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Long live your skins! Tips for ski touring skin care

Ski skins - they are one of the most important pieces of gear for ski touring, because without them you can’t go uphill. When attached to your skis, the skins prevent you from sliding backward while climbing and at the same time ensure that your ski slides forward well. Climbing skins can be your best friend while on a ski tour, but if they don’t function properly, they can be your worst nightmare.

 

Sometimes your skins can come off the ski base, snow can clump, the attachment doesn’t stay up, or you slide backwards. In most cases, skins are the guilty party when a tour doesn’t go as planned. Usually when skins don’t perform as they should, it more than likely has to do with incorrect care, user error, transport or drying mistakes. Together with our product manager Robert Schlemer, we’ll clue you in to what distinguishes good skin adhesive, and what you can do so your skins last a long time and always work reliably.

Material technology and purchasing advice

Premium ski touring skins use either mohair (the hair of the Angora goat) or a mix of mohair and synthetics. Mohair has outstanding gliding and braking properties and is very light and is water resistant. In contrast, synthetics win points with their durability and long lifespan, and they are also significantly less expensive than mohair. Modern skins made from a blendof mohair and synthetics, (such as the DYNAFIT Speedskins) combine these materials in order to utilize the benefits of both worlds. When ski mountaineering racing, mohair skins are almost exclusively used because the focus is all about the absolute best glide to attain the highest speed.

 

Making ski touring skins – whether mohair or synthetic – is more or less the same. Skins consist of one adhesive layer or undercoat for attaching to the ski base and one “layer” of the actual skin. The actual skin layer is made of a fabric with angled waterproof fibers to give you both gliding direction and braking direction. DYNAFIT Speedskins, however, feature a particular special feature. In contrast to many others, these skins are built with three layers vs. the traditional two. Between the skin and the base material, there is an additional membrane that has been integrated to keep out water and provide the best grip on the snow.

 

In addition to traditional adhesive skins, there are now “glueless skins” that are attached without any glue, where their adhesion is based on molecular force. This technology has not yet been fully developed, so we will focus on adhesigve skins in this article as the current standard.

Always attach skins in the middle of the ski! Steel edges can easily damage skin edges. 

Robert Schlemer, product manager, equipment, ski touring

In order for you to maximize the life of your skins, you should always pay attention to; what size you are purchasing, as well as all of the attachment options on your skins - clips, hooks or wires.

 

When tensioning your skins, know that it doesn’t matter if you start from the tail or the top. If skins are tensioned at the ski tips, then you start attaching them from the tail and then start removing them from the ski tips. If skins are tensioned at the tail, then the process works in reverse.

 

The skin should in particular cover the width of the ski base well, but in all cases leave the edges free. Most manufacturers offer skins that are already made and delivered to fit a ski, which means you can be sure that the ski and the skins are ideally suited for each other. Once you have found the correct skin for you, then it comes down to the care of them. Every ski touring enthusiast needs to understand that consumable goods and will wear out over time. If you care for your skins well, they will work for you for a long time. If premium quality skins are treated properly, they can last for at least 150,000 meters of vert, often times it can be significantly longer.

Prevention instead of damage control

The most essential step for a long lifespan of ski touring skins is careful handling on a tour. Puddles or very soft snow should be avoided as much as possible. If the skin gets wet, it can lose its waterproofness, which increases the risk of snow clumping later in colder conditions or drier snow.

 

Aside from moisture, one should also try to protect skins as best possible from dirt, grime, pebbles, resin and roots – which can damage skins badly on both the skin and the adhesive sides. If possible, removal of your skins should happen on clean snow to avoid any debris getting caught in the adhesive. Removing pine needles or grass from the glue is a very tedious job that every ski touring enthusiast would certainly rather avoid.

Robert Schlemer

When it comes to the lifespan of skins, taking a short cut through the woods is rarely a very good idea

Attaching, safekeeping, and drying skins

Before you attach skins, you should be sure that the base of the ski is clean and dry. Freshly waxed skis should be thoroughly scraped since wax residue can impair adhesive properties. When re-attaching skins during a tour, it is best to wipe the base of the ski dry with a cloth (or, if needed, your jacket sleeve).

 

During a descent, skins must be stored in a clean, dry and somewhat warm place. DYNAFIT Speedskins should be folded in half with the adhesive sides together, so that when the skins are pulled apart, the adhesive is reactivated so you don’t need any extra plastic sheets for DYNAFIT skins. When the temperatures fall below -2°C, skins should be carried close to your body under your jacket or vest to keep them warm. The same holds true on a descent
prior to another climb. When adhesive skins are kept safe at a particular temperature, they are much easier to attach.

DYNAFIT skins should always be separated and stuck directly to each other without the plastic sheets

Robert Schlemer

An important aspect of extending the lifespan of your skins is making sure you dry them properly. After a climb, skins should never be allowed to dry vertically on the skis if temperatures are high or UV rays are intense. Once you are home after a tour, make sure your damp or wet skins dry before you fold them. Never use a heater or other direct source of heat to dry your skins, let them dry at room temperature. Excessive heat or intense sunshine can badly damage the adhesive layer and render the skins unusable.

 

At the end of the season, skins should be stored in their skin bag and kept in a clean, cool, dark place that is not highly moist or dry.

The the basic rule when it comes to the care of ski skins is – “Prevention is better than repairs.” To recap what we have mentioned in this article, be sure that,
1. Wet spots and dirt are to be avoided as much as possible and both the adhesive and skin sides should be treated with care.
2. At very low temperatures carry your skins next to your body.
3. After every tour, dry the skins and never place them on a heater for that.
4. Always carry and store DYNAFIT Speedskins glue-to-glue. They will reactivate when you pull them apart.
5. Regular waxing improves glide and counteracts snow clumping and buildup.

Skin side care and prevention of snow clump buildup

Snow clumping or buildup is perhaps the biggest pain for ski tourers. When snow sticks to skins, you can’t properly glide anymore and forward progress becomes significantly more difficult. This phenomenon primarily occurs when there are big temperature swings on a tour – when the snow at the start is very wet, or skins in some other way become damp. Compared to other skins, DYNAFIT Speedskins have an integrated membrane and water-resistant treatment, which function to inhibit snow clumping or buildup. Whenever you can, avoid moisture as much as possible, and regularly wax your skins or apply waterproof treatments. This will help avoid snow clumps or buildup and at the same time improves the glide and grip properties of skins.

 

The skin side must also be protected from getting dirty as much as possible. When skins do get dirty, clean them with a damp cloth but do not use any cleaning agents. When frayed edges are present, they can be carefully trimmed with a nail scissor. In doing so, never damage the adhesive side but really only trim the threads.

Moisture is the biggest enemy of ski skins. Preferably just carry skins one extra time than be annoyed the entire tour with the buildup of snow clumps

Robert Schlemer

Adhesive side care and cleaning

When on a tour, not only can the skin side can fail, but the adhesive side can as well. If it is damaged then the skins will become detached from the ski base and snow can be pushed between the skin and skis. When transitioning, pay attention that the adhesive doesn’t touch dirt, pebbles, pine needles or grass, and that skins are protected from heat or UV rays. If the adhesive side still gets dirty, you should try to clean it as well as possible - best to do with a small tweezer or a sharp knife.

 

If you can’t fix the problem and the skins are otherwise in good shape, then the adhesive layer can be restored. To do this, we highly suggest visiting your local specialty retailer/competence center. Doing it yourself rarely finds success and, if you are unexperienced, can quickly turn into a bit of a mess.

Ski skins don’t have any business on a heater! This is a mistake you see over and over again

Robert Schlemer

Life hacks for your tour

Despite fastidious care and the observation of all tips, large and small mishaps can still happen during a tour. It never hurts to have at least one person in the group carrying a few emergency aids to fix a “broken skin.

 

The most frequent problem that happen on tours with skins is most certainly the glide ability of skins or snow clumping. To counter this, having skin wax or waterproofing spray in a pack can come in handy. If skins are not sticking properly to a ski anymore, you can’t of course restore adhesive when you are out and about, but you can use tape to find some temporary help. Same holds true for the attachment system. If this is defective, you can at least temporarily use tape or zip ties as a solution until you are back in the valley and can find a proper repair.

In sum

DYNAFIT ski touring bindings: What binding type are you?

It was 1980 when DYNAFIT introduced its first pin binding to the market, together with its inventor Fritz Barthel - this would revolutionize the sport of ski touring. Over the years, the pin binding has become the standard of touring bindings, as the pin system accounts for more than 70 percent of the ski touring bindings sold today. The pin binding not only weighs significantly less than frame bindings, but it also offers impressive safety, reliability and comfort on the ascent and descent.

 

This blog will cover what distinguishes the original DYNAFIT pin binding from others on the market, and will explain the different types/models of bindings available today to help you figure out which binding is the best for you.

Features and benefits of the original DYNAFIT pin binding

DYNAFIT has 35 years of expertise in the development and production of pin bindings behind them. Even though there have been more manufacturers to come to the market after the patent’s expiration, DYNAFIT remains “The Original.” The brand stands behind its products, so much that since 2019 DYNAFIT has offered a lifetime warranty on its bindings. All models are made by hand in Germany in Caritas workshops and undergo ongoing testing to guarantee the highest possible safety standards. Some binding models even have earned a TÜV certification, making DYNAFIT an industry pioneer in the safety world. At this time, DYNAFIT is the sole manufacturer with a current TÜV certification on two of its pin bindings - the Rotation 10 and 12. This means that a release from a pin binding can be just as reliable as from an alpine binding.

 

A lot has happened in recent years that goes beyond TÜV certification when it comes to the development of the pin binding. Today, DYNAFIT offers ski touring enthusiasts a large assortment of binding models suitable for every type of tourer in the Race, Speed, Tour and Free categories.

Always attach skins in the middle of the ski! Steel edges can easily damage skin edges. 

Robert Schlemer, product manager, equipment, ski touring

In order for you to maximize the life of your skins, you should always pay attention to; what size you are purchasing, as well as all of the attachment options on your skins - clips, hooks or wires.

 

When tensioning your skins, know that it doesn’t matter if you start from the tail or the top. If skins are tensioned at the ski tips, then you start attaching them from the tail and then start removing them from the ski tips. If skins are tensioned at the tail, then the process works in reverse.

 

The skin should in particular cover the width of the ski base well, but in all cases leave the edges free. Most manufacturers offer skins that are already made and delivered to fit a ski, which means you can be sure that the ski and the skins are ideally suited for each other. Once you have found the correct skin for you, then it comes down to the care of them. Every ski touring enthusiast needs to understand that consumable goods and will wear out over time. If you care for your skins well, they will work for you for a long time. If premium quality skins are treated properly, they can last for at least 150,000 meters of vert, often times it can be significantly longer.

Race Bindings: Minimalists

Robert Schlemer

When it comes to the lifespan of skins, taking a short cut through the woods is rarely a very good idea

Speed Bindings: For speed climbers

Performance and reliability in the spotlight: DYNAFIT Speed Bindings were developed for performance-oriented ski touring enthusiasts, whose focus is on fast climbs.

 

Are you looking for a challenge and an adventure? If you are at home on challenging terrain and in doing so want efficiency and lightness when out and about, then the technical DYNAFIT Speed Binding is your perfect companion. These models only weigh a couple hundred grams (or less) and at the same time have impressive durability, stability and excellent power transfer on the ski. With DYNAFIT Speed Bindings, particular attention was given to the variability so the bindings could be used in all kinds of conditions. In addition, efficiency plays a critical role to be able to economize energy reserves on challenging tours. Among its features are: multi-level heel risers and optional mounting brakes that have a large release range. In addition, the Speed Bindings are compatible with ski crampons to give you that little extra bit of safety in difficult conditions.

DYNAFIT skins should always be separated and stuck directly to each other without the plastic sheets

Robert Schlemer

An important aspect of extending the lifespan of your skins is making sure you dry them properly. After a climb, skins should never be allowed to dry vertically on the skis if temperatures are high or UV rays are intense. Once you are home after a tour, make sure your damp or wet skins dry before you fold them. Never use a heater or other direct source of heat to dry your skins, let them dry at room temperature. Excessive heat or intense sunshine can badly damage the adhesive layer and render the skins unusable.

 

At the end of the season, skins should be stored in their skin bag and kept in a clean, cool, dark place that is not highly moist or dry.

From skimo racing to speed ascents, from classic ski touring to descent-oriented freetouring, DYNAFIT has a large assortment of pin bindings to choose from. Depending on the intended use, bindings have a different focus such as lighter weight or the best possible comfort on a climb. However, all pin bindings have one thing in common: They have impressively high quality, are made in Germany, and feature a lifetime warranty. No matter which model you choose, you will always be on target with the original pin bindings from DYNAFIT. 

Touring Bindings: All-rounders

Comfortable and safe: DYNAFIT Touring Bindings are the all-purpose weapon for traditional ski touring enthusiasts. On a ski tour, do you find nature and the outdoors experience more important than personal bests on the way to the summit? Do you want to move efficiently on a climb and really enjoy the downhill? If you answered yes, then the DYNAFIT Touring Bindings are best-suited for you.

 

The models in this category are light enough for comfortable ascents and offer safety and stability on the downhill. Handling is simple and intuitive, and stepping into the bindings is easy. Multi-level heel risers, (which can be adjusted with your pole) are a part of the package just as are the integration of standard brakes. Touring Bindings are fully adjustable and release both laterally and vertically. For length adjustments, the Touring Bindings offer a lot of flex to adapt to different sole lengths. Both novices, who would like to familiarize themselves with the sport, and more experienced alpinists will find this model a good choice since it has been put to the test on the mountain many times. 

Moisture is the biggest enemy of ski skins. Preferably just carry skins one extra time than be annoyed the entire tour with the buildup of snow clumps

Robert Schlemer

When on a tour, not only can the skin side can fail, but the adhesive side can as well. If it is damaged then the skins will become detached from the ski base and snow can be pushed between the skin and skis. When transitioning, pay attention that the adhesive doesn’t touch dirt, pebbles, pine needles or grass, and that skins are protected from heat or UV rays. If the adhesive side still gets dirty, you should try to clean it as well as possible - best to do with a small tweezer or a sharp knife.

 

If you can’t fix the problem and the skins are otherwise in good shape, then the adhesive layer can be restored. To do this, we highly suggest visiting your local specialty retailer/competence center. Doing it yourself rarely finds success and, if you are unexperienced, can quickly turn into a bit of a mess.

Ski skins don’t have any business on a heater! This is a mistake you see over and over again

Robert Schlemer

Freetouring Bindings: Strong downhill performers

Powerful, sturdy and nearly indestructible: On a ski tour are you all about untouched powder and having loads of fun on a downhill? Can we find you in the backcountry on the steep canyons? If you answered yes, then the DYNAFIT Freetouring Binding is the right choice for you.

 

These models were developed for the strongest downhill performance and win points for their durable construction, responsiveness, and excellent power transfer on the ski. Safety is of the utmost importance, underscored by its TÜV certification. The Freetouring Binding features a pivoting toe piece, which evens out impacts on a powerful descent or on uneven terrain and prevents early or unintended releases on a downhill. The brakes are yet another great feature. They have outstandingly impressive handling since they also automatically fold up on the sides with your first step on a climb. Comfortable heel risers and a release value up to a 12 Z (DIN) are part of the features. This model is compatible with ski crampons for a safer approach to your dream line.

In sum

DYNAFIT pin bindings feature a very low weight, (between about 49 and 115grams ) and have a minimalist construction. When speed is the utmost importance for you, the DYNAFIT pin binding is the right model for you.

 

In skimo races, every second counts, which is why the bindings in this segment are simple and fast to operate. Comfort plays a secondary role with this binding segment, as much more of the focus is on core features. For example these models have no comfortable, multi-level heel risers and feature safety straps instead of brakes – which adhere to the guidelines of the ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation).
For the 2021-22 season, brakes will also be required in a race. DYNAFIT will offer the appropriate equipment for retrofitting and will have models that will feature brakes. Total efficiency for transitions between climbs and downhills and minimalistic weight will again be the focus.