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G3 Alpinist+ Glide Review

These are G3’s second-best skins, in terms of glide.
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Price:  $194 List | $128.76 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Excellent tail/tip attachment, excellent skin trim set up tool, good grip
Cons:  Possible glue issues, limited glide
Manufacturer:   G3
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 11, 2020
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50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Glide - 30% 3
  • Grip - 15% 7
  • Glue Integrity - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 4
  • Icing Resistance - 10% 4
  • Compatibility - 5% 9

Our Verdict

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. 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 mainly 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.


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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.

Performance Comparison


G3's tip and tail kit is the best in the business. It is secure  versatile  simple  and easy to use.
G3's tip and tail kit is the best in the business. It is secure, versatile, simple, and easy to use.

Glide


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.

Grip


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.

Glue Integrity


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's latest glue formulation might have some familiar problems  but being oversticky isn't one of them. They pull from one another with the tension we expect and no more.
G3's latest glue formulation might have some familiar problems, but being oversticky isn't one of them. They pull from one another with the tension we expect and no more.

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.

This is a photo of the skin glue left behind on our skis at the top of climb number one in the G3 Alpinist+ skins. It ruined many of that day's turns  but we didn't give up. Subsequent testing has revealed no more such issue.
This is a photo of the skin glue left behind on our skis at the top of climb number one in the G3 Alpinist+ skins. It ruined many of that day's turns, but we didn't give up. Subsequent testing has revealed no more such issue.

Icing/Glopping Resistance


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.

The very long tail strap of the G3 skins allows you to fit them short for better glide and lighter packability  with few other compromises.
The very long tail strap of the G3 skins allows you to fit them short for better glide and lighter packability, with few other compromises.

Compatibility


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.

G3 attributes all kinds of benefits to the white plastic triangle at the tip of the skins. The most notable is that snow is way less likely to force itself between skin glue and ski base. This is a very good thing.
G3 attributes all kinds of benefits to the white plastic triangle at the tip of the skins. The most notable is that snow is way less likely to force itself between skin glue and ski base. This is a very good thing.

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.

All climbing skins should be treated well. They are moody and mysterious. The G3 is no exception. Keeping them dry will help keep them working well.
All climbing skins should be treated well. They are moody and mysterious. The G3 is no exception. Keeping them dry will help keep them working well.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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