G3 Alpinist Glide Skins
By Craig McGee, ACMG Mountain Guide
First, I have to say I was skeptical. Although I had used G3 skins off and on since the first model came out almost 20 years ago, I had given them a miss lately after experiencing several reliability issues - often deep in the wilderness! I was not afraid of telling people that I wasn't too fond of G3 skins, and instead had switched to a delightful Euro brand that was light, stuck like snot, and glided like silk through the mountains.
The ACMG Partnership Coordinator had been given some new 2019 G3 skins for testing, and in some bazaar slip of his better judgment, he asked if I would like to test them out on an upcoming month-long trip to Russia. Maybe he didn't know the depth of my disdain for G3 skins? Or perhaps he hoped that I would stop obnoxiously talking about my bias against them since the company was such a valued supporter and partner of the ACMG? Either way, I was not only doubtful, but also reluctant to take them as I had limited space in my luggage and I knew I would dislike them anyway!
I have to say on the first morning of the inaugural deployment I found myself quite smitten with the look of the skins - beautiful baby blue with a techy white Scala tip. They were pretty sexy, and the workmanship of G3 products does have to be appreciated! I was still very doubtful, so I also brought along my trusty Euro brand skins as back-ups. I had a feeling I would need to swap them out with the Canuck skins sooner than later; however, the test conditions must have been favourable as the Canucks stayed out all day; and it killed me to say it, but they seemed pretty good. "Lucky" I told myself!
Day two: another test day, but minimal skinning so the G3s couldn't fail...
Day three: finally, a real test. A full tour with a stupid amount of distance, an absurd lack of oxygen and just a few centimetres of new powder over a rapidly melting crustâ€”this should get interesting! But it never did. The people around me were epic-ing, and I mean full-on skin warfare! First, the US skins balled up. Then, the Euros took an unfathomable double loss, and no one could recover. We are talking about some of the worst skin conditions you could fathom; 5 cm of melting powder on top of water, on top of schlopp. Skin wax, tricks, prayers; nothing worked... except my G3 Alpinist Glide skins. Could it be true? Nooooooooo! Beginner's luck I said.
The first week: not an issue. Not only not an issue; everyone else had issues - many of them - but the G3s seemed to be performing very well. What was everyone else's problem? These G3 skins appeared to be breaking the laws of skins. They seemed to find that perfect balance of sticking to the ski, but still easy to use. Skins that never balled up, but somehow glided through the snow like an undetected serpent in the grassâ€¦
The entire trip: well, it took every morsel of energy to say it, but the G3 Alpinist Glide skins rocked! They performed absolutely flawlessly in some of the most consistently challenging skinning conditions I have ever witnessed; water, mud, desert sand, crust, ice, powder. Most of these came together in a single ascentâ€”and no issues!
I am a bit of a gear geek, and usually, I get all techy on numbers and technology. The fact is I don't know what kind of magic wizardry G3 wove into their new skins, but it worked! The new Scala tip performed as advertised and really did prevent snow from working under the skin. The mix of 70% nylon and 30% mohair attained that perfect balance of durability and glide. Usually, on slight downhills, I would pass the rest of the group - with the skins still on! The new glue stuck the skin to the ski but came off with no leftover residue and was easy to use.Â Remember, these were the worst skinning conditions of my life! If I had any complaints, it might be that the skins are slightly bulkier than their equal Euro counterparts, but at literally $100 cheaper (30% less), it is hardly anything to really "complain" about, and likely they will be a bit more durable because of this!