Climbing skins are pieces of material that temporarily adhere to the bottom of your skis and provide the traction and grip necessary for climbing backcountry slopes. The skins are covered with hairs or scales that are aligned to provide an easy glide on an uphill push and to grab the snow and prevent a backward slide when the skis are weighted. In order to attach skins to skis, you need to first choose the best type of skins for your skis, trim the skins to fit your skis and then attach the skins.
The skins you choose will depend on the types of skiing you will be doing and the amount of gear you will be carrying. Straight skins come in different widths to fit different styles of skis. Straight skins are lightweight and allow for an easier glide than other types of skins, but they do not provide as much grip as the shaped skins. Shaped skins are trimmed to match the exact shape of your skis to provide ultimate traction for ascending uphill slopes, giving you more stability when carrying a heavy pack. Lastly, kicker skins are a shorter version of straight skins and are best for ascending short, low-angled slopes.
Trimming Skins to Fit Your Skis
Shaped skins need to be trimmed in order to fit your skis. To trim, attach the skins to the skis using the steps listed below, keeping the skins tight and centered. Use the tool provided to cut from tip to tail. After you have finished the first side, reposition the skin so that you expose 1 cm of the bottom of the ski on the side you just cut and then trim the other side.
Attaching the Skins to Skis
To attach the skins to the skis, position your first ski upright in the snow or against a tree. Take out your climbing skins and peel it away from itself so that no part is glued to itself. Then adhere the fastener to the tip of the ski so that the sticky, adhesive part of the ski is facing the bottom of your ski, and then use your hand to adhere the skin to your ski starting at the tip and then running down the ski to the bottom where you can secure the tip fastener. Run your hand up and down the ski to make sure the adhesive is firmly attached to the ski.
Make sure the skin is adhered to the skis with the edges flush. If the skin runs over the edges of the ski, peel off the skin from the bottom until you get to the off-center portion of the ski. Realign the skin, smooth it and recheck it. Make sure the fasteners are adhered tightly, and then repeat the steps with the other ski.