Climbing Skins - Care Tips
Dysfunctional climbing skins are frustrating but most issues can be overcome in the field or, better yet, eliminated completely with 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 skin glue is happy skin glue. Keep the glue side of your skins out of the snow and dirt.
2. If your glue becomes covered with snow, you can clean them off 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. Maintenance is the key to keeping your skins functioning well all day. Normally, it is the tips or tails of the skin that first develop snow buildup. Check your skins during transitions, and clean any snow from the glue as needed before the buildup becomes a problem. If the glue becomes iced to the point that it fails, scrape as described above and stuff skins inside your jacket or base layers for the descent.
4. Given significant glue problems, a few wraps of athletic tape (or a Voile strap) around the skin and ski can work wonders for keeping your skins working until you get home.
5. Dry skin plush is happy skin plush. In wet snow conditions and 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 BD's Free Glide Skin Care (apply the night before). Consider doing this at the start of each season as a preventative step.
6. Always hang and dry skins at the end of the 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.
7. Store your skins between trips folded glue to glue and tucked into their bag. For long term storage, use the glue saver or cheat sheets that now come standard with many brands, and store them in a cool dry place away from direct heat.
8. 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 so 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.
next up - restoring your glue without the dreaded full re-glue
The glue saver sheets are great for maintaining glue life during longterm storage. I wrecked a pair of skins by leaving them in my garage all summer stuck glue to glue.
I've seen guys stitch a ripped skin with dental floss with good results, but I don't have any personal experience.
Not everyone has a basement.
Glue saver sheets work great.
Glue saver sheets in the field make sense. This is because it is difficult for some folks to rip skins when folded glue to glue surface.