How to attach and remove skins like a pro

Heading into the wilds for an adventure? Bump up your skills and get to the best slopes and snow in safety and style by following our new series of backcountry tips. First up: how to attach and remove skins. 

Attaching skins

1. Leave your bindings in ski mode with the brakes engaged. Dry the base with a glove; if the sun is out sit the ski with the base facing the sun, this will dry and heat it, making the glue stick better. If it’s a really cold day stick the skin down your jacket to warm it before applying it to the ski.

2. Starting at the end dictated by the skin attachment system, peel the plastic or mesh backing (aka the ‘cheat sheet’) off the skin just ahead of where you are sticking the skin to ski.

3. Stick the skin to the ski, making sure that you can see both metal edges down each side of the skin. Smooth it against the ski with your hand as you go, making sure there are no air bubbles. Keep going to the end of the skin.

4. If there is no clip just smooth off the end; if there is a clip, attach it then run your hand down the length of the skin in the direction of the hairs. I always think giving it a bit of a rub helps the glue warm up and stick better. Change the bindings to skinning mode and you are good to go.

Taking skins off

1. Take the ski off and before you do anything else, engage the brakes. I find it easiest to do the next bit with the ski lying base side up on the snow.

2. Brush any snow off the skin, then detach the clip if there is one or lift the tail if not, unpeel the skin attaching the backing sheet as you unpeel. As you get to the end of the backing sheet just flip the skin over and keep on going.

3. Press the skin onto the backing sheet and put in its bag or your sack, out of the way so it can’t get covered in snow. 

Want more tips?

Bruce Goodlad’s new book, Ski Touring (£17), is a practical manual covering everything from avalanche rescue to Europe’s best day tours. It can be ordered from any good bookshop or direct from

Words: Bruce Goodlad, Photos: Kate Scott,  Location: Les Contamines, France