Feb 19 2017

Review: BD Ultralite Mo-mix Skins

Reaping the rewards of turns earned with Glidelite Climbing Skins.

Reaping the rewards of turns earned with Ultralite Climbing Skins.

Like any decent pair of climbing skins, Black Diamond’s Glidelite Ultralite climbing skins, the mohair mix variety, is a product guaranteed to get you to the goods and plaster your face with at least a smile, if not a giggle of delight for the face shots.

As with most climbing skins, the grip and glide quotient of BD’s Glidelite Ultralite Mo-mix skins fall in the range of what you ought to expect and won’t disappoint. However, when one looks beyond the plush you might prefer another brand for either the tackiness of the glue or the tip hardware, but not the tail; the STS tail hook still rules.

Balancing Grip & Glide

BD's Glidelite Mo-mix Skins

BD’s Ultralite Mix Skins. Sticky Glue. Good Grip. Good Glide. STS Tail rules. Dynema tip – meh.

With a 65/35 blend of mohair to nylon the grip is solid and the glide good, a good balance between holding on when you need a little extra holding power on a slick and steep patch of white pavement versus the glide in your stride. You could find a better gripping skin, but with a lot less glide. If your buddy can climb steeper than you, blame your technique, not the grip of these skins. Conversely, you could find a skin with better glide but then you will need an extra dose of technique in those moments when grip matters more.

The potion

Same as ever; functional, reliable, adjustable,  plus a 4th rivet.

Same as ever; functional, reliable, adjustable, plus a 4th rivet.

In the glue department BD’s Ultralite is extra sticky. Out of the box I could not rip the skin from my ski base with a single swing of my arm. No, that glue did not separate easily from the base and my rip-the-hide routine was reduced to a balance challenging, strenuously slow pull. Fortunately, by the fifth tour I could pull the skin off in a slow steady movement. Still too slow to be satisfying, but the hoped for reduction in tackiness has become manifest and there is hope these Ultralites won’t end up in the ugly skin bin. If you always take your skis off to de-skin, and especially if you tend to ski in really cold conditions, you’ll like this glue. Ironically, even as sticky as it is while young, snow regularly crept between the base and the glue. In the extreme that could cause the glue to fail, but in my experience, is magnified by cold temperatures. For reference, most tours have been in the range of 15°F (-9°C) or colder.

STS tail hook – Still a Fave

At the tail is BD’s classic STS tail hook, still the best in the market save the fact it doesn’t come welded on BD skins but thankfully it is hardware that can be added to improve the tail of nearly any brand of climbing skin except those that are welded on, and even those in the event of a repair. This tail hook cams tight onto the tail of your ski and you can easily adjust the tension by moving the hook up or down the length of the bungee strip. It takes a bit of mechanical aptitude to install, but doesn’t require a degree.

Dynema cord tip loop – meh

It looks svelte, but allows snow to creep under at the tip. Perhaps there is a better way to trim the skin to minimize that issue?

In theory this tip loop has promise,
in practice it needs some polish.

I was intrigued by the tip loop which is a nice wide bar that slips over the tip of your ski and is attached to the skin via a loop of Dynema cord running through a plastic clamp. The plastic whachamacallit uses the classic BD approach of three screws to hold the top and bottom tight around the skin with a channel for the cord. Just be careful when you put all the pieces together that the tip loop isn’t accidentally on backwards (like I did).

My expectation was that with less material at the tip the glide would be better. I don’t know if such a subtle thing is possible to be noticed since the only time you might notice is in deep heavy snow – certainly not in Rocky Mountain fluff. Every time I’ve been out using them I’ve broken trail but I certainly didn’t notice compared to a Volkl skin with plush almost to the very tip of the ski. What I did notice was that the snow crept in under the skin at the tip. That, and the cord attachment allowed the tip loop to slide to the side, threatening to fall off. It never did, but it did cause me to stop and adjust it, an unexpected annoyance. In theory this tip loop has promise, in practice it needs some polish.

Bottom line

Good climbing skins, but I’m not sure I’d recommend the Dynama cord style tip loop. If you like a sticky glue and the STS tail, and the performane of a mohair/nylon mixed plush these are a solid choice. Just get BD’s other tip loop that won’t slide off and is less prone to snow creep at the tip.

Black Diamond
Ultralite Mix Skins
MSRP: $185
Weight (110mm x 180cm): 1 lb., 4 oz. (586 g)

Glidelite Mohair Mix Climbing Skins
MSRP: $180.00
Weight (110mm x 180cm): 1 lb., 5 oz. (603 g)

© 2017

  • djhutch

    I was confused about these skins and your switching back and
    forth being calling them Glidelites and Ultralites in this the first paragraph and first photo caption adds to the confusion. Are the new Ultralites simply the Glidelites with a different, lighter tip connection, or did BD also make the skin itself lighter? BTW, I
    agree that the Glidelite has the perfect combo of grip and glide and the STS
    connection system is the best.

  • Dostie

    Haste makes waste. Caught the fact these are Ultralite, not Glidelite, but didn’t correct all instances of the mistake.Thanks for pointing that out. Corrections will make your comment sound misguided, but….

  • djhutch

    Since I can’t type a single sentence anymore without four typos, I understand. Why not delete these comments and edit the review?

    I am still confused about BD’s current skins. I think the new (like new this year or last year) Glidelites are lighter than the old Glidelites, but I still am curious where the new Ultralites fit in. Not simply gear geek-ery, I am currently in the market for a new pair of hides.

  • Dostie

    Depending on where you live – I’d say it’s time to consider the Kohla (Volkl) “vacuum” skins. They won’t work if you get moisture between the glue and base, but work well otherwise and are MUCH easier to “manage.”

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