G3’s new SCALA climbing skins feature a unique hybrid material design that maximizes glide and efficiency without sacrificing grip on the skin track. The material on the top section of the skin is made of urethane instead of a traditional climbing skin plush. The remainder of the SCALA skin is composed of G3’s proprietary alpinist plush, which is a lightweight nylon that’s fast gliding and super durable. While this combination of materials is new, the idea of a plastic climbing skin is not, as Fischer came out with their ProFoils last season. The SCALA also comes with G3’s tip and tail connectors which are some of the best on the market, easy to use with lots of room for adjustment.
Watch the video overview of the G3 SCALA Skins below:
Other advantages (in addition to optimal grip & glide in deep snow) are increased trail breaking efficiency and improved packability of the skins. Let’s have a look at each of these properties:
The SCALA climbing skin Hybrid Tip Connector’s urethane material is the first contact point of the skin in deep snow and is designed to glide better than the nylon plush (which the rest of the skin is made of). This material will also not absorb any moisture if you are ski touring in wet coastal snow conditions. The urethane tip is not glued to the ski, but because of its rigidity and proximity to the tip clip snow does not seem to get in between the ski and the skin.
The stiff urethane material of the SCALA Hybrid Tip Connector allows the skins to be packed flat. You simply fold the skins into quarters creating a 15” long strip that is much more compact than traditional plush skins. The glue side of the skin is in contact with the nylon plush, but G3 assures me that this is not an issue for the quality of the glue over the long term. The streamlined shape of the SCALA’s when packed makes them easy to insert into a backpack or jacket skin pocket thanks to their rigidity and trim profile.
I applaud G3 for the innovative design of the SCALA Skins. Combining a urethane tip and traditional plush is an interesting idea, and a good middle ground if you are not quite ready to fully commit to the complete plastic ProFoil. The G3 SCALA skins are much like their Alpinist climbing skin in that it uses the same plush and connectors. The only real difference being the urethane ski tip or the ‘hybrid tip connector’ (as G3 calls it).
So, are the SCALA skins really worth the extra fifty bones? If you like to have the latest gear and value innovation, then yes. If you want noticeably improved glide and grip, then no. While I am sure the urethane tip does help in this respect, I found the difference to be negligible and couldn’t tell the difference. I did notice a big improvement in their packability. Having the SCALA skins fold down into a thin linear shape made them much easier to stuff into a jacket skin pocket or the back panel of a touring pack. I think this is the SCALA’s biggest plus. On the downside, I do question the long-term durability of the skin glue since you fold the SCALA’s glue side onto the plush. I have not seen this method of storing skins before and I am worried that over time the glue will eventually be degraded by constantly being in contact with the plush. Time will tell…
Overall the SCALA is an innovative new product from G3 that’s worth checking out if you are in the market for new climbing skins and want to try something just a little different. For more climbing skin reviews click on over to our climbing skin review page here.
Price: $209CAN / $209US
Weight: Short 283g / 10oz - 330g / 11.6oz, Medium 305g / 10.8oz - 355g /12.5oz, Long 325g / 11.5oz - 388g / 13.7oz
Sizes: Short 153-169 / Medium 168-184 / Long 183-199cm
Widths: 100 / 115 /130mm
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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