If you love backcountry skiing, the importance of getting the best climbing skins shouldn’t be underestimated. They allow you to efficiently ascend the slope in search of that all-important fresh powder.
Climbing skins come in a range of designs and are constructed using a variety of materials. Each one offers an array of benefits that will best suit a certain style.
In order to improve your ski touring experience, we have reviewed the best climbing skins on the market. We have analysed the key features of each option, helping you make an informed decision.
Best Climbing Skins For Skiing At A Glance
Why Do I Need The Best Climbing Skins?
Climbing skins are strips of material that attach to the bottom of your skis. They provide a layer of traction that allows you to climb uphill without sliding backwards.
Skins are invaluable for ski touring. They help you to climb steep terrain by stopping you from backsliding, allowing you to take a direct route to the summit.
The best climbing skins can be suited to a range of different situations. Some are designed to be lightweight and packable, while others prioritise durability.
This guide breaks down the key details, outlining the pros and cons of each option. Choosing the right skins can be challenging, but the information we’ve included is sure to make your life easier.
Hint: If you’re looking for more ski touring gear, we have also reviewed the best ski boot crampons.
How To Choose The Best Climbing Skins
The material your climbing skins are made from will have a big impact on their performance. In general, there are three material types you will encounter.
- Nylon skins are highly durable and offer a great amount of traction. However, they are usually heavy and can lack some gliding speed.
- Mohair skins are the lightest option and have a great amount of glide. However, they can lack the durability and the uphill traction of nylon.
- Mohair/nylon hybrid skins look to provide the best of both worlds. Combining solid traction and glide with a reasonable weight, they are a popular choice amongst experienced skiers.
In general, most new backcountry skiers will opt for nylon skins. They provide the best traction, giving you security while your technique is still improving.
Pure mohair skins are the preferred choice of skimo racers and mountaineers. Although they lack an element of grip, the enhanced gliding speed will save valuable time.
If you are an experienced skier with a solid touring technique, nylon/mohair hybrid is probably your best option. Providing great all-round benefits, they will improve your mountain experience.
Most climbing skins are designed to be universal. Using a loop or hooks that connect to the tip of the ski and a clip at the tail, they are easily attached to touring skis.
Some skins will use plastic for the clips, while others use metal. Although plastic can be lighter and more cost effective, it’s worth noting that it lacks the durability of metal.
If you are using skis with a large and rounded tip or tail, you might find that you need to change the tip loop attachment. Many of the best producers also sell a range of hooks, loops and cables that are suitable for various ski shapes.
Most climbing skins come with a ‘tacky’ adhesive coating that will stick to the skis. However, not all adhesive is made equally, so check the key features to find the best solution.
Most climbing skins are sold in different length ranges. With the tip and tail hardware already installed, you can change the length to suit by using the adjustable tail clip.
Occasionally you will find skins that only come in a specific length. Cutting them to size and attaching the tip and tail clips is fairly straightforward, providing you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The key to width is making sure you cover as much of the base as possible. This means choosing a skin that’s wider than the widest part of your skis in order to gain maximum grip.
Some skins will come in a range of widths, while others will only offer one size. In addition, some providers offer skins that are specifically designed for certain skis.
Once you have purchased some skins that are wider than your skis, it’s possible to trim them to size. Trimming width is relatively easy, as most skins including a trimming tool with the setup.
Best Climbing Skins For Skiing Reviewed
Backcountry Access Contour Hybrid
- Material: 65% Mohair, 35% Nylon
- Weight: 1lb 8oz (680g)
- Best For: All-Round/Climbing
The Backcountry Access Contour Hybrid climbing skins are easy to use and effective in a variety of situations. Constructed using a monohair and nylon blend, they combine glide and grip for reliable performance on any terrain.
Using a special ‘hybrid’ adhesive, these skins stick to your skis in any temperature and rip off easily when it’s time to ski. The tip and tail hardware comes preinstalled and is super easy to adjust within the length range you select.
If you’re looking for a great all-round set of climbing skins, the Backcountry Access Contour Hybrid’s won’t disappoint. They have an excellent balance between glide with grip, while also being solid and secure at all times.
- Nylon/monohair material offers glide and grip
- Hybrid adhesive is secure at any temperature
- Easy to tear off
- Adhesive is easy to clean
- Trimming tool included
- Easy to use tip and tail hardware
- Multiple lengths and widths available
- Speed demons will look for more mohair
- Plastic hardware could be more durable
Black Diamond Ascension
If you’re looking for durable skins that provide reliable grip, look no further than the Black Diamond Ascension’s. Constructed from strong and reliable nylon material, they are capable of clinging to the steepest skintracks.
Using metal tip and tail clips, these are some of the most durable climbing skins on the market. In addition, the adjustable tip loops and tail clips are super easy to use and can adapt to wide or skinny skis.
The Black Diamond Ascension climbing skins will make you feel secure on the steepest backcountry tracks. They are also one of the most durable options on the market, making them a great ‘value for money’ choice.
- Strong nylon material
- Enough grip for super steep tracks
- Durable metal tip and tail hardware
- Easy to use universal clips
- Super long-lasting design
- 10cm of length adjustability
- One of the more bulky options
- Not the best for gliding speed
G3 Minimist Glide
- Material: 70% Mohair, 30% Nylon
- Weight: 10oz (283g)
- Best For: Lightweight
If you’re serious about saving weight, the G3 Minimist Glide is a great choice. Weighing in at 10oz (283g) for the longest size and 7oz (198g) for the shortest, they’re one of the lightest and most packable options on the market.
The use of a mohair bend gives great glide on a skin track, without sacrificing too much grip. They also come with weight-saving universal hardware, that includes a carbon tip to prevent snow creep.
The G3 Minimist Glide is one of the best lightweight and packable skins on the market. It has great gliding properties and a quality design that is built to last.
- Super lightweight design
- Very small packing size
- Easy-to-use universal tip and tail
- Carbon tip stops snow entering
- Great mohair gliding properties
- Strong and durable construction
- Can get even lighter with full mohair
- Glue can peel off quite easily
Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide
- Material: 70% Mohair, 30% Nylon
- Weight: 1lb 2oz (510g)
- Best For: All-Round/Gliding
The Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide climbing skins offer excellent gliding properties and an all-round quality design. The use of mohair material and a hydrophobic treatment makes these skins excellent at gliding across flat surfaces.
By incorporating nylon into the design, these skins maintain a fair grip when climbing and are highly durable. They also use a thin, lightweight and packable design that is well-suited to weight conscious backcountry skiers.
If you’re looking to maximise gliding speed while still maintaining durability, the Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide’s are a solid choice. They produce an excellent glide for a nylon/mohair blend, while also remaining lightweight and packable.
- Mohair provides natural gliding speed
- Hydrophobic coating further improves glide
- Nylon adds durability
- Thin and lightweight design
- Small packing size
- Glue provides solid attachment
- Easy to remove when necessary
- Plastic hardware can lack durability
- Top price bracket
Contour Skins Hybrid Pure
- Material: 100% Mohair
- Weight: 1lb 12oz (784g)
- Best For: Gliding
If you’re focussed on maximising gliding speed, look no further than the Contour Skins Hybrid Pure. Using a 100% mohair construction, these performance-orientated skins will help you maintain speed across any snow type.
Using Contour’s unique hybrid adhesive technology, the skins stick securely to your skis in cold weather and are easy to remove when you want to head downhill. In addition, the tip and tail clips are super easy-to-use and are universal to almost any ski type.
The Contour Skins Hybrid Pure’s provide excellent gliding speed on lengthy and demanding tours. Using a special hybrid adhesive, they are also some of the most reliable skins on the market.
- Mohair provides excellent gliding speed
- Reliable over multiple ascents
- Hybrid glue sticks well
- Easy to transition
- Easy-to-use universal hardware
- Great energy saver on long tours
- Plastic tip and tail clips could be more durable
- Fairly heavy for a mohair skin
If you’re heading into the backcountry, you better make sure you have the right skins. They have a big impact on climbing performance and can make or break your ski tour.
The best climbing skins come in a range of different designs. Each one is made to be effective, but they are all best suited to a different scenario.
Look through the key features to find an option that suits your style. If you stick to the skins on the list, you’re sure to improve your climbing performance.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.