Best Overall Climbing Skins for Backcountry Skiing
Black Diamond Glidelite Mohair Mix
The Black Diamond Glidelite Mohair Mix
skin offers a near-perfect balance of grip, glide, packability, and glue integrity. The fabric side is a blend of nylon for durability and mohair to keep the weight down while enhancing glide. There are skins that grip and glide better, and skins that will last longer, but there are no products that strike a balance that works better for most average backcountry ski tourers. BD sells this basic design in an array of options to fit your needs. You can get them with just a tip loop and cut them to length and width yourself. You can get them with tip and tail connecters, cut to length, and all you need do is cut them to width. And there is an option in between. These skins offer the best glue in the business and the ability to work with any pair of skis you may own.
Best Bang for the Buck
Black Diamond Ascension Nylon
Ascension was making some of the best skins available back in the 1990s. Black Diamond bought the company and beefed up the fabric but didn't change the glue. This is a good thing. The stiff, heavy fabric of the Black Diamond Ascension Nylon
, backed up by magical glue, serves to create a user friendly, ultra durable, forgiving product. It is the heaviest design we tested, but also the least expensive. You can configure the Ascension at initial purchase however you like, for the absolute best bargain, with little to no compromise in performance, choose those with only a tip loop, and cut them to length and width yourself. These skins are widely available throughout the US, even under different brands. Notably, Voile sells ski and split board skins under their own brand that, as best we can tell, are exactly the same as the Ascension Nylon skins we tested.
Top Pick for High Performance on Skis With Tip and Tail Holes
La Sportiva HiGlide Skin
Of all the skins we tested, even other Pomoca skins the La Sportiva HiGlide Skin
has the best performance in absolute terms. It grips well, glides well, and the glue strikes just the right balance. The tip and tail kit is intuitive and easy. If you have La Sportiva skis, choosing the La Sportiva branded skins is a no brainer. La Sportiva licenses the tip and tail attachment from K2. If you have K2 skis similar in dimensions to any La Sportiva model, we recommend La Sportiva skins. (Unfortunately we did not test K2 skins. With the variation in what is available from Pomoca, we cannot extrapolate that K2 skins perform like HiGlide skins). For those who fit the mold, the HiGlide skins are an excellent product.
Top Pick for Maximum Grip
G3 High Traction
The G3 High Traction
is by far the most unique product in our test. As such, it is a clear contender for a Top Pick award. We grant this award to niche products that perform very well and the G3 High Traction offers greater grip. This grip comes at the cost of significant reduction in glide, as well as a heavier and bulkier packed form. The glue is just right, while the tip and tail kit is the best among the universally compatible skins. If you ski and skin in zones where pre set skin tracks are just that steep (Utah's Wasatch, we're talking to you) and you find yourself slipping backwards often, this can be a good choice for you. Before you drop coin on this specialized product, however, know that these skins are slower on the glide. The resistance is significant. Technique, as is often the case, can trump equipment when it comes to skinning grip. Technique, however, will never make big grippy skins glide better. You've been warned, but you'll probably still snap these skins up. Enjoy!