What better thing to do at the end of summer then begin fantasizing about winter? Face shots, skin tracks and shiny gear are on my mind — no 90F degree heat can take away those dreams. This past season I’ve had the opportunity to try out G3 Scala Climbing Skins. We’ve shared a few trips together with some big highlights: two wonderful weeks in BC, Canada for Christmas; a 20 mile trek through the Enchantments Basin back in May; and a grueling one day Glacier Peak attempt in late June.
When I first saw the Scala skins, I wasn’t sure what to think. Reflecting back to the well known, fully “hairy”, carpet-like skins that I’m used to or the fish scale Fisher skins I’ve tried in the past — I was skeptical about combining both.
G3 introduced the Hybrid Tip Connector on the Scala skins. Yeah, the red plastic thing! It is meant to cause less friction in the tip of the skin than the usual G3 mohair nylon blend. The difference should be most noticeable when the skins are being pushed forward into deep powdery snow, resulting in easier trail breaking motion.
Worried about how you might go about trimming the skin? Don’t be, the G3 skin cutter works well to cut the urethane tip as well as the rest of the skin.
Scalas feature the versatile standard G3 tip clips and secure tails clips, as well as exceptional glue compositions that saves arm muscle strength when it comes to putting skins apart .
If you are like me, enjoying snacking and looking around at pretty mountains 99% of the time while touring — you won’t always find yourself breaking trail. And, Louie loves doing that way too much so why take away his pleasure?
With that said, having the Scalas was a good reason to do a lot more trail breaking this past season. To be honest, on shorter tours I didn’t really notice a big difference. But, on longer, bigger tours when the forward motion adds up over time, I must say overall I didn’t feel quite as worked as before. Was it due to just the trail breaking feature alone? Maybe, but that wasn’t the only factor. Another big factor is that these skins are much lighter than any previous skins I’ve owned.
Scala skins definitely favor glide over grip. Graduating from the gold standard of grippy skins (Black Diamond Ascensions), it took a bit of adjusting to trust the Scalas, as they did seem slick at times. Gripability is hard to compare, since my hesitation might have to do more with skinning technique and experience. Overall I was happy with the transition to more glide and I believe that these skins have helped me become a better skinner all around. To be honest, if I ever wasn’t feeling it on steeper/icier slopes, throwing on a pair of ski crampons always proved to be the easy solution.
The one thing that I love about G3 skins is their tail clip. Compared to other skin tail clip mechanisms, it is the most secure one I have seen; it has yet to inadvertently come off for me. However, the one thing I don’t quite like about it is how bulky the clips are. Given how thin the Scala itself is and how easily it can slide into your pack, the tail clips feel even bulkier than before. One of the reasons for the bulkiness is the length of the tail itself which accommodates a wide range of ski lengths. Since mine top off at 172 cm (range goes to 184cm), I’ve considered simply cutting off the excess.
I don’t use a skin saver for storing the skins, I just wrap them around the Tip Connector and store them flat in my pack. I love the low volume packability profile! I did notice over time that a small amount of glue transferred to one side where there was glue to glue contact but it didn’t impact performance. Durability testing will continue over time, but so far I am very impressed with how they have held up.
When visiting Canada back in December, we got to stop by and chat with one of the G3 wizard engineers. No secrets were revealed, except he assured us that we’ll be super stoked with what comes next. As promised, the new Scala LT is now available. Stoked to try it out! Let’s start those snow dances!