Materials: Textured Polyethlene Sheet—excellent grip, superior glide, and totally waterproof.Buy Here
Skins. Ah skins. On a recent tour, a backcountry buddy of mine pontificated about the sticky fur, saying, "It's so important, but usually the last thing I think of in terms of backcountry gear." And I have to say I agree with him. For years, I've made due with hand-me-down skins and basically subscribed to the "if it sticks, it works" mentality.
The Fischer Pro Foil Skins are not made with the traditional fiber found on most skins. Instead, Fischer opted for a waxless plastic crown-skin like pattern. I was surprised how grippy they were on variable terrain.
In researching this product, I read several early reviews in which testers used one Pro Foil skin on one ski and a traditional skin on the other. I opted not to do that, because that's one of the kookiest things a skier could do. Two different skins? Maybe in a pinch. If you're going to test it, test it the right way.
And so my backcountry ski partner and I went for an hour tour up Mount Rose, located in the northern part of Lake Tahoe. Snow conditions are variable, with pockets of powder available after touring through hard pack, sugar snow, ice, and an occasional dirt patch. It was early season.
The skins held up, gripped well, and I felt comfortable gliding and stomping over all those conditions knowing a hard plastic would be more durable than a traditional skin. And it is. Also, the plastic doesn't absorb water the way a fiber-bottomed skin would, so I found a more consistent tour the entire ascent.
The glide is slightly compromised, but not enough to be a non-starter. I used my Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Skins a few days prior, but conditions were a little warmer and the snow more consistent. It's hard to say which provided more glide in a comparison, though the Pro Foil certainly gave more confidence on tricky ascents. It's really that grippy.
When it comes to touring, skiers tend to focus on the beacon, shovel, probe, airbag, boots, bindings, and skis. Skins are seldom discussed, because "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Fischer Pro Foil is unique, well made, and certainly coming with me this season on backcountry tours. Like before, I probably won't think about them much and that's the entire idea.
Note: I found one peculiar problem with the Pro Foil. In short, they cannot be stuck together or to themselves the way a traditional skin would. If you do, beware, it is nearly impossible to unstick. Hopefully Fischer can fix this in the future.