The Best Climbing Skins

We tested climbing skins on a quiver of skis over the course of three seasons in the British Columbia backcountry. This allowed us to try the skins on every type of terrain in every type of snow condition.

Our favorite climbing skins were the Dynafit Speedskin, though the attachment mechanism is only compatible with Dynafit skis. If you ski the Dynafit brand, of course you should purchase these lightweight and easy to use skins! If you don’t, our second favorite skins are the G3 Alpinist skins, which are affordable nylon climbing skins with innovative tip and tail attachments that can be used on a variety of skis.

As always, don’t forget to travel in the backcountry safely and wisely. Consult your local avalanche forecast before traveling in unmitigated backcountry terrain, travel with partners, and make sure to carry rescue equipment and know how to use it.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Dynafit Speedskin Climbing Skins
91
Best in Class
2017
Grip to Glide Ratio 8
Glue Quality 9
Attachments 9
Weight 7
Ease of Use 9
Value 9

Easy on/off

Packable and light

Laser cut to fit Dynafit skis

Hard to find in North America

Only works with Dynafit skis

MSRP
$180.00
BEST DEAL
$189.95
G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins
90
Grip to Glide Ratio 7
Glue Quality 9
Attachments 9
Weight 8
Ease of Use 8
Value 9

New tail cam works beautifully

Range of sizes from 70–140mm

User assembled so they fit any skis

Great price

Not as light as 100-percent mohair skins

Grip is not always effective on colder days or hard packed up tracks

MSRP
$145.00
BEST DEAL
$140.99
evo
Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Climbing Skins
85
Grip to Glide Ratio 8
Glue Quality 8
Attachments 6
Weight 7
Ease of Use 7
Value 9

Fits most ski widths and lengths since you customize them yourself

Durable nylon plush stands up to multiple years of use

Grips in all types of snow conditions

The tail clip is designed to integrate with Black Diamond Skis

You have to cut and essentially build the skins to suit your specific skis (not for everyone)

The adjustable tip and tail attachments wear out over time

You may pull a muscle trying to separate the glue, it’s that strong

MSRP
$140.00
BEST DEAL
$159.95
Atomic Charter Climbing Skins
84
Grip to Glide Ratio 8
Glue Quality 8
Attachments 6
Weight 8
Ease of Use 7
Value 7

Pre-cut for easy, out-of-the-package use

Will fit other skis of similar dimensions as there are no proprietary tip or tail connectors

Plastic tail clip will likely fail at some point or crack

Tip connector is fairly basic and will not accommodate a fatter ski

Tail clip falls off skis with rounded tails

MSRP
$172.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Colltex Mohair Climbing Skins
81
Grip to Glide Ratio 8
Glue Quality 8
Attachments 6
Weight 8
Ease of Use 5
Value 6

Treated to repel water

Good grip and glide characteristics

A protective storage sheet must be used to prevent glue side from coming into contact with itself

Plastic Tail clip will likely fail at some point or crack

Tail cam-lock can be finicky to use

Expensive

MSRP
$210.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Gecko Climbing Skins
79
Grip to Glide Ratio 7
Glue Quality 4
Attachments 5
Weight 9
Ease of Use 9
Value 5

Adhesive is easy to separate

Lightest skins we’ve tested

Very low bulk so they compact down well

Tail clips break easily

If the adhesive gets cold then snow contaminates them, it’s game over

Very expensive

MSRP
$240.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Dynafit Speedskin Climbing Skins

Skiers owning a pair of Dynafit skis should consider the Dynafit Speedskin Climbing Skins. The Speedskin’s nylon and mohair plush blend offer the best grip and glide performance in our test. Additionally, the custom metal tail cam and rubber tip connection make using the Speedskins an easy process compared to other skins.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins

At just $145, the G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins provide huge value compared to other skins on the market. Being the lowest priced skins I reviewed I was expecting less from the Alpinist Skins but actually received more in the form of an innovative and effective tip clip and tail cam designs that worked seamlessly with any ski I tested them on.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at evo

Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Climbing Skins

Like all things Black Diamond, the Ascension Nylon STS Climbing Skin is a great product at a fair price. The ability to custom trim the skins to fit virtually any width and length ski is a huge plus, though it may also be the downfall for those not handy with simple tools. The Ascension’s nylon plush fabric proved durable and should outlast the tip and tail attachment hardware—luckily those can be purchased separately when replacement is necessary. Being a synthetic skin, the Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Climbing Skins will not provide as much glide as a mohair climbing skin but the grip is far more of a concern for most and this is where the Ascension Skins shine.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at REI.com

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What are Skins for skiing?

by: Last Updated:

Climbing skins are a crucial part of your backcountry ski set-up. First and foremost you are going to want lightweight skis with an AT (alpine touring) binding and adjustable ski poles. Next you need climbing skins to help you ski uphill. And don’t forget your avalanche gear: beacon, shovel, and probe, plus a backpack to carry it all in!

The very first consideration when purchasing climbing skins is the tip and tail attachment, and related to this is ski compatibility. Several brands make skins that are precut and perfectly compatible with their skis. For example, Dynafit has a custom tip and tail attachment that only works with Dynafit skis and skins, and each ski has a specific corresponding skin. Black Diamond also makes pre-cut skins for certain ski models. If that is the case, we recommend purchasing the skin that goes with your ski. It will almost always be less work, and the attachment system will work better than if you try and purchase a different brand skin and cut it to the correct size.

If your chosen backcountry skis do not have a ready-made compatible skin, then you can choose which brand of skins you want to match with your skis. Brands like Black Diamond and G3 make versatile skins that can be used with just about any ski, but each brand has their own tip and tail attachment system. Before you commit to purchasing, make sure that these attachments will fit on your particular skis. Also, be prepared for a little work, because buying a skin that is not pre-made for your ski will usually involve some trimming to get them to the correct size and shape.

The next thing to consider is the material that the skin is made from, and there are two primary types: mohair, which is a naturally occurring animal fiber, usually from a goat, and synthetic, which is usually nylon. Mohair tends to be lighter weight, glide forward better but grip less well, and is often more expensive. Nylon tends to be heavier, much gripper but offers less forward glide, and is less expensive. Since all climbing skins want to achieve the perfect balance of excellent glide and confidence-inspiring grip, most manufacturers also make a combination mohair and nylon version. Based on your budget and your preference for glide versus grip, you can choose which of these three materials will suit you the best.