High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins ReviewJune 27, 2018
- Glide & grip are excellent
- Very easy to seperate
- Lighter than traditional glue skins
- Tip attachment fits any size/brand of ski
- Contaminants can be washed off with water
- Fragile plastic tail clip
- Noisy bang as metal rivet tails hit the ski
- Adhesion temperamental in very cold
The Switzerland-based parent company of High Trail is called Nova Sport AG, and was founded in 2005 by Yvonne Rochat. Initially the company offered classic glue-based climbing skins (100% mohair). Later, they ventured into the “glueless” climbing skin market with their Evotec skins (65% mohair and 35% nylon). The only other glueless climbing skin company called Gecko; This company has since stopped manufacturing their skins as they encountered issues with the adhesive.
The glueless climbing skin market is a very small and risky one, as it dares to deviate from the tried and true glue-based skins most manufacturers use. While traditional glues have their issues when it comes to ease of separation, they generally stay firmly affixed to your skis when applied. Glueless skins are temperamental when they get too cold or contaminated with snow. Both scenarios will lead to a lack of adhesion and the High Trail skins will need to re-warmed, which takes time.
While there is a down side to the High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins, they can work flawlessly when properly managed; They require a higher level of babying than traditional skins. The adhesive side can be cleaned using only water, so they’ll last much longer than glue-based skins, which ultimately need to have the glue replaced as it becomes contaminated with use.
Glide to Grip Ratio
Climbing skins are traditionally made with either mohair or nylon fibres, with mohair providing better glide characteristics, and nylon having better grip on the snow. Nylon is more durable and is highly hydrophobic, so it doesn’t absorb water as easily as mohair. As each material possesses its own unique set of benefits, it only makes sense to combine them! The High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins use a blend of 65% mohair and 35% nylon, providing great glide and grip.
While the glide and grip characteristics of a climbing skin are important, it’s almost equally as important how the climbing skin attaches to the skis. If the skins are not fastened securely and can fall off during a climb, then they risk contamination with snow which will compromise their adhesive qualities. Most skins use a tensioning system to provide a solid fit, typically with a rubberized tail segment. The High Trails use the skin material itself, which does have some stretch but is by no means elastic enough to provide adequate tension. Both the tip and tail clips are very basic in design and their assumed durability does not instil confidence. However, since the High Trails tip and tail clips are universal in design, they can be used on any ski shape or brand.
The High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins do not use a traditional glue, but instead utilize a silicone-based adhesive coating which allows them to separate easily when stored sticky to sticky sides. This low tack adhesive does not stick firmly to itself, but does work well when the skins are applied to the base of the skis. That is, as long as the silicone remains free of snow and is kept warm after the first use. We found we had to be very careful not to let any snow come in contact with the silicone side of the skins while removing or applying them. When the skins are not adhered to the skis, it is also important that they’re kept in a jacket to ensure they do not get too cold on frigid days (causing the silicone to lose its adhesive quality). This is especially true in temperatures at or below -10°C (-4ºF).
The silicone-based adhesive coating on the High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins is minimal at best when compared to the thickness of traditional glues. This lack of glue helps keep the weight of the High Trails to a respectable 28 ounces per pair. The fact that the tail of the skin is simply made from the skin material itself saves more weight, as does the basic plastic tail clip and basic metal and plastic tip clip. The overall weight of the High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins is noticeably less when compared to traditional skins, and their ability to fold up smaller is an added bonus.
Ease of Use
The toughest part about using any climbing skin is separating the skins prior to attaching them to the skis. Since skins are stored glue on glue, there is an incredible amount of adhesion that needs to be overcome to separate them. While there are ‘tricks of the trade’ to make this process easier, the use of a silicone-based adhesive like that on the High Trail Evotec Climbing Skins makes them very easy to pull apart. So little effort is required that you quickly make your ski touring partners jealous.
Brad Steele is the co-creator of BackcountrySkiingCanada.com, a one-stop-shop for skiers and riders seeking timely, on-the-money information. BackcountrySkiingCanada.com is where you’ll find route descriptions, product reviews, guides, videos, comps and other like minded people who are as amped on ski touring as you are.