For backcountry skiers, climbing skins are your life line. While they're necessary for ascending slopes and ridges to access the goods, having a solid pair that won't fail (think tail clips breaking or loss of glue adhesion) is integral to having a long and safe day out in the mountains. There are a ton of options on the market, from glueless skins that attach via silicon (potentially problematic if you're taking more than one run), nylon and mohair blends that aid in climbing and gliding efficiency, to super sleek and lightweight race skins. Each of them have their own specific purpose, but for the vast majority of backcountry touring, the below climbing skins will suit you just about every time you head out and up.

Mohair glides much easier on the skin track, though it can break down easily on sharp rocks, etc. since it’s a much thinner material. It also requires a more seasoned step—i.e. if you aren’t used to skinning you will probably slip more with a Mohair skin than nylon. Nylon skins are a bit burlier when it comes to wear and tear, they don’t glide as well along the flats but will get anyone up a steep skinner since they grip well.

Of note, the blends that are currently on the market work super well like the Pomoca Pro S-Glide. But I featured the Mohair since I think it’s a tad better.

 

For years my go-to climbing skin was either the G3 Alpinist or Black Diamond Ascension. But after trying the Swiss-made Pomoca, I have yet to go back and have been using the Climb Pro Mohair and their Climb Pro S-Glide exclusively. Interestingly, many ski brands, likeVoile, Movement, Blizzard, and K2, use Pomoca for their own white-label skins as well. Pomoca's website has a great chart that shows how well the specific models glide versus provide traction. I've found the Climb Pro Mohair has better grip than their nylon blends, and can handle slippery south-facing skinners yet still cruise the flats with ease–the ultimate combination. They also pack down well and rip-off easily when I'm transitioning at the top. And of note, the trimming tool is in a class of its own, allowing you to run the secure two-handed tool down the ski leaving the correct amount of edge exposed in just one slick cut.

If you're plan is to go straight up and not worry about gliding efficiency, the BD Ascension skin is for you. While the company makes a mohair blend mix, the reliability of the pure nylon Ascension has stood the test of time and is often spotted on the skin track. The STS tail clip provides 10 centimeters of adjustability, and allows you to crank it down to avoid snow from creeping between the ski and skin. BD's glue is superb, eliminating the worry of a skin failure, but new Ascensions benefit from a bit of snow tossed on it if you plan on ripping them fast. They also will last for years. I have several back-up pairs from older skis just waiting to be called in off the bench.

 This year G3 redesigned its entire line of skins. The Universal is essentially what the Alpinist was and each model utilizes a sheath of polyurethane scales (taken from their Scala model) to eliminate snow buildup along the tip. The new Alpinist had an impressive grip as well as glide along packed-in skinners and through various temperature fluctuations. Unfortunately, the glue still seems to leave a bit of residue. For years, G3 skins had the majority of the market share given their awesome tip and tail connectors, but recently their skin glue has been prone to getting gooey and sticking to your ski base. G3 re-engineered the adhesive, and the new one hasn't left as much residue as the older models, but still left a bit near my tail connection last winter. While it's an improvement over the older generation, it still may be best to strip off once it gets gooey and replace it with BD's glue if you're keen on their tip and tail attachments.