If you're going to ski the backcountry, climbing skins (in addition to avalanche beacons, shovels and probes) are going to be on your required gear list. Climbing skins are strips of material (nylon, mohair, or a mixture of the two) that attach to the bottom of your skis to provide traction for climbing. The outer surface of the climbing skin has hairs or scales that grab the snow, preventing backward movement of the skis. When the skis are moved forward, these surfaces flatten out to allow some glide. With a telemark or AT binding and a quality set of climbing skins you'll be able to comfortably ski up the steepest grades.
|•||Choosing Climbing Skins|
|•||Climbing Skin Attachment|
|•||Climbing Skin Length and Width|
|•||Cutting your Climbing Skins|
|•||Climbing Skin Care|
There are three main types of climbing skins - nylon, mohair and mixed. The material you choose is based on intended use, weight, packability, desired characteristics and budget.
Nylon: Nylon climbing skins are the most popular as they provide the best grip and are the least expensive. But, they are heavier and bulkier than the other options, and don’t glide as well. This type of skin tends to be more hydrophobic than the other options too. Click here for more info.
Mixed: Mixed climbing skins are just that…a mixture of nylon and mohair. This type of skin will have slightly less grip, but better glide. They are also lighter than nylon, and less bulky. Click here for more info.
Mohair: Pure mohair skins provide the best glide, the lightest weight and the least bulk. But, they are typically more expensive, and don’t climb as well as mixed or nylon skins. Click here for more info.
Most manufacturers design climbing skins with tip and tail attachments, as well as an adhesive to affix the skin to your skis. This system allows for easy installation and removal, and the adhesive, or skin glue, keeps the skins in place during use. Some manufacturers, like Dynafit, make proprietary tip and tail connectors that can only be used with their skis. Others, like Black Diamond and G3 make tip and tail connectors that work with a variety of skis.
Choosing Length: Most skins come around 195 - 200cm in length. A few companies size skins to both the length and width of your ski (G3 for instance). But in general, you don't need to be too concerned about length. Kicker skins, or half-skins are great for rolling terrain, where serious climbing isn't an issue.
Choosing Width: Skins come in a variety of widths, ranging from 50mm – 160mm. The width you choose depends on your weight, intended use, ski dimensions and technique. Most of the traction you get from a skin comes from below the boot and back – so a general rule of thumb is to look at the waist and tail dimensions of your skis and select a slightly narrower skin.
The dimensions on my Black Diamond Drifts are 138-100-123. So, I chose a 125mm wide skin that I trimmed to fit.
Split Skins: Split skins are becoming more popular as backcountry skiers choose wider and wider skis. This type of skin is split down the middle, to accommodate the widest skis out there, and to save weight. Consider split skins when the tail of your skis is wider than 130mm.
Trimming to Fit: Most skins come with a trim tool and instructions on how to properly trim your skins. To get the most traction from your skins, you want most of the base covered, but enough edge exposed for control. Some people prefer complete coverage; others are happy with a narrower skin and more base exposed. It really depends on intended use, weight, type of ski, terrain and personal preference. Click here for more information on trimming skins.
Check out this Black Diamond video on Trimming 2010 Skis. It's specific to Black Diamond Skins, but relevant for all makes.
Still have questions? Email us at email@example.com or call 970.468.5687 and we can help.
Tips during use:
•Dry skin glue is happy skin glue. Keep the adhesive side of your skin off of snow and out of any water or dirt.
•Use Cheat Sheets. They will make separating your skins easier, and will help preserve glue quality
Storage: After use, hang skins to dry in a dust/lint/pet hair free zone. The cleaner the glue, the longer it will last. Completely dry skins before storage. Once dry, you can stick the skins together (glue to glue), or place a cheat sheet in-between them for storage. Click here for info on skin care.
Cheat Sheets: Cheat Sheets are synthetic backing sheets for adhesive climbing skins. Simply place between the climbing skin glue surfaces before folding to allow easy separation and to preserve skin glue quality. Cheat sheets also make climbing skins much easier to handle in the back country.
Glop Stopper Skin Wax: In warmer temperatures, snow can build up on your skins, making efficient backcountry travel difficult. Glop Stopper skin wax can be rubbed into the plush of your climbing skins to alleviate this problem.
G3 Skin Trim Tool: By paying attention to the smallest detail, G3 designed a radically new skin trim tool that allows you to quickly and easily trim climbing skins leaving the perfect edge reveal and eliminating any repositioning of the skin during the process. All G3 skins come equipped with the innovative trim tool..