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Dec 21 2011

Review: G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins

G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins • $130 - $180

You have to be pretty particular, or simply have skis that are too thick at the tip to not like G3′s Alpinist Climbing Skins out of the box. The tip and tail kit are impressive, as is their welded attachment to the skin itself. And then there is the reduced thread count, laid-back weave of the synthetic fibers in the plush for good glide and a glue that doesn’t appear to be excessively sticky out of the box.

Because the tip and tail are welded, there is no adjustment of length possible. That means you need to buy the correct predetermined length. Consider applying a variation of the carpenter’s rule: measure twice, buy once.

A closer look at the new tail kit.

G3′s braided wire tip loop and stretchy tail with a metal hook were revolutionary when first introduced, but quickly surpassed with the cammed tail hook concept now found on BD’s STS tail kit (developed by G3 ex-pat Ted Ayliffe). In this revised system G3 matches the camming action at the tail with a system that works like a belt buckle where the cammed metal hook attaches to the “buckle.” It goes on easy and is more secure, even though it appears to provide less overall tension. The plastic ‘buckle’ does give cause for concern over time, but is easily replaceable, though more expensive than a simple STS tail hook.

At the other end G3 provides two hooks to grasp the width of a ski tip that swivel to accommodate most any shape. Unfortunately these hooks are limited to wrapping around anything thicker than 7.5mm, which rules out some alpine skis with thick plastic tip protectors, but very few backcountry models. Although this tip hook system holds well, it doesn’t unhook as easily as a loop if you rip the hide without taking your skis off. It may not matter to you, unless you’re racing to beat the pack.

Lower thread count on the plush and a flat weave.

Thread count on the plush of the alpinist is noticably lower than normal. The net effect is two fold. Most noticeable is the improvement in glide over most other nylon skins. Too early to tell in my test regimen to say if it equals mohair, but glide is certainly at the high end of what synthetic skins can do, and perceptibly better out of the box compared to a Colltex 65/35 mixed plush. It also reduces weight a bit and makes the skin more supple and easier to fold and handle. So far there is no detectable difference in grip.

It’s too early to tell how immune they are to icing, or how well the glue matures. G3 has a reputation for glue with above average stickiness. In cold temperatures this can be an advantage, in warm it can be a liability depending on how fat your skins are. The glue is a non-toxic formula so all I’m certain of is that it will be different from the dominant reputation G3 skin glue has earned to date, which is to get overly gooey rather easily, especially if you let them get warm.

Though it isn’t the skin itself, G3′s skin trimming tool deserves a special mention. Most skin trimmers are just cheap envelope openers with a custom logo on them. To trim skins symmetrically you must actually offset placement of the skin to either side an extra 2-3mm when trimming so your edges will be exposed when all is said and done. Not so with G3′s tool. Simply center the skin on your skis and the trimming tool takes care of trimming the skin a few millimeters inside the edges of your skis so they are perfectly trimmed with a lot less effort.

Even the storage bag is a notch above the standard skin stuff sack. A fine denier red rip-stop nylon bag with a nice wide opening serves to store your skins in. The cinch tab is held in place so that you only need to pull on the drawstring to close it, then press the locking tab and pull on the skirt to open it. It isn’t a reason to chose these climbing skins over others, merely another example of the attention to detail exhibited with G3′s Alpinist skins.

I’ll report on the glue, grip and glide in more detail after I’ve logged half a dozen days on the half pair prepared for testing.

Welded tip and tail creates a very low profile.


Genuine Guide Gear
Alpinist Climbing Skins
MSRP: $130 – $180
Widths available: 70, 85, 100, 115, 130, 140 mm
Lengths available: 153 – 199 cm

© 2011

  • j

    Am using these currently. Have had the BDs and others in the past.
    The G3s glue seems to get ‘slimy’ when a little wet and all stickiness is lost necessitating a ‘drying’ break. The BDs seem to tolerate a little moisture (or it could the moisture is absorbed by all the debris contaminating the used BD skins ).
    The G3s seem to pack smaller.

  • j

    oh yea, I’m switching-out the tail hook for the BD cam.

  • bob

    BD hooks cause the [G3] tail strap to break…that’s why the g3 clip design is as it is…plastic on plastic is easier on the strap.

  • j

    Roger! Thanks. I’m replacing the whole tail.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/aidan.drumstas Aidan Drumstas

    a few months back used a pair of G3 skins and although they worked i did not enjoy the ride as much as a pair of Magic Carpets. i felt the the G3′s did not catch and hold as well on the snow. Needs better grip!