10 Cross Country Ski Skins – Best of 2020

Welcome to ThinkVail – we hope you find this article about cross-country ski skins helpful.  Skins allow you to 4-wheel drive up most any steep terrain.  Choosing the right skins for your skis is so important for the success of your alpine adventure.  Here are 10 skins that are bomber!

Cross-country skiing, alpine touring, back-country skiing, and split-boarding are all ideal ways to explore the Colorado mountains, but to venture uphill on any of these types of skis you will need climbing skins. Skins are ski-width strips of material that adhere to the bottom of touring skis and provide traction to climb. Here are 10 skin suggestions to efficiently get you up the steepest terrain.

Climbing skins keep you from backsliding on moderate to steeper terrain so you can enjoy taking the direct, uphill route instead of traversing across gentler terrain even when carrying a heavy pack.

The outer surface of the skin has rough textured fibers that grab the snow when moving in the uphill direction but are smooth and glide in the downhill direction. Climbing skins usually cover the full length of the ski and typically attach to the ski base with adhesive, buckles, straps or a combination of all three.

Winter camping or hut-to-hut skiing (where you usually need to carry a big pack) is much easier with full-length climbing skins. Even though skins do smooth out and glide in the downhill direction, you will want to remove them before heading down from the top of the hill for best performance.

See Also: Best Ski Helmets


Skins are traditionally made from three material options; nylon, mohair, or a combination of the two. The material you choose will depend on ability, weight, packability, durability, grip and glide.

Nylon is the best material for beginners. It is the most durable, but it is heavier and bulky and offers the least amount of glide and provide the most grip. These are also the preferred skins for hard, steep climbs.

Mohair is the best for experienced and competitive skiers because it offers the least uphill traction and you need to have your technique down to use it successfully. But it is lightweight, with very little bulk, easy to pack and offers lots of glide. However, it is not very durable and will need to be replaced more frequently.

Nylon/Mohair Mix is the perfect all-around material that performs well for those with good, established skinning technique. It is lighter than pure nylon skins and less bulky. It will also offer better glide than nylon and better grip then just pure mohair. This is a very efficient combination for skins.

Attachment Type

Skins are attached by a sticky adhesive to the base of each ski. Then each end of the skin is attached to the tip and/or tail of the ski. Some skins attach only to their particular brand of skis while others can be cut and trimmed to be attached to a variety of ski shapes and brands.

For general touring, its best to have both tip and tail hardware in case your skin glue fails. This hardware includes hooks or a loop that go over the tip of the ski, and an adjustable strap with a clip at the tail. This traditional design offers a secure attachment on dedicated touring skis that have flat or notched tails. Twin tip and rounded tails can be more difficult and you may need to purchase twin tip connectors to keep skins from slipping.

The Right Size

Sizing skins is by far the most confusing aspect of alpine touring and it may take a couple of tries till you find just the right size for you.

For metal-edge touring skis with relatively little side cut, choose skins in a width as close to your skis’ waist width as possible. You will want to cover the ski base up to the metal edges for best performance.

For telemark and randonee skis with wide tips and tails, you have 2 choices. You can use waist-width skins on these skis, but a large amount of the ski base at the wide tips and tails will not be covered, reducing climbing grip, and making it harder to go uphill. Alternatively, you can choose skins in a width close to that of your skis’ tips and then trim them down to the exact hourglass shape of your skis, ensuring the best climbing grip for uphill ascent

Some manufacturers make skins in precise lengths and widths for their particular ski brands, so check for specific skins for your brand first before trying to trim or customize a pair of skins. Pre-cut skins often have tip and tail hardware already installed. If you cut the skin to the proper length you will probably need to attach the tip or tail hardware before you trim the width.

Trimming Skins

Trimming your own skins is easy. Instructions and a cutter are usually included in the box with basic directions. Or use a box-cutter, exacto-knife or razor blade to customize size and shape of skins to match your skis. Skin widths are listed in millimeters while skin length is listed in centimeters.

See Also: Best Women’s Ski Jackets

Best Climbing Skins

Black Diamond Climbing Skins

Black Diamond is known for making high quality, technical outdoor gear that is innovative, durable and works well. These climbing skins check all the boxes for alpine touring.

  • Made of 65% mohair and 35% nylon
  • Dynex and aluminum tip loop is easy to replace, even in the field and fits a variety of ski tip shapes.
  • STS tail clip allows for up to 10 cm of adjustment.
  • Available in 110 mm, 125 mm, 140 mm skin lengths
  • Weighs 1 lb. 4oz.
  • Perfect for the minimalist ski mountaineer’s setup.
  • Mohair and nylon combination offers the perfect balance between glide and grip
  • Very packable with less bulk to easily fit in your ski jacket or backpack.
  • Tip loop provides a secure and field-replaceable connection, while our reliable STS tail attachment
  • Perfect for ski mountaineering and racing.
  • However, if grip and durability are paramount you may want to try the Black Diamond Ascension or GlideLite style skins.




Contour Hybrid Pure 135 Skin

Contour is an Austrian company that was the first to pioneer using mohair on climbing skins. For more than 40 years they have been creating skins that alpinist have relied upon in the backcountry.

  • Made of 100% mohair
  • Self-aligning tip attachment
  • Clip tail attachment
  • Ideal for135mm width skis or narrower
  • Available in a variety of lengths: [x-small] 145 – 152cm, [small] 153 – 160cm, [medium] 161 – 168cm, [large] 169 – 176cm, [x-large] 177 – 184cm, [xx-large] 178 – 195cm
  • Offers top performance on longer tours in the backcountry.
  • Unique twin layer adhesive sticks firmly to skis in all conditions including cold temperatures and after multiple tours on one day
  • High quality and durable of skins.
  • Easy to use and maintenance-free.
  • No skin savers needed
  • Easy to clean and once cleaned it will stick like new
  • You will never have the need to replace the adhesive sides like you will need to do over time with traditional hot glued climbing skins. After years of use this adhesive side remains strong and sticky.
  • Easy to remove from skis when its time to go downhill




Armada Multifit Skin

Armada was started in the early 2000s and is known for their high-performance backcountry touring skis and skins. These skins are the perfect way to escape into the mountains.

  • Made of 65% mohair 35% nylon for lots of performance and durability.
  • Skins can be trimmed and customized to fit most ski and tip shapes
  • IClip & Cobra Tip Clip included
  • Available in 135mm constant width and190cm long.
  • Offers maximum glide.
  • Water resistant.
  • Made in Austria.




Dynafit Beast Speedskin

The Dynafit brand embodies speed, lightness, endurance and technology. Their alpine touring skins also perfectly embrace these qualities. The Dynafit Speedskin does not disappoint.

  • Made of 70% mohair, 30% nylon blend offers outstanding glide and grip
  • Dynafit stretch system tip attachment
  • Steel tail clip
  • Compatible with Dynafit Skis
  • Ideal for backcountry skiing, randonee, alpine touring and ski mountaineering
  • Available in a variety of sizes to fit specific Dynafit skis.
  • Perfect for acceleration on the skin track.
  • Three-layer construction features a waterproof middle membrane, so no more soggy skins when the snow is wet and heavy.




Pomoca Climb 2.0 Climbing Skins

Pomoco is the brand that actually manufactures most other brand’s skins. This Swiss company has been the undisputed expert in skins since opening its doors 1933. These skins you will illustrate why they are the masters of ski touring skins for all types of snow conditions

  • Made of 70% mohair, 30% nylon
  • Available length: Small (155 – 170 cm), Medium (165 – 176 cm), Large (175 – 186 cm) and X Large (185 – 196 cm)
  • Includes skin savers to protect your skins adhesive
  • Includes a case to store and transport your skins safely
  • Ideal for backcountry touring climbing and speed
  • The thick mohair blend fibers resist tangling, twisting, and static electricity and treated for reduced friction.
  • Skins resist rips and are easy to apply
  • Ever Dry treatment repels weight-adding moisture to stay lightweight and fast.
  • Back Fix attachment features a light, simple strap at the tip and an easily adjustable tail strap with plastic hook and can be fixed to any type of ski.
  • The universal, ready2climb skins can be trimmed to any ski in just two minutes without any special tools.




G3 Escapist Universal Climbing Skin

G3 or Genuine Guide Gear has changed the game of alpine touring with an affordable and completely customizable skin for alpine touring. This skin is perfect for beginners or those new to the sport.

  • Made of 100% premium plush nylon for amazing climbing properties on steeper terrain.
  • Nylon material is very durable and long-lasting
  • Stainless steel tip loop attachment is self-aligning and will fit any ski tip shape
  • Low profile, camming tail clip has an adjustable strap so you can cinch it down if your skins stretch over time.
  • Available in two lengths: Small (175cm)  and Large (200cm)
  • Small length skin weighs 10.1oz
  • Large length skin weighs 15.2oz
  • High quality, affordable skins
  • Included a trim tool allows you to fit the skins to your ski’s specific profile.
  • Fully customizable climbing skin. Trim the length and edges according to your unique skis. .
  • Removable Rip Strip reduces skin-to-skin adhesion, making it easier to pull skins apart. If your glue gets contaminated on an epic traverse, you can remove the strip for extra adhesion.
  • Skins offer environmentally friendly waterproofing.
  • Made in Canada.




Blizzard Zero G Climbing Skins 

The award-winning Blizzard company has been revolutionizing the ski industry since 1945. They have been innovating both downhill and backcountry ski technology for years, creating new ways to make skiing more fun and accessible. The Blizzard Zero G climbing skins are a perfect example of their ongoing mission.

  • Made of 70% mohair, 30% nylon
  • Universal steel wire tip attachment with Blizzard logo.
  • Elastic, easily-adjustable tail attachment
  • Available in two lengths: 164 – 171cm, 175 – 185cm. Each skin size fits two lengths of Blizzard Zero G skis.
  • Precut skins are tailored specifically for Zero G backcountry touring skis
  • Lightweight skins.
  • Ever Dry DWR finish is a long-lasting glide treatment that keeps fibers from adhering to the snow
  • Ideal Pomoca adhesive glue offers the perfect amount of adherence.
  • Enjoys a waterproof barrier between the mohair/nylon fibers and the backing that repels water effectively.




Rossignol Super 7 HD Ski Skin

Rossignol needs no introduction, they are a titan of the skiing industry, so it comes as no surprise that they would make a quality skin to hit the backcountry trail for winter adventure.

  • Made of 70% mohair and 30% nylon for glide and grip.
  • These skins are produced by legendary Pomoca
  • Includes a carrying tote to safely store and transport your skins
  • Easy-to-use skin offers lots of uphill traction
  • Available in Small (172 cm) & Large (180-188) size
  • Pre-cut climbing skin is perfect for the Rossignol SUPER 7 HD ski.
  • Rubber lining keeps out moisture,
  • Excellent gliding performance




Black Crows Pellis Hybrid Trim to Fit Skins

Relative newcomer to the scene, Black Crows is an independent free ski brand from Chamonix, France that was founded in 2006. Created by pro free skiers Camille Jaccoux and Bruno Compagnet, whose mission is to improve upon existing backcountry technology.

  • Made of 70% mohair and 30% synthetic nylon offers the best ratio of glide, grip and durability.
  • Trim to fit skins will fit skis 120cm to 190cm in length
  • Fitted metal tip hook and a polymide tail buckle
  • Double layer hybrid glue has perfect adhesion to ski base, even in super cold temperatures.
  • Effortless removal from the ski, without adhesive trace on the base
  • Maintenance free, as the adhesive does not have to be re-glued.
  • Easy handling, as the skins can be folded on themselves to easily store away when its time to go down the mountain.
  • High resistance elastic keeps skins from stretching out.
  • Skins are shaped and pre-cut according to the shapes of the different freebird skis, plus a wide trim-to-fit model.
  • Ideal for all conditions ranging from dry cold to humid heat.
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Made in Austria,
  • Can be easily stored and transported in the bag provided.




BCA Magic Carpet Skins

BCA or Backcountry Access is the most trusted name in back-country safety. They are dedicated to ensuring you have a fun, and safe adventure in the back-country. From avalanche classes, innovative and lifesaving products and education they are all about increasing your awareness and getting you high quality alpine touring equipment.

  • Magic Carpet skins are made of 100% Nylon
  • Designed to accommodate the widest and most rockered freeride skis
  • Water repellent thanks to durable hydrophobic synthetic material
  • Strong adhesive glue formulated for cold temperatures.
  • Universal tip and tail hardware is compatible with most ski designs, including rounded/square twin-tips and skis up to 200 cm long.
  • Included trim kit makes it easy to cut your skins to fit any side-cuts.
  • Included storage sack protects your skins
  • Compatible with widths of 115mm, 130mm, 145mm




See Also: Best Places to Alpine Tour in Vail, Colorado


We hope you found this article about cross-country ski skins helpful. Have you used skis before? What are your thoughts on them? Do they make going uphill easier or do you just stay to gentler terrain? What is your favorite cross-country ski skin brand and why? We would love to hear your thoughts, comments and stories about skinning and alpine touring. Thanks for reading.


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View Comments

  • Awesome article about the best cross country ski skins. I have only ever uses short cross country ski skins that are only about a foot in length. But since I have moved to Colorado, I realize there is no more gentle cross-country skiing.  Well at least not on the trails I want to go so I am looking more for a pair of aggressive skins to get me up the steeps. All of these are great, I am leaning towards a mix of Mohair and nylon but not quite sure which ones. However, I am leaning towards the Pomoca skins because I love how they are the manufacturer of other brand's skins.  So they must really know their stuff.

    • Hi Benson, yes these skins are definitely more for cross country trail skiing not so much speed-gliding on cross country skis.  They are good for back-country skiing, alpine touring, cross country skiing or randonnee on steeper slopes and make it much easier to hike up vertically to get where you're going in the mountains. Enjoy, the Pomoca skins are a high quality skin that will serve you well.

  • Hi, great webpage.  I've never seen such a great and thorough article on skins.  It was nice to see all the best selections and read the features back to back and compare.  I plan on coming here when I purchase my skins.  Thanks so much for a great review!

    Jamie L.

    • Hi Jamie, thank you so much for your kind words and nice comments about this post The 10 Best Cross Country Ski Skins.  Feel free to bookmark this page and use it when you are ready to purchase your new skins.

  • Hello there! This is an amazing review you've got here. These ski skins are great and has got amazing features especially the Almada multifit skin as the MULTICLIP SYSTEM comes in 135mm constant width and is 190cm long. Maximum glide, superior durability, and water resistant. Thanks for sharing, it's helpful for me!

    • So happy you found this article about the best cross country ski skins helpful and you found the perfect skins for you!

  • I love skinning uphill at ski resorts.  So far I have Vail, Beaver Creek, Cooper, Ski Cooper, Steamboat Springs, Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Breckenridge.  Next on my list is Aspen.  I use Rossignol Super 7 Skinsto get up the steeps, I got them for a great price, and they work great.  I love up-hilling I do it with friends and even take my dog during the off hours when the resorts are closed.  It's a lot of fun and amazing exercise.  I highly recommend it to any one looking for a new adventure.

    • Thanks for sharing your adventures with us Taufique and I am so happy you found this article about  the best skins for skis helpful. You are really doing great hitting all the nearby ski resorts and crossing them off your list.  It can be fun skiing with your dog.  If you are skinning up the mountain at night you may want to check out the article about Glow in the Dark Dog Collars so your dog is visible to you and to Cat drivers and snowmobilers working on the resort after dark.  Have fun and keep your best furry friend safe.

  • Love Black Diamond Skins! I have only ever bought Black Diamond.  I have tried others but they have never been as good and I have never found a reason to get a different brand.  They have great adhesion, last a long time (for skins) are easy to skin in and they are easy to fold up and put in my pocket.  they are simply the best.

  • Great article about skins. As a traditionalist, I prefer mohair skins, so my choice would be the Contour Hybrid Pure  Skins. They are 100% Mohair and this natural fiber offers a superior glide, is very lightweight and packs awesomely. Great info I will share this post on my back-country outdoor group so everyone can know about these ski skins. Thanks

    • Hi Tanvir, thanky ou for your kind words and for sharing this article about the 10 best cross country ski skins and  sharing it on social media, it is greatly appreciated!  Yes, you are a traditionalist and you must be a great back-country skier as mohair does have all the wonderful qualities you stated above it is also very tricky for beginners to master as it is so slippery and glides so well!  But when you have the skills this is a great material so I am so happy it works for you!  Thank you so much for sharing and enjoy the snow!

  • Hi, I have just moved to Vail, Colorado this year.  I love downhill skiing as well as snowshoeing but am also very interested in getting into cross country skiing and alpine touring.  I have not done it before and I am just trying to get all the necessary equipment to get started.  What do you recommend for a never-beginner who is ready to get started?

    • Hi Shanta, welcome to the valley!  Ok, yes I do have some recommendations.  For skins since you are a beginner I would recommend nylon skins, as they are more forgiving. The G3 Escapist Universal Climbing Skin is a great choice.  Also read the article Where to Go Alpine Touring in Vail, Colorado to find out great place to try, but always go with a friend, never by yourself.  Also check out the article 20 Essentials for Winter Hiking to find out what you should wear while in the back-country to stay warm, dry and safe.  Enjoy your new adventure, you're gonna love it!

  • Many thanks for sharing such an excellent article about skins with us. Your article was interesting and informative and perfectly timed because I am looking for a pair of skins for my brother.  He is a die-hard back country skier and he was just saying that his current skins are worn out and not sticking anymore so I thought that would be a perfect gift.  I am choosing the Dynafit skins because his skis are Dynafit skis, and should be a perfect match.  I am bookmarking your website so I can share this article with my brother if he wants to return the skins and choose something else, he will have a list of options. Thanks so much for helping me find the perfect b-day gift. Cheers!

    • Hi Sabrina,that's perfect.  Yes, that is a GREAT idea for a birthday gift.  Your brother is going to love it.  And if he already has Dynafit skis, then Dynafit skins are a no-brainer.  Enjoy being the hero of the birthday!

  • Super informative post about skins.  Back-country skins can be very confusing to buy as they are expensive and there's lots to think about when purchasing.  My go-to skins for winter camping and just fun get-aways are the Black Diamond Skins. I am also a huge ice and rock climber and I use and rely on this brand a lot for many different activities.  Black Diamond makes high quality, long lasting gear that is easy to recommend.  Just my 2 cents.

    • So happy you found this article about the 10 best cross country ski skins helpful.  Yes, Black Diamond does make amazing products, I completely agree.  Their skins perform awesomely and are always high on the list.  Thanks for sharing your 2 cents!

  • Love this article about cross country ski skins.  I have x-country skied for years and love it.  Usually I am just on snow covered golf courses but have been trying steeper terrain as I get better.  I am interested in purchasing a pair of skins to really try some new steeper areas.  I have asked friends and gotten a lot of recommendations but I liked reviewing your list and comparing all the factors.  I am leaning towards the Magic Carpet Skins as one of my best friends uses this brand with great results.  Thanks so much for the information.