Climbing Skin Maintenance and Glue Refresh
Climbing skin glue does not last forever. It gets dirty, becomes patchy and gets gooey. All of these problems can leave your climbing skins performing poorly, and there’s nothing like bad skin glue to wreck an otherwise excellent day of skiing. But there are some climbing skin maintenance and refresh tips to help you avoid the full (dreaded) re-glue project.
Refresh Skin Glue – Iron Your Skins
Retouching 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 – reactivate your old climbing skin glue with an iron. Basically, Lui suggests simply 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.
- Heat the iron to a medium heat.
- Clamp the skin firmly to a clean, flat surface.
- Lightly place the iron on the glue surface. (an alternative to the iron directly on the glue is to 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)
- Let skins cool before removing parchment if usesd and then let skins cure completely (at least 24 hours) before folding glue to to glue.
- 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, I gave the iron 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 evenly redistribute the glue. Lui does caution against pushing the glue around, but I found a little redistribution and removal helped my skins dramatically. Since that first glue refresh project, I have started adding a layer of parchment paper (NOT wax paper) over the glue and ironing against the parchment. The iron still takes care of buisiness, and the parchment keeps your iron clean!
The ironing process is far easier than a full re-glue and the results are good. I recommend heating the glue base multiple times with the iron set on medium heat – and keep the iron moving throughout the process, much like melting wax. Each pass improves the glue surface and ultimately renews the skins to functional form. The iron will bring back the shiny glue surface, eliminated bare spots and clumps plus help to push contaminants off to the side for easy removal.
Let Them Cure
Let the skins cool before removing parchment (if used), and be sure to let the skins cure completely (at least 24 hours) before folding glue to glue. 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!
Read our climbing skin care and use tips
Check out our article on Backcountry Repair Kits
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