Backcountry Climbing Skins: How to Reglue Skins or Revive Skin Glue
May 1, 2020
Sarah Carpenter, co-owner of the AAI and lead instructor, spends a good deal of time on her backcountry skins. So when one begins to flap around on a tour and no longer sticks, it’s ready to be repaired or reglued. Here’s a step-by-step guide with a video that teaches you how to reglue skins or revive them.
When you’ve already left the trailhead, your options on repairing a broken or failing ski touring skin are limited. However, we carry several ski straps in our backpack that can fix our skins, along with a multitude of other problems we might face.
So if your skin starts sliding off of your ski, use the ski straps to strap either the tip, the tail, or both ends of your skins to your skis.
Need another trick for when your skin is not sticking because you’ve gotten a lot of snow on the glue side? Take the skin, fold it in half, glue side facing out, and rub it quickly, back and forth, over your softshell or hardshell pants.
Do this for a few minutes to build up friction and revive the glue on your skin. This is probably one of the best tricks we’ve learned to deal with skins that will no longer stick while touring.
Before the season begins, or when it comes to an end, carefully examine the glue on your skins. What does the surface look like? Is it filled with holes or bubbles? Are there lots of dirt specs or pine boughs stuck to it?
If so, here are the steps to revive or reglue skins at home.
Set up your skins for regluing or reparing outside as the glue from your skins is toxic and will have a strong smell once you heat the glue. You really do not want to breathe this stuff in.
If you can’t be outside, find a room with good ventilation and wear a mask if needed.
Take paper grocery shopping bags and cut them into strips the width of your skin. You can also use parchment paper if you have it.
Parchment paper will work best for reviving your glue. Grocery store paper bags work best for removing all the glue to prep for regluing your skins. Or you can use the paper that came with your skins.
If possible, use a table you can spread your skins all the way out on. Then lay the strips of parchment paper or grocery store bags over your skins.
This is NOT the iron you iron your clothes with. If it is the only iron you have, and you want to keep going, make a mental note to buy another iron for your clothes.
Keep this iron with your ski gear. Use it for waxing skis and snowboards, arts and crafts, and to reglue skins.
Turn the iron on at a medium heat setting. Too hot and you will have smoke. Once it’s ready, slowly run the iron across the parchment paper.
If you are simply reviving the glue, press lightly, running the iron over the parchment paper until you begin to see the glue show through the paper and become smooth. Continue gently moving the iron back and forth until you remove all the bubbles and air pockets.
Once you have achieved a smooth surface, let it cool for 10-15 minutes. When it is completely cool and dry, slowly pull the parchment paper away from the skin.
This a great way to refresh your glue mid-season, or at the end of your season to prep for next year.
If you’d like to completely remove the glue from your skins, you can start with grocery bags instead of parchment paper. Cut a big stack of grocery bag strips as you’ll go through 9-10 strips to remove all the glue.
Before you begin with the iron, you can leave the existing middle strip on the skin, or pull it off. Whatever your preference is.
Follow the same steps as above, but instead of letting the skins cool, peel the grocery bag strips off the skin while the glue is still hot. Remember, medium heat only. Use a fresh strip and start again.
Keep going until you’re barely seeing glue remain on the grocery bag strip. Your goal is to remove all the glue before you start fresh to reglue skins.
Here are a few climbing skin glues we like:
Purchase the paper glue strips if you are completely replacing all the glue on the skin. These will also be the easiest to use. If you are simply filling in holes within the glue on your old skin, something like BD’s Gold Label Adhesive will work fine.
If you’ve purchased the G3 Glue Renew or something similar, unfold the paper. After you stick the glue side down onto the clean skin, take the time to cut the strip to fit your skin. You do not want to get glue all the way over on the edges of your skin and onto the top side.
Work in 12-inch sections. Aim to get all the wrinkles or creases out of the paper first, or this will result in creases within the glue if it is not fixed before you iron.
With the iron on medium heat, run it back and forth over the paper strip. Transfer all the glue onto the skin. Let it cool completely, 15-20 minutes, before peeling the paper off the skin.
If you plan to reglue skins with an adhesive like BD’s Gold Label Adhesive, spread the glue out in small amounts over the full skin, or just the areas that need glue. Take care to avoid the middle keeper or strip, if you have not removed it.
Next, grab a scraper. This will only be used for dealing with skin glue. So, buy a new scraper for your skis if needed. Use the scraper to spread out the glue, forming a thin layer on your skins.
Then grab your parchment paper. Stick it down on top of the skin. Next, take the iron and run it back and forth over the skin.
Once finished, let the glue sit for 15-20 minutes until it’s completely dry. Then remove the parchment paper.
Using the adhesive glue is definitely a messier process. So use the adhesive for retouches, and the strips for a full replacement of your skin glue when needed. Again, make sure you’re in a super well-ventilated area when you’re doing this.
We’ll store our skins with the waffle inserts or ‘cheat sheets’ that came with them when we first purchased the skins. Put these back on your skins for the off-season, or for any long-term periods where you will not be touring.
If you’ve lost your waffle inserts or cheat sheets, you can purchase more Cheat Sheets through Black Diamond.
If you have more questions about regluing or repairing climbing skins, leave a comment below. Or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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