Climbing skins are a key component to a backcountry ski set up. Whether it’s on the steeps, side hill or flats, you want your skins to perform so you can confidently get to that backcountry powder stash. This month I’ve been testing out skins from www.climbingskinsdirect.com and they’ve totally up’d my backcountry game.
In our last post showing how we cut the skins, Jebb wrote about the Michael Jackson moonwalk backwards down the hill. This was happening to me all too often using skins that were too skinny for my 146-110-134 RAMP Peace Pipes. I was new to having a backcountry set-up and I began to realize that my skinning experiences were so much harder than they had to be. With these new skins, I truly enjoyed the uphill portion almost as much as the downhill.
I ordered the 145 mm width skin to fit my 146-110-134 ski. As I read on their site, it was fine to order the width slightly skinnier than my tip width, as you want about an 1/8 inch uncovered on each side of the ski. Also the most important part to have full coverage is at the waist of the ski and underfoot. The skins were definitely long enough to be used for up to 200 cm ski. The skins come in four widths, 110,115,130 and 145 mm.
I chose the Universal Skin. Climbing skin direct has three options: Universal, Tips and Tail, or Simple skins. The Universal has a tip stretcher (with a lifetime gaurantee) and a tail bar that fits over most skis. The Tips and Tail kit is for the “rare wide notched ski” that won’t fit their universal kit. The Simple skins kit uses only the tip bar to keep the set up simple and light weight. For my skis I chose the universal skin kit with a 70 mm ring bar however, it also comes in 50mm. I’m happy with my selection and now that I’ve gotten the hang of putting them on find the tips and tails to be both secure and easy to put on and remove.
The Pattern The skins come in Nordic and Chipmunk. Nordic looks like your favorite winter sweater, chipmunk looks like a skinned chipmunk. I love the Nordic pattern and everywhere I go, it gets complimented!
The skins have a good glide due to their plush acrylic fabric. I’ve found the adhesive to be both powerful and easy to pull off the ski. I am able to pull the skins apart (when folded over) on my own, though it takes some time. I’ve found its easier to have a friend help, but as I said not impossible to do myself. The skins are supple enough to fold over on themselves and pack away at the top of the run.
I have not yet tested these in cold temperatures. So far I’ve tested on a warm afternoon in the 40s and some earlier day tours around 32 degrees. I will have to update next winter when the temperature a drop again.
Climbing skins direct sells directly to the consumer and uses minimalist packaging which saves you money. Basically the skins arrived in a Priority Mail envelope with a small bag of tools and instructions. Most of the skins are $20 off for the spring, so you can get an even better deal. I am definitely happy to report that these are high quality skins with great value.