Trimming your skins is relatively easy, but remember measure twice and cut once!
- Tip & Tail Skins (with tip stretchers and tail hooks)
- Tip & Tail Skins TT (with tip stretchers and extra tip rings for twin tips)
- Simple Skins (tip rings only)
- Skin Storage
- Shaped Cut or Straight Cut?
- Tip & Tail Skins or Simple Skins?
- Beginning with the longest skis you will use, and with the release paper still on the skin, hook the tail end of the skin onto the tail of your ski. Finish bending the tail hook, so that it lays flush with the top sheet of your ski.
- With the tail hook in place, gently stretch out the skin against the base of the ski. Place the bent steel ring of the tip stretcher over your ski tip. Make a mark on the skin/release paper where the skin meets the rear (unbent) steel ring of the tip stretcher. This is where the skin will fold through the metal ring.
- From the fold line mark that you made, add about 6 inches (10-15 cm) and cut the end of the skin off. This will be the amount of skin that folds back on itself and holds the tip stretcher in place. It also provides adjustment for different pairs of skis.
- Now you need to trim the tip end of the skin to the right width so that it will fold through the rear (unbent) steel ring of the tip stretcher.
- Carefully remove the first 2 feet of the release paper. Be careful not to drop your skins at this point and contaminate the fresh glue! Fold the skin back on itself through the rear (unbent) steel ring of the tip stretcher. The exact tension of the skin can be adjusted by folding more or less skin through the tip stretcher.
- Carefully remove the remainder of the release paper and stick the skin to the base of your ski. At this point it is important to offset the skin slightly to one side (~1/8″ or 3-4mm) of the ski so that when you are finished trimming the no-glue strip is centered on your skis and your edges are exposed.
- Run the trim tool down the length of the ski on the side with the excess skin.
- Peel the skin off and then re-stick it offset (~1/4″ or 6-8mm) to the other side of the ski (the 1/4″ offset allows for both edges to be exposed when you are done). Now run the trim tool down this side of the ski.
- Remove the skin and re-center it on your skis. The glueless strip should be centered and your edges should be exposed!
- Begin by finding the tail end of the skin. Then trim a 4-6 inch section of the tail to width so that it fits through the tip (tail?!) ring provided.
- Fold this narrower section of the skin through the ring, and then begin on Step 2 of the Tip & Tail Skins trimming directions.
- Pick the front end of your skin and trim it to the width of the tip ring for a length of about 4 inches. Fold this length through the tip ring and back onto itself. This overlapping section will allow for minor adjustments in the event you use these skins on a slightly different length ski.
- Carefully remove the release paper and stick the skin to the base of the ski. At this point you need to set the entire skinslightly offset (~1/8″ or 3-4mm) from the center of the ski.
- Run the trim tool down the side of the ski that has the excess skin overhanging the edge.
- Remove the skin and offset it 1/4″ (6-8mm) to the other side of the ski (this allows for both edges to be exposed when you are done).
- Run the trim tool down the edge with the excess skin.
- Remove the skin and reset it on the ski. The glueless strip should be centered and the skin should set centered on the ski with both edges exposed.
- Cut the excess tail off to the desired length at the tail of the ski. Some people prefer to have the skin end just short of the tail, while others prefer to have excess skin that folds around the tail and sticks to the top sheet.
Skins are most easily stored by folding them back onto themselves. This is certainly the way to go for short term storage, and while skiing. It is good to dry your skins each night after skiing, but take care not to get them too hot as this will trash your glue. For long term storage, we have had great success jsut folding the skins up as you would after a day of skiing and keeping them in a cool place over the summer, but some people find the synthetic “Cheat Sheets” or “Skins Savers” necessary. If you anticipate storage in a hot area, these might be a good idea.
Unless you have radically shaped skis, it actually doesn’t matter all that much. The most important thing is that your skin is “wall to wall” underneath your foot. With good coverage underfoot, you will be able to skin up plenty steep skin tracks. If you have some bare base at your tip and tail, then you will get very slightly better glide, but will have a slightly harder time skinning on steep hard pack and, vice versa. So if you mess up slightly trimming your skins, don’t sweat it! With modern fat skis, there is usually enough carpet to get you where you need to go.
We really aren’t sure which is better. There are powerful voices from both camps and we go back and forth constantly. On one hand, having a tail hook and tip stretcher is the most secure option; if it is ever 50 below zero in the Yukon and your skin glue fails, then you can just over tension the skin and hike gently with your weight in the center of your skis for a while. You also get a nice handle at the tail for pulling apart the modern glue…which shouldn’t fail in the cold! And this attachment system is the best for getting your skins off without removing your skis.
On the other hand, the tip stretcher & tail hook are superfluous junk, adding extra weight and another possible failure point. This side of the debate will tell you that by tightening the skin with the stretcher, you force the skin to follow a straight line (shortest distance between two points…tip & tail) and this actually pulls the skin away from the base of the ski (if your skis have any camber left!). These folks would rather use the weight savings for a scant roll of emergency duct tape around