Jun 22 2015

G3 Expands Climbing Skin Connections


New minimal metal twin-tip tail hook from G3.

New Minimal Metal Twin-Tip tail hook from G3.

When it comes to climbing skins it’s important to be mentally prepared to split hairs when it comes to differences. Which is another way to say that if you’re new to the sport of backcountry skiing, don’t worry about who makes the best climbing skins, just get a pair. You need to get some time under your belt to be able to appreciate the differences between nylon, mohair, and blended skin fibers, and the multitude of glue formulas out there.

However, there is one area where you don’t need to be very experienced to appreciate differences between climbing skins and that is in the tip and tail kit. In that arena, G3 has recently come out with some first rate options for securing your climbing skins to twin-tipskis, or skins for splitboards, particularly where they attach at the ends.

Tail hook for twins

Two-handed tip hook.

Two-handed tip hook.

Admittedly the tip and tail are not as critical as the glue when it comes to how easily a skin is to attach or remove, or how securely it remains on your skis in a multitude of conditions, but they add a noticeable ergonomic difference.

The building block for G3 tip and tail hardware began when they came up with the tip kit that used two pivoting hooks that grasp the tip of a ski from two sides. The pivoting hooks adapt to any shape tip, holding fast so they won’t be easily kicked off accidentally. One consequence of that is they don’t come off as easily as when you rip the hide with your skis on, but for most people that’s a non-issue since they take their skis off anyway before removing their skins.

What G3 did that is different is they applied the concept of holding the tip of ski from either side, to the tail as well, instead of the more common tail hook that holds on in the center. Center mounted tail hooks work great IFF you have a notch in the tail of your ski wide enough for the tail hook so it doesn’t drift to either side and slip off.

Currently available, after market Twin-Tip Connector.

Currently available, after market Twin-Tip Connector.

Twin-tips are notorious for not having a notch in them, but they are not the only style of ski that tend to not have a notch. It isn’t that hard to create one, but maybe you don’t want to do that, and with G3′s Minimal Metal tail hook, you don’t need to. It is simple, and about the same weight as center tail hooks, certainly not something worth quibbling over unless you’re gunning for a podium finish at a rando race, and even then, the convenience and security may justify a extra gram.

The only bummer is that the Minimal Metal hook is not available, not yet, as an aftermarket tail hook kit, at least for skis. You can obtain the same functionality with G3′s universal twin-tip connector kit, which fits on aftermarket bungee tails from G3.

Hooks for Splitters

New asymmetric, minimal metal tail hook for splitters.

New asymmetric, minimal metal tail hook for splitters.

The twin-tip fastening system is standard on this year’s split-skins, but next in Fall 2015 G3 will offer a further refinement to the tip and tail attachments BC boarders. The result helps to distribute tension along the length of the skin without it pulling to one side as tends to happen with simple, angled tip loops and single point tail hooks.

Next season's tip kit for splitboards.

Next season’s tip kit for splitboards.

As mentioned, the only real bummer with the minimal metal tail hook is that you can only get it with a new pair of G3 LT Alpinist climbing skins. At which point the basic performance of the skin needs to be appraised, how well they grip – to your ski and to the snow – and glide.

da Glue

As mentioned earlier, the dominant factor in attaching climbing skins is the glue. G3 has done something different with their glue. They aren’t claiming a new formula is responsible, rather, improvements aimed at greater consistency in the manufacturing process. I don’t have much time on the pair I recently added to my ongoing skin test pool, but I can say that it feels better out of the box. By better I mean that it has a tackier feel, a bit less rubbery than past generations of G3 skins, with a realistic level of grip that makes them admittedly hard to pull apart when stuck glue-to-glue, but not impossibly so, just enough to test your mettle without separating a shoulder or requiring a partner to pull them apart. This imparts confidence for those who live in colder climates where reliability supercedes convenience.

The Alpinist skins now come standard with a strip down the center to reduce excess grip when the skins are young. When the glue’s grip starts to fade, rip the strip to rejuvenate it.

Grip ‘n’ Glide

Smooth transition at the tail with welded technology.

Smooth transition at the tail with welded technology.

As far as the plush of the Alpinist goes, it has great glide with slightly below average grip. By that I mean it is plenty good enough for most conditions but if you’re setting a steep track you’ll slip sooner with these than with, say G3′s Expedition skin. The difference isn’t the type of fiber, but the density. With the Alpinist G3 has a less dense weave which saves weight and makes the skin easier to fold for storage, but doesn’t have as many fibers available to hold on a steep track when every hair counts. For most conditions this can be overcome with better technique and wider skins, but that attention to technique may cause you to slow down, whereas a grippier skin won’t require as much concentration to hold. Depending on your skinning style, the tradeoff may be justified.

One thing that is undeniable with G3 skins is how nice it is to have a tip and tail kit welded seamlessly to either end, providing a smooth transition between materials that can only enhance glide. If you’re looking for a pair of skins that works better with your twin-tip, or rockered skis, G3′s LT Alpinist skins should be a top contender.

LT Alpinist Climbing Skins
MSRP: $160-$210
Widths available: 70mm — 140mm
Lengths available: 155cm — 200cm
Available pre-trimmed for G3 brand skis.

Twin-Tip Connector
MSRP: $25

© 2015

Related Posts
Climbing Skin Category listing
Review: G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins