New Climbing Skins

Skins sure have changed since the days of animal fur. Here are five new technologies to help you get uphill faster and easier.
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BCA Skins

Colltex Extreme Climbing Skins
Made from 100 percent mohair fibers, these skins utilize newly patented glue that only becomes sticky when pressure is applied, meaning they’re easier to pull off at the summit so you can spend more time skiing than yanking. Plus: They’re treated with a water repellent coating to combat ice build-up. Minus: They’ll cost you about as much as that new alternator your car’s needed for a while. [$240;]

Climbing Skins Direct 130 millimeter Tip and Tail Skin
Climbing Skins Direct uses the same synthetic plush fiber originally deployed on the purple Ascension Enterprises skins, combining the strength of synthetic with the glide of mohair. Skins come with a pre riveted tail, plenty of excess material, detailed trimming instructions, and an exacto knife for getting the job done. You’ll also get a block of rub-on wax to slide you up the hill without the traditional DWR coating. Twin tip skins are also available. [$101-$124;]

Black Diamond Ascension STS
A customer favorite, the Ascension STS skin’s nylon fibers remain unchanged, but they get a facelift with a redesigned, less bulky tip loop that fits a wider range of skis. The skins also have a 10 percent gain in suppleness making them easier to fold and more compact for shoving in your pack. [$135-$175;]

Backcountry Access Low Fat Climbing Skins
This season, the Low Fat skins will receive a complete overhaul with new material and will include hydrophobic coating to the fibers to avert the slippery problem with ice. The goal? To increase glide and to make the glue perform better in colder temperatures. [$130-$160;]

MP Sports Gecko Ski Skins
New on the scene, Austrian-made Gecko Skins may be the greatest thing to come since fat skis. They’re equipped with full mohair, a hydrophobic treatment, and a patented adhesion system that won’t stick to itself and works through “molecular fusion” to create a suction effect that holds the skin firmly in place. And if your skins get obscenely dirty, put them under running water and… shazzam! They’ll work like new again. [$162;]


The Skinny on Skinning

Skinning is crucial in the side- or backcountry because it’s more efficient and less tiring than hiking in deep snow. The fur-like surface of skins flattens as you move uphill, allowing your skis to glide, but it grips to keep you from sliding back after each step.

$435 We love the Marker Baron so much that we borrowed a fleet of them from Marker to mount on all of our backcountry test skis. When the Baron's predecessor, the DIN-16 Duke, debuted in 2007, it was the only alpine-touring binding that truly skied like a real alpine binding. Word spread, and shops literally could not keep it stocked. Marker released the Baron in 2008. It has the same alpine-style performance as the Duke—solid, secure, and confidence-inspiring—but is 150 grams lighter (thanks to the use of nylon instead of magnesium), and $60 less expensive. And with a DIN range of four through 12, it's more of an everyman's binding. If you're skiing the resort most of the time, but want touring capability for occasional side- and backcountry laps, you won't find a better binding.

Backcountry Bindings

Whether you're going on a day-long tour or just heading out the gates, you need a binding that works as well going uphill as it does going down. Here is a collection of some of the best AT and telemark bindings out there.

Let’s start with the obvious: the pack. Built in back protection, organized pockets for every possible piece of gear you could want, and a well-thought-out ski carry system make this a super smart choice. Ortovox Freerider $160;

What's in Your Pack?

Bottom line, there are some things you must take with you into the backcountry. Here are ten things that you definitely need, plus a few extras that'll make your day much better.