We tested the popular G3 Alpinist skins and compared them to the best in the business. The Alpinist, in overall scoring, shook out near the bottom of the pack. However, our scoring somewhat discounts compatibility. Unless you have La Sportiva or Dynafit skis, for instance, two of the products we tested should be removed entirely from the list. Other products are specialized in glide but not that durable, or specialized in grip but horrible in glide. The Alpinist scored well across the board and is a product we can at least lightly recommend. Our award winners are all excellent products that exceed, in one way or another, the performance of the G3 Alpinist.
G3 Alpinist Review
Cons: Slow gliding
Manufacturer: Genuine Gear Guide (G3)
Our Analysis and Test Results
Hands-On Review of the Alpinist
The G3 Alpinist skins are a good all-around, general purpose backcountry ski climbing skin with universal compatibility.
The glide of a climbing skin does not just affect one's progress on those short little downhills we do while ascending. Every step, in good ski touring form, glides the ski ahead and up. Skis should be slid not lifted. Because of this, the gliding characteristics of skins matter to everyone in every situation. Easier gliding skins are easier to tour on, on the steep and the mellow. We found the Alpinist skins to glide as well as or better than other full nylon skis we tested. Generally, natural mohair skins glide better than nylon with blended versions somewhere in between. Our testing found this exactly true. Differentials vary depending on snow type, but overall, nylon is the slowest glider. We found the Alpinist to glide almost exactly the same as the Best Buy Black Diamond Ascension Nylon and considerably better than the G3 High Traction. All the mohair and mohair blend skins glided better.
At first glance, since skins are primarily used to help skis grab snow, it would seem that grip would be the most important attribute. The thing is, all skins you might attach to the bottom of your skis are likely to grip well enough. Our anatomy does best if we skin less steeply anyway. That being said, the Alpinist skins grip well enough for basically all ski touring. They are straight up average in the grip category. If you really, absolutely need way more grip, the Top Pick winning G3 High Traction is truly more powerful.
We had no problems with the glue and construction of the G3 Alpinist. The fabric is stiff enough to resist rolling and peeling, while the glue works well enough in cold and wet conditions. If your glue should become very worn or ruined, you can peel off a section of fabric known colloquially as the "wimp strip" and reveal fresh glue in the center, front portion of the skin. This strip of fabric is used to cover some of the glue to both preserve it and to make pulling the skin glue from glue easier in deploying them after storage.
It was in this category that we had notable performance from the Alpinist skins. All skins ice up. All skins need maintenance when snow conditions are alternately warm and cold. However, we had particularly bad icing conditions with the G3 Alpinist. On one long day deep in the wilderness of Wyoming's Wind River Range our lead tester had to remove his skis and walk at one point because of excessive snow accumulation. Other skins in the party and review had no such problems under the same conditions and treatment.
Packability and Weight
Like all the nylon skins we tested, the Alpinist is bulkier and heavier than average. Full mohair and blends are lighter and less bulky. Nylon skins, however, are more durable. These Alpinist skins will long outlast the skis you first pair them with.
Ease of Use
With the wimp strip embedded in the glue, G3's excellent tip and tail clips, and their revolutionary trimming tool, the Alpinist and High Traction skins both are by far the easiest universally compatible skins we tested.
In our test, only G3 and Black Diamond make skins that are fully compatible with all skis on the market. The other skins we tested are built for specific make and models of skis. In comparing the compatibility of the G3 and Black Diamond, the G3 models come out slightly ahead only because of their tip clips. The metal clips are far more accommodating of ski shape than the cable loop BD provides. On super wide, rounded tips, the BD cable loop can barely hang on. G3's clips are secure, regardless of tip shape and size.
We recommend these skins for all-around backcountry and ski mountaineering objectives. Other skins pull ahead in certain circumstances, but the G3 can hold their own too.
The Alpinist skins are durable and moderately priced. The BD Ascension Nylon is slightly less expensive and will last just as long.
While the Black Diamond Glidelite Mix STS skins took our Editors' Choice Award, the Alpinist is not a bad choice for many consumers. They are a little less expensive, and will last at least a little longer. The Glidelite skins truly slide forward better, which our testing team finds to be quite important. Not everyone agrees. For those consumers, the Alpinist is a good choice.
— Jediah Porter