G3 Alpinist Splitboard Climbing Skin Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Backcountry skiing with G3 Splitboard Skins

With the aid of a belay and the G3 Alpinist Splitboard Skins Jonathan Cooper crosses a bergschrund and continues to ascend a slope near Haines, Alaska.

Climbing skins for skis are no new topic here on Wildsnow. Splitboard skins, on the other hand, need some attention. The splitboard specific addition to the Alpinist Skin collection by G3 combines everything you’ve heard about their combo of grip to glide with the innovative tip and tail clip for offset split-skis.

Poised and ready for travel to a nearby ridge in AK.

G3’s Alpinist skins have the reputation for touring great with some of the best glide on the market. This combined with a suitable amount of traction for most uphill travel makes for a well-rounded touring skin.

Some complain these skins don’t perform well going straight uphill on bulletproof ice. Perhaps that’s because skiers on narrower planks have less skin area working for them, and the Alpinist skin does compromise to more glide with a bit less grip. But in my experience using Alpinist skin material for my splitboard, the G3 carpet performs well all around. Besides, I have always been in favor in developing one’s technique for that relentlessly steep and firm skin track (who set that uphill track anyways?).

Beyond quibbling about how grippy or how glidy, for the majority of backcountry travel on my splitboard, G3 skins have provided a solution to the common problems, the main one being the absence of a tail clip. A skin without a tail clip is a disaster waiting to happen in the backcountry, as you never know when cold and moisture may compromise the skin glue’s tenacity, and you’ll thus need the extra help of tail attachment.

You can see the tail clip attachment from a distance. G3 has three sizes for the Alpinist Splitboard Skin. Each size covers a range and is adjustable within that range for various lengths of boards.

With two different edge shapes to each ski when the board is in tour mode, G3 addressed the challenge of attaching a versatile tail clip in an effective way. I have used the Alpinist Splitboard Skin on a Jones Solution as well as a Venture Helix. The Solution’s shape consists of a directional offset nose with slight rocker in the tip and tail. The Helix, on the other hand, is a fully rockered true twin shaped board. The tip and tail clips work well on both shapes, and keep the skin attached to the board even when the glue loses adhesion due to snow build-up. The winning feature of the versatile tip and tail clip is the low profile design and attachment. The clip (made of laminated plastic and stainless steel) does not interfere with the glide motion while skinning. In addition, the self-adjusting clips make it easy to line up the skin on the ski.

The self-adjusting stainless steel clips on the tip attachment are effective in holding the skin to the split-ski, regardless of the offset shape.

Similarly, G3’s innovative tail clip is essential in holding the skin to the base even if the glue is compromised by snow or ice build up. You can also see the adjustable feature of the tail clip.

This shot shows just how low profile the tip and tail clip are when attached to the splitskis.

Another feature worth mentioning is G3’s glue composition. Have you ever spent an exceptional amount of time just pulling your skins apart, while you’re friends are long gone heading up for the next lap? Not with these skins. Without sacrificing necessary adhesion to the base of the ski, they pull apart with relative ease after being stowed. When I switched over to using these G3 skins, that was one of the first differences I noticed, and it has reliably remained that way throughout two seasons of use. Lou says that’s not always been the case, but it appears G3 did improve their glue in this latest generation. (Nonetheless, during off season store skins in a cool place out of direct sunlight with release material on glue, do not store them glue-to-glue.)

Even without cheat-sheets, the G3 skins are easily separated to get you back up the hill before your buddies.

Overall, G3’s Alpinist Splitboard Skin has risen to the need in creating a functional splitboard skin that features an innovative tip and tail clip for the offset skis of traditional splitboards on the market.

Get a pair of G3 splitskins here.

Recent Western Washington State University graduate, Jonathan Cooper, balances work with a continuous stream of shenanigans — traveling around the world, and often dropping into the Cascade mountains to explore snowy peaks with friends.

Comments

20 Responses to “G3 Alpinist Splitboard Climbing Skin Review”

  1. TK May 21st, 2013 8:18 pm

    Great review and spot on. I’ve owned a splitboard since the original voile came out, and skins were always lacking- until the G3. The clips, glue and general performance after a season of use in all conditions have me super impressed- highly recommend these skins !

  2. Joel May 22nd, 2013 5:02 pm

    ”G3’s Alpinist skins have the reputation for touring great”

    It’s the first time I hear that! What’s more common around here (Revelstoke) would sound like: ”These G3s suck! I wish I never bought those.”

  3. Lou Dawson May 22nd, 2013 7:38 pm

    Well Joel, there is a first time for everything and for different opinions of which yours is one. It’s mentioned in the review that they don’t climb as well as some nylons, but I can speak from experience that they have excellent glide. How about being more specific about your definition of “suck?”

    To be fair, I’d add that “touring great” isn’t that specific either, but I think he’s referring to glide while in use for splitboarding, as well as tenacity of the glue to the board base. Probably more.

    Lou

  4. Drew Tabke May 22nd, 2013 11:03 pm

    I can see where Joel is coming from. Working in a ski shop we have had lots of issues with G3 glue completely coming apart after several uses. Super nasty to deal with. Also, while the skins do glide fairly well, they definitely don’t grip as well as a lot of other options.

    That said, I think their tip and tail attachments are some of the best out there for use with splitboards. Super versatile for different angles, sizes, shapes of tips and tails. Though the long dangle action in the tail strap does bug the heck out of me.

  5. mark May 22nd, 2013 11:08 pm

    i think he means the glue, which has, historically, ‘sucked’
    ‘but it appears G3 did improve their glue in this latest generation’
    i wonder when this latest generation of glue entered production? i bought a pair this season but haven’t used ‘em yet… i’m looking forward to the sweet glide for sure!!!

    i used to buy 5.10 shoes for the sticky rubber….. now i buy shoes that fit…. and resole them with the sticky stuff… my point is, same same but diff…
    Gold Label.

  6. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2013 6:41 am

    I’d totally agree that the older G3 glue was not as good as other brands. Presently it seem fine. They’re the official skin of our Ultimate Quiver project so we’re using quite a few pairs of G3 Skins around here, all current generation, and all do fine. If the glue was a problem we wouldn’t be using them. No take on how the glue will age, but it works as expected. The High Traction model takes care of any grip issues, but personally I prefer a bit more glide even if the grip is slightly less. Lou

  7. TK May 23rd, 2013 6:55 am

    Mark, I bought this years version, had many miles on them so far – grip and glue adhesion is great, but we will see what happens in the long run!

    Never had a pair of skins that solved every issue (glue, glide, grip, clips), but these come the closest for the split board set up that I’ve seen. And the tip and tail attachment is the best thing out there for a split board for sure.

  8. XXX_er May 23rd, 2013 11:00 am

    thots:I used G3′s on skis the alpinist may look light and minimalist but they weigh pretty much what a BD skin weighs, the alpinist tip attachment works great the new tail clip thingy is great it even works well with TT skis BUT if/when you break a tail strap you will need to cut the integral strap and some of the skin off to be able to rivet on the new strap, IME its very possible the skin will then not be long enough to fit your ski …the alpinist system MAY lack enough adjustment

    As for glue I have heard of people complain about G3 glue > any other brand, I also had the glue issues with a new pair of alpinist last year I got the warranty skins sitting in a box so no idea if they fixed it but this year glue issues (glue ballling, coming off, sticking to bases ) caught up to me with my 1yr old dynafit & 4yr old BD skins which seems to be entirely fixed up by reheating the glue, I don’t know if that will fix G3 skins but I am betting it will …iron at 320F and the glue is like new

    Anybody know what is going on is it moisture affecting the glue or what ??

  9. Dan May 23rd, 2013 11:10 am

    @XXX_er: I have been told that the glue tends to absorb/adsorb water and that heating it can resolve some glue problems. I have heated the glue side of BD skins (Nylon) a number of times and it always seems to help significantly. Although, the rejuvenating effect seems to be shortening after each re-heating. Still, even if you only need a few days to get by, the ironing has worked well for me. Good luck.

  10. chris May 23rd, 2013 2:51 pm

    i have the g3′s and i thought i loved them for a long time.

    then i started splitting on gecko skins (which definitely have an expiration date) and now i cant tour on those g3′s.

    the glue works great when new and nice, but now my g3′s s out glue over all of my gear, including the base of my board.

    if they made a mohair skin, i would buy them though.

    are there any other mohair skins for splits other than the geckos?

  11. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2013 2:56 pm

    Could you guys please watch the swear words? No need for it, this is supposed to be a family friendly website. I know that sounds too PC for some of us, but why not be inclusive of everyone as much as we can? If you don’t like that, plenty of other places you can leave comments with profanity. Lou

  12. chris May 23rd, 2013 3:00 pm

    oops, sorry! didnt mean to offend anyone.

  13. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2013 3:30 pm

    Thanks Chris, the s-word I’d agree is not that big a deal, but it’s kind of rude in mixed company…. that’s the consideration. I can set up automatic moderation of that stuff, but doing so is overkill so I don’t. ‘best, Lou

  14. XXX_er May 24th, 2013 9:57 am

    “the rejuvenating effect seems to be shortening after each re-heating.”

    I don’t know how long it will last but the glue is definatley leveled and spread out much better than it was, the glue no longer comes off on the ski, I am making an effort to scrape the snow off using the ski edge when it gets on the glue, I started using the seperator sheets at least for storage and the skins are in the freezer till next winter

    I have also heard its moisture being absorbed into the glue

  15. Joel May 24th, 2013 10:21 am

    Since it’s been asked for and I got some time to waste right now, here’s my take (rant) on skins.

    G3s.
    My experience with g3s is limited. I owned a couple of the earlier models and the glue fell apart and that was the end of my relationship with g3. I haven’t tried the alpinist skins, and never will. Why do they suck? Don’t ask me, ask the hundreds of people that told me that just about every day out for the last couple of years. The only people that seem to like them either get them for a pro-deal or for free. Revelstoke and Roger’s Pass are busy places for ski touring, and believe me I heard a lot of swearing about g3 skins on the skin tracks, getting out roughly 80 days a season.

    The G3 trim tool is awesome and a well spent 4$. This is the only G3 product I own.

    I never hear any complaints about nylon BDs, but I wouldn’t buy those either. They seem too heavy and bulky.

    After my personal bad experience with the earlier g3s, I eventually got some mohair BDs, mohair Geckos, and am now on the mix pomoca (dynafit) skins.

    The mohair on the BDs and Geckos seem to come from the same sheep, so they tour exactly the same: “They tour great”. You can quote me on that one. The geckos’ glue needs more R&D so these are a no-go. The BDs are simple and pretty reliable. My ski buddy who tours more than me is on mix BDs and he swears by them, so I’d recommend those as well.

    Why I’m on the Dynafit skins? They tour great for one. But the tip and tail attachments provide what I’m looking for. They are also pretty light. I got them set up on some Prior Husume skis custom notched. There is no flapping/annoying rubber strap dangling of the tail ready to be kicked off. The skins run all the way back to the tail, where as other will have up to 10cm of base showing. The tip attachment is low profile and there is rarely any snow build up on the edge of the skin.

    One thing I don’t like with the G3s and BDs (and other similar systems) is that they stretch the centre of the skin through the tail attachment, and quite often the sides of the skin will fold down and build up snow. This is not any issue with the dynafit tail hook (no tension on the tail of the skin).

    I also don’t get how a retailer would consider stocking G3s. The lengths are pre-assembled, so you need 4-5 different products to cover different length skis, whereas BDs will have 1 product to cover all lengths of skis. Not to mention the person that buys it, if you get G3s, you gotta be very super lucky that the skin is exactly the right length otherwise you’ll have a lot of base showing. If the alpinist was truly the only thing available, I’d buy the longer length, trim it to fit properly, and find a way to rivet the attachment back on.

    If I was to setup a splitboard (that’s never gonna happen), I’d probably get the dynafit attachment system, and the board properly notched up. If someone doesn’t like notches, I’d consider something like a standard tip buckle for the tail, and a stretcher for the tip (pomoca). My choice of skins, from what I am familiar with, might be something like a BD mohair or mix, or a Pomoca climb pro glide (what I believe is what dynafit uses, correct me if I’m wrong).

    I don’t think these thoughts will help many people. I spend way more time with skins than without (resort skiing included) and I don’t have any pro-deals. I realize that most people that spend that much time skiing have deals, and part of that deal is saying the gear they use is perfect just the way it is. As for people that get out touring 5-10 times a season for short runs on perfect days, they might not see the difference between okay and great skins and setups.

    Although this is really about finding the best compromise, I am not scared to try things out in order to improve my setup.

    Joel
    Revelstoke, BC

  16. Lou Dawson May 24th, 2013 11:27 am

    Joe, thanks, I truly appreciate the time you took to write that.

    The only part I’d caution about is using mob rule as truth. Sure, general opinion can be accurate and helpful, but there have been plenty of times in the history of mankind when the majority opinion was wrong. In other words, sure, G3 had some crumby glue, people voted and shouted curses to the winds of the Rogers Pass, but now the glue is different…

    But overall, your take sounds totally dialed, especially about the mohair which happens to be what we keep gravitating to. For everyone an FYI, Pomoca is now owne by Salewa, the owner of Dynafit. Dynafit and Pomoca skins use the same materials.

    As for pro deals, in my opinion they’re not as evil as you make out, but can indeed influence people’s opinions.

    And yep, my favorite attachment system is the Dynafit, bar none. Good to hear you giving that the nod. Cutting the tip slot is easy, I use a disk grinder on edge, with a water spray. The slot doesn’t have to be fancy.

    Sounds like a blog post. Joel?

  17. XXX_er May 24th, 2013 3:34 pm

    ”I never hear any complaints about nylon BDs, but I wouldn’t buy those either. They seem too heavy and bulky.”

    Looking at them I thot the same thing but when I put them all on a scale the Nylon BD weigh about the same as the G3 alpinists while the dynafit skins ARE about 100 grams lighter

  18. mark May 26th, 2013 11:24 am

    this thread is pretty funny between the knuckledraggers cussin and skiers telling us what what about splitboard skins without considering some of the issues clearly identified in the post….
    there are some good points tho.

    but i dont think dyna skins will work very well for splits, i think they come sized for their specific set of skis…. pre cut? and probably require length mods?
    i think having 5 – 10 cms of base exposed on the tail (g3) would be pretty negligible compared to having mms to cms of base exposed on the rail, split skis are pretty commonly up to 130mm wide or more at the waist, and one edge is straight, so skins cut for skis won’t work, and skins 125mm wide, or less, won’t work for all splits. Standard tip attachments (at the nose or tail) do work but they take some careful set up as the tips of a split ski aren’t centred.

    it looks like bd now has a 140mm mo/nylon skin, i think thats pretty new?, which may have some advantages over the g3s – better tail attachment (replaceable straps), better glide, better glue (? at least longer proven) but as i mentioned the tip attachment needs careful set up to exactly match the angle of the tip off the skis long axis, so the skin lays flat on the ski.

    but these g3 skins are for sure a step in the right direction, great to have companies making decent gear for slowboarders, instead of having to mod ski gear all the time.

  19. XXX_er May 26th, 2013 10:37 pm

    As far as I can tell the alpinist tip and tail are the same for a board as you might use for a TT ski but the issues with G3 either ski or board wise have been glue related not attachment …bad glue is bad glue no matter how you walk up hill

    Yes the Dynafit skins come sized & cut to each specific size/model of dynafit ski but they are made by pomoca, I don’t know what or if pomoca makes skins that would work on a board

  20. mark May 27th, 2013 9:37 am

    oh yah right good tip, pomoca has 140 wide options, uncut… sweet
    g3s offset tip n tail clips, split specific, are mentioned in the first paragraph, same same clips, but offset.
    i’m interested to see how the new g3 glue works, but i’m keeping the can of gold label handy.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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