How to choose your climbing skins for touring ?
I) Climbing skins composition:
Originally, climbing skins were made of real animal skins with short and hard hair, fixed under the base of the ski (seal or elk skins mainly). Nowadays, wool or synthetic fiber have replaced animal skins but we still call them skins and they deliver the same climbing propertie. We have three categories of skins:
Mohair is a type of wool that comes from asian angora goats. It delivers an excellent traction, however, mohair skins are a little more fragile and worn out faster.
These skins are fully made of synthetic materials. They are very durable but they don’t glide as well as mohair skins.
Hybrid skins: mohair + synthetic
They are generally made with 70% of mohair and 30% of synthetic fiber. Hybrid skins intend to bridge the gap between full mohair and full synthetic skins as for performance or price.
II ) Climbing skins packaging:
Glisshop offers 2 kinds of climbing skins:
They are the skins made by ski manufacturers for their own models. The width is fixed, you need to cut them to adjust to ski length. The skin width needs to be picked according to the ski width.
These are universal skins, they can be used with any ski of any brand. They are available in different widths (100mm, 140mm...). and you have to adjust the length bufore trimming the sides until it adjusts perfectly to your ski’ sidecuts. You need a specific cutter (generally provided by manufacturer) and make it cut using the ski edge as a guide. These cutters are generally designed to cut the skin 2mm offset in order to let the metal edge of the ski out and not compromise the edge grip.
III) Climbing skins attach systems:
There are two main systems to put on your skins:
Metal or plastic loop
The skin is attached to the ski with a loop on the tip. The skin sticks to the ski base thanks to the glue that’s applied on it.
Tip loop and tail hook
The skin holds very well to the ski with this system. The only problem is that it is slightly heavier than other systems.
IV) Additional info
With touring becoming more and more popular, manufacturers do a lot of research and release climbing skins that deliver more performance, more lightweight, and more ease of use.
Most skin brands work with different skis. There are also ski manufacturers who offer skins that are already trimmed for their skis.
V) Glisshop recommendations:
- If you go in a tour, rather go for universal skins than for skins fitted to your specific skis. In case of a problem, it is easier to replace your skins with somebody else’s than finding these specific skins when you’re up a summit.
- Take care of your skins, try to avoid dust which can compromise the adhesive properties of the skin on the ski base. Once you’ve taken them off the ski, stick them together (sticky side to sticky side) and store them in a closed box. Contact with air dehydrate the skin and compromise the sticking properties.
- If you use standard skins, you might need to re-glue them after a few tours. There are skins using silicon instead of glue which offers a few plus: they’re easier to use, washable with water and more durable. No need to re-glue them.