A 3-step guide to perfect kick and glide.
Skin skis continue to top the sales charts, and it’s easy to see why:
- Skin skis make it a breeze to get out for a weeknight workout.
- Skin skis lower the entry barrier to Nordic skiing for recreational skiers who find kick waxing to be tricky and time-consuming.
- Skin skis are great choice when the conditions change over the course of the day.
- Skin skis solve the hairy waxing conundrum when the temperature fluctuates on either side of freezing.
- Skin skis work equally well in cold and dry snow, in hard-packed and icy conditions, as in wet, slushy snow.
- The skins are made to last several hundred kilometers, and are easily replaced if they get worn out or damaged.
All Madshus Intelligrip skin skis are ready to use right out of the box, as is. However, while skin skis are kick wax-less, they are not entirely maintenance free.
Roger Gråv, who is the head of the Nordic department at Sport1 in Lillehammer, Norway, offers a quick guide to getting the best performance the longest life out of your skin skis.
“There are really just three things to remember: prep, clean and glide,” Gråv says.
The skins can be prepped with a skin-ski specific product to avoid icing up and globbing. Adding a prepping product to the skins can improve overall glide in certain conditions.
The skin prepping products resemble the liquid glider products that have been available for years, and the effect of these would be similar. However, skins require a special product with fewer harsh solvents in order avoid damaging the glue that keeps the skin attached to the base, Gråv explains.
He recommends using a skin-ski specific product.
“The skin-ski specific products are not that different from the regular liquid and spray on glide products, but the skin-ski specific products don’t have the same harsh solvents as the traditional varieties. The solvents can damage the glue, and even cause the skins to come off,” he says.
Skin ski prep is available both as liquids/spray-on bottles and also as pretreated wipes. Prep the skins when needed.
“You will notice when they need prepping. Typically, you will find that the skis don’t glide as well. Also, it’s a good idea to prep if the snow is really wet,” Gråv says.
Generally, skin skis don’t need any special treatment or cleaning. But if you have skied on trails with significant debris or dirty snow, it’s a good idea to clean your skins afterwards.
“You don’t need to clean your skins each time you ski, but if they look dirty or feel draggy, cleaning the skins will improve the glide. This is particularly relevant if you’ve skied on warm and wet or icy tracks where a lot of people would use klister, because your skins can pick up some of that dirt. Just check your skin and see if it’s needed,” says Gråv, noting that with black skins, it can be a bit tricky to spot the dirt.
“If you see areas of the skin that seem duller than the surrounding skin, or the texture appears flattened, that is often a sign that you should clean the skin,” he says.
Cleaning is a simple operation. Gråv recommends using skin ski-specific cleaners, for the same reason as with the prepping products: the skin-specific products don’t have any harsh solvents that can damage the skin or dissolve the glue.
“Traditional base cleaner contains pretty strong solvents, which can cause the skins to detach from the base,” Gråv explains.
Skin ski cleaners are available both as spray-on/liquids and in pretreated wipes.
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Like all Nordic skis, skin ski bases should be glide waxed in front of and behind the kick zone (the middle part of the base with the integrated skin).
Glide waxing skin skis is easy, but make sure to cover the skin while applying the glide wax, scraping and brushing, in order to avoid spilling glide wax onto the skin, and protect the skin from scraped wax and wax dust from brushing.
“Covering the skin with a protective tape strip is a simple way to protect the skin while you work on the glide zones. Then just peel off the tape when you’re done and you’re good to go,” Gråv says, adding that most Nordic ski retailers carry such cover tape.
Get the right ski
With increasingly more skin ski models on the market in several different segments, skiers have a variety of skis to choose from: Touring, training and racing skin skis have different properties and qualities.
“It is just as important to get fitted for the right skin ski as with any other ski. Determine what kind of skiing you plan to do with your skin skis to ensure you get a pair that meets your needs and expectations,” Gråv says.