Feb 17 2014

Review: High Trails “Post-It” Climbing Skins

Update 27aug17 — Glue verdict after 4 seasons

There’s another “glueless” climbing skin now available from High Trails. Like other claims of glueless, this claim in pure marketing spin, of the 180° variety. They most definitely use a glue, but it is a silicon based adhesive that acts more like a Post-It, especially compared to the tackiness of traditional skin glues. So while it isn’t really glueless, it is a far more manageable glue that is easy to put on, take off, and peel apart after storing.

Grip ‘n Glide

A dense 65/35 blend of mohair and nylon makes up the High Trails climbing skin.

A dense 65/35 blend of mohair and nylon makes up the High Trails climbing skin.

The plush on my test pair is a 70/3065/35 mohair/nylon blend. There are no issues with grip, it holds well to 25° on a polished skin track with the requisite technique 25° demands, and above in grippy snow. On first impression glide is good, but that’s as far as it gets. It is a very subtle thing but I’m starting to notice that a blended plush does not glide as good as some nylon skins, and definitely not as good as pure mohair. Compared to a mohair Gecko, or Ascension skins, High Trails didn’t glide as well, but are far better than K2 nylon skins or G3′s High Traction skins.

Glueless means glue with less goo

New "Post-It" style climbing skin from High Trails.

New “Post-It” style climbing skin from High Trails.

How does High Trails Post-It formula stack up? So far so good. The same could be said for Geckos in their early days, but not necessarily in the long haul. My Geckos are now 18 months old and they seem to have good days and bad days when they leave a residue. I haven’t figured out what the distinguishing factor is yet.

Like the Geckos, High Trails glue feels smooth and rubbery to the touch, not gooey and tacky. There’s just enough stick factor for them to hold to the base of your skis and once you press on them the rubbery surface acts line a giant suction cup to hold fast. Like the Geckos, dirt and gunk seem to brush off them relatively easily, not ruining them by adhering too well.

The pair I received came without a tail kit and so far I haven’t felt the need to add one. I know some day I will, and then it’ll be an STS tail kit, still the best aftermarket skin tail. The tip is a pre-formed, bent wire tip that fits skis with a thin tip only. It’s wide and the shape of the wire helps it ride low on the shovel of your skis, preventing them from being kicked off.

If you’re on the lookout for new skins and are tired of feeling like you’re going to dislocate your shoulders pulling your fat skins apart, or using those PITA skin savers on a windy ridge, you’ll love these skins from High Trails. The big question with skins isn’t “how’s the glue out-of-the-box?” but “how does the glue last?” To that I’ll defer to their claim of a “reasonable” lifetime warranty on the glue. I don’t know how many years reasonable lifetime translates into since I’ve never worn out the plush of any climbing skin ever. It’s always the glue that gives up. However, I’m reasonably certain that if you don’t drag them on the asphalt to the trailhead, or dip them in strange chemicals and the glue stops working as expected, they’ll “fix” ‘em.

As of February 2014, trying to find where to buy them will be the biggest problem these skins pose.

Update 27aug17 — Glue verdict after 4 seasons

After four seasons of use, albiet not continuous use, the longevity of the “glue,” or more properly, the “adhesive” for High Trails “glueless” climbing skins is as good as promised. In other words, the ability to stick to the bottom of a pair of skis and not let go is as good as the first day, with two caveats.

1) Fix the tail – get STS

First, the tail clip that High Trails provides is mediocre. The best tail kit remains the STS tail kit because it has simple camming action on the clip and a stretchy tail that takes up the slack when a skin gets wet and stretches. All skins stretch to some degree or another and the tail provided by High Trails does not have the elasticity to take up the stretch and thus, can loosen and fall off. So, if you want these skins to go the distance replace the tail with an STS tail kit. Don’t even wait until you have a failure in the field.

2) Clean the Adhesive

The reality is the adhesive is not gripping like traditional glue with a chemical bond, but works through suction. As a quick touch will confirm, this silicon based adhesive feels like rubber with a light sensation of stickiness. If you were to look at a cross section of the adhesive you’d see that the surface looks like rows of frozen waves in a corduroy pattern. When pressure is applied to the skin, those waves of corduroy act like suction cups to hold onto the base of the ski. It works great as long as the grooves between the high points are void of dust, dirt, or water. If anything fills up the space between, the cups can’t hold on. Which is why these skins tend to fail in the field when cold flakes of snow get in between the adhesive and base, compromising the suction.

The solution is to do something you can’t do with traditional, sticky glues – clean the glue. To do that you simply need to wash the adhesive with some mild detergent, warm water, and it helps to use something like a tooth brush. Use those bristles to brush lengthwise and clean out the grooves. In my experience it also helps to scrape the glue with your fingernails under a faucet of running water. To do a good job of cleaning may take 10-20 minutes per skin, but then they stick like they’re new again.

In my experience any reduction in the ability for High Trails skins to stick reliably derives from the adhesive primarily from being dirty. Depending on conditions you might be able take up to a dozen tours before needing to wash the adhesive.

The other condition that is problematic is severe cold, like +9 F / -15 C or colder. At these temps the silicon adhesive is stiffer and doesn’t deform enough to create enough suction. That’s where a good tail and clean adhesive can save the day.

High Trails
Evotec Climbing Skins
Pricing: 65/35 Mohair/Nylon blend $250, 100% Mohair $270
Widths available: 100mm, 120mm, 140mm
For availability contact Powder Tribe online or on the phone (775.849.3393)

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