Fischer Profoil “Climbing Skins” — Updated Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 18, 2015      

Shop for Profoil.

Yours truly, testing the weirdest 'skins' ever invented.

Yours truly, in November of 2015 testing the weirdest ‘skins’ ever invented.

UPDATE December 2015:

I’ve been out on the Profoils quite a bit more. On top of that, during my recent trip to Canada a number of participants were testing the “pattern grippers.” I’ve reached final conclusions I’m comfortable sharing. I’m also happy to answer specific questions in the comments.

1. On anything but hard or icy snow the Profoils grip is entirely adequate. In a side-by-side comparo with regular nylon-mohair skins I could reach an angle during powder trail breaking where the nylons did better — but only at an extreme pitch. In testing here in Colorado, I was able to climb a steep 2,000 vertical foot skin track in adequate style — though I would have been slightly better on my regular mohair skins (for reasons alluded to below). In Canada, the Profoils did fine on packed damp powder, tested along with folks on regular skins. Caveat is you will sometimes feel a disconcerting rearward slip before the “teeth” grab. As the skin track becomes icier you get less grip. Eventually the Profoil doesn’t feel as secure as a plush skin, as once it breaks free your backslide isn’t as controlled as with plush.

2. I’ve now extensively tested Profoils cut to the outside dimension of the ski (manufacturer recommended) as well as a pair I cut to leave steel edges exposed. A weakness of the full cut Profoils is they don’t hold as well while sidehilling a weak skintrack. They tend to slide sideways and break out the track. I could edge a bit better on the pair with steel edge exposed, but they still did not have the resistance to side movement as a regular skin.

3. Glide is better than nylon or mohair-nylon, but my favorite full mohair skins have noticeably better glide. I ascertained this by using a plush skin on one ski and Profoil on the other, as well as skiing on a snowpacked road and gliding alongside several folks using Profoil.

4. Adhesive remains the same — both problematic and satisfying. Good in that it’s super sticky, challenging in that you absolutely can NOT store Profoil glue-to-glue. If you do, you are doomed. Clearly, they need to be using something like the Contour Hybrid glue system on these; a bonding layer the holds a more forgiving glue.

5. The sales pitch I’ve gotten says “you can ski downhill with these and they feel more normal…,” I experimented with this as well, and I do not agree. They do accelerate downhill like the dickens, but in powder the grip pattern causes quite a bit of sideways resistance when you try to throw your skis into a snowplow or otherwise turn. Works better on hardpack, but you still have to watch it or you’ll get going really fast and discover you don’t have much control.

6. Ideal situation for Profoil is loose dense snow that’s tending to glop on regular skins. That said, in my original testing (see review below) my Profoils glopped up while the regular skins stayed clean! Thus, perhaps the glop issue is a wash.

7. Sadly, no clear advantage in weight or packability. Depends on what you’re comparing.

Cut for my Fisher Hannibal skis, Profoil weighs 292 grams (10.3 ounces) per ski; Contour Hybrid weighs 270 grams (9.5 ounces).

Cut for my Volkl BMT-84 176, Profoil weighs 258 grams (9.1 oz) while Kohla comes in at 278 grams (9.9 oz). That might be significant to some of you, but I considered weight in this case to be a non issue.

But wait. A plush skin can absorb copious amounts of water in soaking conditions, while Profoil will absorb a big fat NONE. You could thus indeed end up with Profoil saving significant mass.

8. Ever arrived at a hut craving a beer, only to spend a half hour hunting down a place to dry your climbing skins? With Profoil, have your hefeweizen, and buy one for me as well. No matter how wet the day, you can dry these solid plastic skins in mere minutes. Just drape them over the table between the beer and the Würstl plate.

9. Would I recommend Profoil as your only climbing skin? So long as you’re never on icy skin tracks I’d say I’m somewhere between “perhaps” and “yes,” especially if you backup with ski crampons and are detail oriented enough to always store them correctly. Otherwise, they’re more of a “quiver” skin. If you decide to give Profoil a shot, I’d recommend a couple of trips with your regular skin on one ski and Profoil on the other, so you’ll know exactly which to pick for a given day.

ORIGINAL REVIEW FOLLOWS, edited

The pattern will continue.

The pattern will continue. (Derivative work, Google images.)

In his final hours, the old man lies in bed, oxygen cannula hissing. Machines bleep and hum.

The nonagenarian summons his heirs. They will inherit his ski company.

First, the granddaughter: “You, dear, must continue our tradition of women’s World Cup race skis. Do not allow the culture to fade,” the patriarch mumbles with the trembling whisper of one in his last hours.

Next, the grandson: The founder’s voice grows stronger, as if a powerful spirit inflates his tired lungs. “YOU, young man, will continue attempting to make P-tex that goes uphill as well as down. THIS is a foundational part of our company, our DNA. I will go to my grave KNOWING THAT PATTERNED SKI BASES WILL CONTINUE TO BE PRODUCED. I WILL BE WATCHING!”

That’s where my imagination takes me, anyhow, when I try to imagine why fish scale pattern ski climbing systems persist in the market. Fischer Profoil, to bring up one example.

But wait, could this be something new? Something that really works? Perhaps the old man was on to something after all. Read on.

Fischer Profoil fish scale 'skins' on my test planks.

Fischer Profoil fish scale ‘skins’ on my test planks.

Fischer has sold “waxless” touring skis for years now in the form of their “Crown” patterned base offerings. Sometimes, a pattern base works. Most of the time you get the worst of two worlds: less or equal traction on the uphill compared to plush (fur) type climbing skins, and a ski with less glide and turn-ability on the down. But what about having a “Crown” type patterned traction base you could remove for the downhill?

Enter the Fischer Profoil. The concept is simple. Produce what’s basically a plastic ski base that sticks to your skis with pull-apart adhesive, mold a fish scale climbing pattern into the plastic. Apply for the up, remove for the down. Seems cool, but what makes this any better than “fur” type climbing skins?

I did a couple days side-by-side with Kohla mohair mix (orange). Kohla had slightly better uphill grip; word is Profoil has about the same grip as 100 percent mohair. That's probably the case, though performance differs on icy surfaces.

I did a couple days side-by-side with Kohla mohair mix (orange). Kohla had slightly better uphill grip; word is Profoil has about the same grip as 100 percent mohair. That’s probably the case, though performance differs on icy surfaces. Yes, that’s stollen on ze ski (ice cake), which in one situation formed more easily on the Profoil than it did on the fur.

For my comparo test, I mounted a Kohla mohair-nylon mix skin on one ski, and Profoil on the other. My impressions:

Climbing
In soft snow I noticed no significant difference in traction between fur and plastic. That’s impressive, as some of the pattern based skis we’ve tested have lacked in the uphill grip department. On a glazed skin track, neither Profoil nor the fur gripped very well, though I’d give the edge to fur simply because it at least grips a bit due to basic friction, while the Profoil is scary slippery if the scales can’t dig in.

Profoil is stored by first wrapping adhesive on release plastic, then folding over itself so that you never go glue-to-glue.

Profoil is stored by first wrapping adhesive on release plastic, then folding over itself so that you never go glue-to-glue. I found this rather tedious and prone to error.

Glide
Profoil did have the edge in glide over my nylon-mohair test skins, but not to a significant degree. I had to work hard to tell the difference. Perhaps most importantly in terms of glide, in gloppy conditions I was amazed to see the Profoil cake up with snow while the Khola remained totally clean. I’d have thought the opposite to be the case. Apparently the fish scales are just sharp and cut enough to hold a bit of ice, and more follows. To be fair, I’d bet that in some other situations the fur skins would have iced while the Profoil stayed clean. Thus, I’d call this a wash.

Note, however, you can ski downhill on Profoil quite readily in comparison to plush-fur climbing skins. Doing so is still nothing like having your normal ski bases (I tried) — but it’s doable. In other words, if your tours often involve rolling terrain, then consider Profoil. This especially true if you’re one of the 16 people out there who swear by pattern based skis. Just think, you can have your pattern base, then strip it off when you don’t want it!

Update: Note that while you can indeed get cranking downhill on Profoil, you’ll still have compromised performance when you try to turn, snowplow, or stop due to the amount of resistance to your skis washing sideways. It’s somewhat like skiing downhill on a poorly waxed pair of boards. Be careful or you can take a beater. Don’t ask me how I know.

Taking care not to stick glue to glue, you can roll up the Profoil and store in stuff sack. l liked doing this as I felt that folding exacerbated the creases you can see in the photos.

Taking care not to stick glue to glue, you can roll up the Profoil and store in the supplied stuff sack. l liked doing this as I felt that folding exacerbated the creases you can see in the photos.

Handling
This is where Profoil in my opinion falls short. Nut problem: if you stick the Profoil together glue-to-glue, you “can destroy the glue or decrease the stick of the Profoil,” says Fischer. For stowage, Fischer includes a small scrap of plastic to use as a storage release liner. This being WildSnow.com, I did stick them together glue-to-glue so you don’t have to. Whatever the case with destruction, main problem is that if stuck together, you’ll never get Profoil apart in the field. They face-to-face tighter than a pitbull on a jogger’s hamstring.

So why is this a problem? A couple of situations come to mind. You are wet, tired and cold. The sun set an hour ago and your guide is yelling at you to get moving. You’re stripping skins and your Profoil release liner blows away. You need to stuff your skins in the next available orifice and get the heck out of Dodge. With conventional skins you’d do just that. Wad ’em up and stow. Don’t you dare with Profoil. Other scenario is high wind. Clearly too much fiddle factor if you’re in a gale. Again, you want to just bundle the skins and go.

Profoil is bulky, but light.

Profoil is bulky, but light.

How about bulk? We are all awaiting the low-bulk plush climbing skins, probably out next season. These are the second coming for devoted ski tourers — rumored to be smaller in storage mode than the size of a balled fist (and of course so light you will float). In terms of bulk Profoil is not the second coming, nor even the third. No matter how you pack these stiff plastic strips they’re going to take up room. More, Fischer sells Profoil in a large plastic box that’s ostensibly for use during ski tours. I found the box to be too small, and too rigid. Instead, once my Profoil skins are correctly bundled with their release strips I’m finding that simply stuffing them in my rucksack’s dedicated skin compartment is good enough (or use a stuffsack).

Profoil is sold in this nifty plastic box, but the skins don't really cram back in for use a field container. Instead, just use a stuffsack.

Profoil is sold in this nifty plastic box, but the skins don’t really cram back in for use a field container. Instead, just use the supplied stuffsack.

Installation
Easy. Fischer recommends simply cutting the Profoil to the width of your ski. No offset for the ski edges as with conventional plush climbing skins. I’d imagine the Profoil full-width cut works most of the time. But I could not face the lack of steel so I experimented with cutting an offset to expose my ski edges. Doing so was difficult. Offset skin cutters didn’t really work due to the stiff material. I’d recommend beginning with Fischer’s way of cutting Profoil as full width. If you don’t like the lack of steel edges, you can recut later with an offset. (Tip, to cut with offset don’t bother with an offset skin cutter; instead use the old method of setting skin to side on ski base and using ski edge as a trim guide.)

Shop for Profoil.



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Comments

69 Responses to “Fischer Profoil “Climbing Skins” — Updated Review”

  1. callawiggleson April 20th, 2015 9:32 am

    These remind me of my Voile Snake Skins! I still use them, on the ‘rolling terrain’ you mention. Nothing works better when I’m towing two kids in the pulk on Front Range CC trails. They don’t have glue, you simply adjust the tip and tail connectors to pull the skin really tight. BTW, anyone know where I can get parts for my old Snake Skins?

  2. JohnJ April 20th, 2015 9:38 am

    Good review of a product with questionable utility. It appears, though, that the industry is getting closer to my idea of a ski base system: All skis should have velcro on the bottom. We would all carry a quiver of bases to stick on- a plush climbing base, maybe a fish scale base, and of course a smooth ptex base, along with whatever else comes along in the future.

    Yes, I know, there are a few details still to be worked out…:wink:

  3. XXX_er April 20th, 2015 10:59 am

    “If you use ski climbing skins in warm-wet conditions when water saturation is an annoyance”

    try nikwax ski skin proofer I put it on once or twice a season at home, the skin plush stays dry and doesn’t ice up, I carry skin wax but have not had to use

  4. Eric Steig April 20th, 2015 12:51 pm

    Lou, methinks you have not skied enough in the Sierra Nevada or in coastal Washington or BC to really appreciate where no-wax skis excel. They rock for mellow winter tours in warm not-much-below-freezing snow. There’s nothing like a hut tour on my no-wax skis where I am at the hut two hours earlier than the rest of the gang, because I neither had to take off/put on skins, nor to stumble down little hills with skins on. Still, I’d agree they are not very useful for anything that is much steeper than 20°, nor for any trip with little or now down on the way up. Based on all the other issues you raise with the Profoil, I suspect I won’t buy them. But there are actually more than 16 people who see the potential if they work out some issues (like overly stick glue).

  5. Lou Dawson 2 April 20th, 2015 1:17 pm

    Eric, the cool thing about Profoil is they climb quite steep. The fish scales are really sharp and numerous. But like I said, in general they don’t climb any steeper than a set of mohairs… Lou

  6. Wookie1974 April 20th, 2015 1:22 pm

    Lou – I’m quite surprized. I know you are a careful tester, but i have heard very different things from some of my contacts here. Some of them were asked to test the profoil this year, and their comments have been very positive.

    I know some of them read this blog too – i wonder if they’d share their expirience.

    Too bad if its so. – i was thinking this could be a game changer. I had never seen a similar system before though…..

  7. Eric Steig April 20th, 2015 1:35 pm

    Lou, regarding your finding that they climb as well as skins, I suspect that’s where an error on Fischer’s part may lie. Rather than try to replace traditional skins, they should have made a version that duplicates their excellent no-wax bases, as is. One pair of skis, with skins for steeps, Profoil’s for mellower days or long flat approaches, would be perfect from my point of view. (e.g. tour into a hut with a mellow approach (e.g. Keith’s hut at Cerise Creek in BC), with the Profoils, then leave the Profoil’s in the hut, and pull out the dry, unused skins for the peak ascents).

  8. Ty April 20th, 2015 1:37 pm

    Wow no thanks.

    ” Let’s take something that works really well and totally screw it up to save less than an ounce”

    said nobody ever

  9. Lou Dawson 2 April 20th, 2015 2:06 pm

    Wookie, well, sometimes I’m just full of surprises. Seriously, read the review. Sure, I don’t think they are the second coming of the Messiah, but I did state they work good in glop, climb as good as mohair, and have good glide… Lou

  10. Drew Tabke April 20th, 2015 2:41 pm

    Maybe if they linked with your smartphone? You could control glide vs. grip and engage/disengage with an app. It’d be nice to have your walk-mode and climbing lifts integrated in there as well.

  11. Aaron April 20th, 2015 4:28 pm

    Interesting that they still glop up. It they could fix that, I’d definitely be looking to pick a up pair for spring tours. I’ll bet that combined with a ski crampon they would be quite nice, expecially longer approaches where it could be quite warm and wet by the time you reach camp.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 April 20th, 2015 6:13 pm

    Even waxed Ptex can pick up ice in certain situations…

  13. glenn brady April 20th, 2015 8:52 pm

    I left a pair of dynafit skis at Eisenhower tunnel westbound parking area today. $100 reward 970485183 one

  14. Dave Johnson April 20th, 2015 9:16 pm

    Thank, Lou. The absorption factor is a plus, but the glue-glue factor is a deal killer.
    Fill me in on the low-bulk plush…looking for a setup for the Haute Route next year.

  15. afox April 20th, 2015 11:52 pm

    Great review! I wonder if they tried using the profoil material without glue and instead using clips like the now defunct clipskins. The glue problem and handleablity problem woud be solved and theyd be easer to put on and take off and maybe lighter. Disadvantage is they would be harder to setup.

    Has anyone tried ultra fat kicker skins on ultra wide skis? Im thinking on skis of 110 waist or more with full rocker, wonder how much grip you could get with kicker skins under the boot for around 1/3 of the ski? Perhaps much more than traditiaonal kicker skins used on skinny skis with camber?

  16. See April 21st, 2015 8:42 am

    Zero offset trim recommendation leads me to believe that these are intended for use on moderate terrain only.

  17. Lou Dawson 2 April 21st, 2015 8:46 am

    See, I’d agree. No way you’re going to be side stepping up blue glare ice with a worn plastic “edge.” Not that this kind of thing is ever necessary in the Alps (grin). Lou

  18. steve s April 21st, 2015 10:37 am

    Interesting that no one from the race crowd as chirped in yet. Fischer claims they have 20% more glide. That alone would make them race interesting. The storage (No-go glue to glue) issue would have to be resolved. Finally, I was told that they’d only be available as a skin/ski package and are un-trimmable. Is that info wrong? Can I buy them seperately and set them up (cut) for my race skis?

  19. Mike Marolt April 21st, 2015 10:40 am

    To be clear, i am sponsored by Fischer and my company 8kpeak will be selling, however, this is what i found with my tests;

    I have always used Black Diamond skins, even when i had Fischer mohair. I was given the ProFoil and admit i had skepticism. So i took all my skins to the ski hill in Aspen, specifically the 1A side of the mountain. i chose that area because it is fairly steep, and totally iced for the world cup.

    On the issue of climbing very hard ice and snow, there was no comparison. With mohair skins, there was no way that day to go straight up spring pitch without zig zagging on my mohair skins. The pro foil allowed me to go straight up to a point where it was so steep, it was uncomfortable and not as efficient as cross climbing, but they were not slipping. On less pitches, i could skin without poles. I was amazed.

    As i entered the slope of Aztec, 30 to 40 degrees measured, i found another benefit. That terrain is not practical to go straight up due to it being very inefficient, and no ski will stick on slopes that steep. But what i found was that in making kick turns on those slopes, the scales allowed for a significantly better and more efficient turn with no slip due to the slight edge i retain on mohair skins. When unweighting, it became apparent there is a moment when the ski slips with mohair. That was evident when i used the Pro Foil; no slip.

    I was apprehensive about cutting the Pro Foil edge to edge, but by doing so, it eliminates any slip due to undulating bumps that expose the edge to slip. This in my view is a big advantage. Pro Foil also allowed me to take a significantly steeper cross path. The scales are angled at the edge to really hold on cross hills. This was actually my biggest concern, on cross slopes, and i was impressed at how the pro foil worked. As with mohair, at a certain point on cross hills, nothing will replace a ski crampon, but Pro Foil was super.

    Glide for me was significantly better than mohair. In softer snow, the glide ratio decreases, but without question, it is a better glide. (See below how i made it even better.)

    As for storage, i did make the mistake of slapping them glue to glue. It was not impossible to get apart, but enough to comment back to Fischer who explained you fold them. Lou’s photo is rolled, but by folding them and laying them in my pack against the back plate, they take up significantly less space than rolling any skins. On an expedition or day trip where a small pack is used, this is a plus.

    As for glopping, i did have the Pro Foil glob during the recent wet powder, but unlike mohair that ices up holding glob and ice, i simply slapped the ski and all the glop fell off, with zero ice build up. The next day, i used Black Diamond skin wax on the ProFoil, and it completely eliminated any glop, but it also increased the glide like you can’t imagine. Experimenting with long-stay rub on wax, this makes the skis glide like crazy, and since my initial glopping, that has been totally eliminated. Wax works on mohair to prevent glopping, in my experience moderately well, but does little or nothing for mohair glide.

    The only condition i came across that the Pro Foil did not perform well was on frozen ice death cookies from a snowmobile track. Mohair is a softer and worked a little better on those, but not much. The sun created ice and that is simply hard to skin on.

    On packed powder and powder, the hold for both is about the same, but i’d have to give the nod to Pro Foil on steep packed powder by a slight margin. Side by side, it’s close. But lack of icing up and glide makes ProFoil my choice.

    On corn slopes in the back country, and in the bc in general, for me, the Pro Foil has significant performance that will eliminate standard skins from my haul bag. I am impressed on many levels, and with the exception of the mentioned death cookies, Pro Foil is in my view better than mohair. Or to be blunt, if my relationship with Fischer went away, i may be forced to change the skis i use, but i honestly would not do away with the Pro Foil. Both skins work well enough, but Pro Foil positively has benefits beyond mohair, some big some not so big, but “out there” i will take whatever advantages i can get.

  20. steve s April 21st, 2015 10:48 am

    one more comment…. on the icing issue. From my xc racing background, there are a lot of silicone spray ons to alleviate icing. They’re easy to apply right on the trail and the best I’ve found is Maplus

  21. steve s April 21st, 2015 10:56 am

    Thanks for the review Mike. I’m racing on the Fischer race skis. I’ll check in to your site and try to get a set of profoils when they’re available.

  22. Mike Marolt April 21st, 2015 11:09 am

    Steve, the issue of glue to glue in racing is important and Fischer is working on this as they support racing at a high level. But for normal AT storage, the method of taking them off was a new trick for an old dog. They come with a 12 inch piece of skin plastic. You unclip, slap that on and then fold them. In wind, flapping skins is no longer a problem, and as I said, they fold flat so they take up little room. It’s an education for users, but its actually a very good system. Wo’t work for racing but they are working on that as the glide is going to be an unfair disadvantage for what you do.

  23. Mike Marolt April 21st, 2015 11:11 am

    Kind of got my unfair and disadvantage mixed up there. haha. meant unfair advantage…….

  24. steve s April 21st, 2015 11:22 am

    the advantage is what I’m looking for! I figured that this will change a lot in racing when I first heard about them. When they get the attachment issue figured out, every racer will use them (or their knock offs). Currently there are some races where they would work. Long gradual traverses. Like the Selleronda in Italy or maybe the Grand Traverse in CO.

  25. See April 21st, 2015 2:05 pm

    Hi, Mike. Could you elaborate a bit on how “cutting the Pro Foil edge to edge… eliminates any slip due to undulating bumps that expose the edge to slip?” I’m wondering how (for example) the Pro Foils would handle a track that traverses a steep slope on firm snow compared to regular skins cut to expose some ski edge. I was recently in such a situation and, while I probably should have used ski crampons, having some edge to work with at least made me feel better.

  26. Lou Dawson 2 April 21st, 2015 2:11 pm

    Steve, I totally agree that racers will probably want to have the option of Profoil for certain conditions. I could even see them carrying a set as “spare” that would be swapped on for the long-flat where skating didn’t quite cut it. I was thinking of cutting these so they were “skinny” and seeing how that worked. Lou

  27. Lou Dawson 2 April 21st, 2015 2:23 pm

    Mike, I didn’t experience the enhanced traction, for me the Profoil gripped about the same as the mohair/nylon Kohla I had on my other ski. Agree they do glide nicely, though again I didn’t notice this being as huge a difference as you did.

    Perhaps some of what’s causing our different takes is you were testing Profoil against plain mohair and I was using nice new Kohla nylon/mohair skins that climb better than 100% mohair. What is more, if you were testing against _used_ mohair you would definitely get less traction with the mohair in some conditions — especially if you were asking the mohair to edge, since the edges of mohair skins are what wear out first for most people.

    Overall, thanks for another take, valuable.

  28. steve s April 21st, 2015 2:37 pm

    Agreed Lou, in fact a couple of my Nat’l team race friends broke the single day Wapta traverse record last week. 5:50. These skins would be perfect for that application. Only about 2 or 3 transitions for the whole traverse.

  29. Mike Marolt April 21st, 2015 3:02 pm

    Lou,

    I have no idea what the latest greatest BD skins are made of so the Kohla skins may be better than what I was on, making the disparity in our takes less without question. I am going to be testing the heck out of the pro foil over the next month or two, and will get a better take in hard factual application of what we do, ski “out there”.

    My response to I “See” above, on cutting cross hill sections, on the hard snow I tested, it was moderately steep in that 40 degree area, and i’ll be honest, I tested with a massive amount of skepticism. But it worked incredibly well with the skin cut edge to edge. Before I went out, I actually contemplated offsetting for the reason you ask the question, but thought I would at least try. The plastic those skins are made from is extremely hard combined with a fairly aggressive and sharp pattern. At the edges, Fischer has angled the pattern to accommodate the angle of the ski and it works. However, the snow was “boiler plate” which is different than “ice”. So I can’t explain it better than that, but I do know the designers have tested the technology for a few years, and they are fairly adamant about edge to edge. So far, for me they are right. It was noticeably better crossing the slope. As a matter of fact, one of the first things I claimed to my brother after my first test was that the pro foil will eliminate a lot of ski crampon use.

    I am going to give the Pro Foil a spring season of testing here in Colorado in the near future as I only have a dozen days on them so far. I pledge to Lou and the WS clones that I will report back in a month or so with a totally honest and forthright report. For now, all I can say is I am excited about the technology. So keep an eye on Lou’s work and I will let you know how it goes.

  30. See April 21st, 2015 7:07 pm

    Thanks Mike. I think I get it now. While regular skins offer resistance to slipping in only one direction— backwards toward the tail of the ski— the molded plastic Pro Foil has scales oriented for backwards resistance in the middle and for sideways resistance at the edges.

  31. See April 21st, 2015 7:31 pm

    Or at least I’m assuming it’s molded. Maybe it’s machined.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 April 21st, 2015 7:38 pm

    Mike, I think what’s probably going to happen is that the Profoil will give more traction in some conditions, while the fur will in others. At times the disparity will be greater, at times less. I read back over my blog post and sarcasm aside my only real gripe is the handling. Otherwise I just stated what happened when I used them.

    In my view, they need to take care of the glue-to-glue problem before Profoil can be mainstreamed. It’s just too likely they’ll get stuck together accidentally. There are all levels and attitudes out there in the ski touring public, not everyone babies their gear.

    The way my Profoils are cut they still have plenty of the angled scales at the edges. I do see the need for those, as otherwise the Profoil would tend to skitter to the side not only during traverses, but also while climbing anything but a perfectly pitched track.

    Lou

  33. Mike Marolt April 23rd, 2015 10:30 am

    Lou,

    Ha, I made the mistake of glue to glue and it is an issue. Even though the system they have works well, so many people are used to sticking skins g to g that it is “the way”. I know even the glue they use on their mole hair is super strong, and it’s just over kill in my view.

    As for the disparity, no question, there are conditions better and worse for both. What I do think will happen however, is that Fischer will keep improving and the glide and lack of water absorption being the biggest advantages will be followed with designs that just get better and better like everything does. What drew us to Fischer is their “all in” dedication with the new AT division and progressive recognition of this sport as the only growing segment of the industry. Throw in their economy of scale, and the products they are producing and the mentality to keep researching and developing is really fun to be part of, and all the gear is really fun. It makes companies like Dynafit and the few others fun to utilize, but also follow. Kind of like mountain bike technology over the years.

  34. Mike Marolt April 23rd, 2015 10:40 am

    PS remind me not to respond to ws via my iphone. I am a horrible speller to begin with, so bad, siri is often at a loss. ha.

  35. Lou Dawson 2 April 23rd, 2015 12:02 pm

    Mike, one thing about blog comments is the medium isn’t too exacting, and people tend to be forgiving. But thanks for trying. Remember it’s MOHAIR… I’ll refrain from jokes about moles. Lou

  36. Michael December 18th, 2015 6:13 pm

    not being able to fold glue to glue is a deal breaker for me. Even if I’m careful I imagine it will happen at some point. Skin savers are fine for storage but a huge PITA in the field.

    Fix this and I’d be interested in trying them

  37. Lou Dawson 2 December 18th, 2015 6:20 pm

    Michael, I agree. It’s pretty fiddly always using the skin savers, especially in full conditions. Saving grace is if you do lose a skin saver you can temporarily stick one skin to the other and roll so no glue touches glue. The directions say do not roll, so I say temporary (grin). Lou

  38. Blair December 18th, 2015 8:34 pm

    About skin savers, I always use mine in the field to keep the glue clean and unpeeling easy. The trick is to use them half length, folding the skin back on itself with the mesh in between. I also put a duct tape strip at one end of the mesh to make it easier to handle. This is more forgiving when it comes to aligning the glue surfaces in nasty weather. A little bit slower at the change, but then, I’m slower anyway!

  39. Anita December 18th, 2015 9:21 pm

    Hello Group,

    I just recently purchased new skis and wanted to know if anyone has tried out the new Black Diamond Ascension STS skins (they came out in late November). The new skins supposedly offer the same traction and weigh less and have smaller volume.However, when I touch them, they seem really smooth and different from the old skins. I ended up buying both the old and new skins and am trying to figure out which ones to use. Has anyone tried out the new skins? Do they really have the same traction? Any info would be really appreciated. 🙂

  40. Mike Marolt December 19th, 2015 5:05 pm

    Lou, mess around with the technique on the Pro Foil. That slight slip is eliminated by shifting your weight back and standing straighter on the ski to make the teeth grip. What I did is lengthen my poles to stand straighter up which is more efficient. Then, on steeper terrain, concentrate on keeping your weight back a bit and don’t reach forward. It’s difficult to “trust” the pro foil after decades of mole hair, and it entails a slight difference in technique. And as in XC, take smaller steps on steeper to avoid unweighting between steps, again more efficient. I have fooled around with this and for me, compared to my G3 and BD mole hair skins, I will stick with the pro foil.

    Also, for glide, if you rub on xc wax, it also increases the stick on ice and ski track, but makes them glide like crazy. (rub tip to tail like xc skis) I have been hitting Thunder Bowl at Highlands after work, and that snow is as hard as snow can get because it is the local race arena, and I have had incredible success at steep hard icy snow.

    I think the future of the profoil is going to be interesting. Lighter materials, and I know they are working on a lot of things to make it better. For now, I think its a cool technology. I know I won’t go back to mole hair after being on it all last spring and now the first part of the winter.

  41. Jim Milstein December 19th, 2015 5:44 pm

    I found a small dead mole beside the trail a couple of days ago (yes, really!). It was covered with hair, fur actually. Simple experiments with the poor dead creature disqualified it for fur-ther consideration. Good glide, but no grip to speak of. I am no longer interested in mole hair skins.

    Still pretty pleased with the new Contour skins, though. Their handling is the best!

  42. Lou Dawson 2 December 19th, 2015 6:29 pm

    Mike, I’ll keep working with the Profoil. A/B testing is the way to go, plush on one foot and Profoil on the other. We have a guy who cut a pair down for some skinnier skis as well, be interesting to see what he says.

    BTW, I don’t know if you’re joking with spelling mohair as mole hair, but it’s MOHAIR, which is another name for goat hair. Probably better to be accurate since this is a technical blog.

    Thanks, Lou

  43. See December 19th, 2015 6:55 pm

    If one had to sidestep up a section of steep ice, would the Profoils work as well as regular skins/bare skis? I can see how they would be good for many situations, but I find it hard to believe they can bite like a steel edge.

  44. See December 19th, 2015 7:07 pm

    Not that side stepping up ice qualifies as “skinning,” but I think having that edge to work with if things get dicey is important.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 December 19th, 2015 7:29 pm

    See, in my opinion that’s a limitation. Though realize that the plastic is cut exactly to the edge of the steel, so you do get a bit of bite both from the hard plastic and the steel. But yeah, could get hairy, actually. Lou

  46. Mike Marolt December 20th, 2015 1:28 pm

    Lou, yes, mohair unless you are me. haha. Idiot that I can be at times…

    I’d like to encourage WS clones to check out the technology for themselves. We have a full fleet of demos with the skins at Gorsuch Sports here in Aspen at their Jerome Hotel shop starting this week. I like it and think it will be a good thing for many people, but then again, what the he$l do I know. Haha.

    But check out the gear. The heart and soul of the matter comes down to the skis, and Fischer has some good sticks. The Trans Alp LIght boots in my view are the single biggest technology developed in my life doing this so it’s been exciting selling this line. Give it a ride.

  47. StefanRequat December 26th, 2015 2:19 pm

    I am not very happy because my Profoils show a konkave Shape between the Ski-Edges – so the glue will.not really fully Stick to the Ski? from Edge to edge – Snow will enter at the Edges – the result will be a desasterous Performance !!

    If this is not solved rapidamente they are not a recomandation at all!!

  48. StefanRequat December 26th, 2015 2:20 pm

    I am not very happy because my Profoils show a konkave Shape between the Ski-Edges – so the glue will.not really fully Stick to the Ski? from Edge to edge – Snow will enter at the Edges – the result will be a desasterous Performance !!

    If this is not solved rapidamente they are not a recomandation at all!!

  49. Mark L December 26th, 2015 7:01 pm

    Mike and Lou,
    Can you clarify for me that the Profoils can be cut for other skis? (within reasonable dimensional limitations, of course.) If I have a ski wider than the Hannibal 100 would it still go edge-to-edge?

  50. Lou 2 December 26th, 2015 7:26 pm

    Mike?

  51. Mark L December 30th, 2015 2:26 pm

    I just ordered a pair of Hannibal 94s and the Profoils (from Mike) today. I’m a backcountry ski patroller in the Cascades, so I decided to take a flyer on them. I am intrigued because we have a lot of… what’s the word… “moist” snow and they are designed to work with that ski. I will report back in the spring after I’ve had a chance to use them…and learned something about how to handle AT skis after 20+ years on tele. 😉

  52. Mark L December 30th, 2015 3:36 pm

    Hey, look what I found.
    https://youtu.be/yCbrAuaFQHM
    https://youtu.be/cwpglpDa5qA

    I think what people are missing is that with regular skins you don’t want to stick the adhesive to the plush. With these, it appears that just like with a roll of tape, you go g2g at the end (with the short liner in between), then just fold it up (a flat roll, really) with the adhesive side against the sliding surface. There are designated folds.

    I’m looking forward to trying these out.

  53. Mark L January 1st, 2016 4:52 pm

    Apologies if this ends up as a double post. Apparently the video links I posted a couple days ago require moderator approval.

    I think what people are missing is that with regular skins is you go glue-to-glue because you don’t want to stick the adhesive to the plush. With these, it appears that just like with a roll of tape, you go g2g at the end (with the short liner in between), then just fold it up (a flat roll, really) with the adhesive side against the sliding surface. There are designated folds.

    I’m looking forward to trying these out. I’m still a little skeptical, but willing to give them a test.

    Do a Youtube search on “Fischer PROFOIL – Ranger 98 Skins” and “Fischer Tour | Climbing Tools | PROFOIL User Guide” for demonstrations.

  54. stephen January 12th, 2016 2:17 am

    One question: Do the Profoils still stick to the ski in wet spring conditions once fitted and removed a few times? That’s the biggest single problem here in Australia…

  55. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2016 6:26 am

    Hello Stephen, in my experience they are no better and no worse with how the glue sticks when ski is wet, BUT, the Profoil absorbs no moisture so they’re incredibly easy to dry out. Lou

  56. stephen January 12th, 2016 8:01 pm

    Thanks Lou, that’s the smaller part of the problem, but would certainly help. If only someone could come up with glue that doesn’t care if it gets wet…

  57. See January 12th, 2016 8:32 pm

    I don’t know about Australia, but I’ve done a fair bit of spring skiing in the Sierra. Applying lots of skin wax reduces water absorption, in my experience.

  58. stephen January 12th, 2016 8:38 pm

    Yeah, wax helps, but even when ironed-in the glue still won’t always last a day in spring here. It gets really wet – sometimes >10?…

  59. Mark L February 28th, 2016 5:10 pm

    Over the last 2 days I put about 13mi/20k miles on these skins in the Cascades in very wet snow, route-finding and putting in new skin track through below-treeline alpine terrain. It included a lot of downhill with skins on because we had to hack around through the trees a fair amount. I was very satisfied with them and mostly concur, with a couple of additional notes:
    Note: It is important to note that the separator sheet is only about 18in/45cm long, so it is not hard to tuck into a pocket or into the stuff sack. Sure wish they were colorful, not clear.
    It is also important to note that you don’t roll them, as pictured above. You fold them at well-defined creases. A little to rigid to tuck them into your coat, but they fold really flat so i could easily put them in the water bottle pocket on my pack.
    Plus Plus!: They weighed the same at the top of the pass after 7 miles of skinning in 38F/3C rain as they did when I started.
    Minus: The tail hook is simple, but they loosen a little too easily. I had to adjust it on the tour a couple times. Maybe it is the strap either slipping or stretching when it is wet?
    Plus: Part of our route included a groomed downhill road (not long enough to want to take the skins off). As I glided by (slowly), one of my partners on traditional skins said, “I’m feeling kind of jealous about now.” They also seemed less grabby, more predictable, and had relatively good control when skiing down short stretches.
    Needs watching: The creases at the fold “hinges” don’t stay flat on the ski if you are not standing on them. I did not experience any bad ice buildup under the skin, but I will have to see what happens as the glue gets more worn.
    Minus: I highly doubt they are re-gluable
    Overall I really like them! I agree that this is an innovative product that has some real advantages. I have zero regrets taking a chance on them. My major questions are mostly about durability:
    Will the folds tear or break?
    How will the glue last?

  60. Lou Dawson 2 February 28th, 2016 7:30 pm

    Thanks Mark, all should note that they do not glide as well as mohair skins in some situations, I have A/B tested. The weight savings is real, that’s for sure. Sorry about the rolled up skins photo, perhaps I’ll let stand as if your release sheet blows away in the wind that’s the way it’s done (grin). Lou

  61. Mark L March 2nd, 2016 11:27 am

    Sometimes you do have to improvise. 🙂 I also just noticed your fold pic is wrong as well. You fold the tail with the release paper first, then fold it over itself toward the tip. There is a big print on the skin that says to “attach the protection foil in this area before folding profoil!” It is actually quite easy to do as you take it off the ski. Folded properly, both skins together are about 2.5 inches thick x 11.5 inches long. The only reason they are that thick in the middle is because that’s where the tail hook ends up. I get the concern about the creases, but they don’t seem to have gotten worse in the short time I’ve had them. A bonus I hadn’t thought of before was that I just tucked them into one of the mesh water bottle pockets on the side of my pack and didn’t care if they got rained on. No stuff sack required.

    I also want to emphasize that they glided “better” than my friends in our wet conditions. That does not mean I was about to bust out my lycra suit and leave them in my wake. 🙂

  62. david August 16th, 2016 8:30 am

    Hi Lou – thanks for the review! Just curious to know if a longer Profoil can be cut and shortened? WOuld the strap at the back to secure the skin be easily ‘transplanted’/glued/stitched back to the shortened Profoil? Getting a 156cm Fischer Transalp88 ski and have spotted a great deal on a once used Profoil at 185cm – thanks

  63. MarkL December 6th, 2016 10:56 am

    David – I realize your post was a while ago, but just in case…The plastic is quite rigid, so it will not fold over to accommodate a traditional tip kit. The folds in the plastic are designed to fold in that location.

  64. david December 6th, 2016 5:38 pm

    MarkL – thanks for the “late” response – the email alert is cool as not everyone visits the theads daily. I’ve opted for a more conventional solution for now

  65. Mark L December 14th, 2016 1:36 pm

    david – FYI I have heard they are offering a custom trim-to-tit version this year. I got a traditional skin for my new area/side-country rig that will hopefully fit both skis so I have the option.

  66. Stefan Requat January 1st, 2017 12:56 pm

    I used!! the Profoils on my Transalp 88 now for one year and about 20 Tours – i just can not recommend this Skins at all.

    Although the Profiles have two sides:

    They run perfectly, and climbing is perfect even at the ugliest icy track or piste!

    But they have a mayor fault:

    They don’t stick reliable to the skies because of the rigid material which tends to a alongside concave bowl – and along the whole side of the skies they just don’t stick at the edges offering a slot of about 2mm to 5 mm: so you got troubles – and afterwards you can scratch away the upcoming ice from inbetween from the ski and from the Skin GRRRR.

    For a longer Tour with more than one required refitting of the skins they are absolut unusable – so NO RECOMMANDATION at all – i will just throw them away when there is no satisfying replacement by Fischer Skis – which i doubt – i have 3 Friend who have the same trouble, two of them are in Austria well known professional Mountain Guides!

    Sorry – but this is really bad stuff!

  67. david January 1st, 2017 7:56 pm

    hey stefan – thanks for you thoughts on this, The glue and flex problems seem to be quite serious outside of a day trip with them it seems. Hopefully the v2.0 if it comes out soon will start to addess these issues

  68. david January 1st, 2017 7:57 pm

    thanks for your thoughts! Hopefull version 2.0 will be an improvement

  69. Toby Wheeler March 11th, 2017 8:40 pm

    I used a pair yesterday and pretty much agree with the most of the comments both pro and con. No side by side comparisons as I was solo. Seemed a little slippery on the steeper tracks and I dont think there is anyway I could follow a steep skin track made by young bucks on wall to wall nylon skins. A bit slippery on hard windslab.

    One question: How are the folds going to hold up in very cold temperatures? Seems like they could break across the folds. They must have tested them out. the results?





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