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D.I.Y. Skimo Skin Tip Attachments

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Home-made race-style tip fix. Clean and simple.

There are a lot of skin options available these days with retailers like Skimo.co bringing more of the European variety to the USA. Unfortunately, tip attachments on pre-built skins are like cell-phone chargers; they’re unstandardized and are often poorly cross-compatible with other manufacturer’s platforms.

The recent availability of skins sold in bulk (from a roll) makes possible a solution to this problem. You can pick your skin, your width, your length, and put it all together by making your own tip attachment. This is easy, kinda fun in a dorky way, and produces an equal product that is both cheaper and lighter than commercial offerings.

The one caveat here is that we’re making race-style skins, which require a notch in the ski tip for fixation. This style of attachment also doesn’t use a tail-fix, so good skinning technique is required. The advantage of the “tip fix” is that it makes removing the skin from your ski while wearing the ski infinitely easier and faster than traditional fixation methods. The only downside to the system is that the lack of a tail-fix can lead to skin failures in certain conditions, such as breaking trail through steep, loose snow, which leads one to slide backwards slightly with each step.

Still, despite that downside, I’ve converted entirely to skins without a tail-fix. After a short learning curve, they’re just simpler and lighter. An added benefit of using race-style skins is that they are so thin and subsequently light that a backup pair can be carried without being a burden. Black Diamond nylon skins are Hummer H2s compared to these Porsches.

What follows is a step by step pictorial guide to making your own tip fix system at home. This is the second time that I’ve built skins at home, and the process took 25 minutes from start to finish. If this is your first time, allow yourself an hour and measure twice, cut once. Please comment with any questions that you might have. You will need the following equipment, or similar:

  • – Sharp knife
  • – Stout scissors
  • – Sharpie
  • – Scrap piece of paperboard
  • – Some virgin skins
  • – Lighter
  • – Two (2) soda bottle tops
  • – Three (3) feet of 1/4″ elastic cord
  • – Allen wrench or similar metal object
  • – A speedy-stitcher or riveter (see below)

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Subaru Vertfest at Alpental

Alpental Vertfest

Dumping snow at Alpental. When it’s a powder day, I prefer to Skimo race.

Yesterday was the first SkiMo race of the season for me. To anyone in Colorado that must seem late, but to those of us thus-far confined to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve only just begun to have a snowpack, let alone to race in it. This is the first race that I’ve done since the Wasatch Powderkeg in 2012, and with such break, I figured there’d be some hiccups. Boy was that right.

The Subaru Vertfest left me feeling proud, if a little battered. The tricky skinning caused silly equipment failures, but I feel reasonably good about my fitness, and even better about fighting through the equipment issues to finish the race.

Stats

Vertfest is the largest SkiMo race in the PNW, with somewhere around 130 racers competing in a variety of categories. The course involves two climbs and two descents through the Alpental Ski area. The recreational division completes only the first climb, while the Race category does both. (Distances and vert below per my GPS measurement). Winning race-category time this year was 1:19:57.

Rec — 3.2 mi, 2640′    Race — 6.0 mi, 4500′

Subaru vertfest Alpental course map

Subaru Vertfest Alpental Course Map

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