Glueless Climbing Skins
I have been using a wide variety climbing skins the past couple of months. With skis getting fatter, a skin's glide is more important than ever. I have been using, Colltex Extremes (full mohair), G3 Alpinists (synthetic), Dynafit's inhouse skin (mohair blend), and a new glueless clipskin (synthetic) from Canadian designer/inventor Kaj Gyr.
I have seen some great results with all of these skins, but arguably the most unique is the glueless clipskin from Kaj Gyr. If you have been around the backcountry ski world for a while, you may roll your eyes with memories of the old, rubber snake-skins, but Gyr's clipskins are much closer to a modern glue type skin than they are the old snake-skins. The clipskins I took on a hut trip were one of Gyr's early prototypes, but I still had pretty solid results with the general concept. He has made a variety of refinements on the attachment and tail pieces since the pair I tried. My pair used some temporary tape and test glue solutions for attaching clips and tip bails, but the general concept was the same as the more recent versions.
The glueless clipskins use a standard synthetic skin material like we are all familiar with (and it has nice glide and climbing characteristics), but they utilize a new glueless backing material and small stainless clip system to attach to the ski. As a result, the skin is remarkably easy to attach and remove from the ski. Tip and tail connections are akin to the various systems on the market with a wire bail on the tip and a stainless clip on the tail. One of the big differences here is that Gyr's proprietary backing puts stretch into the skin itself so there is no elastic tail like a G3 or BD Ascension skin. The tail clip simply engages stretch in the skin and pulls the skin tight against the ski. The sides are held on with small stainless clips that grab the edge of the ski. The clips are small enough and dispersed along the skin enough that they do not interfere with the ski's edging properties, at least in non-extreme edging situations. The majority of my use was in soft snow, but I was surprised at how well the skins performed.
I have never had much trouble with my standard glue based climbing skins, but Gry's new glueless system is intriging and worked well in my prototype testing. He has been refining the trimming process as well as the clip attachment process this spring. He has a video describing the trimming and skin set-up steps here and a website dedicated to the clipskins. Below is a video of the clipskins in use. This was made back in late February using one of the early prototype pairs.
Interesting. I have never been one to complain about my glue skins either, but I like the idea of innovation and the simplicity of no glue. Are they available to the public yet?
You can become a beta tester at www.clipskins.com
What did you think of the alpinist from G3? Did you like the tip connection?
So, Is there a distinct advantage when using the glueless? Was it faster/easier to manage?