G3 calls them skins optimized for "glide". Our experience suggests that they are good skins, but not as optimized for glide as many others. The grip is good, the tip/tail hooks are the best around, and the innovative G3 skin trim tool makes initial setup a breeze. In fact, we hoard our G3 skin trimmers for use on other brands of skins. We had an immediate poor experience with G3's latest glue, but we stuck with them; we have since put in the miles and have had no issues.
G3 Alpinist+ Glide Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Excellent tail/tip attachment, excellent skin trim set up tool, good grip
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 about as much as 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 Editors' Choice contenders. In the meantime, read on for our impressions so far.
Overall, the Alpinist Glide is nothing special. However, it is a solid product with great promise. 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.
G3 makes five different models of Alpinist skins. Each of these differs primarily in how they balance grip and glide. As the name suggests, these are pitched as having greater glide. One can safely presume that grip is compromised. We have only the most rudimentary 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. 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 good news is that G3 offers a presumably better gliding option, the Alpinist+ Speed. Some of our next tested G3 skins will be the Speed model. We like skins that glide well. In head-to-head testing, the Alpinist Glide glides just a little better than the all-nylon Black Diamond Ascension but worse than any of the other blended skins.
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 the Black Diamond Ascension. The Alpinist+ Glide grabs better than our Editors Choice Contour Hybrid Mix and the Best Buy Black Diamond Glidelite Mix.
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 2019 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.
The good news is that we cleaned off our skis and got back after it. We've since skied tens of thousands of feet, with multiple transitions and tough glue conditions. We have had no more of that initial problem. The skin glue now feels very similar to that on the Top Pick Pomoca Climb Pro Mohair. It pulls from itself easily, and stays on your skis really well. Further assisting the glue integrity is the excellent tip/tail attachments and the stiff plastic bit at the front of the Alpinist+. These attributes make a real difference and hold your skins on better than others.
As the Tetons warm up in late winter, we've 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. 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. The Contour Hybrid Mix is definitely more compact. The Best Buy Black Diamond Glidelite Mix is a little heavier than these two.
G3 skins are available in many sizes (length and width) with tip and tail hooks that are way more universal than any others. Cable 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.
These are good all-around skins for those that prioritize traction over glide. If these are G3's skins optimized for "glide", we would really like to try their "universal" and "grip" skins. We bet that these others must grab like tractor tires, but are a real and literal drag while sliding them forward. We have to endorse G3's upgraded glue, but with a major asterisk. Further testing is ongoing and we will make sure to report as we collect more data.
The price of the G3 skins is inline with other top of the line skins. You can get the Best Buy Black Diamond Glidelite Mix, 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 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. Our preferences, overall, will almost always lean towards enhanced glide and compromised grip. We wanted the G3 Alpinist+ Glide to glide better. Also, our initial experience with the glue gives us pause. As we note, our ongoing experiences have only been favorable.
— Jediah Porter