You can spend hundreds of dollars on your skis or bindings, but if you don’t properly take care of your climbing skins, you will suffer on the uphill climb of your tour. Skins are often the most overlooked part of your touring setup, but if you want to get the most longevity out of your skins, follow the steps below:
1. Drying skins after use
Pulling out wet skins on the skin track will cause you trouble and frustration. Make sure to properly dry out your skins after a day out touring. Hang them up to air them dry but be careful not to let it get too close to a heat source. A few hours will suffice. Do not hang above a heater as it will melt the glue. Avoid sunlight as that could also damage the glue. Another rookie mistake is letting the exposed skins fall onto dog/cat fur, pine needle or the dust bunny floor. Skins dry just fine glue to glue.
2. Store in cool, dry place
After drying, store the skins in a cool, dry place, avoiding any direct sunlight. It is fine to store them back in your pack or jacket. This also helps you not forget your skins when you go touring – you don’t want to be that guy!
3. Use skin savers
Some brands want you to use them often and some not at all. Look at the directions for use from your manufacturer. In general skins savers can make peeling skins apart easier but they can make transitions more complicated. Some people use the skin savers while storing but not out in the field. You have to decide what makes sense for you. You can use the plastic skin savers that come with the skins or purchase it separately.
4. Use skin wax (aka Glop Stopper)
Using a skin wax such as Black Diamond’s Glop Stopper can be a trip saver for spring tours or temperature inversions. The wax helps increase glide and prevent snow buildup on the skin so it doesn’t weigh you down. Just rub the wax onto the skin before you go out for the day or you can even carry the wax with you to apply throughout the day. Make sure to scrape all snow off the skin before applying.
5. Find a long-term storage spot
Find a cool, dry place to put your skins for long-term storage, throughout the summer. A cupboard or in a basement would be best. You can also put your skins in the freezer! Just make sure to put the skins out to room temperature first before using it again on your first day touring.
6. Refreshing skins in the Fall
If you find your skins are filled with gunk such as pine needles, pet fur or dust, you can do a skin refresh to get it looking clean and smooth again! This helps you avoid having to re-glue the skins and potentially getting another season of use. Try refreshing your skins before thinking about throwing them out!