MSR Lightning Ascent 30
These high-flotation snowshoes have better traction than the competition, yet they weigh less. A grippy metal frame, underfoot spikes, and non-slip neoprene decking deliver the first-class traction–which came in handy when we hauled an 80-pound gear sled up steep, icy hills and across tippy traverses. A pivot point under the ball of your foot offers lateral stiffness, yet doesn’t flip snow onto your back with every step, like many “racing” snowshoes. This new 30-inch length–combined with the oval shape–let us float down mushy slopes while other teams floundered up to their knees. The binding’s three stretchy, quick-release urethane straps are fast and secure (and easy to operate with gloves), and they proved impervious to -20°F temperatures. Also available in 22″ and 25″ lengths. $290; 4 lbs. 4 oz. (pair). msrgear.com. Reader service #114
The Denali Test: Gear for America’s Highest, Coldest PeakOur tester spent 18 days climbing, camping, and evaluating gear on America's highest, coldest peak. If his picks made it there, they can make it anywhere.