Snowshoes have come a long way since the old wooden tennis-racquets of yore, and the MSR Lightning Ascent is a prime example of modern technology done right. I used and abused these ultralight, super-sturdy shoes in all conditions and was unable to make them fail. The four-strap PosiLock bindings secured my feet quickly and firmly regardless of boot size, and the Pivot crampons grabbed the ground like tractor tires. On uphills, I flipped up the Ergo Televator heel lifts; in deep snow I snapped on the modular tails for extra flotation. These mini-surfboards even held tough on steep sidehill traverses. The only flaw in the Lightning Ascent is the same as every contemporary snowshoe: its slimmer design gives up some flotation—but the increased mobility and comfort underfoot more than make up for it. $270-$300; cascadedesigns.com/msr.
- O/B Store