Leave your mark in the snow with Black Diamond Split Skins.
I’ve got about 20-25 days on the new Black Diamond Split Skins so far and I’m not sure why anyone would use other types of skins for their ultra-fat skis anymore. For those not up to speed, BD introduced the Split Skin this season. Basically, it’s two strips of their Ascension version of skin material, connected by a piece of nylon in the middle. The theory is that since your skis are so wide, and you have so much plush in contact with the snow, you don’t really need the whole base of the ski covered in skin material.
I was a little concerned with durability of the Split Skins in the beginning. I’m pretty hard on skins because a lot of the times I’m lazy and don’t take my skis off to walk over rocks and deadfall, and I wondered how well the nylon would hold up, especially this year with the current low snowpack. I also wondered how well the stitching which held the nylon to the skin material would hold up, thinking it would be very easy for a hard snow surface to wear through the simple tread material with miles and miles on the skin track.
Stitching sit below (and protected) the running surface of the skins.
In both cases, I’ve been very happy with the results. The threads show no sign of wear. They actually sit under surface of the plush of the skin material, so they are protected by the plush and I think rarely even make contact with the snow. Nice benefit there. Also, I’ve been tackling some pretty good skills courses out there this year while skinning. Balancing over deadfall, negotiating exposed rocks, skinning directly over both, and the nylon section of the Split Skins show no signs of tearing. I think that since the nylon is so slippery, it tends to deflect rocks and what not, instead of letting them bite into the material and rip it. The nylon section doesn’t always sit totally flat on the ski, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem.
The nylon section doesn’t always sit completely flat…but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
As you can imagine, the Split Skins run about 30% lighter than an Ascension skin of similar width. They also pack up smaller, which is always nice since there is nothing worse than skiing with a bulky, overstuffed backpack. With the decreased amount of skin material, they are also supple, which makes folding them easier than a lot of the other skins I own…even though they are so much wider. I feel like I also get better gliding performance with the split skins. Not only as far as stride/glide distance goes, but relating to the tracking of the ski as well. Sounds logical enough…right? The Split Skins also leave a cool track in the snow for those that follow to ponder. (Hey, skinning is often kind of monotonous and boring…so every little bit helps.)
As far as the actual skinning uphill performance goes, I think there is a small loss of grip with the Split Skins compared to a similar width Ascension model skin. However, usually this evident on only the steepest/slickest/uneven sections of skin track and is easily remedied by transferring some weight to the edges of the ski. Also, since the Ascension version of skin material grips so well, it doesn’t take much for it to bite into the smallest feature on the snow surface. I think the weight loss, gliding advantages and increased packability of the Split Skins greatly outweighs any decreased grip, since you can usually reposition the ski/skin, stomp it harder into the snow surface or transfer weight to the outside of the ski if you start to loose grip.
New adjustable tip loops holding up well too!
If your thinking about getting a pair of Split Skins, note that the waist of your skis needs to be over 110mm…or there just isn’t enough plush left after trimming. Also, I recommend trimming them wall-to-wall…with little or no edge really exposed. Why? Because they climb better this way. On a side note…the new BD adjustable tip loops also are holding up well and show literally zero signs of wear. There are no frayed wires, gouges in the metal cable protectors or problems with tip loop/skin attachment point. Two thumbs up!!!
I tried them on 105mm waist skis. Not enough grip on 25 degree+ terrain. Definetly for fatter skis.
I got about 80 days on my first pair, using them with Megawatts and I love ’em. Perdy darn durable; no ripping seams. Maybe the stickyness decreases faster than other skins and I’m king of dreading regluing them which I think I’ll probably have to do the old way instead of the nice new style peel-on kit. Maybe slicing the peel on thing into two appropriate sized strips and then ironing would work?
I found the decreased grip actually improved my skinning by being more centered and precise and using the edging techniques like Steve described.
Like with all my skins, I just cut the tail thing right off.
i guess with less glue…you’ll get less grip. surprised you cut the tail clips off the split skins…seems like good piece of mind to me.
i’ve tried reglueing skins with tape down the middle by cutting glue strips…kinda a pain…and messy. right now…it’s hard to find gold label (the paint on stuff)…but hopefully that will change in the next month or so.
any comments on the bd mohair mix skins? a set just found their way to my doorstep, and i’m curious how they compare to (older) ascensions or (newer) split skins.
hey eric! i used some mohair mix skins on aconcagua and thought they performed great on all types of snow surfaces. great glide and good climbing power…all in a lightweight, compact package. i used them on some 90mm waisted skis, so they should work well on fatter skis too! the one downer is that they are light colored…so when they get dirty…you see it.
What about the tail? Since the nylon section is not taugh and flat does it scoop snow if you slip back?
haven’t noticed any problems there kevin.
Semi related, as Ptor mentioned re-gluing, do you have any tips on partial re-glues, using the tranfer sheets?
After years of using the brush on glue (gold lable) with no problems, I just tried the glu renew transfer sheets. My mistake was trying to cut the sheets down center before applying. The idea was to leave the center of the skins glue-free, like the factory finish (these are the old purple, BD skins; no-glue centers). Anyway, I used my wife’s A-1 sewing scissors to cut the glue sheets before applying, which was fine until the scissors got buggered up with glue, which in turn de-laminated the tranfer sheets as I was cutting, effectively leaving gaps when I applied the glue to skins with iron. On the second skin, I did not try to split the transfer sheet, just reglued the whole skin and it turned out fine. Bad thing is the wife is totally pissed for buggering her best scissors, even after using gasloine for solvent, ridding them of all glue. The scissors even smell cool, like a chain saw or snowmobile, but she’s still mad! Can’t win.
OMR…I’ve cut them down the center as well with marginal results. I have been able to small touch up jobs by just smearing the glue from the sheets around with the iron. Of course your iron gets all mucked up in the process…but the glue wipes off and doesn’t do any long term damage to your iron.
The good news is that I think Gold Label is now available again…so you don’t have to use the glue sheets if you don’t want to.
And yeah ORM…we can’t win… 🙂
Girls, sheesh, their priorities are all out of whack sometimes. So I’m seeking cheapskate advice. I seem to remember you tried to split some skins on your own and i tried to find that article but didn’t. I have narrow skins that I’d like to split to fit on skis i’ll be ditching when i get out here. I have spare time but no money, i’m a Caregiver not a slacker, i swear. Curious if it worked and what method worked best. I’m thinking tight, flat oneinch webbing and a speedystitcher. I also have two pairs and was thinking of stitching them together. The skis are maybe 90 underfoot, so it’s fit and not weight i’m concerned with.. They won’t get much mileage and most accents will be shorter and not very steep and if they fail it’s not a big deal, i have gotten by on kicker wax doing something similar but that kinda sucked. Probably it’ll never snow enough for the trip i want to do anyway but… If you have a moment that would great. Thanks.
Nathan…I didn’t split any skins on my own…but I’ve read about people who have. I think webbing would soak up moisture and them ice up…so I’d try something more resistant to absorption…and less thick as well. If it’s not steep…you might even try just one skinny skin…cut just behind your heal for maximum glide.
I split my old 95mm skins for K2 Hellbents. Sharp knife to the middle below a nice face in Lyngen. Worked like a charm. I’m not going to spend €€ for new skins for wider skis anymore. Really, I had no trouble with them for the three days in Lyngen (Norway) last spring.
I know some people who have split their own skins and some will leave them attached at the tail. This makes folding and putting them on easier…since there are less things flopping in the wind. Of course, having them connect with a nylon strip, like the BD skins, is nicer overall and more secure.
I’ve heard that the BD mohair/nylon mix skins don’t have as much climbing power as the BD nylon skins. Is that your experience? Which skins would be the better choice for the typical steep skin tracks in the Tetons?
geoff…bd changed their formula for constructing the mohair/nylon mix skins this year…so what you’ve heard most likely relates to older versions. I think for skis in the 100mm waist size range…I would probably stick to the regular ascension model. for wider skis…I would go with the mix skins…since the surface area is much greater.
fwiw…i have some new nylon/mohair mix skins for some 90mm wasted skins that i’ve been using to skin up snow king in the morning. they grip well on the rock solid groomers and i can skin straight up the cougar run.
Thanks Steve. That’s useful to know. Do you have a feeling about the grip and glide of the BD mix skins in comparison with the G3 Alpinist skins?
not really geoff. i just know that i like the sts tail clips better than the g3 version.
Thanks you guys, I wound deciding just to use my regular skis and hope i don’t chunk them out on rocks. I’m going to try to split a pair like that too though, just to see.
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