Dec 13 2011

Review: BCA Magic Carpet Climbing Skins

After several years of simply hanging in there and offering the lowest priced climbing skin in the American market, BCA’s climbing skins were upgraded last season. They wouldn’t disclose who their new source was, but I can assure you that out of the box the new Magic Carpets are indeed an upgrade. How good of an upgrade depends on how well the glue ages.

BCA's Magic Carpet climbing skins (outdated graphics). Improved tip and tail kit with much improved glide.

First impression is that the plush is definitely improved. The older BCA skins (Lo-Fat), besides being more prone to icing up than most other brands, had noticeably inferior glide. Not anymore. On their maiden test climb I paired ‘em against a 65/35 Mohair/Nylon mix from Colltex.

It was early December with very little fresh snow left from the last significant storm – over a month earlier. But the local hills have been blowing snow to justify selling tickets on weekends so there was a run available to get a short work out in at Sugar Bowl.

As expected, on the groomed and polished slopes under Jerome lift the Magic Carpets had zero issues with grip. On the glide side the new Magic Carpets equaled or exceeded the glide of the Colltex skins, which is quite a dramatic improvement over the original Lo-Fat skins BCA sold. Closer inspection suggests that the plush uses a weave that causes the fibers to lay flat, a known factor for improving glide.

The glue was about as sticky as any other brand out of the box. In other words, sticky enough that waxing your bases is necessary if you want to rip the hide without taking your skis off. I did, so they worked as expected, pulling off in a single yank at the top of the climb.

Riveted, bent-wire tip loop accomodates ski tips up to 0.35" (~9mm) thick.

The tip and tail kit are effective, but not impressive. Thickness at the tip was measured to be 0.35″ (~9mm), so not enough for skis with fat tips. You may do a double take when you first look at them. The classic euro concept of a bungeed tip loop with a riveted tail loop are there, but inverted. The tip is a bent wire loop that is riveted to the leading edge. This makes for a clean, low profile transition from the tip to the skin. A similarly shaped bent wire loop hooks over the tail of the ski, with a tension adjusting section of rubber to another wire loop that you attach to the tail of the skin just like you would ordinarily do at the tip, by trimming and folding over the skin to stick to itself. It’s a great system for twin-tips, but for flatter tails the doubled over skin may increase drag a bit so I wouldn’t recommend ‘em if you intend to place on the podium of a rando race. For regular turn earning tours though the extra thickness at the tail should only increase grip.

For testing purposes I left the tail hook off to make sure the glue was good enough to work without a tail hook and give me a better indication of how quickly it degrades over time.

More updates when I’ve logged 10 days or so on these and can give some indication of how immune they are or are not for icing, and how the glue is aging.

Backcountry Access
Magic Carpet Climbing Skins
Widths available: 100mm – 150mm
MSRP: $140 – $185

© 2011