Accessories, Ski & Spa

Make Ski Skins Part of Your Backcountry Ski Gear

November 7, 2012 by


As autumn gives way to winter, snow has already fallen in some areas across the country. Those who love the thrill of venturing into the backcountry have already pulled out their gear.

For skiers who plan to ski that wild snow and make first tracks, adding ski skins to your backcountry gear is a good idea.

Ski Skins

What Are Ski Skins?

Ski skins, also called climbing skins, offer additional traction as you explore backcountry terrain that includes hills. As the name “skin” implies, this ski gear is designed to slip over the skis.

What type of ski skins you choose will depend on the skis you own and terrain you plan to tackle.

Choosing the Right Ski Skins

If you wear traditional cross-country touring skis, often ski skins designed to cover the middle portion of the ski works well for terrain with some climbing involved. However, if you wear a wider ski with more surface area, it is often better to use a skin that covers the entire bottom surface of the ski for more grip and better traction.

The challenge is that while skins work well for climbing, they are not designed for gliding, so it is wise to consider your route and choose the ski skins that will best meet your needs.

Skin material type: While ski skins were once made of seal skin, today’s ski climbing skins are made of either mohair or nylon. Nylon is favored when skiing wet snow, and mohair performs better for dry snow.

Attaching skins to skis: How you attach your climbing skins to your skis will be determined by the type of ski skins you purchase. Traditional skins attach with an adhesive backing that must be kept dry to work. Euro style skins attach using a loop on the front and hooks on the back.

Skin and Nordic Mountain Ski

Other Backcountry Ski Gear

Part of being a backcountry skier is being prepared. Backcountry skiing can be hazardous for a variety of reasons. That means thinking ahead and equipping yourself with the right gear is important.

Along with ski skins, other gear you may want to consider includes knee pads, ski crampons which come in handy when the snow is too slick for ski skins to work, and climbing wires. Stay safe and have fun!

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