Our range of touring skins has got quite a bit bigger this season and for a product which most people don’t really care that much about (skis and bindings are of much more interest, right?) there’s an annoying amount of research to do before you can make an informed decision.
For touring or freeriding skins are as important as your skis and bindings – if they don’t work you won’t be going anywhere (uphill). The good news is all the skins on our site do work so from that perspective you can’t really go wrong. There are some differences between the products on offer which I’ll run through in this article.
Black Diamond Skins
Our cheapest and most popular skins are by Black Diamond. The Glidelites are by far our most popular skin – they are tried and tested and, although they get a makeover every few years their performance remains consistent. They are a nylon and mohair mix which offers a good compromise between grip and glide. The only real downside to them compared with other skins is that the cutting tool doesn’t measure the distance from the edge of the ski for you so when cutting them you have to use your judgement to get them centred. They come in a range of set lengths which are adjustable within about 7cm.
We also stock the Ascension skins from Black Diamond – these are a pure nylon skin. This means that they have better grip but don’t glide as well as the mix skins. They are also stiffer, so less packable but easier to handle in the wind, and more durable. They only come in one length so you have to cut them to size and attach the tip fitting (hammer required), we only sell them in 110mm width so for really wide skis you might want to consider something else.
The tip and tail clips on both the Ascensions and the Glidelite skins will fit most skis, though you could have problems with twin tips and skis with a very wide tip (a wider tip loop is available from BD). They do work with the G3 Twin Tips Connector – see more below.
Black Diamond also make plenty of accessories to keep your skins in tip top condition.
G3 have taken a different route to Black Diamond with their skins, they’ve gone with a purely synthetic (nylon) construction for excellent durability. They’ve tempered the lack of glide (from the nylon as opposed to mohair) by cutting them much more aggressively so they have a smaller surface area.
G3 skins have an excellent tip connector – it’s smaller than most other tip connectors and will fit any width ski securely. The tail connector is also well designed and probably a bit more secure than most others. It is also compatible with the G3 twin tip connectors (available separately) so you can use the skins with full twin tip skis.
The trimming tool with G3 skins is also good – you put the skins on the ski and the tool slides along the edge of the ski to cut the skins to the correct width, including leaving the edges free. It also cuts a bit easier as it has a well designed blade.
We stock 2 types of G3 skin – the Alpinist and the Scala LT. The Alpinist is their standard skin – its all synthetic construction makes it durable and the cut and connectors make it packable and easy to use.
The Scala LT is a bit different. It features the same skin body but at the tip end the skin is replaced by a scaled (hence the name) piece of soft plastic. This is designed to make breaking trail more efficient and provide more lateral grip. If you’re more into freeriding or early season tours where there’s much more fresh snow about then the Scala LT is definitely worth considering. The Scala is the same to cut as the Alpinist, G3 say the cutting tool goes through the plastic tip without a problem!
Coll Tex Skins
We stock just the one Coll-Tex skin, the 41 Bail Whizz (now called Clariden). These are the skins with the magic glue which sticks to the ski, but not to itself. The non tacky glue is the selling point – you can store them by sticking them together so you don’t need netting (though they do come with it) and you don’t have to wrench them apart – much easier to deal with in tricky conditions.
The construction of the skin is a mohair and polyamide mix and in terms of durability and skinning performance they are comparable with the other skins we sell. The downside is there does seem to be a longer list of chemicals which can’t be in your ski wax. All skins have certain waxes which they will not stick to but the Whizz seems to be a bit more prone to it than others so make sure you know which wax is on your skis!
Tip and tail connectors are pretty standard and will work with the vast majority of skis – twin tips may be a problem. They don’t come with the self measuring cutting tool, so you have to judge it for yourself. They are sold as 1 length so have to be cut to length as well as width – the tail fitting is then attached with the included rivets (hammer or rivet press). Take note of the instructions and think carefully before hammering the rivets in – getting them the wrong way up is easy and can only be corrected with new rivets.
We also stock a range of Coll Tex products to help with skin maintenance.
Pomoca pretty much exclusively make skins so their range is pretty large and differences between the products pretty small in some cases. Their skins are advertised with a bewildering array of technology designed to make them efficient, waterproof and durable. Of the two Pomoca skins we stock the basic recreational skin is the Climb 2.0. This is in the same bracket as the Black Diamond Glidelite, though with a slightly high mohair content.
The other Pomoca Skin we stock is the Climb Pro S, this is the most expensive skin we stock and it is a durable and highly efficient skin which has lots of technology added to it. For those who do a lot of skinning this skin would be a good choice. It comes with 2 sizes of toe bail (easy to change) so wider tipped skis will still be fine.
Both Pomoca skins come cut to length in just 3 sizes as they have a 15cm adjustment for length. They are easy to trim with a cutting tool which sets the correct width for you.
We stock a range of Pomoca products for keeping your skins in the best shape.
All skins come with a carry bag, cutting tool (of various quality) and netting. All the brands have videos which show how to cut your skins – we’ve put them on the relevant product webpage for easy access.