Have you ever thought of going skiing with a skateboard? The idea itself is quite unsettling. Every sport requires specific tools and techniques. Skiing is no different. It’s a fascinating sport that rejuvenates the spirit of the young and old alike. To enjoy this amazing sport, you need to have the right tools. If you have any desire to ski in the backcountry or even cross-country ski, one such tool that you should be acquainted with is the ski-skin. Now, you might be wondering what is a ski skin?

Anyone who has been skiing knows just how hard it is to walk even slightly upward with skis on. Skis, by nature, are very slippery and are meant to propel you down the mountain. It is no wonder, then, that they are not very well suited for bringing you up a mountain. A ski skin helps to overcome this obstacle.

What Are Climbing Skins for Skiing?

A climbing skin is a fibrous material that is fastened to the underside of the ski. The material has grains that create resistance when you move in the opposite direction of the fibers. This is what enables the skier to climb upwards with ease. If you move in the direction of the fiber, it will slide, giving you better speed and momentum.

Ski-skins have been around for a long time. In the early days, people used to stick animal skins as ski-skins. It was usually the poor seal whose skin was utilized for this purpose because its tight grains served quite well. However, with the passage of time, people shifted from real animal skins to synthetic, fibrous materials that work the same way.

When to Use Ski-Skins 

Back-country skiers climb snowy, sloped mountains and then ski back down. Ski-skins are useful for the former part of the act, i.e. climbing the hill. You can affix the skin to the bottom of the ski and move against gravity, without slipping or sliding back. Once at your launch point, take your ski-skin off before sliding back down. A ski skin is used to provide upward traction. If we use it for a down-hill run, it can potentially ruin your experience due to high friction, which will make sliding quite difficult.

There is a little exception for short down-hills. If you think you can handle short downhills, then it’s better to not take your ski-skin off. It will be a waste of time, but it’ll definitely require some skill to ski with it. So, if you are an advanced skier, using a skin is certainly something you will want to consider. Another important use of ski-skin is when you have to drag a pull or sled up a hill.

Climbing Skin Buying Guide

If you plan to buy a ski-skin, there are a number of factors that you have to keep in mind, prior to actually buying one. We’ve laid out some important considerations to look for.

1.   Skin Material

You’ll find three different types of Climbing Skins based on their materials.

●     Nylon  

Nylon skins are tough, cheap, and they grip hard. They do not require much maintenance and can serve for a long time. They’re a great choice for beginners who aren’t quite skilled with steep terrains and need a comparatively slower movement to maintain balance. The lasting build quality of nylon ski skins makes them a little less sensitive to rocky and grassy patches on the terrain. Plus, it’s a recommended material for skiers planning to do a lot of climbing. Nylon performs exceptionally well in warm and wet conditions. One drawback is that they’re bulkier than mohair.

●     Mohair

If you want the best gliding experience possible, then mohair is a perfect choice. It’s lighter than nylon but is slightly more expensive. One drawback of this material is its delicateness. It isn’t as tough and durable as nylon and wears off quite easily. We recommend it to more skilled and experienced skiers.     

●     Mixed

You’ll also come across some climbing skins that are a mix of nylon and mohair. Their composition includes up to 65-70% mohair, and the rest is nylon. These offer the qualities of both materials i.e., durability, low weight, sufficient gliding and adequate gripping. They’re a good choice for skilled skiers who know all the right techniques and would appreciate a little more durability, along with better gliding and gripping ability. They’re not too expensive either.

2.    Climbing Skin Size

●     Width

 The most common ski-skin width is 80-145mm. For better grip, you’ll need a wider skin, which provides complete coverage. To find the maximum width of your ski, you need the dimension of its widest part, which usually is the tip. Subtract about 5-7mm, and the final value is the width of the skin that can provide you complete coverage. It’s secure to have a little wider skin, so you can trim it later if you want to. Wider skins, however, are more expensive than thinner skins.

●     Length

It’s better to cover as much ski as you can in terms of length. You can use a measuring tape to get the correct measurement of your ski. Some manufacturers provide a range of skin lengths, ranging from 162 cm up to 190 cm or more. If your ski length falls somewhere between any of these ranges, you can use the tail clip to adjust the extra length. For single length skins, you’ll need to trim them. Some manufacturers provide skins with the skis too. This enables you to get the exact skin size in terms of both length and width.

●     Tip Loop and Tail Clip

The tip loop and tail clip of a number of skins are compatible with a variety of skis. They’re important to secure the skin in place, in case the glue dries out. Some of the hardware is designed to fit only certain types of skis.

The Top Four Best Climbing Skins for Skis

The best climbing skin is one that fits your requirements. So before choosing one, it’s important to consider all the points discussed in the buying guide. They will help you get the right skin, based on the terrain, ski, and your skiing level. We’ve mentioned our top four picks from the market that are highly reliable. You can read through their descriptions, pros, and cons to find out if any of them meet your requirements.

1. Pomoca Race Pro 2.0 Review

This 100% pure mohair ski-skin offers the best gliding experience to alpine mountaineers and skimo racers. It’ as light as a feather at 0.4 lbs. saving you from having to carry extra weight around. Since this ski skin is mainly designed for racers, its width is also according to their needs, which is usually 59, 62, or 65 mm. The length is 155 cm, and it comes with a Top-Fix-Race tip attachment. For saving time and energy, Pomoca has utilized a very effective glue, which makes pulling the skin apart quite easy and quick.    

Racers require better gliding, which ultimately means less traction and weight. To reduce the weight of this climbing skin, Pomoca has eliminated the tail clip. It reduces the weight, as well as the time needed to adjust the skin. However, there is a chance that the skins come off your ski, due to cyclical warming and freezing. Along with all these great features, you’ll also get a carrying case with this ski-skin.

2. G3 Alpinist+ Universal Review

The G3 Alpinist+ is the perfect ski skin for beginners. It’s made up of pure nylon, and weighs around 1.6 lbs., which makes it a little bulkier. The nylon grants the ski-skin greater durability and traction. This climbing skin offers exceptional ease of use. It has a universal tip and tail attachment, which is swift and easy to adjust. It’s wide enough to fit a number of skis, with its dimensions of 100, 115, 130, 145mm. This width can provide full coverage to a beginner for better grip and traction. If you find it too wide for what you require, you can trim it according to your needs. 

Moreover, the skin comes in three length ranges: 150-166 cm, 172-188 cm and 183-199 cm. These length ranges are quite vast, which gives the buyer unlimited customizable options. The adhesive used for sticking the skin to the ski is highly reliable. There’s hardly any chance of it coming off during use. The tip attachment further enhances its performance by preventing the snow build-up between the ski and the skin. One thing to remember is that the durable nylon indeed offers a great grip, but it also makes it hard to glide.

3. Black Diamond Ascension STS Review

The Black Diamond Ascension STS is a durable nylon-made climbing skin, which is perfect for steep tracks that require better traction. The skin weighs about 1.6 lbs., which is plausible, based on the material used for it. Not only that, but nylon also grants this ski-skin amazing durability, enabling you to utilize it for a comparatively longer time.

Its width measures 110, 125 and 140 mm, which is suitable for a standard-sized ski. The adjustable tail clip offers 10 cm of length adjustability, making the skin compatible with a variety of lengths. The universal tip loop is compatible with various ski tips too. Moreover, you can trim the skin the way you want and have a perfectly customizable experience. The glue used is remarkably strong and leaves no chance of the skin coming off during use.  

4. Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide Review

The Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide is a mix of mohair and nylon, with a ratio of 70:30, which offers a perfect balance between gliding and gripping. The use of mohair in its construction grants it a good speed for gliding and nylon offers equally satisfactory traction. However, it might not be a good choice for beginners, based on its composition, which does not offer grip as strong as pure nylon.   

The combination ultimately reduces the weight to 1.1 lbs., which is not as light as pure mohair, but is neither as bulky as pure nylon skin. It is suitable for a ski with widths of 100, 110, 120, 130 and 140 mm. When it comes to length, the skin can fix a variety of skis with its Back-Fix system that features a pre-attached back-strap, compatible with all lengths. The front of the skin has a Click Lock, which is adjusted using 3 screws that fit almost every ski shape.    

The Pomoca cutter provided with the skin is efficient in customizing the skin according to your requirements, by trimming the sides or length. The glue is also quite sticky and can be relied upon for full-day coverage.    

Conclusion

There are tons of climbing skins on the market with a variety of features. The one thing that makes them best for you is that they completely fulfill your requirements. You can use our ski skin buying guide to check your requirements and match them to the products available.

The Pomoca Race Pro 2.0 is a great choice for racers. It’s specifically designed to fulfill their needs. The G3 Alpinist+ is a skin for beginners with its full coverage and better gripping capability. The Black Diamond Ascension ST is another great piece for beginners. For skilled skiers, however, we prefer the Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide.

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