Volkl Custom Climbing Skins ReviewJune 27, 2018
- Effective tip & tail connectors
- Tapered cut is symmetrical for easier storage
- Pre-cut to fit Volkl skis
- 100% Mohair provides efficient glide
- Only work with Volkl Skis that have a tip hole
- Glue is so tacky they are difficult to separate
- Glue turns black over time
The advent of pre-cut climbing skins has spared countless people stress, grief and frustration. Trimming a pair of skins is not an easy process for most, so being able to take them out of the box and use them right away is a huge plus. Volkl’s Custom Climbing Skins use a unique skin pin system which makes application and removal simple and easy with no chance of them slipping off. Their high tack glue also helps with this. While their weight falls in line with most other skins on the market their glide is more than impressive thanks to their 100% mohair plush. Continue reading for all the details.
Glide to Grip Ratio
With a 100% mohair plush the Volkl Custom Climbing Skins provide more glide than grip.This does not mean that the grip is sub-standard, however. In testing they performed well and didn’t slip on hard pack nor icy snow conditions.
Climbing skin plush material is a personal preference, some prefer nylon, some mohair and some a blend of both. While the bending of these two fabrics tends to make the most sense, this 100% mohair plush worked well in all conditions and provided an efficient glide.
The downfall of most climbing skins is the quality of their attachment mechanisms. Most don’t spend the design time needed for them to be effective and easy to use. The result is a cheap feeling solution that doesn’t always work on all skis. Volkl got it right with their integrated skin pin design. This uses a pin on the tip of the skin that fits easily into a hole on Volkl touring skis. A 90° turn of the skin ensures that they will remain secure and snow creep will be minimal. On the tails of the skins are an adjustable plastic hook which fits over a notch in the tail of the skis. While this solution is effective the plastic hook does tend to slide over time and can loosen off the skins.
The glue found on the Volkl Custom Climbing Skins is very tacky and sticks well in any temperature. While some low tack glues such as those found on the Profoils and Evotec skins can lose their stickiness in colder weather, this was not an issue with the skins. If anything, the Volkl Custom Climbing Skins were almost too sticky and proved hard to separate after being stored glue on glue. Over time the glue also became black with contamination and use, nothing that affected performance but rather just aesthetics.
Thanks to the symmetrical cut, thin profile and minimal attachment mechanisms of the Volkl Custom Skins, they weigh in a full 15% lighter than other skins that the company offers and a full 5-8 ounces lighter than most other skins reviewed. While 5-8 ounces may not sound like a lot, everything adds up when talking about backcountry skiing and as long as performance and ease of use don’t suffer then it’s all welcome. The Fischer Profoils are the next closest climbing skin with regards to weight and even those are still 3.5 ounces heavier. At the high end of the scale, the High Trail Evotec skins are a full 12 ounces heavier than the Volkl’s. This is substantial and worth considering when making a decision on which to purchase.
Ease of Use
Because the Volkl Custom Climbing Skins are pre-cut and ready to use out of the box, they scored high marks for ease of use. Cutting skins is a daunting task for most people and one you don’t want to mess up, but unfortunately, you only get one crack at it so to have them already sized is not only a relief but also a time saver for most.
The application and removal of these skins are also super easy given that they are designed to work with the built-in skin pin system on all Volkl touring skis. Simply insert the skin pin into the ski’s tip hole and turn 90° to lock the skin in place then fasten the tail clip. To remove, just do this in reverse, rotate 90° and remove.
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.