MSR Lightning Ascent

    Photo: MSR

BEST FOR: Tackling a variety of terrain.

THE TEST: The Easton has bigger claws and thus looks badass, but the revamped Lightning Ascent has teeth all around the frame, and a new two-pronged toe crampon flexes to bite into uneven snow. Add in a sturdy heel lifter and a free-floating and supremely adjustable binding (four ultrasecure rubber straps are easy to manipulate in gloves), and you’ve got a shoe that’s up for just about any terrain. Smart: An add-on tail ($50) allows you to buy a smaller, more maneuverable snowshoe and attach more float when you need it.

THE VERDICT: “Highly adjustable, intuitive, field-maintainable, and awesome,” summed up one tester. 3.9 lbs

Grip: 5
Comfort: 4
Ease of Use: 5

If you're planning on tackling steep trails, look for a snowshoe with a heel lifted, which helps relieve calf strain and lessens fatigue on long climbs. Both the Easton and MSR have one.

Brand: MSR $270

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