Backcountry skiing is an immensely popular sport among people who love adventure and are intrigued by the snow-covered slopes of the mountain. Other than the skis, the most important equipment you need for backcountry skiing is climbing skins.
These narrow pieces of fabric made up of animal (mohair) or synthetic fibers assist you to move forward uphill while blocking backward movement, thus giving you the grip you need to move ahead in the thick snow.
Therefore, you need to choose the best climbing skins for your skis that will let you slide through the icy slopes with minimal effort.
While this may seem tough due to the sheer number of climbing skins available in the market, here we have tried to make your task easier. In this article, we have listed down some of the top climbing skins and provided a review of their performance. Read on to know more!
Top 9 Best Climbing Skins 2021
If you want a climbing skin that is super durable and comes at a very budget-friendly price, we have just the one for you. The Black Diamond Ascension is one of our top picks for the best climbing skins at an affordable range.
A great product from the house of Black Diamond, a brand well known for its high-quality climbing gear, the Ascension climbing skins are built to last. Once attached to your skis, rest assured that you can go on for hundreds of climbs without changing the skins at all!
It provides a great grip for climbing uphill, which allows you enhanced control while climbing the steepest of terrain. The only downside of this is that you find its performance less than satisfactory in terms of the glide, which may be an issue while moving downhill.
The material of the skin is nylon, which is the reason behind its awesome grip and long life. The glue that comes with it has the right stickiness needed to remain attached with your ski, without any trouble of falling off.
The skin fabric is quite stiff, which makes it easier for the skin to remain attached to the base of your ski. The adjustable tip and tail attachments also ensure that it can be fastened easily. The Ascension comes in the fixed lengths of 157-168 cm, 163-174 cm, 169-180 cm, 175-186 cm, and 181-192 cm.
In short, the Black Diamond Ascension is a great investment for beginners looking for a superior quality climbing skin at a very affordable price. And the best part is that it will probably last for years without any issues!
- Full-nylon skin
- Great grip
- Glide is not as good.
- Comparatively bulky
All climbers engaging in backcountry skiing are aware that it is virtually impossible to find a climbing skin that excels in both grip and glide. That said, it is not as difficult to find one that offers a great balance of the same.
The POMOCA Climb Pro S-Glide Climbing Skins is among the best climbing skins you can find that provides a perfect combination of both grip and glide.
The skin is made of a blended material combining 70% mohair and 30% nylon, making it great for all-around skiing. The best thing about this skin from Pomoca is the way it can glide through the snow!
It is treated through an exclusive process that increases its glide power, saving you a lot of effort during movement, especially on a downward slope. Again, although it does not provide the best grip among the climbing skins available in the market, it provides you enough to meet your climbing needs!
The skin fabric is adequately stiff, which gives you the right amount of stickiness when combined with its adhesive. This ensures that attaching as well as removing it from the base of your ski is a relatively easy process.
To add to all these, this climbing skin comes with a unique waterproof membrane that keeps it safe from the moisture of the snow. This also makes it less prone to wear and tear.
The Climb Pro S-Glide has just the right amount of grip and glide, making it one of the best choices available in the market. Also, it comes with an adjustable loop that fits well with almost any type of skis.
- Has great glide
- Sufficient grip
- 70% mohair-30% nylon blended material
- Blended fabric can wear out faster.
The Black Diamond Ultralite Mix STS Climbing Skins is among the best climbing skins that provide a balance between grip and glide. It is the perfect product for you if you are looking for a compact and light model with a decent performance.
It is uniquely designed, making it 20% lighter with improved packability. The fabric consists of a mix of 65% mohair with 35% nylon, thus providing efficient grip and glide.
While the Ultralite Mix STS provides a good amount of grip, it is best suited for the needs of intermediate and advanced climbers. Beginners may find the grip a bit less than their needs. The skins glide efficiently, too, thus saving your energy during climbs.
The fabric is lightweight and flexible, which makes it slightly more prone to peeling away from the base of the ski as compared to stiffer fabrics. But the excellent glue of Black Diamond ensures that this doesn’t create much of an issue.
The skins score high on packability; it can be easily folded and carried in your pockets without taking up much space. The Dynex and aluminum tip loops are lightweight and replaceable and fit easily on a number of different skis. It also comes with a patented STS tail, which provides a length adjustment of up to 10 cm.
The Black Diamond Ultralite Mix STS is among the best options if you are a climber who doesn’t want to be pulled down by bulky climbing skins.
- Blended material (65% mohair and 35% nylon)
- Excellent glue
- Is not as durable as all-nylon skins
Are you searching for the best climbing skins that won’t disappoint you with their performance even on the steepest of slopes? The G3 Alpinist Plus Grip Climbing Skins is just the one you need! It comes with a great grip that can help you conquer the most slippery ice with comparative ease.
The primary material is nylon, which gives it the dependable grip it boasts of. Now you can bid adieu to backward sliding during upward ascents while you engage in backcountry skiing! Also, along with providing high traction, the nylon material is super durable as well!
It features a refined non-toxic adhesive from G3 that sticks perfectly to your skis without much chance of coming off during ascents. The durability is increased due to the stiffness of the tip attachment, which ensures that there is minimal snow creep under the skins.
The tip attachment is self-aligning and easily fits a variety of different ski sizes. The tail attachment consists of a camming clip and an adjustable strap. The tail strap makes it easier to rip the skins off your skis when needed.
The skins are available in a variety of lengths, starting from extra-small up to large size, so you can find the perfect one for your skis easily!
The G3 Alpinist Plus Grip Climbing Skins comes with skin savers to help in storing the skins when not in use. A trim tool is also provided, which helps in the easy cutting of the skins to ensure the best fit on the base of your skis.
- Great grip
- Durable nylon material
- Excellent glue
- Glide is comparatively less.
How great could it be if you could get a skin already customized to fit your ski? Yes, that is possible! The Dynafit Speedskin Blacklight 88 Climbing Skin is the best climbing skin that you can get, provided you own the Dynafit Blacklight 88 skis.
The best thing is that you do not need to trim the skins to match your skis; it is made to be a perfect fit! The material is a blend of 70% mohair and 30% nylon, so you get an awesome grip and glide too.
It features a special waterproof membrane in the middle, which increases the life of the adhesive by repelling water and snow buildup under the skin. The special membrane also does away with the need for sealing the edges of the skins, making them very resistant to wear and tear.
The Dynafit tensioning system ensures a perfect connection between the ski tip and the skin. As a result, the skin remains as closely attached to the base as possible. Therefore, you have no more trouble with ice-penetrating between the base of the ski and the skins!
The skins can be folded easily, making it easier for storing and carrying. It comes with an efficient glue, which provides long-lasting stickiness.
In short, the Dynafit Speedskin Blacklight 88 Climbing Skin is the best choice if you have a compatible ski. It is a perfect combination of comfort, safety, and performance, that too at a reasonable price!
- Durable and tear-resistant
- Special waterproof membrane
- 70% mohair and 30% nylon blend
- Made only to fit some specific skis
The Fischer Easy Skin 50 XC Ski Skin is among the best climbing skins you can get for your Fischer skis! It features a blend of mohair and synthetic material, which gives you the perfect combination of fluidity and traction.
The skins are extremely lightweight, which makes them easy to carry and store after use. They also take up less space in your backpacks. To make their storage easier, they come with a stylish zip pouch too.
The blended fiber ensures that the skins score high on the grip, which makes it one of the best skins for ascending on slippery snow. The glide is not as great but is just enough to not be a hindrance.
The skins are designed such that they can be attached very easily with all the compatible skis. It comes with a clip that is fixed to a hole at the front of the Fischer ski, and thereafter you just need to stick it to the base for a perfect fit. Similarly, their removal is also very simple; all you need is to reverse the procedure.
All in all, this is a dependable set of skins that feature an uncomplicated process of attachment and removal, which is great for saving you both time and effort.
- Mohair-nylon blend
- Great grip
- Compatible with a few select Fischer skis
- Has limited glide
Another product from the same brand, the Fischer Easy Skin 65 XC Ski Skins, is similar to the Fischer Easy Skin 50 XC in most of their aspects. The difference between the two lies in their width. This product is more suitable for wider skis as compared to the previous one.
The mixed material consisting of mohair and nylon fibers provide a blend of great grip with a reasonable amount of glide. It is a perfect companion for all your backcountry skiing adventures.
The grip is enough to make all your ascents easy and comfortable, even on slippery snow. On the downside, it does not provide the best glide, but just enough to not pose as much of a problem.
The skins are easily foldable and compact, so storing them away is not an issue. Also, the material ensures that it is lightweight, making it easier to carry even for long durations. You don’t need to worry about where to store it when not in use, as it comes with a zipped storage pouch too!
One of the most remarkable features of the Fischer Easy Skin models is the uncomplicated attachment and removal process. There are two steps for attaching the skin to your skis – you just need to clip it to the front of the ski and then stick the skin fabric to the ski base by smoothing it over with your hands. The simple process will help save your precious time during climbs!
Undoubtedly, the Fischer Easy Skin 65 XC is one of the best climbing skins you can own. And the best thing is that it comes at a very reasonable price.
- Mohair-nylon blend
- Has great grip
- Compatible with a few select Fischer ski models
- Glide is not as great.
The most efficient climbing skin provides the best possible combination of grip and glide, usually through blending different materials together. This is just the case with the Black Diamond GlideLite Mohair Mix STS Skin, which combines natural mohair with synthetic fibers to create a product perfect for your needs!
The skin is made of a combination of 65% mohair and 35% nylon. This ensures that you get the right grip on the slippery snow, as well as a good amount of glide for ease of movement.
Black Diamond uses excellent glue in all of its climbing skins, and the Glidelite Mohair Mix is not an exception. The only drawback is the softer material, which sticks less efficiently to the ski base than stiffer skins. But despite that, the skin sticks well enough to meet your general skiing requirements.
Also, these skins are easy to pack and carry due to their lightweight and comparatively softer material. Combining all these features, these climbing skins from Black Diamond emerge as one of the top contenders for the best climbing skins at its price range.
And last but not least, it features an adjustable tip attachment, which can fit almost all types of skis! The Black Diamond GlideLite Mohair Mix STS Skin is, without doubt, one of the finest choices that you can opt for to satisfy your adventurous soul!
- Reasonable price
- Good grip
- Universal compatibility
- It is not as long-lasting
- Can be prone to peeling
Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Climbing Skins
The base of the skis is somewhat slippery in general, and climbing skins are used to ensure that you get a non-slip grip while climbing upward slopes. When choosing a climbing skin, you need to ensure that it meets all the requirements for a satisfactory climbing experience.
Beginners, in particular, can face more trouble in choosing the best climbing skins because they might be unaware of the different aspects on which to judge the products.
To help you make the right choice, we have noted down some of the important factors that you need to keep in mind while choosing the right climbing skin. Take a look to know more!
The most important factor that you need to consider while choosing the best climbing skins is its grip. Snow is slippery; thus, one tends to slip down easily when climbing upwards while skiing. A climbing skin is a piece of fabric that is stuck or attached to the base of the ski to prevent the climber from slipping.
Along with making climbing easier, a climbing skin with a good grip also helps save your energy. The fibers on the outer surface of the skin are designed to resist backward movement, thus providing you with the control you need on steeper slopes.
The amount of grip depends on the material that goes into making the fabric of the skin, as well as the length of its fibers. While choosing a climbing skin, you should be aware of the terrain you intend to climb, to make the best choice.
For example, if you are going to climb very steep slopes, you will need a climbing skin with an excellent grip. On lesser slopes, a climbing skin with a moderate grip will be adequate.
Also, since beginners have less control over their movements compared to intermediate and advanced skiers, a grippier climbing skin is the best option to go for.
The second feature to look for while choosing the best climbing skins is its glide. Skins with a better glide facilitate a smoother movement forward.
As a general rule, the glide of a climbing skin is inversely proportional to its grip. To simplify, a skin with a greater grip will have less glide, and vice versa. As with the grip, the amount of glide also depends on the material and the length of the fibers of the skin.
A greater glide ensures easy movement on flatter or downward slope with minimal effort. This keeps you from draining out all your energy.
Also, having a better glide means that you don’t need to lift your skis off from the snow in order to slide them forward instead of pushing them on the snow. So it helps you maintain the right technique of movement while also adding to the speed.
3. Weight And Packability
While choosing the best climbing skins, you need to take into account their weight and packability. It is easier to take off the skins from the base of the skis during longer descents, and thus you need to ensure that the rolled-up skins won’t be too bulky or take up too much space.
Compact skins are preferable because they take up less space in your backpack and can also easily fit in the pocket of a jacket. The weight of thinner and compact skins is generally lesser, too, making them easier to carry.
But at the same time, although stiffer materials are bulkier compared to lighter and more flexible materials, they are more durable and stick better to the skis than the latter. Therefore you need to check all the features to ensure that the skins meet your requirements before making your choice.
The durability of a climbing skin depends on a variety of factors. Synthetic or mixed fabrics generally last longer than mohair skins, although it depends to some extent on the length and density of the fibers.
The material of the tip and tail attachment mechanisms also contributes to the overall durability of the skins. Additionally, the strength and stickiness of the adhesive is also a crucial factor in determining the life of the climbing skin.
So, in order to select the best climbing skins, you should check all their constituent parts for durability and efficiency.
Compatibility is the most crucial factor for selection. The skin you buy will not be of any use if it is not compatible with your ski.
Generally, most skins can be adjusted to the optimum size for the base of your ski by trimming the sides. Many come with a trimming tool, too, to make your task easier. Also, a lot of climbing skins feature tail and tip attachments, which can be altered to fit the shape and size of your ski.
But there are also a number of climbing skins that are custom-made to fit some specific models or brands of skis. Being made for a specific size or shape, they will not fit with other types of skis.
Therefore, while choosing the best climbing skins, make sure that you check whether it is compatible with the model of the ski that you own.
Also, climbing skins come in different lengths and widths. Even the same model of climbing skin can have variable sizes to cater to different skis. While the width of the skis can be narrowed to fit the shape of your ski through trimming, the same is not true for the length.
The length of climbing skins is usually mentioned in a range. To ensure that the particular skin will fit, you need to check whether the length of your ski falls within the range mentioned for the product. Most brands manufacture skins in multiple size ranges, so it is not difficult to find the right size.
Different Types Of Climbing Skins
The first types of climbing skins were made of animal skins, but they are not used in modern times. In the present day, there are 3 types of climbing skins based on the material of the fabric. These include nylon, mohair, and mixed skins.
Synthetic or nylon skins are the best choice if you are looking for very affordable climbing skins. It is the most inexpensive of the three. The advantage of using this material is that nylon fibers are generally shorter, which provides a greater grip during climbs. Nylon skins are also the most durable, which makes them the preferred choice for many.
On the downside, nylon skins have less glide than mohair and mixed fabrics. These are also bulky and heavier than the other types, making them difficult to carry around and store. Nylon skins are the most efficient for climbing very steep slopes due to the superb grip they provide.
Mohair is made from the hair of the Angora goat, and being a luxury fiber, it is the most expensive material for climbing skins. Skins made of mohair glide exceptionally well but do not provide the best grip for uphill movement.
They are very lightweight and compact and can easily fit within a small space for storage. But, these are not very durable and tend to wear out with faster use. Skins made up of 100% mohair are not suitable for very steep terrain due to the narrow grip. But it works fine for moderately steep slopes.
Mixed or blended climbing skins are made of a combination of the above two fibers and aim to combine all the advantages of these. These are very popular among backcountry skiers. These provide a middle ground in terms of grip, glide, heaviness, price, and durability.
These combine the grip of nylon with the glide of mohair, thus increasing the number of options for climbers. The amount of grip and glide depends on the ratio in which the two fibers are used.
Mixed fiber skins score decently in durability – they are less durable than synthetic skins but last longer than pure mohair ones. Also, they are more compact and weigh less than nylon skins.
There is another type of climbing skin that has been launched by Fischer. Known as the ProFoil climbing skins, these feature a scaly plastic outer surface, which glides well as mixed or full-nylon skins. Also, it has an adequate grip and is also water-resistant.
Other than the material, climbing skins can also be differentiated on the basis of the adhesives they use. Nowadays, there are mainly two types of climbing skins in this regard – those that use glue and those using a silicone-based alternative, although the former is comparatively more popular.
The Right Way To Store Your Climbing Skins
Climbing skins are an essential piece of gear that you require for uphill movement, but keeping them on while descending can make it seem tougher. The best way to store them after removing them from the base of your ski is to fold them in half and roll it together. You can put the rolled-up skin in your backpack or pocket.
You need to dry the skins after use before storing them away to ensure that they last longer. Drying your skins are easy – just hang them up until they are dry. But you need to ensure that you keep them away from any source of direct heat; otherwise, it can affect the stickiness of the glue.
When storing for longer periods, for example, during summer, when you do not need them, roll them up securely and then store them. Make sure to use skin savers before keeping them away. This will ensure that the glue stays protected and the skin is easy to unroll when you need it next.
Climbing skins should always be stored in a clean, dry, and dark place when not in use.
How To Maintain Your Climbing Skins
Choosing the best climbing skins might be tough; maintaining them can seem tougher. But, by following a few simple tips, you can ensure that your climbing skins have a longer life.
- Firstly, make sure that the base of your skis is free from all residue (including snow or ice) before attaching the climbing skin. This will ensure that the skin sticks perfectly to the base and also prolong the lifespan of the glue.
- Remove the skins from your skis when not in use. Keeping them stuck can spoil both the ski and the skins. Also, exposure to air for longer durations can reduce the efficiency of the glue. So, it is preferable to use a plastic bag for storage to avoid it.
- Sticking or folding the skins together on the side containing the glue is not recommended without using the protective skin savers provided for the task. Trying to pry open them can be difficult and also leave the skins unsuitable for use.
- Climbing skins tend to freeze in extremely cold weather. In order to avoid this, you can try keeping it close to your body by putting it inside the pocket of your jacket to keep it warm. Also, keep them away from contact with heat-producing sources such as campfires to prevent the glue from drying up.
- In case the glue loses its stickiness, you can change the glue by applying a new layer. For this, first, obliterate the previous layer from the skin. Then you need to warm up the new one and apply the glue on your skin before leaving it to set till dry.
Best Climbing Skins – Conclusion
While choosing the best climbing skins can be a tough task, the perfect one can help make your climb much easier. The chosen skin needs to fit with the size and type of your skis and also with the inclination of the terrain.
Although it may be confusing to choose that one climbing skin that ticks all the right boxes, we have tried to make your task easier by providing an elaborate description of some of the best climbing skins available in the market, along with all their pros and cons.
We recommend that you go through the products mentioned in this guide in order to identify the perfect climbing skin that meets your requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions on Climbing Skins
Q1. What Are The Best Climbing Skins?
Climbing skins are pieces of fabric with fibers on the outer side designed to prevent backward sliding on the snow. The right climbing skins vary according to the needs of the climber and the slope of the terrain.
If you want to climb very steep slopes, you will need a skin that has a great grip. Skins made of synthetic fibers such as nylon are the best choice as they offer the best grip on slippery ice. Some of the best climbing skins you can opt for include the Black Diamond Ascension and the G3 Alpinist Plus Grip.
If you are looking for a climbing skin that features a good balance between grip and glide, you should go for the products ade of blended material. These consist of a mix of mohair and synthetic fibers.
The Black Diamond GlideLite Mohair Mix STS Skin, Dynafit Speedskin Blacklight 88 Climbing Skin, and the POMOCA Climb Pro S-Glide Climbing Skins are some of the top choices in this category that you can look at.
Q2. How Do I Choose Climbing Skin?
A climbing skin needs to fit perfectly with your ski in order to do its job. Therefore, you need to compare the length and width of your ski with the climbing skin to ensure that you buy the right one.
The width of the skin has to be narrower than the width of the tip of your ski. Choosing a skin whose width is around 5 mm less than the ski tip is the most preferable, but it will work fine even if it is a bit less than that too. The skins are adjustable in width, so you can trim them as per the shape of your skis.
The length, on the other hand, cannot be adjusted. Most skins mention the range of ski lengths that are suitable for a particular product, and you need to check the size in order to choose the one that will fit perfectly.
That said, some brands also manufacture climbing skins that are cut according to the size of a particular model of a ski. And if you are the owner of one such ski, all you need to do is to buy the custom-made climbing skin, and you are all ready to go!
Q3. How Do You Use Climbing Skins?
Climbing skins are used to provide more traction during ascent on snow-covered slopes. These are attached to the base of the ski and secured with the tail and tip attachments to provide the needed grip for steeper climbs.
The skins can be removed by peeling them off from the ski and should be folded before storing them away. Also, ensure that the skins are completely dry before storing them to increase their lifespan.
Q4. How Long Do Climbing Skins Last?
The life of a climbing skin mainly depends on the type of material that makes up the fabric. Pure nylon skins last the longest, while full-mohair ones have the shortest lifespan. Mixed fabrics stand somewhere in between, depending on the blending ratio.
Other than this, the material used in the tail and tip attachments and the type and stickiness of the glue also play a role in the durability of a climbing skin. The life of the climbing skins is also dependent on their usage, storage, and maintenance.
So while there is no such fixed duration of time that your climbing skin is bound to last, you can extend its lifespan by following the proper usage guidelines and storing them appropriately when not in use.
Q5. How Do You Install Climbing Skins?
Correctly attaching the climbing skin to your skis is crucial for having the best skiing experience. And worry not, it is easier than you think!
Assuming that you have got the right size of climbing skins as per your ski, attaching it with the base of the ski will not be an issue. Firstly, you need to fasten or clip the tip attachment of the skin with the tip of your ski so that it fits perfectly.
After this, you need to spread the skin over the length of the base of the ski. Smoothen it over with your hands to ensure that the glue sticks well. If you are using a new skin, you will need to trim it according to the shape of the ski.
Lastly, you have to clip the tail attachment with the tail-end of the ski, while ensuring the skin is stretched tight across the ski. That’s all, you are now ready to climb up the snowy slopes!
Q6. How Do You Remove Skins From Skis?
Knowing the correct way to remove the climbing skins from the base of your skis is as important as knowing the way to attach them in the first place. The process is quite simple as well; you only need to do the reverse of what you did while attaching it.
Firstly, take off the skis and flip them so that the base faces upwards. Start with detaching the tail attachment of the skin from the tail-end and peel it off the length of the ski. Unfasten the tip attachment in front, and the skin is ready for storage.
Also, some skins come with an easy-removal mechanism, which makes it possible to remove the skin without taking off the skis.