OT: Snowshoes: Atlas 1225 or MSR Lightning Ascents?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    (aka SS_MB-7)
    Reputation: 1speed_Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    OT: Snowshoes: Atlas 1225 or MSR Lightning Ascents?

    Atlas 1225 or MSR Lightning Ascents?

    I'm having a really hard time deciding between these two pairs of shoes and I'm hoping someone who has used either or both can offer their comments. I've posted some comparison pics here: https://www.pbase.com/onespeed/msr_l...s1225_20081114. Unfortunately, I can't keep both shoes and won't be able to try-before-I-buy. So, I'd like to hear your feedback on either or both shoes.

    FWIW, I'm 135lbs without a pack (I'll be carrying a heavy DSLR and lenses in my pack). Although light, I'm generally hard on my equipment. My current shoes are Crescent Moon Gold 9s. I like to break new trails to explore the backcountry. But, I will also be snowshoeing with my young kidz (8 and 6) on well-packed trails. So, pretty contrasting conditions.

    My biggest (and only, really) complaint about my CM9s was that were a few occassions when climbing steep ascents or off-camber sections, where I'd slip due to the lack of crampons near the edges of the shoe on icy surfaces. The 1225s have far more crampons and they are closer to the edges, so this should definitely help! But, in looking at the MSRs...wow! There's no comparison...these must grip like crazy on ice!

    In looking at both, they really are completely different in execution. Atlas' are more of a traditional framed shoe with an excellent binding system and SLS (Spring Loaded Suspension) to help keep the shoe on your foot. The SLS does seem to send snow flying up on your back though. The MSRs do not have a SYS-style binding, so the shoe will not return to the foot.

    The MSRs bindings look very basic next to the 1225s. But, I've read only good things about the bindings. Keep-It-Simple-Stupid seems to apply here.

    What I don't completely understand from what I've read though, is how are the Atlas' better than the MSRs in floatation? Laying the MSRs on top of the 1225s yields nearly identical surface areas. Is there really that much of a difference?

    After reading through the MSR reviews at BackpackGearTest.org, I was a little disappointed to read about the durability of the teeth surrounding the perimeter of the frame and cross members, as well as, the stretch of the decking material.

    Obviously, I'm going to try and avoiding stepping on rocks, but sometimes, it's unavoidable. I was expecting the teeth to be a little more durable. But, it seems the wear-down pretty quick.

    In looking at the bottom of my current shoes (Crescent Moon 9's), they are pretty banged-up and scratched. So, I do seem to hit my share of exposed rock.

    MSR indicated that the wearing of the teeth has no impact on the shoe's traction. Similarly, MSR says the stretching/sagging of the deck material will not impact floatation and performance...just aesthetics.

    How would the MSRs be for running/jogging on a set trail? I know there are smaller, race versions of the Atlas shoes made specifically for running/jogging, but there are occassions that if the trail is already packed-down, I like to pick-up-the-pace to get the cardio going (I use snowshoeing as winter training for bicycle racing in the summer). How would the MSR's be in this situation since it doesn't have a sping-loaded binding, which returns the shoe to the foot?

    Mike B.
    Ride Hard,
    Mike B. (MCM# 7.77)

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: pulser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    It depends on were you live. If the trails are icy then go with the MSRs of you have mostly powder then the Atlas will do well. I have the MSR Denali Evo Ascents so i can just add the powder tails depending on were im going. If you do alot if step off camber stuff that's icy you might want to pic up a mountaineering ice ax as well they make icy climbs alot easer.

  3. #3
    Head First
    Reputation: Beolin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    I had similar questions to you when I was looking to purchase snowshoes. A lot of REI folks were trying to sell me on MSRs but after two test walks over a variety of terrain and snow conditions with both shoes I decided on the Atlas 1225s. They were more comfortable and more stable on steep inclines and declines. I too looked at all the teeth along the side of the MSR and figured they would work well on ice, but they just didn't grip as well.

    I've had the 1225s for a couple years and have been very happy with the purchase. Good luck.
    Last edited by Beolin; 11-19-2008 at 03:50 PM.

  4. #4
    the unvarnished nonsense
    Reputation: davis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    What, no Tubbs?

    Sorry, not trying to derail your post. If I had to pick one of those, I'd go w/the Atlas. The MSR looks a bit frail. Having the return to the foot I can (and do) live without. But the soft decking material on either would make me a bit leary. I prefer a stiffer decking, like on my (sigh) Tubbs. Sorry again, hope you have a lot of fun no matter which you choose.
    "Sufficient to have stood, yet free to fall."
    -John Milton, Paradise Lost

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    FWIW the first pair of MSRs i had, the pin on the crampon hinge broke on the first time out. Pretty surprised as MSR stuff tends to be good quality. No problems so far with the replacements which they replaced FOC but haven't had a whole lot of use as I got them towards the end of last season.

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