Restore your skins

Skins are way more durable than you give them credit for. I had a trusty pair of Black Diamond Ascension skins which I bought in March 2012 and lasted as my primary pair of skins until April 2017. That’s a solid 5 years of mostly year round and frequent usage.

With all that use and my general lack of care the glue slowly became so caked in dirt that they stopped reliably sticking. Below is a photo showing the difference between the clean glue which had been hidden and protected under the ‘easy pull strip’ and the dirty glue.

Skin glue – dirty glue vs the glue protected by the centre ‘easy pull’ strip.

I purchased some new skins (Black Diamond Ultra-light’s) but they had terrible durability (several dental-floss repaired cuts after less than 2 months) and the tip-loop let snow easily cake ever increasingly between the ski and the skin so I looked around for an affordable alternative.

Black Diamond (amongst others) sell skin glue transfer rolls, which are sheets of glue that you can use to replace the glue on your old skins. I managed to pick up a roll on the internet for $50.95 AUD plus cheap delivery from trekkinn.

So to replace the glue on your skins you will need:

  • A glue transfer roll
  • Box Cutter or some other sharp knife
  • A paint scrapper
  • Some newspaper / scrap paper
  • Hairdryer
  • Clothes Iron
  • Rolling Pin (optional)

Step 1 – Remove old glue

The first step is to remove your old glue from the skin. I did some googling and found a TGR thread and some youtube videos that suggested that you can use an iron and newspaper to take off the old glue. Do not do that, it just causes a mess as it will rip when you try to take it off.

Don’t use newspaper on the skins.

Instead, use the hairdryer on a high setting to warm the glue and then use the paint scrapper to take it off. You may have to go over an area a few times to get most of the glue off but it’s surprisingly effective and quick once you get the hang of it.

You don’t have to get every bit of glue off, it’ll probably still be tacky to the touch, but remove as much glue as you can. Use the newspaper to clear off the globs of glue from the paint scrapper.

Skin Re-glue - hair dryer scrapper
Skin during scrapping

Time required: About 45 minutes per skin

Step 2 –  Apply the transfer roll

Once your skin has cooled down grab the transfer roll and starting on one end, apply carefully the roll down the length of the skin. Try to avoid any folds and try to keep the roll even so that the glue covers the full width & length of the skin. You can use a rolling pin here to help.

Transfer Roll application

Time required: 5 minutes

Step 3 – Cut the applied transfer roll to size

Now that the transfer roll is applied to the skin, turn it over so that the plush side faces up and grab your box cutter and cut any visible transfer roll off. The goal is to cut any unnecessary glue off the skin to make life easier later. You can also expose  the tip-loop & tail clip attachments so that they don’t get gluey either.

Cut the excess transfer roll off

Time Required: 5 minutes

Step 4 – Apply heat via iron

Turn the skins back over to expose the remaining transfer roll and apply the iron and some mild pressure on a medium-high heat. You can also use a rolling pin but I found that the iron was sufficient.

Time Required: 5-10 minutes

Step 5: Peel off the transfer roll

Once the skin has cooled back to room temperature, peel off the transfer roll and it should have left all the glue behind.

Peel off the transfer roll

Time required: One minute

Step 6: Touch up

If you find areas where the glue might be a little messed up (pocketing or not sticking properly to the skin) then just apply some of the now glue-less transfer roll back on and re-iron it out or use a hairdryer to soften and spread out the glue.

Some pocketing after peeling transfer roll

Time Required: It depends

Additional TIL (Today I learnt):

If your just looking to increase the stickiness of your skins by removing some debris/dirt, grab some cardboard (cartons, cereal boxes etc) and an iron and melt the glue onto the cardboard and strip it off. It’ll remove the top layer of glue and also lots of it’s contaminants but leave plenty of glue underneath. Unfortunately, my skins were beyond this method.

Cardboard and iron to remove the majority of contaminates leaving cleaner glue beneath.