Black Diamond Ascension Nylon Review
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Black Diamond Ascension Nylon
|Price||$189.95 at REI|
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$209.95 at REI
$199.95 at Amazon
|$186.96 at Amazon|
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|$107.93 at REI|
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|Pros||Durable, inexpensive, good grip||Light, fast gliding, enough grip, optimized glue, universal tip and tail||Light, fast, compact||All around performance, huge size range available||Well-balanced in all attributes, great glue|
|Cons||Limited glide, bulky and heavy||Mohair blend will wear out faster than all nylon, harder to find than other brands||Compromised grip, compromised durability||Compromised glide when new, limited availability at times and places||Expensive, require ongoing periodic maintenance|
|Bottom Line||Expect this lower-priced pair to give okay performance over many seasons of mountaineering and touring through the backcountry||The best climbing skins on the market, they strike all the right balances||Fast gliding skins for cold snow and accomplished skinners, the super compact, light form makes your huge skis more manageable||Budget friendly high performance skins for every backcountry skier||These walk a tightrope, yielding a product that is fully balanced right at the performance point that our experience suggests is ideal|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Ascen...||Pomoca Climb Pro S...||Pomoca Free Pro 2.0||Pomoca Climb 2.0||Contour Hybrid Mix|
|Glue Integrity (20%)|
|Icing/Glopping Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Ascen...||Pomoca Climb Pro S...||Pomoca Free Pro 2.0||Pomoca Climb 2.0||Contour Hybrid Mix|
|Measured Weight||1.43 lbs||1.23 lbs||1.09 lbs||0.99 lbs||1.21 lbs|
|Material||100% Nylon||70% Mohair and 30% Nylon||100% Mohair||70% mohair 30% Nylon||70% Mohair, 30% Synthetic|
|Weight Per Pair||650g for 180cm 105mm ski||558g for Salomon MTN Explore 95. 587g for 183 Black Crows Corvus Freebird||496g for 180cm Kastle TX 103||448g for Dynastar M99 Tour||551 for Blizzard Zero G, 654g for 178 Voile Hyperdrifter|
|Weight per ski width. Very rough calculation. (grams/mm)||6.2||5.9||4.8||4.5||5.3|
|Glue||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional||Hybrid glue technology|
|Tip Attachment||Rigid tip loop||Rigid tip loop||Rigid tip loop||Rigid tip loop||Rigid tip loop|
|Tail Attachment||Rubber strap and metal hook||Rubber strap and cam hook||Rubber strap and cam hook||rubber strap and cam hook||Vinyl strap and cam hook|
|Precut Option?||Order for approximate width, cut to length and lateral shape||Order for length and approximate width, cut to lateral shape||Order for length and approximate width, cut to lateral shape||Order for length and approximate width, cut to lateral shape||Order for length and approximate width, cut to lateral shape|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We currently have just one pair of all-nylon skins in our test. The Black Diamond Ascension Nylon are a classic, long-available product that is slowly being supplanted as market trends evolve. In certain instances, these all-nylon skins are worthwhile. As other nylon options disappear, the venerable Ascension forges on and recaptures that market share. Basically, for absolute durability the Ascension Nylon is great. In fleet or rental settings, these are likely the best skins you can get. For all others, the performance bump with mohair blend skins is worth the slight tradeoffs in price, grip, and durability.
All nylon construction means that the Ascension skins glide more poorly than any of those that include mohair. Efficient skinning means sliding your skis forward with each step. Skins that do this with less resistance save you energy. Mohair and mohair blended skins glide better than the Ascension. Discerning users on our test team, anecdotally, report that the restricted glide of the Ascension costs 5-10% of uphill energy over a long day.
Grip is inversely related to glide. All nylon construction grips really well. These are the best gripping skins in our test. Now, this seems like a good thing. And, indeed, there is little more frustrating or draining than skins that slip backwards. First, though, your technique will improve. Good skinners can ascend more steeply than beginners, all else equal. Next, no matter your level of experience, biomechanics are a greater limiter on your angle of ascent than skin grip. Even all mohair skins grip more steeply than your legs operate best. Maximum grip is unnecessary for maximum efficiency.
After slipping backward on your skins, skins that fall off your skis are one of backcountry skiing's greatest frustrations. First, align your expectations. In some conditions, all skins will fail. It is "par for the course" to have skin glue failure a time or two during your backcountry ski season. Even the most fastidious care will get snow and liquid water onto the glue. Both of these forms of H2O contamination will prevent your skins from sticking. Next, realize that Black Diamond glue is great. It is just sticky enough, and stays where you want it to stay. Finally, overall glue integrity is a function of the glue itself, fabric stiffness, and tip and tail attachments. The Ascension fabric is super stiff. This is good for keeping your skins on your skis. The tip and tail attachments are among the least sophisticated in our test, but they do the job.
Synthetic nylon fibers in the plush of the Ascension Nylon absorb virtually no liquid water. It is liquid water that precedes (sometimes immediately) icing of your skin fabric. Ascension skins are very resistant to glopping. We can't say that they won't ice up at all. In the right conditions, all skins will ice up. But the Ascension is better than most. They are certainly better than skins that include mohair in the mix.
Packability and Weight
The Ascension skins are the bulkiest and heaviest skins we tested. You don't get this durability without a trade-off. Bulk and weight are the price you pay for plush that will last for millions of vertical feet. For a given size of ski, the average competitor is about 2/3rds the weight and bulk of the Ascension.
Black Diamond sells the Ascension skins to work with any skis on the market. Shop and measure carefully, but know that you can cut them to work on anything.
Initial purchase price of the Ascension is lower than most. Further, they are widely available and often deeply discounted. Finally, the long service life brings down your "per day" price even more. These are a good value. However, for just a few bucks more you can get the Best Buy Black Diamond Glidelite Mix and get considerably better performance.
Climbing skin purchase is often an afterthought. We don't advise this. If you don't put much thought into it, you might end up with the Ascension. It isn't a wrong choice, and it might be your best choice. However, you will likely be better served with a different product. Read our reviews to see what will work best for you. Because of their bulk, weight, and glide characteristics, the Ascension scores near the bottom of the pack.
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