I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; climbing skins are one of the most underrated pieces of gear we use. Yet without skins, we can’t do what we do, climb up to ski down. Having used nearly every type of skin available over the years, I have a strong preference for skins that use a blend of mohair and synthetic nylon plush. The mo-mix blend offers a glide-biased balance for general ski touring. I also believe that G3 climbing skins feature the most reliable tip and tail connection systems available. And G3 has added a new twist to their skins with what they call a Scala tip – it’s a solid plastic section at the tip of the skin designed to reduce friction and snow creep under the skin. The new G3 Alpinist+ climbing skins match the best of G3’s tip and tail connections with your choice of skin plush and the new plastic Scala tip design. With two season’s on them, I can say they have stood up to numerous week-long hut trips, routine local day trips and my sometimes less than ideal handling and storage routines.
The Scala Tip
The Scala tip uses a short section of plastic at the tip in lieu of skin plush running to the tip. In addition to reduced friction, the Scala design is meant to help reduce snow creep under the climbing skin tip. I’ve had mixed results with reduced snow creep – when snow creeps under your skin and slowly spoils your glue. Though the snow creep issue continues, the G3 Alpinist+ climbing skin has performed very well. I’ve been testing the “Glide” model since March 2018. It features G3’s momix plush – a 70/30 mohair/synthetic blend. Moe importantly, all of the 2018-19 Alpinist skins also feature a new glue, which is proving reliable, and G3 says is environmentally friendly, too. The momix plush hits the sweet spot for balanced glide and grip performance. It routinely outglides my ski partners’ skins and has shown no lack of grip for average skin tracks.
Climbing Skin Grip
G3 offers an interesting graphic to represent the range of skin grip along the length of your ski base. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the skin grip comes from under the middle of your ski with grip engagement tapering toward the tip and tail. It makes sense, the bulk of your weight is also centered on the middle of the ski.
Grip, Glide and Ease of Use
Honestly, it’s difficult to quantify an increased performance from the G3 Scala tip design, but there are no real downsides either. It makes sense that it glides better, it’s just hard to really measure because the skin glides well anyway and any reduction in friction is modest. That said, over the course of a long day, every little bit of help counts. I also believe that G3’s tip and tail connections are the best available – secure, reliable and ever-so-easy to use.
Again, the momix “glide” blend is our preferred skin plush for all-purpose use. It’s a mohair/synthetic blend featuring 70% mohair and 30% synthetic. I’ve been super pleased with it’s performance in a wide range of temperatures. However, you can also choose full mohair “speed,” a full nylon “grip” edition or a “universal” version. You can generalize full mohair plush to offer the best glide, especially in cold snow conditions. However the smooth glide of mohair comes with some reduced grip. As for full synthetic plush, it offers the best all-around grip at the expense of some reduced glide.