MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes
For those of us who love the outdoors but don’t trust ourselves on slippery ski’s, the winter months leave us a couple of options. Sit cozy and warm by a fire or get out and explore! Exploring is always the choice for me and living in Colorado that means snowshoeing at some point. I have bounced around from a couple of pair of snowshoes but was recently sent a pair of MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes. I put them through their paces and wanted to let others looking for that perfect pair of snowshoes what my thoughts were. Here is my product review of the MSR Lightning Trail snowshoes.
As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I was sent these snowshoes for the purposes of doing a review. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with these glasses. This review is for general informational purposes. Your experience may be different.
Stats and Specs of the MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes
Before I get into my thoughts on the MSR Lightning Trail, here is what MSR says about the product directly from their website. “Lightning Trail snowshoes are exceptionally lightweight, quiet and comfortable for all-day performance. 360˚ Traction™ frames provide serious grip and the Paraglide bindings are easy to use. “
Here are the stats and features directly from the MSR website.
22 or 25 inches
|1. Weight (pair) 3 lb 3 oz (22in) 3 lb 5 oz (25 in)|
|2. Width: 8 in|
|3. Length: 22 in or 25 in|
|4. Shoe size range: M 3-13 W 5-15|
|5. Load: up to 180 lbs (22 in) 120-220 lbs (25 in)|
6. Load w/tails: up to 250 lbs (22in) up to 280 lbs (25 in)
7. Frame Material: 7075-T6 Aluminum
8. Deck Material: TPU-coated Nylon
Shoe Size Range
Men size 3-13
Women size 5-15
- Ultralight: Streamlined TPU-coated nylon deck is lightweight and quiet on snow, tailored for energy-saving performance.
- Aggressive Traction: 360° Traction frames with perimeter teeth and Pivot™ crampons deliver advanced, edge-to-edge grip.
- All-Day Comfort: Paraglide™ binding stretch mesh hugs feet securely and is compatible with nearly any footwear, from light hikers to snowboard boots.
- Easy to Use: Glove-friendly binding straps and buckle tabs make getting in and out quick and simple.
- Adaptable Accessories: Attachment points for 5-inch modular flotation tails (sold separately), which provide on-demand flotation for deep powder or when carrying heavier loads.
*All information from MSRgear.com
What I Liked
My favorite part of the MSR Lightning Trail are just how light weight they are. I don’t do a ton of trail breaking when I go out and snowshoe. I know some people love it but it just isn’t my game. What ends up happening more often for me is that I start on a trail with spikes and get to a point where I will need snowshoes moving forward. So I end up carrying the snowshoes on my pack for part of the hike.
Anyone who has carried snowshoes on their pack can tell you that it can get awkward and heavy. The MSR lightning weigh just over a combined 3 pounds depending on which length you get. That is not a ton of weight to have to deal with. Also, the Lightning are only 8 inches wide and I have found it pretty easy to strap to the sides of my pack.
Once I hit a spot in the trail where it is time to switch to the snowshoes, It is easy to transfer and put them on, even out in the open, and if I have to pop them off to walk across a rocky outcrop or something, I can just pop them off and they are easy to carry with one hand before putting them back on. So the light weight becomes extremely practical and really helps for a much more enjoyable hiking experience.
The MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes have multiple grip points to help with traction in the snow. The side rails are cut with 6 “teeth” to help with the traction. There is a rear bar with two teeth. A mid bar that has 2 deep and 4 shallow teeth with connects with the foot section that has two teeth. All of these teeth help with traction and stability in the snow.
I found that the grip works really well. Snowshoeing is often uneven and you can never be sure what is under the snow so having the side teeth help to create stability on uneven terrain. The foot teeth dig in with each step to help maintain the power of the step and the control and the mid bars help to grab on when you land a step and keep your foot stable. I like the system especially in moderate snow levels.
One thing I don’t like about some snowshoes is how restrictive they can be. It can feel like you have a couple of tennis rackets strapped to your feet and makes for an awkward gait and stride that can really slow down a hike. I didn’t find any of that with the MSR Lightning Trail snowshoes. I found my feet and steps to be very flexible when I wore these.
The foot and ankle feel free to move with the shoe doing more of a follow than leading my steps. Wearing these snowshoes was the closest I have had to a normal stride than any of the other snowshoes I have tried and I think it is entirely related to the flexibility in the binding mechanism and the light weight of the shoe. However, the flexibility never made me feel unstable. It is like the bindings are perfectly in sync with my foots natural movement.
The low weight, complete traction and flexibility all combine for one very important thing, speed! Snowshoeing can turn into a slog very quickly if you have heavy and non-maneuverable gear on your feet but with the MSR Lightning Trail I can always make good and quick progress down the trail.
I have mentioned before that this is the closest to my normal stride I have found in a pair of snowshoes and that comes with an added comfort with each step. If I don’t have to worry about how each step will land I am able to enjoy the views! Also, when it feels like you are walking then it makes for a much quicker and enjoyable trip.
I can’t say that bindings, in any form, will ever be my favorite thing. What I like about the new Paraglide™ style bindings that MSR uses is that there are these little tabs that make it really easy to unlock the bindings without having to take off your gloves. The bindings are also easy to get into once you get the hang of it and adjusting or tightening is also fairly easy.
What I Didn’t Like
While there was a ton to like about the MSR Lightning Trail snowshoes I would lose my blogger card if I didn’t find something I didn’t like. This was a hard one for me because the only things that I didn’t like aren’t really what this line of snowshoes are designed for.
While I mentioned that I really like the light weight of the MSR Lightning Trail, that lightweight also pays the price when it comes to floatation. I feel that these snow shoes are designed more for soft trails that have some designation to them and not exactly for trail breaking. With me being a hefty hiker I did have a bit of sink when I was going on some loose snow that wasn’t on top of a packed trail. I think these light weight shoes work best after a fresh snow on a snowshoe trail.
Luckily, I don’t love breaking trail anyway! I try to stay on trails and use snowshoes as an assist to help get through the loose and and fresh snow. I don’t spend a lot of time breaking trail in untouched terrain but I know that some people do. I wanted to make sure to test this feature just to let people know. Again, I don’t think breaking trail in the wilderness is what the Lightning Trail was designed for so I’m not going to hold it against these snowshoes but wanted to make sure people were aware when they were deciding which line to buy.
Video Review of the MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes
For those of you who prefer a more visual approach to the review I have put together this quick video review. If you enjoy the review or any of my videos make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free to subscribe and will give you updates to new content.
Wrap up of the MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes
Overall, I really enjoyed the MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoes. This was the first time that I didn’t feel clumsy in a pair of snowshoes and felt like I could keep my normal gait. I really like how light weight they are. Especially since I don’t do a ton of trail-breaking and use snowshoes mostly for fresh snow and trails that are too deep for boots.
I feel that these are a great option for the recreational snowshoer who enjoys to spend time out on snowy trails. For deeper snow and trail-breaking you might want to look into some of the more advanced MSR products. For the recreational user these are light weight, easy to carry, easy to put on and off, and give a good amount of floatation to make most hikes enjoyable.
More Reviews from the Fatman
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