ISPO 2017 and Beyond — Contour Climbing Skins

Post by blogger | May 1, 2017      

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)

Werner Koch runs family business Koch Alpine, featuring Contour climbing skins.

Werner Koch runs family business Koch Alpin, featuring Contour climbing skins.

Way back in January (or was it February?) I not only chatted up Contour at ISPO, but Fritz Barthel and I also made a visit to their HQ near Innsbruck, Austria. I’m still incredibly high on these magic carpets. Yeah, they’re expensive, but the Hybrid glue is incredible stuff. You can clean it with what’s essentially wax remover, and for us the Contour stickum is the perfect balance between tacky and removable.

We are still a Contour skins fan club, improvements this year keep us cheering.

We are still a Contour skins fan club, improvements this year keep us cheering.

So what’s new in the world of Contour? I think the important news is that indeed the Hybrid glue did delam for some folks during the original retail iteration (not a day breaker and covered by warranty). I’m happy to say after nearly a whole winter of testing that the latest Hybrid is bomber. Nary a problem, and I put probably 40 days on the set of mohairs that Werner cut for my Volkle VTA88s. What’s more, we put a few other sets into play as well — the mohair-nylon mix — and they performed well.

While I wasn’t doing much A/B climbing skin testing this winter, I did get the sense that Contour’s mohair picked up snow a bit more easily than the various brands of nylon mix I used. An occasional rub with skin wax seemed to fix that.

On the manufacturing side, other news is Contour figured out a proprietary method of heat sealing the edges of their pre-cut skins. We’re running a set of those in mohair, badged by Atomic, on a pair of next season’s Backland 95 skis. They’re holding up perfectly, no unraveling, clean edges on the skins that still look “factory.”

I had to catch a shot of this commercial fabric cutter Werner uses for trimming skins.

I had to catch a shot of this commercial fabric cutter Werner uses for trimming skins. It works so well he re-badged and is selling as an accessory.

Other Contour skin gear we’ve been testing: I’ve had a few sets of Werner’s excellent tip loop clamshell anchors in play. They’re working well, though we’ve discovered they need to be carefully installed to avoid the skin pulling out (easily fixed, but more of an indoors 5-minute project than something you want to be doing on the trail). Beyond our fandom of Hybrid Contour skin glue, we’re still singing praises for their Shark Tailhook, perfect if you like rigging your skins so they’re removable from the tip.

In honor of our visit, Werner produced this incredibly dirty and contaminated skin. It had virtually no tack left.

In honor of our visit, Werner produced this incredibly dirty and contaminated skin. It had virtually no remaining tack. With other brands a messy re-glue would be required, or perhaps replacement.

So, Werner doused the groody skin with cleaner, scrubbed with an abrasive cleaning pad, rinsed in the sink.

So, Werner doused the groody skin with cleaner, scrubbed with an abrasive cleaning pad, and rinsed in the sink. Result,
usable glue.

Related Links:
Search our Contour skins coverage.

Contour (Koch Alpin) website.

Looking for summer deals on climbing skins? At Cripple Creek Backcountry this weekend I noticed they’ve still got a nice variety of skins. Get in touch and make a deal. As Werner Koch always reminds me: “If you ski quite a few days, your climbing skins are like your bicycle tires — don’t hesitate to replace when the fur begins to wear out.”

Bonus skin care tips from Werner:
1. Clean your ski bases before applying skins. This is especially important if you’ve been skiing at a resort where they groom snow, as your ski bases will have diesel and other automotive residues that can damage your skin glue.
2. Ultraviolet light, sunlight, damages most formulations of climbing skin adhesive. An occasional quick dry in the sun is probably ok, but don’t get in the habit of hanging your skins outside in the sun after every tour.


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9 Responses to “ISPO 2017 and Beyond — Contour Climbing Skins”

  1. Justin May 1st, 2017 10:31 am

    I got a pair of Contour hybrid mix skins this year. I have been very happy with the plush but have had mixed results with the adhesive. I’ve had more failures than I’ve had with other skins, which is largely my fault for not drying my bases well enough before putting the skins back on between laps. And I’m now getting some delamination of some of the adhesive and they don’t seem to get very tacky again when I wash them. I wonder if mine are actually the old version that had adhesive issues. I do love how easy they are to remove… I’ll have to look into seeing if mine can be warrantied.

  2. Robert May 1st, 2017 12:40 pm

    I had two pairs, and while they are basically fine, they can be quite problematic if you put them on multiple times a day, especially on cold days and when you break trail in fresh snow.
    since they do not stick to the skis that well, snow tends to collect starting from the tips, and in those areas the skins will just not stick again. so when you put them on next, even more snow will get between skis and skins…

  3. Lou Dawson 2 May 1st, 2017 1:52 pm

    Justin, sounds like you have old version for sure. Re how sticky they are, it’s a matter of personal taste, they’re not as sticky as some of the other brands/models, but are incredibly easy to store, remove, etc. Very important to fit the skins to your style of touring, that’s for sure!

  4. Werner Koch May 1st, 2017 2:47 pm

    Hi Lou – thanks for the report!
    Hi Robert and Justin: with any kind of small spots delaminating after storing them folded glue to glue – this is the old version, the issue has been eliminated last season. In regards to tack please note that quickly washing them does not reactivate the glue as well as a thoroughly cleaning them with our cleaning spray or wax remover. Sometimes wax residues prevent adhesion and these won’t be removed by washing. My suggestions: If the hybrid surface does not feel tacky when touching it, it will still work on a single ascent but for multiple ascents the glue needs to be cleaned with wax remover and a brush or good sponge. It has to feel tacky to do the job the way it should…. Wiping off the ski base before applying the skins will keep the hybrid glue clean and sticky and saves 90 % of the work for cleaning …. Best, Werner Koch

  5. Lou Dawson 2 May 1st, 2017 4:06 pm

    Thanks Werner!

  6. Jim Milstein May 1st, 2017 8:33 pm

    I too have some small spots of glue delam on my Contour Hybrid Mix skins. Must be the older version. I got them just before the previous season; so they have well over one hundred days on them. They still work, but keeping them clean is key, as Werner says. Initially, I did not clean them vigorously. Clean them vigorously.

  7. Werner Koch May 2nd, 2017 2:51 am

    Hi Jim,
    Great, thanks. “Vigorously”, that’s the word, I was looking for, we’ll include it in the next update of the user manual ; )

  8. Rar0 May 2nd, 2017 9:29 am

    I use colltex whizzz. Don’t stick strongly to the skis so easy to remove. No problem for multiple ascents. I used to have problems with my old CT40 when they got wet or in contact with fresh snow. Not any more. Seem pretty close to these contours

  9. Jim Milstein May 2nd, 2017 10:11 pm

    Well, I cleaned them “vigorously” again before skiing in wet spring snow. Great adhesion through several on/off cycles. The pile was sopping, but that did not affect adhesion. You get great traction in warm wet snow. I walked straight up a 35º slope, scorning zigzags.

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