When I first encountered these skins in Kaprun in December my reaction was “wow!” They are sold as revolutionary glueless skins that work via a mysterious technology. At first look they are wonderful, very light, easy to pull apart, flexible to fold and no messy glue to protect.
However the honeymoon was soon over. The problem started with fitting. In the instructions packaged with the skins it suggested folding the skins over at the tip, in the way we do with other skins, to hold the rubber tip fix. But it didn’t stick. The US distributor website suggests buying some little clips that hold the skin closed. The Austrian website suggested riveting the fold closed. I was reluctant to do this as I wasn’t sure how the tip fix would perform, it seemed a little narrow for my K2 Shuksans and I wasn’t able to find any wider wires straight away. Also I have torn rubber tip fixes in the past and needed to replace them on the hill, riveting wasn’t going to allow this. In the end I duct taped them closed. Inelegant but functional!
Now it was time to get them on the snow. The first two tours I did with them were in perfect spring conditions, hard, frozen old snow with a trail already in. The tracks were a little glazed early morning and the skins slipped more than my wife’s Black Diamond skins and more than I would have expected my Colltex skins to have. At the top they came off easily and without glue they folded quickly and were stashed in record time.
At the end of these two tours the skins were showing a lot of wear around the edges with a massive amount of fraying. My skins were getting narrower by the day. On the hill this meant that they collected a lot of snow, like the “dags” sheep get after sitting in the snow. At the end of each day I got the scissors out and trimmed the frayed bits. I guess this is down to the fact that the skins are mohair. Being used to synthetics and synthetic-mohair mix I was left wondering as to the longevity of the Gecko skins.
Tour three was billed as an overnight trip and we set out in a storm to traverse a peak before descending to our hut. It was blowing hard and laying down drifts of soft windblown snow interspersed with ridges of hard sastrugi. After an hour the skins started to slide on the base of the ski, particularly when traversing. This became a real issue when the skins started sliding laterally, right off the ski leaving me flailing. I put duct tape around the skins to try and control this, particularly as the skins were starting to roll or curl inwards towards the middle of the ski. Two hours later, close to our summit the skins started to literally fall off the skis. I’ve no idea how they managed this. My guess is because the tip rubbers are really heavy duty and not very stretchy, the skins were not held tight lengthwise and so once all adhesion to the ski base was lost they were able to slide backwards and forwards on the ski as though lubricated. Weird but true!!
As I was not going to suffer another day of this, we retreated. The next day dawned perfectly and we were really pissed!!
My final verdict has to be that these skins are not fit for purpose. Do not buy them, you will be disappointed.