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Author Topic: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.  (Read 12009 times)
Alex Ford

Posts: 10

Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« on: 11/21/16, 09:59 AM »

November, November. There’s nothing quite like the interstitial month. The snow level hovers just a smidgen too high, and the days are more than a smidgen too short. A month to bid farewell to your climbing buddies, track down your skiing buddies, and for a brief few, glorious weeks reacquaint yourself with your drinking buddies.

The problem, of course, with nearing thirty is that I can no longer convince myself that mimosas should be directly followed by margaritas, leaving me unoccupied until the sun’s over the yardarm. This year, to fill these luckless hours, I opted to excavate the touring gear from the closet a touch before the opener and put it in good shape.

After dusting off the quiver I was immediately overwhelmed by flashbacks. You all know them. The balling. The glopping. They refuse to hold to your bases, but leave a foul, black, sticky residue on everything they touch. Blown out skins.

A bit of browsing left me with a understanding that I had options, but with significant inconsistency into the best method of application. Gold label comes in two forms, tube and sheet. The tube is appealingly cheaper, but involves manual spreading. The sheets run a pretty penny, but provide enough pre-spread glue to fully renew a pair of skins. McLean suggests you buy the tube, toss the instructions, and trust the toxicity. TGR suggests buying transfer sheets. Some recommend using paper bags, others a scraper.

Two pairs of skins in my closet, and I’ll be damned it they weren’t both irredeemably blown. In the interest of Engi-nerd-ery I opted to fully reglue each set of skins with an alternate technique. Both were highly successful, however with a few modifications to the provided instructions the transfer sheets were far less of a pain in the ass.

Want to kill a spare hour, save yourself on the skin track, and in need of laser beta? Read below.


There are two broad classes of skin problems, which I term the “inconvenient”, and the “irredeemable”.
The inconvenient is merely not-sticky. Maybe it’s a little dog hair, maybe some pine needles, the surface is adulterated but the glue itself is sound. If this is you, set your iron to high, layer some parchment paper over to skins, and give them a good go-over. If they still don't stick, crack a beer, watch McLean’s masterpiece “Stick’em Up” on YouTube, and escape while you can.

For the irredeemable, welcome to hell. This is the kind of glue actively defies your will. It refuses to stick on the up-track, but leaves gremlin-globbies on your bases every time you transition. We’re going to break you down to the nylon and build you back up again as a lean, mean adhesive machine.

Regardless of your glue method, you’ll need to remove as much of this old garbage as possible from your skins before reglue-ing. Some, including BD’s official instructions, would suggest some nonsense about using a brown paper bag to remove the glue. This is a horrible, messy idea for anything other than the smallest of jobs.

For the full-strip borrow a hairdryer, even if you own one, you’ll invariably cover it in glue, and buy a cheap plastic putty scraper from the hardware store. Layout some junk rag like the Seattle Times to cover your work bench then, skin-plush-down, use the dryer to soften the glue and scrape it off. Remove the fabric center-strip, then work 10-15cm at a time down the skin scraping. It’s not critical to get every last bit off, but at least get all the noticeably dirty and blackened residue off the skin.

Choose Wisely:

Skin glue is a remarkable, tacky mixture that is both self-adhesive and highly water resistant. The glue mix can be softened by either (A) an organic solvent or (B) heat. Herein lies the fundamental choice in your re-glue options. The tube contains gold-label mixed with Xylene, a wonderfully volatile, flammable, and mildly toxic solvent, and can be easily spread for several minutes after being dispensed. The sheets contain the glue alone, pre-spread onto non-stick backing paper, and can be heat-transfered onto a surface.

The tube-based glue is easy to stick to the skin but, unless you enjoy the high of a good huff, you’ll need to work in a very well ventilated area. Also, spreading it adequately is a major challenge, and you’re unlikely to get that “new skin” look at the conclusion of your project.

The transfer sheets are a bit tougher to adhere to the skin, but produces less mess and a much nicer surface finish. As a bonus, you’re far more likely to produce offspring with ten fingers and toes by the end of your evening.

Transfer Sheets (Recommend):

After removing the old glue, the transfer sheets are relatively easy to apply with the provided instructions. Gently unroll the sheet, apply to the skin, trim, and heat with an iron on high. It’s critical that you use a “beverage container” to roll the transfer sheet on to the skin while the glue is still hot. The pressure of the iron alone is not enough to consistently adhere the glue the skin, and failure-to-roll will leave you with bald spots when you remove the backing paper.  For the truly impatient, an ice pack works well to cool the glue after heating.

For touch-ups, you can cut small sections of the extra transfer sheet to make glue patches. To cleanly cut the glue sheet use a spare bit of backing paper to sandwich it against the paper it came on, then cut an appropriately sized patch from this sandwich. Remove one piece of paper to make it open-faced, apply the patch to the skin, cover the entire surrounding area with backing paper, then iron and roll as before.


Back in the old days geezers may have stretched the gold label, but for a complete re-glue it takes nearly a full tube of gold label to restore a single “modern” 100mm+ width skin to factory spec. This means you’ll need 2 tubes per pair, significantly reducing the cost advantage of the tube. Cover your work surface well and work in layers, spreading the glue as throughly as possible. Once the glue dries it’s relatively easy to flatten the surface by ironing, but you aren’t going to be able to recover from a bad spread job.

The tube excels at touch-ups. If you’ve a dirty spot on your glue just dab a bit, spread throughly, and cure overnight. If you’ve a completely bald spot just layer once or twice.

Posts: 157

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #1 on: 11/21/16, 12:57 PM »

Warming up the tube of glue in a bowl of hottish water makes it significantly easier to spread a consistent light coat of the stuff with an old credit card or similar.

If the glue on your skins is clean but getting old and gummy ironing the glue Directly can improve it's tack a fair bit.  I believe it removes some of the H20 that's impregnated the glue.

Posts: 1393

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #2 on: 11/21/16, 02:36 PM »

From the " Bottom Feeders Workshop"

Back in the old days geezers may have stretched the gold label

Warming up the tube of glue in a bowl of hottish water makes it significantly easier to spread a consistent light coat of the stuff with an old credit card or similar.

Hey no kidding, This geezer loved the old gold label can heated  in a pot of hot water. It was the way to go. Unfortunately Black diamond no longer sells the stuff in cans. At least all my searches have been unable to find it.  I have shifted to Pomoco glue in cans. No verdict yet on the longevity of Pomoco . I do use a industrial strength heat gun (Thanks to MAD DOG) and putty knife for stripping the old glue off.  depending on which set of skins I'm redoing I may do one ,two or three really thin coats. IMHO the tubes are wasteful and the Transfer sheets pricey and well a bit non geezer friendly.

"I bought my rope at Walmart ,my gloves at costco but paid dearly for my dynafits"
Apparant Moderator of what sucks

Posts: 872

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #3 on: 11/21/16, 05:08 PM »

Unfortunately Black diamond no longer sells the stuff in cans. At least all my searches have been unable to find it. 

My father-in-law pulled out an old can of Gold Label and let me use it last year. Maybe it was age related. Those skins stick together now with more tenacity than my arms have strength. I've been forced to use skin savers with this pair of skins. I carry them in my back pocket while I'm skiing. My ski partner laughs at me every time he sees them.

Thanks for the post, Alex. Enjoyable reading.
Andrew Carey

Posts: 1418

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #4 on: 11/21/16, 06:45 PM »

From the " Bottom Feeders Workshop"

... old gold label can heated  in a pot of hot water ... use a industrial strength heat gun (Thanks to MAD DOG) and putty knife for stripping the old glue off.  depending on which set of skins I'm redoing I may do one ,two or three really thin coats. IMHO the tubes are wasteful and the Transfer sheets pricey ...

I still have some Gold Label in a can and just did some skins this summer.  I use a heat gun too, mine came with a variety of blades; a few squares of cardboard makes for quick cleaning of the blades during the old glue removal.  For the most part, I do use skin savers.  I trim them to exactly fit the shovel one-half the skin.  Then they are not bulky, easy to apply and when the tail half is folded over the shovel half no exposed glue is left.  This has obviated [prevented :-)] the accumulation of dirt and debris along the ski edges and reduced the need for me grasping the skin tail glue with my fingers (ruining my gloves or contaminating the glue with skin oil).  I saved and use the skin savers that came with my various Dynafit skins; I've had bad luck with G3 skins saves leaving plastic in the glue.  Pomoca, however, recommends using skin savers only for storage, so I am exprimenting with 2 pairs of Pomoca Climb Pro Glide skins to see how much contamination I pick up compared to all my Dynafit skis with skin savers (the Dynafit skins are rumored to be a cheaper model of Pomoca CPG, but still work quite well).  I still use skin savers on my G3, BD, & other skins; my subjective experience is that the glue does not become gummy as fast as with glue to glue adhesion.  When the glue finally degrades it degrades the skin savers as well.

... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise

Posts: 1373

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #5 on: 11/22/16, 03:34 AM »

1) I used the brown paper grocery bags cut into strips + waxing iron approach to cleaning off the old glue, pine needles , dog fur and all.  Three rounds of applying the strips, ironing the paper, pealing it off, tossing the strips in the trash has worked well for me.  Be sure that the strips are at least an inch wider than the skins.

2) Three thin coats of glue.  I use a tri-pack of Bondo Plastic Spreaders -- one spreader per layer -- toss the spreader in the trash after use.

3) Allow plenty of time, at least a day between coats and decently warm temps for the glue to dry between coats and usage.  Don't make the mistake I made the first time I attempted to reglue skins -- applying a single thick coat the night before a trip in November and left in an unheated garage to dry -- what a mess!

4) A strip of coated ripstop nylon or better yet silnylon make a much tougher "skin saver" than the commercial ones I've seen. 

« Last Edit: 11/22/16, 03:48 AM by Randy » Logged

Posts: 75

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #6 on: 11/22/16, 12:39 PM »

After only 4 days of touring, I am considering re-gluing my G3 high traction splitboard skins. I had a complete glue failure on one of them after only 3 runs. Granted I got some snow on the glue, but I never had a problem with previous G3 skins or other brands with similar amounts of snow, and FFS it's a skin for backcountry skiing...

Anyhoo, since they are so new and the glue layer appears to be fairly thin, I'm thinking of just adding an extra layer without removing the old glue. I'm going to use the BD gold bond stuff in a tube, but I've heard/read that G3 and BD glue don't mix well due to different solvents. This seems suspect to me, but have any of you wise old TAYers seen any truth to this claim?
« Last Edit: 11/22/16, 05:15 PM by discostew » Logged

Posts: 140

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #7 on: 11/23/16, 08:49 AM »

Alex Ford, thanks for the amusing write-up of this process. I did the same thing a month back it brought back memories of that oh-so-enjoyable evening. I went with the transfer sheets - if done right I think it is easier overall. I'd like to add that even minus the Xylene, the repeated heating of the old glue and transfer sheets of new glue still seems to produce a toxic cloud that a Chinese factory town would be proud of. I'd recommend venting as well as possible even going this route. I ended up with post-huff headache even despite my efforts. A few other things I'd add:

1.) Heat gun. If you have one of these (or want to buy one...they are infinitely useful), it is the one-up version of a hairdryer. They work very well and allow better control of heat intensity and direction.

2.) Use painter's tape to cover at least the edges of the skin plush. This will prevent any of the new glue from creeping over on to the plush when you are applying pressure to the new glue (assuming you go with the sheets).

3.) An old rolling pin (or in my case, a nice rolling pin covered in painters tape to protect it...don't tell my GF) allows pressure to be applied easier when re-applying.

4.) An absolute +1 on the use of heat+scraper vs. paper bags. I've done both methods and scraping is much easier, though I kept old paper bags around to place the scraped glue on to.

Mike Rolfs, using the transfer sheets also gave my skins a near-herculean ability to stick to one another. They are great for performing high-resistance shoulder flys now.

Discostew, I used the BD transfer sheets to re-glue G3 skins. I did a pretty OCD job of removing all of the old glue, and my results appear to be great so far. I'll use this opportunity to get on a soapbox and attack G3 for the absolute garbage glue they use. I have nothing against the skin plush, but their glue seems to have a a very high failure rate and is way more prone to becoming overly sticky and attaching to bases. Whatever testing they do in Canuckistan during mid-winter day-tours (i'm making assumptions here) on their glue is clearly not representative of the demands on glue of multi-season skin use for multi-day tours. I love their attachment systems, but will move back to BD in the future due to G3's inability to find a reasonable glue to use.

And finally, for my coup de grâce on this topic: just find new skins on sale and hand down your old ones if you can afford it. I've now decided re-gluing is a young man's game, best saved as a memory of my years with more free time and less money. Considering the renew sheets aren't cheap, the difference between those and new skins didn't personally justify the time-cost of this operation. Next time I'll buy a new pair of BDs and hand down my old ones to a friend.

Posts: 707

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #8 on: 03/15/17, 12:10 AM »

Waxed, cleaned & re-glued my skins this evening in preparation to tour in the rain this weekend.

Transfer/cheater sheets are a lifesaver - they made the "rehabilitation" of existing still-glued areas a breeze. The warm water bath for the tube of gold label glue worked nicely, I was able to apply an even coat sparingly on the areas which where the glue was severely lacking (mostly the tips & tails) and used a cheap plastic paint/putty scraper to spread it easily. Now they're sitting-out flat overnight drying, I'll report back in the morning.

Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
Charlie Hagedorn

Posts: 1881

Re: Re-glueing climbing skins, a lived experience.
« Reply #9 on: 03/16/17, 04:51 PM »

Just wanted to chime in that I've reglued two pair of 105mm-width skins this season with a tube of Gold Label used for each pair. Work warm, spread thin.

The skins are lighter with less glue, and they're plenty sticky.

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