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The 5 Best Ski Climbing Skins of 2020-2021

It’s nearly silent as the sun rises in the mountains, the snow is surreal in its beauty, nearly a foot of fresh powder muffles everything. Or almost everything. This peaceful tableau is shattered by indistinct profanity from the skin track. “Bleeping skins! Bleeping glopping already, and the Bleepity Bleeped glue is coming off too! Just Bleeping dandy! And on a pow day too!”

Climbing skins are one of those pieces of gear that should feel mostly invisible, if you’re noticing your skins and having to think about them, it probably means there’s something wrong with them. Either the plush is letting too much snow stick to it, or the glue isn’t sticking well enough to your skis. Either way, you shouldn’t have to think about your ski skins, beyond double checking to make sure you packed them. So we’ve put together this list of the best ski climbing skins of 2021 to help you find that perfect pair that gets you up the hill efficiently with a minimum of frustration and hassle. We break down each brand’s special features, the pros and cons of different plush materials, and our real-world experience with each skin. So don’t ruin the serenity of any more perfect mornings in the mountains. Choose from the best ski climbing skins, and never think about them again.


G3 Alpinist+ Universal

The best ski climbing skins of 2020-2021
 

G3 has long made some of the best ski skins for a long time. They make a huge variety of skins and are always innovating with new features and materials. If the name didn’t make it clear, their Alpinist Universal is their one-size-fits-all solution for backcountry skiers. This skin hits a great balance of grip, glide, and durability, at a very reasonable price point. And G3 makes it in a huge variety of length and width combinations so you can find a pair that fits just about any ski or splitboard.

The feature that really sets the Alpinist Universal apart though is their rigid tip section. Basically, the tips of your skins don’t really do much to give you traction, it’s just there to hold the skin onto the ski. So G3 uses a rigid plastic material in the tips that helps the ski plane over the snow smoothly when you’re breaking trail, and keeps snow from creeping between the skin and the ski through the tip. This helps the glue last longer and stick better, and means you don’t have to worry about your skins falling off in the middle of a kick turn. The Alpinist’s Nylon construction means it’s very durable and has great grip, but will need to be waxed occasionally to maintain good glide. So if you’re looking for a simple, durable option, with a clever tip solution, go for the Alpinist Universal.

Lengths OfferedMaterial Original Price
150-199 cmNylon$179-$189

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Black Diamond Glidelite Mix

The best ski climbing skins of 2020-2021
 

The “plush” on the bottom of climbing skins that grips the snow is usually made out of two different materials: Nylon and Mohair. In general Nylon is more durable, a little heavier, and offers slightly more grip for steep tracks, but less glide on flat tracks. Mohair is lighter, less durable, less grippy, but glides much easier. So generally you’ve got to decide what you prioritize more, and make some sacrifices in some kind of performance. That’s why Black Diamond came out with the Glidelite Mix. It uses a mix of mohair and nylon to create a skin that gives you the best of both worlds, with none of the drawbacks.

It glides much smoother than a full nylon skin, but grips better than racy full mohair options. It’s got the durability of nylon but the packability of Mohair. In short, it’s awesome! Black Diamond even claims that it packs down 20% smaller and 60g lighter than their full nylon models. So if you’ve been frustrated as you try to choose between pure nylon or mohair skins, vacillate no more, get the Glidelite Mix and use that extra space in your backcountry backpack to pack more snacks.

Lengths OfferedMaterial Original Price
157-192 cm65% Nylon 35% Mohair$189

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Black Diamond Ascension

The best ski climbing skins of 2020-2021
 

When it comes to climbing skins, some folks don’t care about fancy features, exotic materials, and complicated technologies. They just want something that sticks to their skis and allows them to walk up mountains. If that’s you look no further than the no-nonsense Black Diamond Ascension. This is a no-nonsense skin for non-nonsense skiers. Black Diamond combines a fully nylon construction with a DWR coating to create a skin that’s very durable and will hold up to however many questionable kick turns and mostly dry approaches you throw at it without losing plush or glopping.

Black Diamond’s glue blend does a really good job of staying fresh and sticking to the ski, even as you go back for lap after lap. It doesn’t migrate to your base and ball up with dirt or pine needles. Instead it stays sticky, begging for more vertical feet. If you’re a skier who doesn’t care for the hype and just needs something that works consistently, grab some Ascensions and get ascending.

Lengths OfferedMaterial Original Price
157-192 cmNylon$169

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Pomoca Climb 2.0

The best ski climbing skins of 2020-2021
 

On the other end of the spectrum from the Ascension is the Pomoca Climb 20. Pomoca takes the science behind their skins very seriously. Every skin even comes with its glide efficiency in calories per hour clearly marked so that you know just what you’re getting yourself into. The Climb 2.0 is one of Pomoca’s lightest and most efficient ski skins. It’s made for long days, big objectives, and folks who value low weight and brisk speeds. Pomoca uses a 70/30 mohair/nylon blend to achieve this, and then combines that with a barrage of exclusive coatings and technologies.

The outcome of all that is a skin that’s super light (12% lighter than the last version), glides very efficiently, packs down very small, and still has enough grip for steeper skin tracks. The one thing to note with Pomoca skins is that their glue is a little less sticky when wet than some other options, so make sure to clean all the snow off your bases before transitioning. The upside is that their glue is less toxic to humans and the environment.

Lengths OfferedMaterial Original Price
155-200 cm70% Mohair 30% Nylon$179-$189

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Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide

The best ski climbing skins of 2020-2021
 

The Pomoca S-Glide takes all of the same performance benefits of the Climb 2.0 and turns them up to 11. More glide, more grip, better water resistance, the whole nine yards. Pomoca makes it very clear that the S-Glide isn’t for everyone. It’s a high-performance skin that’s been fully optimized for efficiency and reliability in the mountains. Beginners need not apply.

But if you’re an experienced backcountry skier that’s looking to eke every marginal performance gain out of every piece of their gear, you need the best of the best, and that’s the Pomoca Climb Pro S-Glide.

Lengths OfferedMaterial Original Price
155-200 cm70% Mohair 30% Nylon$199-$209

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