SEALSKIN: THE DIFFERENT MODELS AND THEIR PROPERTIES
The use of sealskin appeared in the 1930s in Europe. A practice that came straight from the Inuit. They used this animal's skin or that of other rough and short-haired animals to stick it under the soles of skis, as it made climbing easier and improved the quality of skiing. This era is over, but the term is still used to refer to synthetic leathers or technical materials fixed under the skiers' spatulas. We explain everything about these new coatings to help you choose the right sealskin for ski touring or mountaineering.
THE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS OF A SEALSKIN?
The sealskin fixed under the skis provides better stability during outings and allows you to reach a summit without losing your balance and without unnecessary effort. Three elements make up a sealskin:
- A weave
- The hanging system
- The fibre itself
Together, they provide perfect support for the skin under ski touring and fulfil a very specific function. The fibre part is the one that ensures adherence with the snow, the weft makes the junction with the ski sole thanks to the attachment system made from an adhesive material. Several manufacturers such as Colltex, Pomoca or Gecko offer several systems made of :
- Synthetic fibres
- Mixture of the above-mentioned materials.
Other manufacturers have developed simple self-adhesive fasteners, with tensioner or integrating tensioner and heel. Adhesive or glue-free skins are also available.
It is advisable to check the size of the skins before fitting, as it depends on the size of the skis. Some manufacturers offer pre-cut skins and others offer models that can be cut to the length required for the binding. It is recommended to cut it by adding a few extra millimetres to shape it correctly.
THE DIFFERENT COATINGS
Among the different sealskin models offered by ski equipment manufacturers, it is not always easy to tell the difference. Especially when you practice more downhill skiing than ski touring. Unless you have some of the old downhill briscards around you. To equip yourself with sealskins that have an excellent grip, here are a few things to differentiate them.
Synthetic Nylon skins have the advantage of being inexpensive and very resistant. They are suitable for climbing. Their excellent grip is suitable for beginner skiers. On the other hand, for sliding, they are less efficient because the snow is more easily embedded in the fibres. They are said to have a "tendency to kick".
Skins made of mohair offer both excellent gliding quality and very good grip to avoid the anti-recoil effect. The only disadvantage of these ski accessories is that they wear out more quickly. In use, the fibres end up retaining the snow, which reduces their capacity. They require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition.
Mixed mohair and synthetic skins are the most appreciated by ski touring enthusiasts for their grip and gliding quality. They will satisfy all sportsmen and women looking for high-performance ski touring equipment. Their solidity allows them to be kept in good condition for longer.
STICKY OR SELF-ADHESIVE SEALSKIN?
The sticky sealskin is the most widespread model. It is available in three versions:
- The skin is glued directly to the ski and provides better glide.
- The self-adhesive skin with a tensioner includes a stirrup hooked to the tensioner by a rubber. The advantage of this system is that it is possible to remove the skin without having to take off your shoes. This version of the self-adhesive skin is the most commonly used in championships.
- The self-adhesive skin with tensioner and heel is attached at the front by a tensioner and a hook at the back. The friction between the skin and the hook slows down the glide a little, which can be a nuisance for experienced skiers.
The skin without glue remains the best performing. It attaches like a suction cup. Made of acrylic or silicone, it is robust and can be washed with water. Its qualities are unanimously appreciated by ski enthusiasts.