Paragon Perfection: 2019/20 MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
The Winter 2019/20 MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes are pure perfection in a paragon
Until now, my opinion of the MSR Lightning Ascents was that they were phenomenal snowshoes that were nearly perfect. They were light and aggressive- perfect for multi-terrain trips with varying snow conditions. The problem was the bindings. I hated the bindings (more on this later).
However, this upcoming winter, problematic bindings will be a thing of the past.
A single, critical design change has now made the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes perfect: the introduction of the polygon single-piece Paragon Binding.
At a time when other snowshoe brands are introducing more complex, rigid and bulky binding systems, MSR is taking the opposite approach and stripping its binding down.
Why? Comfort, control, and convenience
Comfort in having the mesh strap conform to my boots for fast and easy foot alignment.
Control in providing unparalleled foot control in steep terrain.
Convenience in being able to quickly slip in and out of the snowshoe with ease.
While incremental improvements to the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoe have been made over the years, the Paragon Binding represents the most innovative advancement in MSR snowshoes since the inventions of the Denali snowshoe in 1995 and the Lightning Ascent snowshoe in 2004.
Let me explain my enthusiasm for the game-changing Paragon Binding
My own pair of MSR Lightning Ascents snowshoes are nearly a decade old. From multi-day hut trips to short day hikes, they have taken me all over the Colorado Rockies and still function as good as they ever have- a testament to the quality of the craftsmanship.
However, I only had one problem- the PosiLock AT binding system.
I’m not the most flexible of people, nor do I have strong fine motor skills. Every time I used the snowshoes, the bindings required constant adjustment. There were straps everywhere. I felt like I was always the last one ready, or holding up the group because it took so much time to remove my gloves, strap in and adjust for fit.
Another seemingly tiny detail that was a constant source of frustration was the lack of strap keeper clips on my older pair of Lightning Ascents. I had to purchase replacement parts to keep the straps in place or replace the clips that popped off (which seemed to happen a lot).
In my world, gear that requires constant adjustment tends to not get used. The introduction of the Paragon Binding allows me to focus on the adventure, not on the gear. Therefore, I expect an increase in snowshoe trips next winter.
A serious performance snowshoe, the Winter 19/20 MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes retain the features (lightweight, DTX crampons, narrow design, ergo Televators, 360-degree traction-control system, and toothy aluminum exoskeleton) that have made them so popular since their introduction in 2004.
Key features of the 2019/20 MSR Lightning Ascents:
- Ultralight water shedding
- Articulating bootstraps adapt to a wide range of boot sizes
- Toe straps keep feet in place on the descent
- Field maintainable- not additional tools required
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