backcountry ski and splitboard EQUIPMENT
HOW CLIMBING SKINS WORK
what'S a skin is made of
This is composed of directionally oriented fibers that allow a skin to slid forward but not back.
The temperature and water resistant glue that allows for temporary and repeated connection to a ski while climbing, and removal for descending.
This is the strong backing material that the plush is affixed to and the the glue is applied.
GLIDE vs GRIP
This is a trade off. Increasing climbing ability will often decrease the glide of a climbing skin and visa versa.
This is the ability of the skin to stick in cold and/or wet environments while NOT leaving residue on the ski.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
OPTIMAL EXIT ANGLE
Our construction methods weave a low exit angle into our plush layer to provide mohair like glide with nylon grip.
Our plush is composed of engineered nylon fibers to provide the best balance of grip, glide, and durability.
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.
Peels clean, no residue.
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.
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.
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).
Our skins stick well to your skis without leaving a residue, even in warmed temperatures.
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
Easy to handle and store
LIGHT WEIGHT CONS
Snow gets under them easier
Better in rough terrain
Stick better to ski
Harder to handle and store
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:
We offer a lightweight design that will still having good durability, favors lightweight construction.
This model favors a slightly heavier construction that will deliver excellent durability and usability.
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.
backcountry ski and splitboard EQUIPMENT