A self-adhesive skin is certainly a more complex product than it seems. To quote Reiner Gerstner, Brand and Marketing Manager for Salewa Group, “It is the most complex product in the ski mountaineering industry”.

 

It's difficult to describe all the complexity of a skin in a few words, but in a nutshell, a climbing skin is:

 

A PLUSH WITH ANGELED FIBERS...

Velvet

The plush offers grip and glide to the skin. These characteristics vary depending on the material used (nylon, mixed, mohair) and the way the fibers are woven (thicker or thinner, longer or shorter, more or less angled). Normally, a skin that glides more, grips less. The ideal balance between gliding and gripping depends on the desired use.

 

...SUBJECT TO VARIOUS TECHNICAL TREATMENTS...

Treatment

Those treatments provide waterproofing for fibers, which is key to preventing snow clumps from forming. Wet fibers can freeze with a change in temperature (for example, when going from a warm place into the cold shade). When the fibers freeze they attract snow which sticks to the skin, forming clumps. It give as well the color to the skin and helps as well with the fixing of the fibers and their angle/backing, which is why it is important for durability and glide/grip. 

 

...WITH A LINING... 

Lining

The lining prevents from transfering water from skin to the adhesive and reducing its performance. A lining that is not waterproof causes damp on the adhesive and reduces its tack (stickiness). The adhesive could come away from the skin and stick to the ski. A quality lining guarantees the correct functioning of the adhesive and increases as well resistance to the skin tearing.

 

...AND AN ADHESIVE

Glue

The adhesive attaches the skin to the ski. In cold and wet conditions, adhesion may be difficult: in general, the adhesives do not perform well in water or cold, as it is harder for them to stick in a wet environment (mist or heat in spring/damp snow) or in the cold.