G3 Alpinist+ Glide Review
Cons: Possible glue issues, limited glide
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The G3 Alpinist+ Glide are nearly great climbing skins. Long term use may reveal much, much better overall ratings. We've used our test pair longer than most will do in a single season. Our experiences continue to improve, but our first impression was very tough and is proving difficult to overcome. If our long-term testing goes on the trajectory we're on, the Alpinist+ Glide could be an Editors' Choice contender. In the meantime, read on for our impressions so far.
G3 makes five different models of Alpinist skins. Each of these differs primarily in how they balance grip and glide. As the name suggests, this particular model is pitched as having greater glide. One can safely presume that grip is compromised. We have every growing experience with G3's other Alpinist+ skins. From that experience, we can corroborate the idea that the Glide model glides better than three of their models and worse than one. The claimed 70% mohair and 30% Nylon blend should slide right along real easily. Our experience with the Alpinist Glide is less favorable than we'd hoped. Even after a break-in period, the glide is more similar to the all-nylon options from other companies. We wish the Glide skins glided better.
The flip side of glide is grip. There is an inherent inverse relationship between these two characteristics. The Alpinist+ Glide grips as well as even beginner skinners should need on average to more slippery skin tracks. The only skins we've used in this review that grip better than the Alpinist Glide are full nylon construction and even poorer in glide characteristics.
It is in glue integrity that our first impressions of the Alpinist+ Glide really suffered. On the very first climb of our very first testing day with them, we had glue come from the skins onto our ski bases. It was a perfect powder day in Grand Teton National Park, and the 5000 vertical feet of skiing was significantly and adversely affected by the skin glue on our skis. This was especially disheartening because G3 skins have had this problem in the past. (usually after a few months or years of use. Also, G3 skins in the past were also almost too sticky for their own good; it was a wrestling match to get them apart).
G3 is said to have put a ton of R and D into glue and equipped all the Alpinist+ skins with this new glue. We were hopeful that the new formulation would address these known problems. To have said problem appear on run one of day one was alarming. With further testing, we had no recurrence of the glue transfer problem. The glue sticks, as intended, better than most. This is good while skinning but makes it tougher to transition. For instance, only those with excellent balance and greater-than-average strength will be able to pull Alpinist skins from skis still on their feet.
As the Tetons warmed up in late winter, we had no glopping problems with the Alpinist+ Glide. In fact, in this category and in others (grip, glide), the 70/30 mohair/nylon Alpinist Glide act more like full nylon skins than like other blended skins.
Packability and Weight
The skin plush and backing on the Alpinist+ Glide is relatively lightweight. The tip plastic and a long tail strap further lighten the package. You only reap the advantages of the long tail strap if you "size down" your skins and leave more of your tail exposed. We recommend doing this. The materials are all a little stiffer than others. All this combines to make them pack light and flat, but not easily rolled up into shapes other than flat rectangles. Overall the Alpinist Glide is close to as packable as the top scorers.
G3 skins are available in many sizes (length and width) with tip and tail hooks that are way more universal than any others. Cable and wire tip loops can slip off the widest and most rounded ski tips. The G3 hooks pivot to work on any tip profile.
The G3 tail hook is positive and light, wrapping around your ski tails with rubber between hook and ski for maximum grip. Even on rounded "twin tip" tails the hook will stay centered in all but the most vigorous of snags.
The price of the G3 skins is in line with other top of the line skins. You can get the Best Buy, usually, for less money. The Best Buy and the G3 are roughly similar in overall scoring, but the G3 grips better.
You have to understand that our experienced test team prefers skins that optimize for glide. When purchasing skins, you'll always have to choose to lean in one direction: grip or glide. The guides and instructors amongst us point out that beginning skinners can be taught technique for ascending on slippery terrain with skins that don't grip as well, but everyone benefits from better glide all through the uphill and flat legs of every tour. Our preferences, overall, will almost always lean towards enhanced glide and compromised grip.We wanted the G3 Alpinist+ Glide to glide better than it does. Also, our initial experience with the glue gives us pause. As we note, our ongoing experiences have mostly been favorable. It's a solid product with great promise, and G3 has some of the best appointments of any of the skins on the market. We have yet to be fully enamored with the glue and plush, but we love the set-up and tip/tail attachments.
— Jediah Porter