by Jack Cook and Patrick Moore
Forget everything you thought you knew about waxless skis – skin Classic skis are redefining the industry. This year, each of the major ski manufacturers offer skin skis for Classic skiing. For those Classic skiers with fewer hours for prepping skis or for those who simply do not enjoy grip waxing, the skin skis offer a time-saving option that provides kick without sacrificing ski feel.
Classic racing skis with skins in the kick zone entered the market with a bang last season, and instantly became a hit with World-cup-level skiers as well as Masters and beginners. These skis are clearly not your traditional variety of waxless skis. Skin skis are constructed with replaceable skins in the kick zone, rather than wax base or fish scales.
Skin skis take the guesswork out of Clas- sic skiing. You don't need to apply the correct grip wax. These skis feature a brandnew, innovative skin made from mohair and nylon in the kick zone, eliminating the need for traditional kick wax, while still maintaining exceptional glide, making Classic skiing very user-friendly. The skis perform well enough under a variety of conditions so you will not feel like you are losing out on performance.
The skin skis work in almost all kinds of snow and temperature conditions, from cold and dry to wet klister conditions, on rockhard and icy tracks as well as velvety-smooth snow. And compared to traditional waxless skis, there is excellent glide and no rattling noise.
Skin skis also allow the freedom to spend less time in the wax room, which means more time on the trail – it's almost as simple as putting on running shoes. In a time-crunched world, these skis might just be the difference between completing the weeknight Classic workout on skis rather than alternative training methods or skipping the workout all together.
Loppet skiers or weekend warriors out for their traditional Sunday-long ski will find the skin skis provide killer kick and outstanding glide, while noticing that others' skis with traditional grip wax may deteriorate over the length of the workout due to loss of grip and possibly loss of glide in dirtier snow conditions.
In klister conditions, traditional Classic skis waxed with klister will start to pick up dirt from the snow throughout the course, making their glide even worse, whereas the skins remain practically dirt-free and maintain consistent glide over the course of your ski or loppet.
You can sign up for a loppet and not worry about changing waxing conditions and spending countless hours testing, selecting and applying grip wax, especially in difficult snow conditions, making this waxless option look quite attractive.
Skin maintenance: If the skins get dirty, you can clean them easily by using regular base cleaner, just as you would with regular kick wax. Wipe the skins, brush them with a regular nylon brush and the skis are ready to roll again.
If the skins become damaged or worn out after extensive use, they can be easily replaced. They are attached with regular hot glue, so just heat gently with a heat gun, then pull the skin off and replace with a new skin.
How do skin skis compare to Zero skis?: Zero skis were introduced several years ago for the tricky conditions on either side of freezing. They come with a rubberized base material in the kick zone, which has to be sanded and fine-tuned to provide optimal grip and glide for the conditions of the day. They are generally slightly faster than the skin skis. That is important for those racing at the elite level.
But unlike the Zeros, the new skin skis work in a much wider range of temperatures and conditions, from cold and dry to wet and warm. And you don't have to do a thing to them.