Gecko Climbing Skins – Finally Something New in the Skin Game


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 9, 2008      

Update, January 2009, new Gecko climbing skins first look and review.

Update, Jan 9:
Out today on a long tour (trip report coming). Fritz was on the Geckos. He walked over some rocks that would have been nothing for any other skin material, and tore the Geckos. We’re highly unimpressed with the durability of these guys. Shucks, I had high hopes…

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Torn Gecko climbing skin. If they just mixed some Kevlar in with the backing material they’d probably be fine. They’re thin and light, but that apparently = weak.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Today I tried out a different skin on each foot. Gecko glided super well, for what it’s worth. If you only tour with perfect snowcover, perhaps give them a go. I’ll pass for now, though knowing that a stronger backing material is probably all they need, I’ll be watching, as these things have potential.

Original post:

Dynafit backcountry skiing
Sportler’s expert fits the Gecko skins.

Climbing skins are as boring as snow tires. Years go by, and any changes or improvements are microscopic. Until now.

Went to the Sportler mountain shop in Kufstein just a few minutes ago, where Fritz is having a pair of Gecko “glueless” skins fitted to a pair of Dynafit 7 Summits skis.

I hope these things work. If they do, you will want some.

Impressions: They’re not exactly “glueless” as they do work with an odd adhesive. But instead of sticking to everything, they only stick to fairly smooth surfaces and do not stick to themselves. You can wad the skin up in a ball and it’s like wadding up a piece of fabric, not a piece of tape. More, these skins will not get mucked up with lint and pine needles. You can press them against your fleece jacket and they’ll come away clean. They’re light weight, and said to glide well.

Some reports have indicated durability problems, but we spoke to a core randonnee racer type guy at Sportler who said they’ve been working great for him, and he has something like 50,000 vertical meters on his already. (He said he didn’t use the Gecko for actual racing, as his special mohair race skins are quite customized.)

I hope this is a wow after we get out on them. Either way, you’ll know in a few days.



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Comments

33 Responses to “Gecko Climbing Skins – Finally Something New in the Skin Game”

  1. Charlie January 8th, 2008 4:46 am

    Is it really an adhesive, or does it work via van der Waals attraction/Casimir force? Intrigued physicists want to know (and stop fighting with their skins).

  2. Lou January 8th, 2008 4:17 pm

    Charlie, not sure here, will try to get more info.

  3. Steve January 9th, 2008 7:26 am

    I was just wondering a week or so ago if Wildsnow would ever have something to say about skins. We’ve gotten lots of great reviews on every other piece of rando gear but nothing has been said (at least that I’ve seen) about one of the most important parts of an AT setup. I’m definitely interested in hearing more about these Gecko skins and inquiring minds are interested in seeing some of that rigorous Wildsnow product testing on skins available today. Thanks Lou.

  4. Lenka K. January 9th, 2008 3:29 pm

    Ooops …. not nice, especially if you’re somewhere fairly removed from civilization. Let us know what happened next (Fritz surely has an extra pair of skins?), as there have been some fairly nasty things reported on Geckos (and their aftermath!) on European backcountry forums & magazines. Seems like a brilliant idea that just isn’t ripe for mass production yet (Ortovox S1 anyone?).

    The foehn is beginning to rage again, enjoy the sunny, but stormy conditions!

    Lenka K.

  5. Lou January 9th, 2008 3:44 pm

    Lenka, he indeed had an extra set of skins, but the touring we were doing was pretty mellow and the torn skin worked for the rest of the climb that day.

    I really feel sorry for the guy who designed and marketed these. He’s said to have put quite a bit of money and effort into the project, and his idea has potential. Huge mistake, however, to sell something that’s obviously still in beta testing. Frankly, I’m sick of seeing this sort of thing in mountaineering. Hey, it’s 2008, not 1998…

  6. AJ January 9th, 2008 6:17 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Apparently the guy behind Gecko has put a considerable effort into his marketing. I saw a press release that should be nominated for a Nobel prize. Well maybe with a bit more money and effort he can iron out the problems.

    Instead of a refund you should ask the randonnee racer at Sportler to lend you his racing skins for a full review 🙂

    Have fun tomorrow.

  7. Matus January 10th, 2008 2:14 am

    Those skins remind me of the products that probably have not been tested properly / launched too soon to the market> Dynafit Tristep, Diamir I, Silvretta Pure first gen., plastic plate (crampon holder) of all but the latest Dynafit bindings (now reinforced with the metal hook; however, I am not sure if they are strong enough – I will test this soon).

  8. Lou January 10th, 2008 5:25 am

    Matus, yeah, one gets tired of “consumer testing programs.”

  9. Scott January 13th, 2008 8:56 pm

    Lou: Can you please provide some insight into Mohair skins in terms of their durability, glide-ability, cost, stick, brands, etc., especially against this new Gekko product and the BD & G3 skins that we all seem to have experience with. Many thanks!

  10. Lou January 14th, 2008 1:37 pm

    Scott, full mohair skins glide the best and wear out fast. Their backing material is usually not as strong as that of skins such as Black Diamond’s or Dynafit’s or G3’s. I’ve always liked mohair skins, but am pretty careful what I use them for. Sometimes I carry a set of skinny ones in addition to my regular skins, for long sections of somewhat flat trail.

  11. Phyllis January 16th, 2008 6:23 pm

    The skin worked for the rest of the climb? Amazing after seeing the picture of the tear.

  12. Lou March 4th, 2008 7:56 pm

    Phyllis, yeah, the glue stuck well and held the torn part to the ski. Like I said, these things have potential.

  13. Mark April 30th, 2008 1:50 am

    Interesting seeing Lou’s photo of the torn skin – I’ve had similar issues with my Gecko’s but won’t go as far as saying they have any potential at all.

    When I first encountered these skins in Kaprun in December my reaction was wow!? At first look they are wonderful, very light, easy to pull apart, flexible to fold and no messy glue to protect.

    However the honeymoon was soon over. The problem started with fitting. In the instructions packaged with the skins it suggested folding the skins over at the tip, in the way we do with other skins, to hold the rubber tip fix. But it didn’t stick. The US distributor website suggests buying some little clips that hold the skin closed. The Austrian website suggested riveting the fold closed. I was reluctant to do this as I wan’t sure how the tip fix would perform, it seemed a little narrow for my K2 Shuksans and I wasn’t able to find any wider wires straight away. Also I have torn rubber tip fixes in the past and needed to replace them on the hill, riveting wasn’t going to allow this. In the end I duct taped them closed. Inelegant but functional!

    Now it was time to get them on the snow. The first few tours I did with them were in perfect spring conditions, hard, frozen old snow with a trail already in. The tracks were a little glazed early morning and the skins slipped more than my wife’s Black Diamond skins and more than I would have expected my Colltex skins to have. At the top they came off easily and without glue they folded quickly and were stashed in record time.

    At the end of these tours the skins were showing a lot of wear around the edges with a massive amount of fraying. On the hill this meant that they collected a lot of snow, like the “dags� sheep get after sitting in the snow. At the end of each day I got the scissors out and trimmed the frayed bits. I guess this is down to the fact that the skins are mohair.

    Next was an overnight trip and we set out in a storm to traverse a peak before descending to our hut. It was blowing hard and laying down drifts of soft windblown snow interspersed with ridges of hard sastrugi. After an hour the skins started to slide on the base of the ski, particularly when traversing. This became a real issue when the skins started sliding laterally, right off the ski leaving me flailing. I put duct tape around the skins to try and control this, particularly as the skins were starting to roll or curl inwards towards the middle of the ski. Two hours later, close to our summit the skins started to literally fall off the skis. I’ve no idea how they managed this. My guess is because the tip rubbers are really heavy duty and not very stretchy, the skins were not held tight lengthwise and so once all adhesion to the ski base was lost they were able to slide backwards and forwards on the ski as though lubricated. Weird but true!!

    I’ve written to the manufacturers with my feedback, both after my initial tours and after the final fiasco. They are passing my comments on to the research guys…….Meanwhile, I’ve bought some new Colltex.

    My final verdict has to be that these skins are not fit for purpose. Do not buy them, you will be disappointed.

  14. Jesse Cohen March 9th, 2010 5:43 am

    I’ve had basically the same experiences with my brand new Geckos. Fraying on the edges, collecting snow, and then you’re stuffed. I hope they sort it out the issues, because otherwise, it’s great to have a breath of fresh air when it comes to skins. I’m going back to my faithful black diamonds, since they seem to have the best fixation system on the market.

  15. Pablo December 13th, 2010 10:54 am

    Any news about improvement in this skins??
    I’ve heard something about a Colltex skin with “no glue”, Do you know something about it??

  16. Lou December 13th, 2010 11:15 am

    Pablo, I did hear Coltex was working on something, but better, check out Clip Skins. We’ve been testing them and they work. Only reason we’ve not reviewed is he keeps improving them, which makes reviewing difficult as it seems we’re always one step behind the latest version. It’s actually become somewhat funny, in a good way, as it’s nice to see someone developing a product and improving it so quickly.

    http://www.clipskins.com/

  17. Lou December 13th, 2010 11:21 am

    Also, the Gecko concept was/is excellent. It’s really a tragedy that they put their adhesive on inferior skin material. I do still have some contact info for those guys, and I’ll see if I can dig up the latest beta.

  18. Suzy J February 9th, 2011 3:16 am

    I took my new Gecko skins on their first tour yesterday (a very Spring-like tour given the weather conditions here in Tirol, Austria). The fact that I have them at all was down to, in my opinion, the poor performance of my new G3 skins that I had bought specifically for spending 3 months in Tirol for ski touring.
    Bit of background… I’m new to the sport and my boyfriend who is an experienced ski tourer has been showing me the ropes of ski touring. After quite a few daytrips he couldn’t understand why I was sometimes still having difficulty with what should have been very easy, not technical, ascents. He had cut the skins himself to the instructions and using the tool provided. In the end he was so exasperated at my lack of progress that he tried my boots/skins to see for himself. (Lucky that we have very similar sized feet.) He couldn’t get my skins to cling to the snow over some very simple inclines without it slipping back or to the side. We took them into Innsbruck to a specialist shop and the guy suggested a few different skins, 2 mohair and 1 mix. His primary recommendation (can’t remember what it was) wasn’t available for my size of ski (Fischer Koa 78, 159cm), so he said second choice were the Geckos. Decided to opt for it and…. wow! Yesterday I had less issues than I’d had with the G3 skins. Again, because of conditions here I had to take them over plants, rocks etc. and they don’t look much different from when they came out of the box. Other plus points, no cheat sheets required and easier to take off as no glue. Also G3 tail “buckle” was very difficult for me to loosen – being a girl and all 😉
    Will have to see how they go for wear but my first impressions are that these are an improvement for me. To be honest, it’s probably the same with most things in life… if it works for you great, if it doesn’t try something else. Just because it works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. I’ll definitely be giving my feedback to the retailers of both sets of skins for their info.

  19. Suzy J February 11th, 2011 6:54 am

    Just had to give an update. Took my Gecko skins on a night ascent at a local piste here in Austria (bit of training) and the previous 2 weeks I had particular difficulty at a very icy steep part (it forms part of the Olympic downhill run). My new skins went up it like a dream 🙂 My poor boyfriend was slipping all over the place on his 4 year old Black Diamond skins… I felt triumphant! Thanks Gecko 🙂

  20. Lou February 11th, 2011 7:48 am

    Suzy, thanks for the reports! I emailed Gecko to see if we can do more coverage of their skins. It sounds like they’ve made quite a bit of progress.

  21. Ian Lamphere July 26th, 2011 7:55 pm

    Hey, Lou: I emailed you back a couple of times and tried on facepoke too, to see if you’re still interested in getting the latest iteration. We’ve got a pile of them with or without tail clips, regular or race version, and even for split boards now. Let me know.

    ian

  22. Scott August 23rd, 2011 7:17 am

    Just received the new Backcountry magazine and dropped in the email for Gecko skins and I end up at Wildsnow 2008 with a poor review. That shouldn’t be too good for business? I received a pair of skins from climbingskins.com and the glue came off in gobs on the first two pair then the 3rd pair were fine until they weren’t after about 10 days the glue started to deteriorate – that was in June and the company says they will do something but they have gone dark on me too. Still looking for that do all skin – stick to ski, light & supple. I have liked the Dynafit but they go with the ski when moving on to the perfect ski! The black diamond has always worked fine maybe I’ll just go with what works.

  23. Lou August 23rd, 2011 7:43 am

    Hi Scott, we’ve tried to be fair to Gecko and attempted to obtain their latest product last winter for testing and review but we had no success. After that last review we did receive a revision from Gecko, but the skin material was still substandard. That bummed us out because we like the science of their skins and the attachment adhesive actually works quite well. I extensively tested them when they first came out, and loved the glue.

    If anyone from Gecko sees this, we’re still here and willing to give the skins another go. Contact option in menu above.

    I expect this type of skin adhesive to eventually become very popular. It’s just a matter of putting on decent skins.

    Our most recent review of Gecko, with updates:
    http://www.wildsnow.com/1617/gecko-skins-redux/

  24. Ian Lamphere August 23rd, 2011 8:10 am

    Umm. Yes, Ian from Gecko sees this. I feel like I’m howling in a canyon! Do you guys not see my post from July 26th (above) saying that I’ve emailed Lou, hit contact through his blog, posted and messaged through his facebook, all simply pleading for a friggin’ shipping address and a size to test!! We had brief email exchange to that effect, until he went dark! And I think there’s something wrong with the contact option in the menu above as I’ve done that too. You must have a pile of communications from me in your various spam boxes, or are way too, busy, but it’s NOT that we haven’t been trying to get you the skins. All I need is an address and a size, et voila!

    Please to re-establish contact, over!

    Our contact email (modded by editor to prevent spambot harvesting) is geckoskins via gmail; phone number 802-598-9967; website:
    http://www.geckoclimbingskins.com.

    Mailing: PO Box 2244 Crested Butte, CO 81224.

    Best,

    Ian

  25. Lou August 23rd, 2011 8:40 am

    Ian, apologies, I pride myself on my communication and work like a dog on it, but sometimes signals get crossed or whatever. No fingers need be pointed, let’s just get on with it. I’ll email you. Thanks for watching!

  26. Lou August 23rd, 2011 8:59 am

    Gecko contacted. Too bad our wires got crossed. Does happen on occasion as we’ve got a vast amount of communication going on here at WildSnow, and had quite a bit of trouble with spam attacks over the past few years. Fixed that now (I hope). Along with that, I’d add that I did get frustrated with Gecko releasing product that wasn’t ready for retail, and taking a bunch of our time to test such then realize it wasn’t really review ready. My hope is they now have something terrific, looking forward to checking it out. As I’ve said before, the adhesive system is fantastic, it’s the skin material that previously was sub-standard. Lou

  27. Jonathan Shefftz August 27th, 2011 5:35 pm

    “New for 2011/2012: race skins with maximum glide and minimum weight for rando racers […]”
    – I’d be happy to test your new race skins!

  28. Ian Lamphere August 29th, 2011 3:22 pm

    Hey, I have one pair on my goode’s now, that’s the only pair of the race skins that we have until we get our shipment in September. Then we’ll have 100mm and 110mm ski trab, ones with the regular gecko tip loop at 100mm, and skin in 59 and 61mm with no tip or tail loops for customization. I’ll keep you posted!

    ian

  29. B November 13th, 2011 2:25 pm

    Any updates on this thread soon?

  30. Lou November 14th, 2011 7:18 am

    Testing them as we speak.

  31. David Conlin November 15th, 2011 12:12 pm

    Looking forward to follow up on your review. Need to decide soon about new skins for this season and these look promising if the issues have been resolved. Thanks for all the hard work you do here at wildsnow!!!

  32. Lou November 15th, 2011 12:22 pm

    Indeed! Spent a few hours last night trying to cobble up a skin attachment system for the Trabs, as they haven’t sent the proprietary skins yet and I wanted to get on the new Geckos anyway!

    I’m 99% sure the new Gecko skin material is ok. I couldn’t even burn through it with a glowing red hot poker (no kidding, I was making holes for some rivets.)

    Indeed, the durability problem is post above went away a while ago, to be replaced with a problem of the skin edges unraveling. This pair does not seem to have that problem.

    The “adhesive” has always worked for me to one degree or another. Quite different than regular skin glue. But I used it extensively and it did work.

  33. Lou November 15th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Folks, this review is ancient, from the proto days of Gecko. I’m turning off comments here, PLEASE COMMENT ON ONE OF THE NEWER REVIEWS:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/1617/gecko-skins-redux/

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