LTR - MSR Lightning Snowshoes - Mike Lipay
- After the Golite incident, be gentle ;-)
html version will be up tonight.
Long Term Report - MSR Lightning Snowshoes
by Mike Lipay - May 24, 2006
Date Arrived January 17, 2006
Manufacturer MSR (Mountain Safety Research)
Year of Manufacturer 2005
MSRP $219.95 USD
Warranty MSR Snowshoes are guaranteed against defects in materials and
workmanship without time limit. Return shipping charges to the consumer
for repaired products are covered. Should a product be found defective
under this warranty, we will repair it or replace it at our option.
Mfgr. Specs from website
Dimensions: 8 x 30 in. (20 x 64 cm)
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz. (1504 g) per pair
Dimensions: 8 x 30-3/4 in. (20 x 78 cm)
Weight: 3 lbs. 13 oz. (1720 g) per pair
Name Mike Lipay
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
Email hiking AT westernpa DOT us
City, State Plum, Pennsylvania
Background I've been hiking and backpacking with the Boy Scouts since the
'60s, although currently I hike more solo, with my kids, or as a trail
guide for a local outdoors group. I am no ultra-light backpacker; my pack
(external frame) weighs 29-40 lbs (13-18 kgs) loaded (not including food),
though I am always on the look out for ways to cut down on the weight. I'm
a low-techie, preferring a hiking staff to trekking poles, compass to GPS,
fire to fuel; but I do carry some techie stuff as well, recently switching
over to a digital camera from film, and an UV sterilizer from a filter
Additional Bio I have never used snowshoes, though I hike regularly in
the winter and the snow my trips have always been in winter boots. The
reports submitted will reflect the viewpoint of one just learning to use
snowshoes, and as such may be a bit less technical than one who is more
Special Note Thanks to an unseasonably warm winter in the northeast (due,
I am told, to the El Nino conditions in the Pacific) there has been no
opportunity for additional testing after the end of March. While there
have been snowstorms and cold temps, neither lasted long enough to build
up on what remained after my last field test. Because of this, my report
will be based upon usage through the end of March, along with observations
made when preparing the snowshoes for storage. I will also cover each of
concerns raised in the Long Term and Field reports in more detail.
Ease of attachment and removal The pair of Lightning Snowshoes which I
tested attached easily barehanded, but I did have difficulty making the
attachment, especially the right boot. There are two reasons for the
1. The strap on the right boot did not overlap the boot as far as the
strap on the left boot. I have not been able to determine the reason,
the straps are of equal length and both begin on the third hole. The
difference is significant enough so that the Lightning Snowshoes do not
work with my high-top snow boots, a pair of Sorel Badgers. I have tried
moving the strap to the second hole, but there is not enough strap
remaining to stay in place during ascents. If the straps were an
additional 3-4 holes long they would have fit perfectly.
2. Getting the strap into the pins, with gloves on, was difficult on
both snowshoes. I was able to pass it through the hook easily, but
catching it on the pin was difficult. A trip to my local outfitter, who
carries the MSR Lightning Snowshoes, discovered the reason: the pins
were not bent out as far as those at the outfitter. After it was clear
that I would have no further opportunity to test them in the field I
made the modifications (bending the pins out about 5°) and tried them
at home, I was able to catch the strap on the pins with ease, even with
How well they will attach to standard boots For the most part I found
that the MSR Lightning snowshoes would work with any boots. The only
exception, as I mentioned above, was with my Sorel Badger snow boots, and
here the problem is related to the length of the upper straps, with 3-4
more holes on the strap there would be no problem with the fit.
How easy is it to learn how to walk in snowshoes? Amazingly easy! I
caught onto using the Lightning snowshoes in little time. Walking is
pretty much as normal, the only real exceptions are keeping my feet a
little further apart and taking care during tight turns to make sure that
I didn't step on one snowshoe with the other. This latter part proved to
be the more difficult in my area, where trails tend to be narrow and
switchbacks plentiful. After a few face-falls I caught onto the skill.
How do they work when the snow disappears and the mud replaces it? Not
well, and honestly they aren't made for this, unlike less aggressive
snowshoes. The teeth in the rims dug into the mud and didn't want to
release their grip. I found it better to remove the snowshoes when the
snow level was less than 6 in (15 cm). My partners snowshoes (aluminum
tube frames) did not have this problem, but then again they did not have
quite the traction in the snow that I did, and that is the purpose of
snowshoes. Had this been closer to a typical winter the mud would not have
been an issue; but, with the warmer weather and lower snow amounts, thin
snow layers were more abundant.
The Laurel Ridge (where I do most of my hiking) is notable for it's rocky
terrain, what kind of footing will I have with rocks under the snow?
Again, I would not normally encounter these conditions, but thanks to the
warmer weather the rocks were out in full force, just a few inches under
the snow. While walking didn't prove to be an issue (just enough snow on
top to level things out) the rocks did take their toll on the frames. By
the end of the season there was noticeable scratches in the frames, and
some of the teeth did show a little more flattening than others. A quick
application of a file at the start of next season will take area of the
problem and return the Lightning snowshoes to their original condition.
Signs of wear An end-of-season examination of the MSR Lightning Snowshoes
shows the following:
* Wearing of some of the teeth along the frame; as mentioned above, I
feel this is due to the unusual amount of rocks that I encountered due
to the low snow levels
* Scratches on the bottom of the rubber; again, probably due to the
low snow levels, walking on more unseen roots and twigs than would
normally be the case.
* Rust. Now this was unexpected. While just minor amounts were visible
this bothered me. After each trip I was careful to dry off the
snowshoes. The rust appears on the tops of the teeth on the frame, and
at the pivot point on the center teeth. The rust isn't much, and a
little cleaning and waxing should keep it in check while in storage.
Rust goes along with steel, and the frames on the MSR Lightning are
made of steel, so a little more care and attention needs to be paid at
the end of a day's hiking to dry the metal parts, and probably coat
them with wax or a penetrating oil, should be enough to prevent the
rust from occurring.
Conclusions/Observations I have been please with the performance of the
MSR Lightning snowshoes, both on snow and on ice. As covered in my Field
Report, I had a couple occasions where I had to cross frozen streams, and
the teeth on the snowshoes gave enough bite to keep me from slipping. My
partners (with their tube-framed snowshoes) found that they had to remove
the shoes during crossings to keep from sliding on the ice.
Walking through, or on top of, the snow is an odd experience, especially
when my staff dropped 4 feet (1.2 m) into the snow that I was walking on
top of. The heavy-packed snow in this area, combined with the Lightning
snowshoes, kept me from sinking more than a few inches into the snow. I
really had no idea how deep the snow was in some areas without shoving my
staff into it - as I said, a really odd feeling.
The straps performed much better than I had expected, staying flexible and
stretchy even in sub-zero temperatures (lowest was -5F, -20C). Only two
real issues existed:
1. The right snowshoe strap seemed shorter than the left, and neither
was enough to stretch over my Sorel snow boots.
2. The attachment pins on both were not bent out as far as they should be.
All-in-all, I am very please with the quality and performance of the MSR
Lightning snowshoes, and have only one recommendation to make, that the
upper straps be made a couple notches longer than they are to better
accommodate the use of larger boots.
I would like to express my thanks, both to MSR and to BackpackGearTester,
for the opportunity to test the Lightning snowshoes.
- hiking@... wrote:
> html version will be up tonight.[[R:]]
> Long Term Report - MSR Lightning Snowshoes
> by Mike Lipay - May 24, 2006
Nice looking report, thanks for your patience on the edits!
I really like the format of your HTML on this one.
No edits for you... please upload at will.
- On May 27, 2006, at 2:23 PM, rami wrote:
> hiking@... wrote:Thanks, Rami, the LTR has been uploaded. Shame there isn't a "move"
>> html version will be up tonight.
>> Long Term Report - MSR Lightning Snowshoes
>> by Mike Lipay - May 24, 2006
> Hi Mike,
> Nice looking report, thanks for your patience on the edits!
> I really like the format of your HTML on this one.
> No edits for you... please upload at will.
function to allow a report (with images) to be moved from one folder