20090301 Gecko Skins

Lou Dawson's WildSnow.com site first clued me in to a new skin on the market, the Gecko, produced by Austrian company MP Sports and distributed in North America by Geiger. Curious, I followed the crumb trail to Gecko's website and they shipped me a pair to try out!

Out of the box, the skins don't look very different from any other on the market. Indeed, the climbing side of the skin looks like all the others, and so I won't bore you too much with how they climb. Instead I'll focus on the sticky side.

the adhesive immediately looks different from other glues on the
market / the dimples didn't effect the performance

Gecko skins are using an adhesive unique in the industry. Rumor says that it was originally designed to be applied to the bottom of things like coffee mugs to create a non-slide surface against plastic counters like car dashes. And some Austrian skier-engineers saw the stuff and quickly put two and two together. Instead of making the skins stick to the skis, Gecko skins keep the skins from sliding off a pair of skis.

I first received these at the end of January, and spent 6 February cutting them for my 188cm K2 Mt. Bakers. Gecko Skins offered to trim them to the length of my boards and attach tails, but I knew that my skis weren't precisely 188cm and I didn't have time to measure, so I declined the offer. The tail attachment is the old classic system from the rubber-tip era (I have a pair of those too) - but I decided to go "Euro" and try these skins out without any tail attachment at first.

gecko skins came with two pairs of tips loops / narrow
and tall or wide and short / razor blade for size comparison

The tip system is a little distracting. An simply wire frame is held in place with a velcro strip sewn onto the climbing side of the skin. This does allow the stick side to have adhesive all the way to the tip - which may be necessary.

the velcro tips look inadequate at first / but proved
to be up to the task

I've taken these skins out for 5000 feet of climbing now in the past month - including the Blackwood Ridge tour. My longest climb - 2000 feet, was at the mellowest angle, but I've also done several 750-foot climbs with the heal lifters on high. Here's what I've noticed:

Pros: The adhesive works, and because its not as sticky as other glues, the skins pull apart easier than any other pair I've used. Also, debris are easy to pick off and snow is easy to remove by scraping the skin over a ski edge. The skin climbs as well as others, and the tip system is adequate for the job. I climbed over rocks and logs with no more concern than I would with other skins, and these have held up fine.

i intentionally threw the skins down in the snow / dragging/scraping them
across the edge of a ski quickly cleared them

Cons: Any snow left on the stick side will allow more snow to get in between the skins and skis and cause an adhesive failure. This is probably why the tip system is sewn onto the climb side. Without a tail hook, I have noticed the skins start to peel off in the back by the end of a long climb. I haven't gotten to use the skins in really wet conditions.

ania checks out the adhesive stick-side of the gecko skins

Conclusions: These skins work. I really appreciate peal-apart qualities of the adhesive, and the skins stay cleaner then those with normal glue. These may be ideal for rando-race applications, or big tours with more skinning than skiing. I plan to continue using them for the rest of the winter on my Bakers, then cut them down and add the tails come April to use them with my Shuksans for the big Sierra spring tours. I would really like a tip to be sewn and the tail to use the STS or "rat-tail" system, and may try to modify them later for that. Cosmetically, I understand the common-sense reason for black skins - they dry out faster after getting soaked. But I'm a big fan of character - remember the cow-hide pattern skins - and the tractor tire pattern on my other pairs. Maybe these can be made with gecko foot prints? I'll be coming back and writing more about them as the time comes later this season.

Check out Gecko Skins at http://www.geckoskins.biz