the "ascent" and "touring" models is the heel lift bar, is it worth the extra weight? Is it easily removable?Jan 11, 2012 at 9:43 am #1823185Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Will's cranking out some nice reviews for a guy who retired from this.Jan 11, 2012 at 10:50 am #1823240Alan DixonSpectator
>But the former statement about the weight – 1/2 pound per foot makes a difference on the pack, sure. But the difference is dramatically felt on the foot. So, if you don't need the aggressive design, the Northern Light's are a noticeably lighter shoe on the feet and utter joy to use on a winter tour.
I would second this. The Northern Lites Elite snowshoes are light enough that you can actually run in them (in fact, they are designed to be racing snowshoes for softer conditions–not packed trails). For most terrain likely to be backpacked they are as Ryan says "[an] utter joy to use on a winter tour." Or just for day hiking and snowshoe running.Jan 11, 2012 at 11:26 am #1823268Eric BotshonBPL Member
The snowshoes reviewed are the 2010.
The current 2011 model is signifigantly different.
It LOOKS to have less traction since the peremiter outter teeth are replaced with non-serrated metal.
The 25" is also listed at 6oz heavier – 2lbs 10oz
EMS claims they have an exclusive bath of flash's with the extra traction frames which were reviewed here.
On sale as of 1/12/12 for $110
http://www.ems.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11932724Jan 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm #1823471Tom AndrewsBPL Member
Just a comment on the Northern Lites Elite. I have been using these for a few years and marvel at how light and comfortable they are. I wear them with goretex running shoes, heavy socks, and gaiters (when I plan to go off trail). They have fine traction for fairly steep slopes, but certainly aren't designed for heavy duty steep mountaineering. All this said, I prefer telemarking in the mtns on very lightweight gear.
Tom AndrewsJan 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm #1823493Ben PearreBPL Member
I seem to recall a review or thread a few years back (probably on BPL) that found that free-pivot bindings such as on MSR's snowshoes are something like 30% more efficient than the torsion bindings on most other shoes. Am I misremembering? I can't find it now, but it was pretty fascinating.Jan 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm #1823550Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Good review Will,
I just picked up a pair of the "MSR Lightnings" and they weigh in at 3 lbs 2 oz
The outside rails are a little different than the ones pictured in your review and mine match the website, I don't know why the difference but maybe the newer ones are even lighter now.
I haven't used them yet, but plan on this weekend.
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