MSR Men’s Lightning Axis Snowshoe Review

by: Dave D’Abate

MSR Lightning Axis

The MSR Lightning Axis snowshoes are the first I have tried from MSR’s tried and tested uniquely designed snowshoe line and I must say, I am definitely a fan. MSR’s website states:


“Packed with our latest technologies, the Lightning Axis snowshoes represent a giant leap in snowshoeing performance, ease and comfort. First, our new Axis Gait Efficiency system allows you to laterally adjust bindings independently of the frame, ensuring efficient, parallel-tracking snowshoes, regardless of natural toe-out and toe-in stances. In addition, new SpeedLock bindings offer set-it and forget-it simplicity with all-terrain comfort, while new Ergo Televators save you on the steeps. And of course, you get the benefit of our most aggressive, 360° Tractionframes and Modular Flotation tails to provide you with the confidence and versatility you want to enjoy broad range of snowshoeing experiences.”

  • Unrivaled Traction: 360° Traction frames and Pivot crampons deliver advanced, edge-to-edge grip, delivering unmatched traction and security on any terrain in any conditions.
  • Axis Gait Efficiency: World’s first bilateral binding adjustment neutralizes variances in natural foot positions to ensure an efficient, parallel stride.
  • SpeedLock Comfort: Set it and forget it, glove-friendly adjustment and comfort, plus an optional, included strap for maximum security on challenging terrain.
  • All-Condition Adaptability: Modular Flotation tails allow you the maneuverability of a smaller, primary snowshoe with the added, on-demand flotation of optional, 5-inch (13-cm) tails.
  • Uphill Efficiency: Ergo Televators reduce fatigue and increase traction on the steeps, with a new, ergonomic design that engages with a simply flick of a pole grip.

Heading up Ben Lomond Ridge

The great folks at MSR also sent along the Lightning Axis Tail add-ons that give you an additional 5 inches of on-demand flotation for deep powder outings. The tail add-ons are a quick and secure feature that greatly increase the terrain you can use the Lightning Axis snowshoes on and it gives the added benefit of the extra loft you would need when carrying a pack.

The new SpeedLock binding is a great new feature that makes the get-there-and-go aspect of strapping in at the trailhead a much quicker ordeal. You set the binding before you go out and all you do is kick in your toe and tighten the top and heel straps and you are good to go. The binding felt solid and I noticed very little heel rotation when traversing a slope.

Ben Lomond Ridge

The newly fine-tuned Ergo Televators flip up with a quick flick of a trekking pole or in my case, an ice axe. After using the Ergo Televators to climb up a slope that was a bit steeper than I probably should have been on given the slab conditions that day, I don’t think I would want to climb any slope without them. They made climbing the slope a lot easier and I had less fatigue in my calf muscles.

Made in the USA

The MSR Lightning Axis feature their Axis Gait Efficiency technology that can accommodate anyone’s foot. The adjustment rotates the binding to provide a normal walking gait and the attachment is securely mounted underfoot when strapped in so there are no worries about anything coming loose. I found the preset they shipped with perfect for my gait.

So far I haven’t noticed any major grip difference with the added grip built into the frame on traversing but I noticed a nice traction improvement on the ascent straight up the slope. The underfoot crampon traction was superb when climbing the crusty surface snow and I had no issues at all with sliding on the slope. The build quality of these snowshoes is also fantastic and clearly life up to being made in the USA.

We are supposed to be getting another foot of snow tomorrow here in Utah so I’ll be hitting the trails as soon as I can. Look for more updates coming soon.

MSR Lightning Axis snowshoes provided by Cascade Designs / Mountain Safety Research for review purposes

MSR  Lightning Axis 25 – $239 –

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