Review: Backcountry Access Hybrid Climbing Skins

By: Quinn Keating + Save to a List

Have you ever felt like you’re going to sustain an injury from pulling your skins apart? Enter the BCA Contour Hybrid skins.

By using an innovative new adhesive that promises easy separation and reliable adhesion to ski bases, it’s like they’re trying to make life easier for us.

GET YOUR BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS HYBRID CLIMBING SKINS HERE!

Caveats

I should offer the caveat that my time with these skins dovetailed almost like clockwork with the Covid-19 outbreak.  No sooner than the skins arrived in the mail, the world shut down.  And as such, my time on these skins was more limited than I would have liked.  Knowing my time would be limited I pushed them into some pretty ridiculous situations…effectively trying to find their weaknesses.  More on that below. 

Performance

BCA has an extensive history with climbing skins so my expectations were of a product that was well crafted and highly functional.  

Short answer: they work as advertised and I was pleased with their performance.  

Longer answer: The mohair mix offers predictable and favorable performance comparable to what I’ve come to expect from these blends.  Mohair mixes are my favorite.  Falling between G3’s and Black Diamond’s mo-mix offerings in terms of both glide and grip, BCA’s skins offer a perfect balance that just screams efficiency.  They also pack up super small.  But those features are almost compulsory these days with any halfway decent skin.  The real meat of this story is the adhesive. So here’s the deal.  They’re super easy to pull apart.  Like…really easy.  And they also stuck to the bottoms of my skis after multiple laps.  I walked some heinous sidehills, some gut-busting steeps, and plenty of funky variable early spring mank just trying to make the adhesive fail.  And I couldn’t.  They just kept doing their job.  

Issues

According to BCA, there are two required steps to keep these skins running smoothly.  

First, the user should wipe down the base of the ski before use.  BCA includes a wipe that’s stitched into the storage bag for this purpose.  This isn’t an unusual request, but does make me wonder just how critical it is…I mean I’d hate to be applying my skins in a driving storm with no chance of completely cleaning my bases as the skins went on only to find that they didn’t stick.  For the record, I’ve never been super anal about making sure my skis are bone dry before applying my skins.  But I also find cheater sheets annoying and am guilty of having a few flecks of dog hair and pine needles in my skin glue.  Oh, you too?  Let’s be friends.

Second, BCA recommends using their included cleaning wipes to clean the glue surface at an undetermined interval.  Basically, if they stop sticking, BCA says to “clean” the glue surface.  Cool because presumably you won’t have to re-glue these skins but I never arrived at this step so I can’t speak to the wipe’s effectiveness nor the interval that this treatment is needed.  

Also, I took issue with the tail clips which appeared to lose tension after repeated use.  The tail strap is a nylon material that just lacks the elasticity after multiple laps that other brands offer with their rubber straps.  On the first lap, BCA’s tail clips snapped right in place.  On the third, fourth, and fifth laps, the clips were a little less “snappy”.     

Noteworthy Trim Tool Design Deserves High Praise

Big props to BCA for designing what, in my opinion, will become the industry leading trim tool.  Seriously, I’d consider buying these skins just for the tool.  I’ve always been a fan of G3’s tool and I’ve never been a fan of Black Diamond’s letter opener.  BCA’s tool leaves them both in the dust.  So easy to use, so effective, so well designed.  Also, in a smart move, the protective film that protects the glue from the factory is sectioned so that when you’re doing your initial trimming, you can affix the skin to the base of the skis just down the center, leaving the edges perfectly placed for trimming but unstuck from the ski, making the process super easy.  

Final Word

While I can’t speak to the long term performance of BCA’s latest entry to the skin game, I can say that I was initially impressed with what they’ve created.  These skins are, by far, the easiest to pull apart of any I’ve ever used.  Other than that, their performance is on par with the competition.  The combination of those two facts may be good reasons to give them a look.     

This review was originally posted on DirtbagDreams.com. 
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