Climbing Skins Maintenance and Renewal

Climbing Skin Maintenance TipsClimbing Skin Maintenance and Glue Renewal

Climbing skin glue does not last forever. It gets dirty, it gets patchy and it can get gooey. All of these problems leave your climbing skins performing poorly, and there’s nothing like lame skin glue to wreck an otherwise excellent day of skiing. But there are some climbing skin maintenance tips to help you avoid the full re-glue project.

There are several ways to improve or renew the glue on your climbing skins: retouching with a tube of Black Diamond Gold Label glue and the dreaded full re-glue with iron-on sheets are probably the most common approaches.

In a recent e-mail exchange with Rick Lui at ClimbingSkinsDirect, Rick shared a climbing skin maintenance tip he offers in the FAQ section of his website – reactivating your old glue (Rick was a founding partner in the original Ascension Skins company and an expert on matters climbing skin related).

Basically, he suggests simply running an iron on medium heat directly over the glue surface to reactivate and renew your old glue. Here’s how Rick describes the process on

Reactivating the glue is easy to do with a waxing iron.

  1. Heat the iron to a medium heat.
  2. Clamp the skin firmly to a flat surface.
  3. Lightly place the iron on the glue surface. 
    • Be careful not to push the glue, but just let the iron gently float across the surface leaving a “wet look”. 
    • If the glue has a lot of water in it, you will see the glue “foam up” and sizzle as the water evaporates. 
    • If the glue has just lost it’s stickiness the melting will drive the contaminates into the glue, and bring fresh glue to the surface allowing the glue molecules to spring back to their original (tacky) shape. 
    • If the problem was just lumpy glue, this method will restore the surface for better contact and adhesion.

Intrigued with the idea and in need of some skins to fit my daughter’s skis, I thought I’d give it a try on a pair of skins that I’d previously given up on as in need of a full re-glue. The old glue was lumpy, dirty and gooey. I was amazed at how well the iron took care of the problem. I was able to redistribute the glue evenly. Rick does caution against pushing the glue around, but I found a little redistribution and removal helped my skins dramatically.

The process was far easier than a full re-glue and the results were good. I heated the glue base multiple times with the iron set on medium heat. Each pass improved the glue surface and ultimately renewed the skins to functional form. The iron brought back the shiny glue surface, eliminated all bare spots and clumps and helped to push contaminants off to the side for easy removal. I let them cure for 24 hours and the skins are back in action. The process can be combined with adding areas of new glue with a tube of gold label adhesive – the combination of iron and glue in a tube lets you return your skins to full coverage without having to fully remove old glue and start from scratch. I highly recommend this process before undertaking a full re-glue!

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