Hiking through crisp glistening powder, forging your own path through the unbroken blanket of white ahead. A never ending delight when walking in full on winter conditions. For me it’s a happy mix of nerves and sheer delight with the former produced by the knowledge of never exactly knowing what is lying beneath your feat!
When you are on solo trips its more important than ever to have reliable kit and the MSR Lightning Trail Snowshoe proved to be a trusty companion out on expedition. You become rather attached to your snowshoes on trips like these as you simply spend so much time in them and the MSR Lightning Trail proved to be more than adequate on rolling and semi steep rocky terrain.
The snowshoes are well put together with strong bindings and clasps with solid connections between frame and pivot points.
When the powder begins its easy to put your boots in the bindings, on each snowshoe there is a section that is clearly labelled to indicate where your boots go and more importantly where the ball of your foot should be placed. If you mess this up the snowshoe feels disconnected from you and affects the way you walk and feel the terrain especially on steeper ground however its very easy with the MSR Lightning Trail to get your feet in the right position as the instructions on the snowshoes themselves guide you into the correct placement each time.
Immediately under the ball of the foot is a double toothed crampon attachment that protrudes just enough from the base of the snowshoe to allow you to gain much needed traction when moving upwards on steep ground but shallow enough to not get in the way on completely flat terrain. This works so well on the varying environments I use them on such as rolling terrain and easy steep ground with a rocky component.
It is worth mentioning that MSR do indeed make other snowshoes that are intended for different environments so once again I will state that the MSR Lightning Trail is most suited to rolling terrain but on my trip I did find sections of steep ground where a simple adjustment of technique and the MSR Lightning Trail worked just fine. If your trip is nothing but steep or more challenging terrain, then consult the MSR website to find the most appropriate model.
The bindings on the MSR Lightning Trail use a three way buckle design which completely secures the boot in place. The buckles and straps seem very strong and do not come loose even during extended periods of use. They are also very easy to adjust and to secure your boot.
The frame which surrounds the entire shoe also acts as a grip to give the user more traction, it stands up well to scrapes and knocks. My pair did receive some bumps and sometimes the sound of metal over stone was painful to hear but not so much of an issue for the Lightning Trail which seemed to take it all in its stride.
One issue with these snowshoes is that when you are travelling with them they of course have to go outside of your pack and this can be a little daunting as they look pretty intense to the un aware passer by so perhaps be ready to cover them with some material for going through transports hubs. At 1.5kg per pair they just an extra weight you have to contend with.
There is an option to adjust the floatation of the tail.This is something I didn’t really mess around with but the choice is there if you need it, it lets you play with the manoeuvrability of the snowshoe.
I am a size 13 (EU Size 48) and so the MSR Lightning Trail model I went for was size 25.
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