Reliable Race Skins: Added Glue, Added Security

The other day, a friend asked me if I had any experience putting glue on skins. He asked as if it was some complex procedure, or a potentially bad idea. I would like to tell you what I told him; not only is it a simple and effective thing to put glue on skins, but it’s super easy.

Race skins, and some normal skins, suffer from the same shortcomings of most race-oriented equipment: they lack reliability and durability. Lack of durability is a consequence of maximally lightweight construction, and there’s not much that we can do about that. Lack of reliability, namely stickiness, is something we can fix.

The myth is that European skins, which is to say all manufacturers of race skins, are less sticky than American-made skins because European environmental regulations are more strict, so they can’t use the good stuff on their products. Whether or not that’s true, it’s a known fact that they’re less sticky, and more prone to failure, particularly in cold conditions and in loose snow. Thankfully, we can  buy the good, toxic, American glue in a handy tube for use at home.

The procedure below is practically a must for race skins that one plans to use in the Rockies, but it’s also a handy trick for getting some extra life out of tired skins.

Note: This is not to be confused with the procedure for re-gluing skins, which is hellish, mostly ineffective, and totally not worth your time. If you’re to the point of wanting to replace all of the glue, then just replace the skin.

Step 1: In a clean and debris/dust free work area with good ventilation, open up the skins and allow them to thoroughly dry. Remove any large debris from the glue side with fingers or tweezers.

Get a tube of the good stuff. Black Diamond Gold Label is unparalleled. You can also find tubes of Pomoca adhesive, which is adequate, but not as good.


Step 2: Make a thin smear of glue over the last few inches of the tails, the most common site of failure.


Step 4: Using a rigid object like a credit card or in this case a worn out skin cutting tool, spread the glue thinly, evenly, and aggressively towards the edges.


Step 4b: If you’re feeling like a little bit of extra protection, you can extend the glue further up the tail. Spread it thinly towards the edges as above.


Step 5: Repeat this  procedure at the very tip, where the advancing edge of the skin can begin to accumulate snow and lead to a skin failure. Again, spread the glue thinly and towards the edges.


Step 6: leave the skins to dry in a clean, debris free space for 24 hours before using them or folding them. Fold/use before then and you risk glue clumping or glue on your ski bases.


That’s all there is to it. I can’t recommend covering the entire skin because the increased stickiness will make them super tough to separate, which is both slow for racing and annoying for touring. I use this procedure on all of my race skins and on my touring skins that lack a tail attachment, and it makes a big difference. There are few things in ski touring more annoying than having your skins fall off.



Category: Gear & ReviewsKnowledge & TechniqueSkiing



  1. Very helpful, and totally agreed with all your points (especially the failed costbenefit assessment of an entire skin reglue).
    However, I think you’re missing a Step 7 = hot melt pressing in of the glue.
    Years ago I would do skin glue retouches w/o that final step, and it definitely helped, but … when you do the hot pressing, it has that like-new feel to it.
    Here’s something I wrote a long time about restroring tack, which is essentially the Step 7 of adding glue:

    1. Hey Jonathan,

      I saw that post a while back, but I don’t generally do it. I think that works well for nylon BD skins where the plush lasts long enough for the glue to get manky and contaminated.

      I use, and encourage anyone who’s listening to use, modern mohair skins. The durability of these is about 3 years of heavy use, and the euro glue doesn’t tend to ball and clump during that time like a US glue from BD or G3.

      If I’m at the point where I would think about ironing the glue, then I’ll pretty much replace the skin. A 3 year lifespan is reasonable for a skin, and the performance of mohair is just irreplaceable.

  2. Right, I’m talking about following your steps for exactly those types of skins, then adding the final step of ironing and rolling. Presses the glue in much more nicely.

  3. Getting a tube of Gold Label is difficult these days. It’s been backordered at my local shop for 2 MONTHS. I finally broke down and ordered some from REI today. BD’s website says it’s unavailable there too.

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