The skins are an important part of your skis. The term ‘skins’ has originated from the earliest climbing skins that were made using the hide of a fawn. These were the bristly hair of a young deer, which provided excellent grip traversing over long, flat distances.

There’s hasn’t been a significant degree of change as far as touring skins are concerned. The use of synthetic materials such as nylon has made these skins cheaper and far more durable than usual. Glues too, have become extremely durable and reliant.

Now, cutting and peeling skin might appear a daunting task at first. You certainly won’t start cutting them outright as you’ve spent a considerable amount of money to buy them. You can always ask an experienced ski enthusiast to do it for you, but if you are looking at a long and steady career with ski touring, you definitely need to do it yourself.

Which skin to buy?

There are different types of skins to choose from. Choosing to buy a skin would depend completely on your budget and the purpose you want it to serve. If you want a lightweight skin that is easily packable, choose a natural mohair (natural goat’s hair). Skins made of synthetic materials are ideal for undertaking short haul trips through steep terrains. The width of the skin holds a lot of importance, but with enormous shovels on fat skis, having the base of the ski covered in its entirety isn’t essential.

Now comes the blade

Now comes your blade. Each time you buy a new skin, you end up getting a new cutter as well. The best cutter to go about your job is the G3 Trimming Tool. Most ski shops would have a bucket full of these cutters. These cutting tools can come in handy and can save you a lot of effort. They are far more reliable than a regular razor blade tool. The beauty of a G3 Cutter is that it trims the perfect amount of skin to leave the required 2 mm of the edge exposed.

Here’s how to go about it

Once the backing film has been removed and the sticky side of the skin has been exposed, you can now carefully apply it to the ski. All you need to make sure is that it is centred along the longitudinal axis of the ski. This is, by far, the most important part of the entire process. Cutting skins before centring them will leave them lopsided. When they are ready to cut, the tool needs to be kept pressed against the side wall of the ski. Then, slowly drag it down the side of your ski. It is advisable not to do this exercise alone. It would be better if someone can hold the ski for you. You need to make one clean cut. Just don’t get impatient while undertaking this exercise as rushing might lead to burs and fraying of the skin. And finally, do not forget to use a sharp, new blade as using a blunt blade might leave your brand-new skin tatty. Additionally, any loose fibres from the cut can be burned using a matchstick or a lighter.

Now, wait for the snow to fall and enjoy the experience!