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backcountry ski and splitboard EQUIPMENT

CLIMBING SKIN TECHNOLOGY

HOW CLIMBING SKINS WORK

what'S a skin is made of

PLUSH

This is composed of directionally oriented fibers that allow a skin to slid forward but not back.

ADHESIVE

The temperature and water resistant glue that allows for temporary and repeated connection to a ski while climbing, and removal for descending.

CORD

This is the strong backing material that the plush is affixed to and the the glue is applied.

Diagram of climbing skin plush, cord, and adhesive.

Performance factors

GLIDE vs GRIP

This is a trade off. Increasing climbing ability will often decrease the glide of a climbing skin and visa versa.

ADHESION

This is the ability of the skin to stick in cold and/or wet environments while NOT leaving residue on the ski.

DURABILITY

This is determined mostly by quality materials  and weight (and user care).

GRIP VERSUS GLIDE

A number of factors determine how well a skin climbs, versus how well it glides. Obviously if you travel a lot of rolling undulating terrain, or you race Alpine Touring events, glide may be a more critical factor to you. If you just want to get up as much vertical as efficiently as you can, grip may be of more importance to you. Lets look at some factors that affect each:

 

FIBER STIFFNESS

Supple climbing skin fibers for more glide.
Stiff climbing skin fibers for more grip.

SUPPLE FIBER MORE GLIDE

STIFF FIBER MORE GRIP

In general a supple fiber (above left) has more glide than a stiffer fiber. A stiffer fiber will have more grip.

FIBER EXIT ANGLE

Climbing skins low fiber exit angle for more glide.
Climbing skins high fiber exit angle for less glide.

EXIT ANGLE LOW MORE GLIDE

EXIT ANGLE HIGH LESS GLIDE

Fibers that stand up straighter tend to have less glide then fibers that are oriented at an angle.

FIBER WEAVE PROCESS

Climbing skin fiber exit angle in weave for more consistent wear and durability.
Climbing skin fiber exit ironed in results in less durability and inconsistent performance.

EXIT ANGLE IN WEAVE

EXIT ANGLE IRONED IN

Fiber exit angle in a climbing skin is manufactured in two different ways. The best method (above left) is to weave the exit angle into the textile. This results in consistent grip/glide qualities over the life of the skin. The other method is to weave the fibers so they  exit the cord at a right angle, then "iron' them over to create the exit ankle. This method while cheaper, results in inconsistent grip/glide qualities over the life of the skin. Ironed fibers tend to want to rebound (due to fiber memory) back to their perpendicular orientation, reducing glide and causing snow to stick to the skin.

FIBER MATERIAL

Mohair is a natural fiber from goats. Nylon is produced through an industrial process. Mohair has  more glide but far less durability. Nylon has more durability and grip.

Mohair cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more glide and less grip.
Nylon cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more grip and less glide.

the big sky mountain products solution

At Big Sky Mountain Products we have taken a balanced approach to best meet our users needs. Our standard skins use a construction uses a material selection and fabrication that provide a balance of great grip with good glide.

OPTIMAL FIBER STIFFNESS

Our engineering  allows for a perfect stiffness to provide optimal glide and grip.

We engineer of fibers for the optimal stiffness providing the perfect balance of grip and glide.

OPTIMAL EXIT ANGLE

Our construction methods weave a low exit angle into our plush layer to provide mohair like glide with nylon grip.

We weave an optimal exit angle into our plush for performance and consistency.

QUALITY MATERIALS

Our plush is composed of engineered nylon fibers to provide the best balance of grip, glide, and durability.

Our fibers are engineered for a balance of grip, glide, and durability.

ADHESION

The glue used on climbing skins must meet several difficult demands. If you've ever tried to use duck tape in cold or wet you know what we mean. Climbing skin adhesive must work in temperature ranges between warm spring conditions all the way down to arctic temperatures. In addition they must stick on wet or dry skis and come off clean leaving no residue. Lets take a look at some of the key factors for an effective skin ski adhesive and the trade-off:

 

how well does it stick

How well a skin sticks to a ski, also known as peel strength, is a measure of the adhesives bond. This quality is evaluated by both peel strength and adhesion. Peel strength determines how well it will stick toy your skis. Cohesion refers to how well it sticks to itself. The factors we try and balance in adhesive design are:

PEEL STRENGTH TOO HIGH

Makes it difficult to remove.

PEEL STRENGTH TOO LOW

Won't stick to your ski or board.

COHESION TOO LOW

Leaves residue on ski.

COHESION CORRECT

Peels clean, no residue.

temperature range

This is the temperature range that the skin will remain bonded to the ski. Most skins target a working range of -30° F to 70° F. Below this range the skis will just fall off. Above this range the adhesive starts to leave a residue on the ski. Application temperatures are typically not as low as the adhesion temperature. In other words, a ski will 'stick' in colder temps than it can be applied. This is common to all skins.

 

the big sky mountain products solution

At Big Sky Mountain Products we have balanced the competing qualities that define an effective adhesive:

OPTIMAL PEEL STRENGTH

Our adhesive gives you  the optimal balance between stick and usability.

Optimal climbing skin adhesion.

WIDE TEMPERATURE RANGE

Big Sky skins stick to temperatures as low as -40° F and above 70° F  (if you find the need to tour in those temps).

 

Adhesive effective to 40 below.

BALANCED COHESION

Our skins stick well to your skis without leaving a residue, even in warmed temperatures.

Balanced cohesion, will not leave residue.

DURABILITY VS WEIGHT

The durability and weight of ski and snowboard climbing skins are competing factors. Typically a durable skin will be heavier, and a lightweight skin will not last as long. Which you need is determined by type of terrain and snow you tour in, whether you are a competitor, or if you prefer light weight over a long life span of your climbing skins.

LIGHT WEIGHT PROS

Less effort

Easy to handle and store

Fastest

 

LIGHT WEIGHT CONS

Shorter lifespan

Snow gets under them easier

 

DURABILITY PROS

Longer lifespan

Better in rough terrain

Stick better to ski

 

DURABILITY CONS

Heavier

Harder to handle and store

 

the big sky mountain products solution

To provide you with the product you need, we offer two models of skins: One is our lightweight race version, the other is our standard design:

LIGHTWEIGHT/RACE MODEL

We offer a lightweight design that will still having good durability, favors lightweight construction.

Our race skins are lighweight.

STANDARD MODEL

This model favors a slightly heavier construction that will deliver excellent durability and usability.

Our standard skins combine performance and durability.

QUALITY MATERIALS

We use nylon fibers in our skin construction. Our material is specifically designed to deliver near mohair glide performance while maintaining nylon grip and durability.

We use quality materials for durability and performance.

big sky mountain products

619 North Church Unit #3

Bozeman, MT 59715

406-404-1123

info@skiskinsonline.com

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Diagram of climbing skin plush, cord, and adhesive.
Mohair cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more glide and less grip.
Nylon cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more grip and less glide.

Our race skins are lighweight.
Our standard skins combine performance and durability.
Diagram of climbing skin plush, cord, and adhesive.
Mohair cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more glide and less grip.
Nylon cllimbing skin fibers typically provide more grip and less glide.

Adhesive effective to 40 below.

Our race skins are lighweight.
Our standard skins combine performance and durability.
We use quality materials for durability and performance.
Big Sky Mountain Products pineapple logo

backcountry ski and splitboard EQUIPMENT

Diagram of climbing skin plush, cord, and adhesive.

Our race skins are lighweight. Our standard skins combine performance and durability.