Like most people I know, I usually treat buying skins as an afterthought of a new ski setup. Usually I find something on sale and go with it because I just spent all my money on the skis and bindings, plus “all brands are basically the same, right?”. Wrong! With over 100 days on the SkiTrab Mix Skin it has demonstrated to me that I’ve been missing out for a long time in the skin game.
Disclaimer, I did get these skins for free from Joel at SkiUphill to put them to the test. I have previously used BD or G3 skins and wanted to try something new because both have given me grief in the past (often when buying G3 skins I re-glue them before use as their glue seems to be pure garbage).
For those who have no idea what I am talking about when I say “skins”, it’s the piece of gear that sticks to your ski in order to climb (or “skin”) up the mountain side while backcountry skiing. This one piece of gear can easily make or break a day out in the backcountry. I’m sure those reading this that already backcountry ski could tell you plenty of examples!
The first thing that is different than most North American branded skins is that these are cut off a roll and attachments added. Admittadly not as easy as buying a pair of G3s for your ski size and heading out on them 3 mins later but convenience often comes with a price.
Because they are custom cut you have more options for what you want. You can pick your nose and tail clips to match the style of ski and have a bit more control over the length you want. On top of that you will likely pay a little less for the skin as you buy what you need, not what is given.
This Glue Rules
Let’s get into the meat of the subject: glue! A bad glue can turn into a nightmare. I used to believe there was no such thing as “bad batch glue”, writing it off to the user not taking care of their skins. This can still be true, if mishandled most skin glue will get pretty messed up. This doesn’t seem to be the case here though…
When I first got the SkiTrab Mix Skins the glue was extremely sticky and I had to make sure to use the skin savers that came with them. After about 20 days some random dirt, sticks, cat hair and the like started to get on the glue side and the real test started! The glue started to discolour a bit and become less sticky. I stopped using the skin savers around day 35-40 as they were now easy to pull apart without them but a weird thing was happening, they were still sticking just as good to the skis. By spring the glue looked very dirty and discoloured, to the point that partners questioned if I needed to reglue them, my answer? “nope, these skins are amazing!”, so amazing that when a partner mentioned that my tail clip was off I would reply that it didn’t matter, actually, why do I even need tail clips again?
So the season is over, glue is ugly but works great, but how far can I abuse the glue until it fails? And in-steps summer skiing to help! For those who ski in the summer you know that feeling of getting back to the car and forgetting about gear in the hot car later to find your skins and muddy skis all messed up. I decided to test this to the extreme and after skiing one day in August I left my skins on my skis, in my car, for a week. I’ve done this before, by mistake and came back to my ski bases covered in sticky glue and skins that needed to be reglued and to be honest I expected the same this time. But nope, skins are fine and no glue on the bases. That was insane to me and made me a true believer in this glue product and it has yet to fail me with over 100 days on them (and purposely trying to make them fail).
I travel in a lot of weird places for the style of skiing I do, which is mostly exploratory. The Canadian Rockies have its fair share of rocks, especially in places that are a bit safer to travel in (ridge tops, rocky windswept benched terrain, etc). I skin over rocks more than I should, often I skin across roadways, or over KMs of deadfall. I ski/skin year round and in thin snowpacks. I am not easy on my skins and I get dirty looks from others for it!
Anytime I use a mixed or straight mohair skin I worry a little that it will break down too fast. The SkiTrab Mix skin is 65% mohair, which provides excellent glide (more on that below) but is not a durable as a skin with more nylon. The balance that SkiTrab found here works wonderfully though and I have yet to feel a lose in performance in the climbing realm or have had any major rips or tears in the skin. I did get a few small side cuts during some extra rocky foot work but nothing to change the usability of the skin.
Wow do these things glide. I love telling a ski partner to put my skis on to try the glide, the look I get is priceless. That alone has convinced some of those same people go and buy these skins the same day and report back to me how much they love them. I’ve had 100% mohair that didn’t glide as well (and fell apart within 1 season). Hands down best gliding ski I’ve used (I don’t use skimo race skins though so…).
The grip on these are outstanding for a mixed skin. For sure a 100% nylon skin will climb the steeps easier and if you’re new to skinning these might be a little tricky to start but no more tricky than most other skins. The balance between glide and grip is what really blows my mind with these skins, I’ve never used a skin that excelled so well in both.
Are These Skins For You?
You should get these skins. I hate saying a product is good for everyone but unless you are a performance skimo racer or skinning on glass covered lava than the SkiTrab Mix Skin should work wonders for your backcountry skiing needs. The glide and grip are both amazing, durability is outstanding and the glue is insanely resilient. The SkiTrab Mix Skin is a game changer to me, these are the best skins I have ever used.