Climbing skins are an essential piece of backcountry skiing and ski touring equipment. They allow you to walk uphill efficiently on your skis by providing traction and grip. However, proper skin care and storage during the off-season is important to ensure your skins remain in good condition for the following winter.
In the summer months, when you won’t be using your skins for months at a time, following some basic guidelines for storage will help prevent degradation from moisture, dirt, chemicals, pests, and overheating. With the right temperature, humidity level, containment, and preventative measures, you can easily store skins through the spring and summer.
Should you store climbing skins glue-side together or apart?
The most debated topic when it comes to off-season skin storage is whether to store them glue-side together or separated. There are benefits and drawbacks to each method.
Storing skins glue-to-glue
The main advantage of storing skins with the glue sides facing and pressed together is that it can help prolong the stickiness and prevent dust and dirt buildup on the adhesive over time. The skins are sealed together, protecting the glue. It also prevents accidental contact or sticking to other surfaces.
However, some skiers find separating the glue sides apart after long-term storage difficult and problematic. The adhesive can become too firmly stuck together, risking damaging the glue or the skin fabric when pulling apart. Temperature and humidity changes can also cause the glue to soften and harden while sealed together, making separating tricky.
Storing skins glue-side out
Storing skins with the adhesive sides facing out prevents them from strongly bonding together so they come apart easily before your next use. It also allows you to monitor the glue, watching for any degradation, drying out, or build up of dirt and oil from handling.
The downside is that exposure to air flow, humidity fluctuations, dust, etc. may degrade the sticky glue over an extended period of unuse. The glue is unprotected.
There are convincing arguments on both sides of the debate. In general, storing skins glue-to-glue is preferred for maximum glue preservation, provided you live in a relatively humid climate where the adhesive won’t dry out. Take care separating the skins after months of storage to avoid damage.
If you live in an extremely dry climate, it may be better to keep the glue sides apart and exposed to maintain stickiness. You’ll just have to be diligent about keeping dirt, dust, and debris away from the adhesive.
You could also hedge your bets by storing skins together through cold, humid winter months, then separating them during hot, dry summer months. Do what works best for your climate and storage conditions.
Should you roll or fold climbing skins for storage?
In addition to glue orientation, determining whether to roll or fold skins when storing them is another consideration. Here are the advantages of each technique:
– Keeps the flat structure of the skin intact without creasing.
– Minimizes damage to the adhesive.
– Prevents excess glue sticking to the skin fabric.
– Compact storage that takes up less space.
– Allows skins to lie flatter in storage containers.
– Less risk of permanent curling or rippling compared to rolling.
– Easier to press glue sides together when folding.
– Faster to deploy skins when needed.
Overall, gently rolling skins without creasing them is ideal for summer storage. However, don’t roll too tightly. If you live in a humid environment, the adhesive sides sealed together may tack firmly. Unrolling carries some risk of pulling glue off the skin fabric. Loosely rolling and separating the glue sides is safer.
Folding is acceptable too. Just be very careful not to apply heavy creases when folding over. Run your fingers over gently to press out creases before storage. Storing flat rather than rolled can work fine, provided you keep dust and dirt from contacting the glue.
What temperature should you store skins at?
Temperature plays a critical role in preserving your skin’s adhesive and longevity. The glue on skins is designed to stay tacky through cold snowy temperatures. But it can easily break down and soften in heat. Some tips on storage temperatures:
– Avoid hot places like attics or garages in summer where temps often exceed 100°F (38°C). The glue can start melting.
– Stick to cool, room temperature storage around 60-75°F (15-24°C). Consistent temps in this zone prevent adhesive breakdown.
– Exposure to freezing temps is ok. But frequent expanding and contracting of the glue from freezing/thawing cycles may wear it out faster.
– If possible, find areas with stable temps and minimal fluctuation to minimize expansion/contraction of the adhesive.
– Don’t leave skins in a hot parked car for hours. Temps 140°F+ (60°C) damage glue quickly.
The ideal storage temperature for skins is about 65°F (18°C) if possible. Avoid temperature swings and extremes. Remember, cooler storage is better than warm storage. If you don’t have access to 65°F storage, pick the coolest spot you can find.
What humidity level should climbing skins be stored at?
Humidity is the other key factor in proper skin storage. The moisture level of the air impacts the glue by either drying it out, or keeping it soft and supple. Some guidelines:
– Very low humidity under 30% can desiccate glues, making them brittle and prone to flaking off the skin.
– Storing skins around 40-50% relative humidity helps maintain optimal adhesive tackiness and consistency.
– Humidity levels over 60% risk excess moisture softening glue to a weakened gel state that strips off the fabric base.
– If humidity is above 70%, try to reduce it. Use dessicant packs or dehumidifiers to avoid glue melting.
– Sudden drops in humidity are problematic, rapidly drying glue. Keep conditions as stable as possible.
For optimal skin glue preservation, aim for 40-50% humidity if you can control storage conditions. Seek cooler spaces over warmer ones to minimize humidity as well. Improper humidity is worse than improper temperature.
How should you contain skins for storage?
Choosing the right containment for your skins cuts off environmental factors that degrade the glue. Some effective options:
– Seal out moisture, dust, dirt, bugs. Zip-top bags with press-out air work well.
– Opacity blocks UV rays which can damage glue. Avoid clear bags.
– opening repeatedly lets humidity escape. Minimize openings.
Breathable stuff sacks
– Allow humidity transfer while blocking particles. Must control ambient humidity.
– Cotton, hemp, microfiber blends are ideal materials. Avoid vapor-proof plastics.
– Keeps skins clean without trapping moisture like plastic bags can.
Skin carry tubes
– Breathable canvas construction allows humidity exchange.
– Built-in drawcords seal out debris effectively.
– Carry tubes allow easy transport while preventing creasing/damage.
– Less waste than disposable plastics.
Plastic bags effectively seal out environmental hazards through simplicity and low cost. Maintain cool, uniform temperature and moderate humidity in storage space. Breathable stuff sacks work well in stable humidity. Carry tubes are best for portability.
Should you fold skins into skin savers for storage?
Skin savers are a handy option for keeping your skins protected in a compact folded state rather than rolling them up. The main advantages of storing skins folded in savers are:
– Prevents adhesive sticking to itself when folded into quarters.
– Creates sharp folded creases that are harder to press out later.
– Quick deployment after removing from savers.
– Convenience of grabbing skins ready in savers, not unrollilng.
– Minimal space needed for storage. Stacks easily.
The downsides primarily come from long-term folding and creasing of the skin material, which can damage the adhesive and cause permanent ripples.
For summer storage, skin savers are not generally recommended, as the skins stay tightly folded for months. Periodic re-folding helps minimize creasing damage. For short-term storage between spring/fall tours, savers are great.
Should you apply skin glue renewer before summer storage?
Skin glue renewal products like Nikwax Skin Proof or Pomoca Skin Renew help restore dried out, worn out adhesive. By applying renewer before storage, you can extend glue viability through the sweaty summer.
Key advantages of pre-storage rejuvenation:
– Revives old skin glue that has lost tackiness through use.
– Provides a protective layer over the glue from environmental factors.
– Allows you to safely store glue-side together without fully bonding.
– Conditioner soaks into glue to keep it malleable and supple in heat.
The benefits definitely make skin renewal worth applying before summer storage. It breathes new life into aging glue and aids in long-term durability. The key is using sparingly; don’t overload glue with excess renewer.
Should you wax skins before storing?
Waxing your skins before putting them away is highly recommended. A thin layer of skin wax seals the base material to prevent dry rot and deterioration over the off-season. It also inhibits mold growth.
Choose a pure skin wax, not an excessive paste-like climbing wax. Rub it evenly into the fabric in a thin coat before rolling up. The wax also keeps skins from sticking together while providing waterproofing.
Waxing is useful before extended storage. But it can attract dirt if you use skins sporadically through the summer and aren’t washing. Only wax before final seasonal storage. In fall preseason, strip wax buildup with base cleaner before use.
How should you clean skins before storage?
Before packing skins away for the summer, make sure to clean them thoroughly with mild soap and water or a specialized skin wash. Remove any remaining dirt, oils, pine sap, etc. that can impede adhesive performance.
Ideally hand wash skins individually in a tub or basin using warm water and minimal soap. Avoid excessive water pressure from hoses that forces glue to peel.
Let skins dry completely after washing. Dirt and moisture are nemeses of glue. A deep cleaning sets the right foundation for pure long-term storage. Consider re-waxing after cleaning for added protection.
Don’t use harsh chemicals like acetone or alcohol wipes on glue. They quickly degrade adhesion. Mild skin cleansing soaps from Dominator or Purl do the job safely.
Should you store skins in a cool, dry place?
Storing skins in a cool, dry location is ideal for preventing deterioration in the moisture-free offseason months. Key advantages of cool/dry storage:
– Prevents glue softening from heat and humidity.
– Minimizes condensation buildup inside containers.
– Reduces risk of mold growth on stored skins.
– Lower temperatures help glue remain stable and tacky.
– Drier conditions keep adhesive supple without liquefying.
– More stable temps reduce expansion/contraction of materials.
Look for storage areas like basements, garages, closets, or cabinets in your home that remain below 70°F and 50% humidity if possible. Unheated sheds or barns can work well too. Just keep skins contained away from critters.
Avoid warm attics, cellars with earth contact, and places under sinks or pipes with moisture risk. Take advantage of any cool, dry refuge you can find! Even the fridge works in a pinch.
Should you store skins in a breathable container?
Breathable storage containers have benefits for preventing moisture accumulation and mold growth on skins during the stagnant offseason.
Some effective breathable containers:
– Mesh bags allow air exchange to dry condensation.
– Cotton, hemp, burlap allow vapor transfer.
– Natural fiber blends don’t trap moisture like synthetics.
– Unsealed totes/crates provide ventilation.
– Open-air racks if shielded from dust and debris.
The downside of breathable storage is less protection from ambient humidity and pests. Use breathable containment in very dry storage areas only. Prioritize humidity control.
For most situations, non-porous sealed bags/containers are recommended to protect skins from moisture risks. But utilize breathable features wherever humidity is low and stable.
Should you use dessicant packs when storing skins?
Placing dessicant moisture absorber packs in your skin storage containers is an excellent way to inhibit humidity. The desiccants actively soak up moisture to lower condensation risks and prevent glue softening.
Look for desiccant packs rated for at least 15 grams of moisture absorption. Put packs in sealed bags, boxes, etc. and replace or recharge them 1-2 times through summer as they saturate.
For roll-up tubes, cut small dessicant packs in half and place inside each end before capping. Prioritize using desiccants if storing skins glue-side together so they don’t become overbonded from humidity.
If you lack dessicant packs, dry rice grains can work as a substitute. Just monitor rice color to replace before it becomes saturated and moldy. Keeping things extremely dry preserves skin glue.
Should you store skins flat or vertically?
Storing skins horizontally in a flat, stacked orientation is generally better than vertical hanging:
– Prevents glue from slowly migrating down over time in vertical position.
– Keeps skin structure flatter long-term without curling or bowing.
– Allows more skins to fit in a small space by stacking.
– Glue-to-glue orientation sticks better when stacked flat.
– Less risk of creasing/bending versus hanging under gravity.
Upright vertical storage can work too. Just ensure skins are loosely rolled or carefully draped to avoid too much downward pressure at the top. And use mounting hooks, loops or clips to avoid damaging glue.
Either orientation can work fine. The priority is maintaining the flat integrity of skins without damage. Keeping them stacked and stable in a horizontal position may be simplest. But vertical storage is an option in tight spaces.
Caring for your skins with proper off-season storage will maximize their longevity and performance. Remember these key points:
– Store skins clean, wax coated and renew glue conditioning before storage.
– Choose cool temperatures around 60-68°F if possible. Avoid hot places.
– Ideal humidity levels are 40-50%. Use dessicants to reduce moisture in sealed containers.
– Non-porous plastic bags work best for most people to seal out humidity and pests
– Stack skins flat horizontally rather than hanging vertically during storage.
– Check on skins 1-2 times over summer to monitor for any glue issues.
With the right preparations and storage conditions, your climbing skins will come out ready to grip the snow when next winter rolls around!