Climbing Skin Care Tips
Dysfunctional climbing skins are frustrating and can put an early end to your ski tour. Fortunately, most issues can be overcome in the field or, better yet, eliminated completely through proper skin care and use. The following climbing skin care tips will help keep your skins doing what they do best, going uphill.
1. Dry/clean skin glue is happy skin glue. Keep the glue side of your skins out of the snow, dirt and carpets.
2. If your glue becomes covered with snow, you can clean them by running the glue side of the skin across the edge of your ski. Hold one end of the skin in each hand and pull it across the ski edge (ski standing upright).
3. Extreme cold requires extra effort to keep skins sticking to your skis. When the temp is consistently below -15 C / 0 F, keep skins warm on the descent by stuffing them between your jacket layers to keep glue working and reduce ice/snow buildup.
4. Maintenance is the key to keeping your skins functioning properly all day. Normally, it is the tips or tails of the skin that first develop snow buildup. Check your skins during transitions and clean snow from the glue as needed before the buildup becomes a problem. If the glue becomes iced to the point that the skin fails, scrape snow/ice off as described in #2 and stuff your skins inside your jacket layers for the descent to help melt any remaining snow/ice as described in #3.
5. Given significant glue problems, a few wraps of athletic tape (or a Voile strap) around the skin and ski can work wonders for getting you home or back to the trailhead. At the risk of sounding ik a broken record, stuffing skins between jacket layers to warm them up often serves to revive the glue.
6. Dry skin plush is happy skin plush. In wet snow conditions and on warm spring tours, skins can absorb water causing snow to clump on the plush. Treat your skins with skin wax like BD Glop Stopper (apply in the field), or use a skin-specific waterproofing treatment like Nikwax Ski Skin Care (apply the night before). Consider doing this at the start of each season or before a week-long trip as a preventative step.
7. Always hang and dry skins at the end of a ski day. Be sure to hang them in a dust free area and away from direct heat. Pet hair, pine needles, dirt and hot wood stoves will shorten the life of your skin glue. If drying skins near a direct heat source, take them down as soon as they are dry and put them away. This will extend glue life.
8. Store your skins properly between use. Proper storage means folded glue to glue and tucked into their bag. For longer term storage–more than a couple of days–use the glue saver or cheat sheets that now come standard with many brands and store your skins in a cool, dry place away from direct heat.
9. Skins climb best if they run almost edge to edge, often called wall-to-wall carpeting. However, it is important to leave at least the width of your edge exposed to allow for edging in firm snow conditions. With today’s wide skis, you can get away with wall-to-wall underfoot and less width in the tip and tail. A general guideline for buying skins is to purchase skins that are approximately 10mm narrower than your tip dimensions. Trim the skins to reveal at least the width of your metal edge, if not twice the width.