New Black Diamond Skin Glue for 2012/2013

Post by blogger | February 15, 2012      

Shop for Black Diamond climbing skins for backcountry skiing. As before, BD will sell skins in full nylon plush, mohair mix, and full mohair.

After a weekend testing skis using tried and true Ascension Nylon climbing skins (the orange ones), my shoulders look better while I’m leaning at the bar at our local dive, but still feel half out of the sockets from pulling the skins apart after the down, and pulling them off my skis after the up. Razz me all you want about how I wimp out in comparison to the 5.14 resume dawn patrol crowd at Black Diamond (shucks, their shoulders look better). But watch a smaller guy or woman struggling with skin glue, and you’ll have some sympathy for his or her plight if you have even a tiny shred of humanity in your buffed out core.

Luckily, Black Diamond has such empathy. Next fall they’ll be changing over to a new skin glue formulation that releases easier from itself, and comes off the ski a hair easier as well. Don’t despair, this stuff is still sticky — just more tricky (in a good way).

New BD Ascension skins for 2012-13 have changed color and graphics.

New BD Ascension skins for 2012-13 have changed color and graphics. Nylon version sports this tasty orange.

I’ve got a set of the new skins here, and they have noticeably less adhesion to themselves than the older version. They still stick to themselves quite strongly when cold and you may still struggle a bit, but your shoulders will stay in their sockets. During testing, the new nylon plush seemed to glide a bit better but I’m having trouble believing anything can climb better than other recent Ascension full nylon skins.

If you want grippy skins such as the original Ascension, but are tired of that too-sticky glue, wait till next fall and consider these guys. Your labrums will thank you. Recommended.

Shop for Black Diamond climbing skins for backcountry skiing. As before, BD will sell skins in full nylon plush, mohair mix, and full mohair.


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52 Responses to “New Black Diamond Skin Glue for 2012/2013”

  1. harpo February 15th, 2012 9:57 am

    “just more tricky” ….. are you using tricky in a good or bad way in this sentence?

  2. SB February 15th, 2012 10:04 am

    My trick is to put the tip loop on, grab the skin tail and put a knee right above the hand. Pull up with the hand and down with the knee. Easy.

    If you are in deep snow, you need to put the tail of the ski on top of your other boot. Of course, none of this helps if you are a pro at putting skins on without taking the skis off.

  3. Lou February 15th, 2012 10:24 am

    Harpo, in a good sense! Poor writing, I guess… was trying to allude to the chemists in the lab where they figure this stuff out…

  4. Charlie February 15th, 2012 10:37 am

    Neat. Will they continue to sell Gold Label for curmudgeons until the product is proven?

    Too-grippy skin glue is just-right after it has accidental pine needles or dry powder stuck to it….

  5. Ed February 15th, 2012 11:03 am

    Actually, the glue is a lot less sticky after one or two storage episodes on BD’s red or white mesh glue protector thingys !!! I’ve had the red mesh come off on the skin glue more than once – I hope they work on this as well as the skins – it’s been a bummer.
    Separating skins works for me by flipping a ski over so the base is facing up, put one end sticky side down on the base, stand a ski boot on one end of the carpet side and reef with your back and both arms. Seems to do the trick for me. I gave up pulling them apart in the air long ago (except Dynafit skins which seem to behave).

  6. Patrick February 15th, 2012 11:05 am

    @SB, “putting skins on without taking the skis off”, I’d love to see a video demonstration! Does anyone have a favorite YouTube how-to?

  7. Colin Lantz February 15th, 2012 11:29 am

    Saw this at the OR show. Curious because we’ve gotten some feedback that our Pomoca skin glue on our La Sportiva skins could be a little stickier more like Ascension Gold Label even if others complain that Gold Label it is too aggressive. I guess there is a happy compromise there somewhere between too grippy and not grippy enough. Temperature, weather, humidity and personal procedures for storing and cleaning skins between runs all have an affect on glue performance. Curious to see if BD nailed it on this reformulation. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a glue that automatically adjusted it’s “grip” to the environmental conditions? Anybody have any experience with glue-less or silicone backed skins?

  8. Pierce Oz February 15th, 2012 12:05 pm

    I don’t have a problem getting the skins off my skis while still on. It’s an important trick to know, esp in deep snow and/or glacier terrain. Still working on getting them back on without removing skis. A couple tricks for those new, extra-sticky skins:
    When folding, fold them so the black non-sticky strip ends up next to each other instead of right on top of each other. Basically, fold them a little off center. Also, throw some wrinkles in there while folding. It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s much easier to get them back apart. I’ve even been throwing my skins down in the snow, sticky side down, before throwing them in my pack with the brand new mohairs I just got. I DIG the BD full mohairs, btw.

  9. Nik February 15th, 2012 12:26 pm

    with Charlie. why fix what’s not broken. ski nuff, and the overly grippy glue turns just right at the end of the skins’ first season.

  10. Rob Coppolillo February 15th, 2012 1:37 pm

    Yo Colin,

    I’ve been skiing the glueless/silicone Geckos for a couple months now (full skin test on Elevation Outdoors to follow; stay tuned) and I’ve liked them so far. I have dropped them in snow, left them on my skis over night (in Silverton, 10 belowF), ignored them when snow has gotten underneath–and so far, so (very!) good. I will note, however, that a couple little spots of the silicone appears to have come up–though it hasn’t affected performance. I’ll post a link when I write up the full review (minus Colltex skins, which I couldn’t get from CH).

    Rob C

  11. Shane February 15th, 2012 4:23 pm

    I’m glad to hear about this, the Geckos, and the “Love Glove” that was reported on a couple weeks ago. Even after numerous seasons my splitboard skins (Ascensions) are a major PIA to peel apart. I’m faced with struggling with my skins or using the cheat sheets that Ed mentions (although mine are black). I just spent part of my Friday night picking peices of the mesh out of my glue with tweezers and I have to pick up long strands of them out of the snow everytime I rip my skins.

  12. Lou February 15th, 2012 4:32 pm

    Love Glove is your solution.

  13. RhettB February 15th, 2012 6:16 pm

    BD/Ascension once sold a clear plastic version of their “Cheat Sheets” that I used for a decade. They never broke apart and contaminated the skin glue like the new mesh versions from BD or G3. Skins probably stuck to them a little more at first compared to the newer mesh variety, but once the plastic became sufficiently wavy/wrinkly from use, they worked perfectly. If my old set was wide enough for my new skins, I’d still be using them.

  14. Brian February 15th, 2012 7:42 pm

    Just spent 5 days in the BC with my new G3 Alpinist skins. Glue behaves as you describe here and the glide was good. Would highly recommend

  15. cam February 15th, 2012 7:51 pm

    BD Gold Label is so superior to all other glue that unless you’re weak in the upper body there could be no reason to try anything else. Ladies and seniors may have difficulty separating GL glue but other brands simply fail in repeated use days or cold/saturated conditions. I wish BD wouldn’t cater to the minority to the detriment of the majority.

  16. Glenn February 15th, 2012 8:04 pm

    I use Mesh Bar Mat to keep my Skins manageable.

    Am I missing something? Why do you let your sticky skins get stuck on themselves?

  17. Dave February 15th, 2012 10:05 pm

    Lou, any idea how this new glue will behave in cold temps? I have yet to find a glue that will work reliably at -20F, which is common where I ski. Even keeping skins inside your jacket doesn’t help after the first use in a ski day. Considered the glueless ones, but I like the versatility of using one pair of skins for multiple skis with slightly different dimensions. Turns out duct tape becomes useless too!

  18. Camilo February 16th, 2012 12:04 am

    The easiest way to separate your skins is to use your hips! Hold tip and tail in each hand, brace hands on quads, spread legs apart. Opposite of a thighmaster. Even the toughest skins peel apart with no work on your shoulders.
    If you do this there’s no reason to use cheat sheets.

  19. Forest February 16th, 2012 4:32 am

    I’m with Brian on the G3 Alpinist – bought new ones this year, have half a dozen trips on them and couldn’t be happier! Both the glide and the grip are better than I had hoped for. The glue is agressive enough to stay put but still separate from themselves fine in the cold.

  20. Kandy Winter February 16th, 2012 8:02 am

    I purchased these skis as well. But our snow year in Park City has been so light and with a new baby I have not had a chance to try. Hopefully I won’t be the slowest one in the group now.

  21. tom robinson February 16th, 2012 9:10 am

    I have been hearing about the danger of wearing helmets for backcountry skiing.
    A wrong fitting/styled helmet can act as a snow scoop in an avalanche and the chinstrap can choke the buried skiier.
    What are your thoughts on this?
    BTW, deep snow and cold beer in BC this winter.

  22. Lou February 16th, 2012 9:31 am

    Hi Tom, lots of things can kill you in an avalanche, that’s the problem! A poorly fitted helmet is always a bad idea. In terms of strangling on gear, I’m more worried about any backpack with a chest strap, but without a crotch strap like the airbag packs have.

  23. Jim February 16th, 2012 10:23 am

    Lou, I put some of the BD Gold Medal on my Dynafit skins and its changed the nice easy even separation of the Dynafit skins and is kind of gloppy looking now. Was that a mistake? Does Dynafit have some of their what seems just perfect glue. Much easier to separate than my wife’s BD skins.

  24. Rob February 16th, 2012 10:53 am

    5.14? Meh. Coltex skin glue…. beyond classification……always travel with a partner to help you separate your skins.

  25. Matt Kinney February 16th, 2012 11:47 am

    I find new Ascension BD skins or reglued skins very sticky. I just got new ones last week and the first thing I did is put them together and pull them apart about 10X in my home. It can be exhausting. The first few times pulling them apart is brutal so I suggest doing this before taking them out in the field. Use the same process if your reglue. They get tacky quick and work fine after this exercise

  26. Denny T February 16th, 2012 12:27 pm

    Instead of folding, I’ve been rolling my BD Ascensions for the past year, with no ill effects on adhesion or skinning performance. Much easier to unroll than to unfold! Sacrilege I’m sure, but it works for me.

  27. Lou February 16th, 2012 12:42 pm

    I think rolling is fine if the skin fur is clean. Problem for us here is we sometimes travel on dirty or dog-hair coated snow, and rolling the skin on itself after that would be bad. Best solution really is that G3 Love Glove, or Gecko.

  28. Dave February 16th, 2012 12:56 pm

    Anyone have advice on the best skin glue for cold temps?

  29. Michael Pike February 16th, 2012 1:47 pm

    I use my head when it comes to peeling skins folded back on themselves.
    Facing the base of the ski, hook the tip wire with the skin upside down, ie. fur side facing the base. While holding ski tip in left hand, pull skin apart as far as possible with right hand. Holding tip with your left arm fully extended,, pull skin over your head and use your head as a fulcrum lever , extending your right hand to pull rest of skin apart. It sounds more complicated than it is.

  30. Daniel February 17th, 2012 9:36 am

    I played with these a bit at SIA show, and while I have no idea how they do it, it’s been done, and these are really a pleasure compared to older models of the Ascension skins. Thank You BD, great work, and nice post on these Lou.

  31. Brian February 17th, 2012 11:06 am

    I demo’d some Gecko skins and here are some initial observations:

    First, the coating is not super durable. If you push hard with your thumb, you can delaminate sections of it. Not that you would necessarily do this but…

    Second, the backing is a little light weight. As a skimo racer, I set all my skins up for front bungee rips. I simply trim the skins with a tab that I can fold over and then sew with heavy thread, forming a small loop that I can then pass the bungee through. I have done this on dozens of skins with no problems. The first time I went to rip the Gecko skin off my ski, I pulled the bungee right through the fabric. Bad.

    Now I had a fully contaminated skin lying in the 0 degree Alaskan snow with no tip attachment. Also bad. My attempts to scrape the snow off the skin via the ski edge were met with chunks of silicone coating on the snow. Ooops.

    Luckily, I brought a back up and continued the day without a problem.

    Future uses of the skins after repair yield these observations:

    The adhesion is VERY aggressive in all temps. So much so that I cannot perform a single pull rip like I can with normal BD or Pomoca.

    Once contaminated, I find that they are a lost cause if the snow is cold and the crystals fine. My tail failed (I don’t use tail clips) on one recently and I could not get the skin clean enough to use again.

    Ultimately, they do work but I think I will save them for the spring when fine crystal contamination risk is low. I bet they will be fine in corn.

    On a separate note, anyone else notice that the new BD GL glue is thicker? Not as easy to work with as the thinner stuff in the can.

  32. Brian February 19th, 2012 9:11 am

    spam alert, Lou.

  33. Lou February 19th, 2012 12:43 pm

    Thanks Brian, I deleted (now that I’m sitting at my computer in a hotel in Italy.

  34. Lou February 19th, 2012 12:52 pm

    Brian, can you give us a vintage of the skins you ripped? In my testing, the latest Gecko material was near as strong, or as strong, as BD nylon skin backing material. Older Geckos were not a durable, which is why we did initial reviews but then backed off from reviewing them for a while…

  35. Brian February 19th, 2012 3:37 pm

    These skins were sent to me just a couple of months ago. They could be old ones, I suppose, since they were for “testing” purposes but I don’t know for sure. The fold of skin was 2 cm wide. That thickness has worked for years but few skins have the kind of adhesion of Geckos.

    When I pull them now I make sure I grab a bit of the skin and not just the bungee.

  36. Mh February 20th, 2012 9:26 pm

    I’ll take the original sticky BD glue, thank you. 20+ years of using either BD or purple Ascensions and I can count skin failures on one hand. 5 days on my La Sportiva (Pomoca) skins at Rogers Pass and multiple skin failures daily. Give me sticky any day!

  37. Brian February 20th, 2012 10:28 pm

    Although I love my Pomoca skins, the glue is crap. All of my race skins have seen a stripping of the old and a nice application of trusty (and sticky) GL. I’ll struggle any day to avoid the disappointment of skin failure. Ruins it for everyone on the tour.

  38. Jesse Crocker February 22nd, 2012 4:45 pm

    While were on the topic of skin glue, anyone heard of bad interactions between BD skin glue and flourocarbon wax. I had a shop guy warn me of bad interactions between the two, but he couldn’t say what the problem was. Is this why i only get a year or two of life out of my skin glue?

  39. JB Smoovee December 30th, 2012 8:23 pm

    First hand experience on the new ascenstion skins. The new glue SUCKS! I had to post hole out of a creek because the skins wouldn’t stick to my skis. This is a major FAIL. Never had this problem before with glide lite skins from years past. Going back to REI and I will be trying some climbing skins direct.

  40. Jason January 31st, 2013 12:10 pm

    I agree with the previous post. The new glue sucks. First run they work ok, but after that it’s a crap shoot. Never had issues with my older orange ascensions. Picked up a pair of nylon mohair mixed skins this year and have not been impressed with the new glue.

  41. jonah June 2nd, 2013 1:22 pm

    hi Lou.
    after using the new skin glue the last 2 seasons, i have found that it does not work for me. the first set of glide lite skins i had failed miserably. black diamond warranted them and sent me a new pair for the 2012\2013 season, these also performed poorly. i’m also having a problem with the skins cupping and thus resulting in skin failure. i ski in all conditions (north idaho) and am lucky to get a day out of these things. guess i’m just spoiled with the old ascentions. yeah JB, i think i’ll look into climbing skins direct also. is there any other skin brands that i should consider? any info would be greatly appreciated. thank you for your time Lou.

  42. Lou Dawson June 2nd, 2013 2:41 pm

    Always worth considering Pomoca and G3 for alternatives… Pomoca is more the Euro style glue that doesn’t stick quite as tenaciously, a matter of preference.

  43. Erik Erikson June 2nd, 2013 11:20 pm

    I think Pomoca also produces the K2 skins since some time, right? I used K2 skins on one of my pair of skies this season, so far they do the job really well, also the glue. No experience concerning long term durability so far. And I do not know if Pomoca and K2 skins (and glue) are really exactly the same (the attachment system is not of course).

  44. Lou Dawson June 3rd, 2013 6:44 am

    Erik, we tested the latest K2 skins this winter. As far as I know they’re made by Pomoca, but definitely are a nylon plush that’s high traction but doesn’t have much glide as compared to the Pomoca blended “speed” skins. The glue worked fine, and the attachment system is ok. Personally I prefer skins with more glide, especially on wider skis.

    I also tested Pomoca Pro Glide skins quite a bit last winter, used on my DPS Wailer 99s. They glide much better than the K2 version and had plenty of grip as far as I was concerned.

    Much of what makes the best skin is how you’ll use it. On steeper or mixed terrain (rocks and dirt), the full nylon versions offer better grip and durability. But for regular ski touring the options with more glide are a good option.


  45. Erik Erikson June 3rd, 2013 7:31 am

    Thanks for the info, Lou. For me, who never really tests or compares skins side by side (on the same ski) and does not use many different models it is always a litlle hard to tell how well a skin glides. I used the K2 skins on my coomback, which of course needs some more strain on the uphill than my lighter skis. Probably a part of this comes frome the not so good gliding skins and is not only caused by additional weight. Estimating the grip of a skin is easyer for me.
    Anyway I really like the attachement system, though it is limited to skis having a tip hole.
    And I have to admit: I also like the cool green colour of the K2 skin 😉

  46. Lou Dawson June 3rd, 2013 2:12 pm

    It is quite easy to put tip holes in a ski:

    In fact, just a few months ago I put holes in a pair of our test skis so I could test the K2 skins…


  47. Erik Erikson June 3rd, 2013 10:46 pm

    Never really thought of putting in tip holes by myself – but it is a good idea, since I really like to have them in a ski. It is a thing you admittedly are not to often in need of, but you really miss that holes WHEN they are needed although… as probably everyone knows who ever trained escaping a crevasse with skis on his feet and having the need to put them off and fasten them somewhere…

  48. jonah June 9th, 2013 9:12 pm

    thank you for the info Lou

  49. Tommy September 9th, 2013 1:39 pm

    Any more thoughts Lou on BD Ascension nylon vs. G3 Alpinist for the winter of 2013/1014? I have an old pair of Backcountry access and they have no glide. I need a new pair this season for a new set up. Is this like Ford vs. Chevy??
    Thanks for your insight!


  50. Lou Dawson September 9th, 2013 5:38 pm

    Not exactly Ford vs Chevy. The G3 has excellent glide, Ascension has a bit more traction. Your choice.

  51. Robert December 27th, 2013 1:25 pm


    Any clue as to who is the US distributor of Colltex climbing skins?

    Information regarding these seems exceedingly limited.



  52. Phil Maynard February 14th, 2015 7:16 am

    I have some old orange BD Nylon skins that still stick great, even on the waxless Madshus Epochs they are on now.

    I also have some Climbing Skins Direct that grip both the ski and the snow like a tracked bulldozer.

    I have some new BD Glidelite Mix, and they have a very excellent grip/glide ratio. I skinned up a horrendous icy groomer at Snowbird one morning, and they even got me up that. In the backcountry, they have never failed to get me up anything, and glide better than either of my old sets.

    The glue requires extreme care, especially in cold temps. I was skiing at -7F, enjoying the knee-deep powder that NE PA has right now. The laps were 500′ high, and I was running them extremely fast. The skins were only in my jacket for 1-2 minutes, so they never warmed up on the way down. Even being very careful about removal and application, the tiniest bit of contamination would prevent them from sticking. I had to follow this process to keep them on my skis:

    1) Adjust the tail all the way down, so there’s a lot of tension on the skin
    2) Scrape the length of the skin over the ski edge to clean it thoroughly
    3) Breathe on any frosty bit remaining, and then dry them with my sleeve and/or scrape them again
    4) Wipe and blow off the ski base to make sure it was perfectly clean (hard to do when it’s snowing or blowing out).
    5) Apply tip and tail, leaving skin taut like a bowstring
    6) Very firmly press the skin down, tip to tail.
    7) Carefully set the skis down, and weight my first strides carefully
    8) skin without any sideways motion at all, being very careful never to weight the ski when on a stick or log that might pull the edge of the skin loose

    When it’s 20F or warmer, they seem to work fine, with just normal care. That is, pull them off without dousing them in snow, scrape off any major contamination, apply firmly, skin smoothly. My transitions on the cold day were 2.5-3min, and on a warm day are 60-75 seconds (both directions, somehow. TLT5s with no tongues.)

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