Fall-Line’s backcountry editor and British IFMGA guide Martin Chester answers your off-piste puzzles
Question: What’s the best way to fold and dry skins? There seem to be many techniques but I’m not sure which are most effective.
Answer: Everyone has favourite tricks for folding skins, but the common denominator for success is to use your ski as a work-bench. Of course, ski-rando whippets just yank them off and fold them on the fly – but let’s file them as “special” and get real-world!
First, check what type of skin glue you have and whether you need a cheat sheet. These nylon mesh sheets are a gift and I always cut mine down to half the length of the skin. That way I peel the skin off the ski, on to the sheet, and fold it over on itself. Even the most shaped skins get adequate cover this way.
If you’re not using cheat sheets, peel and fold from the middle of the ski:
Keep exposed glue away from fleece, fabric and dirt that gunks it up and lessens its stickiness. Watch my hero Andrew McLean showing how pros fold skins in a storm.
Dry skins somewhere warm and dry, but not hot. If you put them over a radiator (or on that stove in the hut) the glue overheats and welds the skins together.
Worse still, when you peel them apart, you may leave all the glue on one half and be left with a useless skin. In the same vein, never (like NEVER) leave your skins on your skis in the ski room overnight. You may never clear your ski bases of glue again. Take them off every time and dry them gently.
I’ve seen chaos in huts with folks setting off with the wrong skins – so I never use the skin rack in the drying room. Dry them in your room, on your peg or over your bunk steps. That way they will still be there next day. I stash mine in a light mesh bag to keep them ventilated but dirt-free. Keep them warm (but not hot) before use, and they will last for ages and never let you down.