Light in weight but highly durable, Lightning Ascent Snowshoes by Mountain Safety Research (MSR) have garnered an enthusiastic following and uniformly high ratings for outstanding stability and traction. They’ll have you striding swiftly across deep fresh snow on even-terrain excursions, but they’re also perfect for those long, steep, uphill climbs.

The 360° Traction frames are all-the-way vertical, delivering strong edge-to-edge grip. Steel crampons go deep for unrivaled traction; full-rotation, two-piece PosiLock AT bindings provide both comfort and security, and also offer freeze-resistant attachment with any footwear.

The Lightning Ascent adapts to all conditions, thanks to an optional 5-inch Modular Flotation tail that gives you the maneuverability of a small snowshoe with the on-demand flotation of the add-on tails. And going uphill is more efficient, thanks to Ergo Televator heel lifts that increase traction and up efficiency, thereby reducing fatigue. Per-pair weight ranges from 4 pounds (22 inches long, carries up to 180 pounds) to 4 pounds/12 ounces (30 inches, up to 280 pounds). Made in the USA. $299.

The MSR Women’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes, recently updated, carry similarly high ratings. While equally aggressive to the Lightning Ascent, they’re a bit lighter in weight and perfect for anyone with a narrow gait. Per-pair weight: 3 pounds/12 ounces (22 inches long, up to 180 pounds and 3 pounds/14 ounces (25 inches, up to 210 pounds). $299.

In Sonoma County, MSR products are carried by REI and Sonoma Outfitters, both in Santa Rosa. Visit for more information.