When it comes to backcountry ski gear, climbing skins might be the the least exciting things to buy. But think of them as unsung heroes. They don't look sexy, but hell, if they get gunked up with snow or don't stick, they'll ruin your day. A little care in choosing the right kind and maintaining them can go a long way.
This season, Black Diamond debuted a snazzy new line of climbing skins, including lightweight mohair, mohair-synthetic blends, and split skins, which are designed to lighten the load on fatter powder boards. I spoke with Tor Brown, the product line manager for ski accessories for Black Diamond, for a few quick tips. Here's the word:
1. Pick out the right skin. If you have skis wider than 115 underfoot, consider the split skins, which consist of two narrower strips of skin, making them lighter. What's good about the mohair is it's lighter weight than nylon and it packs down quite a bit smaller. They fit in your jacket pocket. Mohair is really good in that it has a natural oil that has its own water repellency. They also glide really well, and the hollow-core fiber isn't as susceptible to getting rigid in cold temperatures. Nylon climbs steep slopes a touch better, so go with those when you're climbing steeper stuff on day tours. The mohair blend is the best of all worlds. It climbs really close to nylon but is lighter and glides better. It's also a little more durable than pure mohair.