Climbing Skins Maintenance and Glue Refresh

Climbing Skin Glue RefreshSkins Maintenance and Glue Refresh Tips

Climbing skin glue does not last forever. It gets dirty, becomes patchy and gets gooey. Glue problems can wreck an otherwise excellent day of skiing. But there are some climbing skin maintenance tips and tricks to help you avoid the full (dreaded) reglue project.

Refresh Climbing Skin Glue – Iron Your Skins

Climbing Skin Glue RefreshRetouching skin glue with a tube of Black Diamond Gold Label glue is a time-tested method of extending the life of climbing skins but often results in an uneven glue surface. In an e-mail exchange with Rick Lui (founding partner in the original Ascension Skins company and an expert on matters climbing skin related), Lui shared a climbing skin maintenance tip — reactivating old climbing skin glue with an iron. Basically, Lui suggests running an iron on medium heat over the glue surface to renew and redistribute old glue. Here’s how Lui describes the process:

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 clean, flat surface.
  3. Lightly place the iron on the glue surface. (alternatively, use a layer of parchment paper (not wax paper) or the original paper sheets that came with your skins – this helps keep your iron clean)
  4. Let skins cool before removing parchment (if used) and let the skins cure completely (at least 24 hours) before folding them glue to to glue.
    • Be careful not to push the glue around too much. Let the iron gently float across the surface leaving a “wet look.”
    • When 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, bring fresh glue to the surface and allow the glue molecules to spring back to their original (tacky) shape. 
    • Given lumpy glue, the ironing method will restore an even surface for better contact and adhesion.

Results

Intrigued with the idea, I gave the glue reactivation 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 patchy and so gooey that it left residue on the ski base. I was amazed at how well the iron took care of the problem. I was able to redistribute the glue and give it a fresh clean look. Lui cautions against pushing the glue around, but I found a little redistribution and removal helped my skins. Since that first glue refresh project, I have started adding a layer of parchment paper over the glue and ironing against the parchment. The iron still takes care of business, and the parchment keeps your iron clean.

I recommend heating the glue base multiple times with the iron set on medium heat. Keep the iron moving throughout the process, much like melting wax. Each pass improves the glue surface and ultimately renews the skin glue to functional form. The iron will bring back the shiny glue surface, eliminate bare spots and clumps plus help to push contaminants off to the side for easy removal.

Let Them Cure

The ironing process is far easier than a full re-glue and the results are good, but a good long cure time is important. First, let the skins cool to the touch before removing parchment (if used). Second, hang the skins in a safe place where they will be undisturbed for 24 hours before folding them glue to glue.

Professional Reglue Service

If your skins are truly beyond refreshing, we highly recommend using Big Sky Mountain Products professional reglue service. They strip and reglue using their in-house factory reglue tooling. The results are great. Read more about BSMP’s professional skin reglue service.

Read our climbing skin care and use tips
Read about Backcountry Repair Kits

Need new climbing skins? Check out which climbing skins we recommend:
BCA Hybrid Climbing Skins
G3 Minimist Climbing Skins
Big Sky Rover Climbing Skins

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