Mohair climbing skins give me the love. They glide, they climb, they’re light. Yeah, they wear out faster than nylons, don’t grip well on 55 degree skin tracks, and some brands have backing material that’s not so durable. But even with those permutations, goat hair still gives me the warm and fuzzies. Black Diamond didn’t want to be left out of the love in, so by next winter they’ll be distributing their own version of mohair ski rugs for backcountry skiing.
March 24 update: As written below, out of the box these mohair skins climbed well but lacked glide. Mohair responds to a “breakin” so along with more test laps at a local ski resort, I also skied DOWN the whole resort with the skins on. They do glide better after this, but in my opinion could still have a bit more of that silky mohair glide feeling. Black Diamond says I might have the nylon/mohair mix rather than pure mohair, we’re working on getting that cleared up and I’ll report back here once we know for sure. Whatever the case, I’ve made these my go-to skins for my k2 Mount Bakers, and plan on using them during my coming Europe trip.
Said to be made to BD’s specifications, the new furs come with the STS tail attachment and standard tip loop. They’re black, too, which is the best color for skins (fast drying in the sun).
Out of the box, you can tell right away these goat hair climbing skins are on a medium weight backing. They still pack light and tight, but it looks like they’ll be adequately resistant to tearing. They also feel nicely loaded with DWR treatment, or perhaps that’s just the oily feel of natural hair. Either way, while a friend’s skins were icing during a test run yesterday, the new BD mohairs stayed clean. They climbed well but seem to be doing that typical mohair thing of needing breakin before achieving the silky glide that only hair of goat provides (glide out of the box was roughly equal to a moderately used BD orange Ascension skin). How much of of the “glide improvement” effect I’ll get is still an open question. After a few more days of use I’ll report back on this post, but for now I’m pretty certain these are a thumbs up.
It’s also worth remembering that BD will sell an innovative split skin next year. Idea behind these is you cover a really wide ski, but don’t have to haul the weight of wall-to-wall fur. Instead, two outside strips are connected with lightweight webbing down the middle. More, for those who want love both ways, BD will also provide a Glidelite that’s part mohair and part nylon. Keep your eyes open for all this stuff, it looks great!
A tip for using mohair skins: Sometimes (especially with wear) they don’t climb as well as nylon. Glide is not an issue on steep skin tracks. So just carry and use ski crampons to compensate for any grip issues when the angle kicks up.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain. For more about Lou, please see his personal website at https://www.loudawson.com/ (Blogger stats: 5 foot 10 inches (178 cm) tall, 160 lbs (72574.8 grams).