Skin Set Up – Part One

| December 29, 2008 | 6 Comments

I’m the first to admit that I’m anal-retentive when it comes to setting up my skins.  Why? Because spending an hour or so in the beginning getting your skins just right means you never have to fool with them again and that they seldom fall off or fail in the field.  I can’t remember the last time I had a skin failure.  Once skins are properly trimmed and adjusted, they can take all sorts of abuse, such as walking across rocks, asphalt and logs.

One of the most important parts of trimming out a pair of skins is to hold them back about 3/16″ from the edges.  Many people just trim them “neat” to the edges (as much out of laziness as anything), but that makes it much harder to get the skins on the ski and you lose your sharp edge when you need it on firm snow.  The tiny bit of extra grip you’ll get by going wall-to-wall is irrelevant compared to the problems it causes.

To trim the edge back, first trim it “neat” to the edges, then move the skin over so about 3/16″ of an inch is hanging over, trim it off, then do the other side.
An expert skier/skinner with full-width skins being humbled into a self arrest on an icy slope as he couldn’t sink an edge in. I’m glad you were okay Steve. ;)

On the tip, if I think there is any chance I might adjust the length of the skin, I use a rounded end.  This gives a bit more adhesive-to-adhesive contact, plus it allows the sides of the skin to grip a bit more, which helps to keep snow from packing in there (the beginning of the end).  As most of my skis have dedicated skins, I cut the tip off short and sew it tight with some beefy thread.  This ensures that the tip loop never comes off, gives a nice smooth contact profile to the skin and saves a bit of weight & bulk.

On skins which are dedicated to a certain pair of skis, I cut the nose short, then stitch it on as shown on the left. On skins that may change skis, I trim the nose with a half circle (as shown on the right).

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Help support StraightChuter.com and pick up my current skin of choice, the Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Skin from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: 05 Uphill

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (6)

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  1. randosteve says:

    You’re one of those edge showing guys?? I can’t believe it!!!

  2. Andrew says:

    I expose my edges and enjoy wearing pantyhose – what can I say? :)

    Oh… I also added another photo to help illustrate why a bit of edge can be helpful at times.

  3. David says:

    Plus the more you trim, the lighter your skins!

    Glad Andrew doesn’t have any shots of me like that.

    Steve, you should defend the edgeless side of the argument and maybe post a pic of Andrew in pantyhose.

  4. david says:

    hey andrew,
    have you seen G3s new skin trimming tool? very slick:
    http://www.campsaver.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=g30017

  5. Andrew says:

    Very cool! It seems obvious in retrospect, which is the sign of a good design.

  6. randosteve says:

    The skins for those BD Stigmas were a pre-cut version from BD…which I think left some of the edge exposed.

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