I'm sure you're correct, and as I mentioned in my post, I didn't know how my comments would translate to western hiking. You've highlighted those differences well. As much as I like my Lightning Ascents, the several failures I've heard about from friends do give me pause. But conditions are quite a bit different back here! Thanks.
Thanks for your insight into the tails option for the Lightning Ascents by MSR. As with everything, I'm sure there are dissenting opinions about these snowshoes, but after 35 years of trying other designs and being sponsored by two or three different manufacturers, this design is the best we have come across for west coast use. Now for the dry powder of the Divide or the ice back east, I imagine there might be better choices for users in those locations.
For the winter backpacker, the bigger the shoe, the better the flotation in new powder. As you pointed out, in tight quarters of trees and bushes in a forest setting, big shoes can be a problem, but above timberline, open cruising on big floaters is so much easier than even a slight "posting" on smaller ones because you don't have as much snow falling on top of them which you have to pull out of the posted hole with each step. Even with the new snow we experience in the Sierra, the flotation size of the Lightning Ascents works just fine on the wet, "Sierra Cement" we get out here, so there is rarely a need for the add-on of tails. The 25" length also works well when tied to the top of the pack!
"Just remember, Be Careful out there!"
Ned Tibbits, Director
1106A Ski Run Blvd
South Lake Tahoe, Ca. 96150