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Kohla Freeride Review

These are good skins for occasional use and extensive transport
kohla freeride climbing skin review
Credit: Kohla
Price:  $215 List
Manufacturer:   Kohla
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 2, 2022
56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Glide - 30% 1.0
  • Portability - 20% 9.0
  • Glue Integrity - 20% 7.0
  • Grip - 15% 8.0
  • Icing/Glopping Resistance - 10% 5.0
  • Compatibility - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Kohla Freeride brings mostly excellent construction and design attributes. The only real drawback, and it is indeed real, is the poor glide. Sliding these skins forward with each step requires more energy than with others. You will definitely perceive this, whether immediately or eventually, as compared to most other competitors. For some users, though, this will be acceptable, as the super compact form factor is quite desirable in an otherwise tightly packed bag.
REASONS TO BUY
Light and compact
Rubbery tail strap
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor glide
Editors note: This Kohla Freeride review was written after testing through the full 2021-2022 ski season.

Compare to Similar Products

 
kohla freeride climbing skin review
This Product
Kohla Freeride
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $215 List
$139.72 at Backcountry
$210 List
$209.95 at REI
$210 List
$229.95 at Amazon
$189.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$107.93 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light and compact, rubbery tail strapLight, fast gliding, enough grip, optimized glue, universal tip and tailLight, fast, compactAll around performance, huge size range availableWell-balanced in all attributes, great glue
Cons Poor glideMohair blend will wear out faster than all nylon, harder to find than other brandsCompromised grip, compromised durabilityCompromised glide when new, limited availability at times and placesExpensive, require ongoing periodic maintenance
Bottom Line These are good skins for occasional use and extensive transportThe best climbing skins on the market, they strike all the right balancesFast gliding skins for cold snow and accomplished skinners, the super compact, light form makes your huge skis more manageableBudget friendly high performance skins for every backcountry skierThese walk a tightrope, yielding a product that is fully balanced right at the performance point that our experience suggests is ideal
Rating Categories Kohla Freeride Pomoca Climb Pro S... Pomoca Free Pro 2.0 Pomoca Climb 2.0 Contour Hybrid Mix
Glide (30%)
1
8.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Portability (20%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Glue Integrity (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Grip (15%)
8.0
7.0
4.0
8.0
5.0
Icing/Glopping Resistance (10%)
5.0
8.0
4.0
7.0
6.0
Compatibility (5%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Kohla Freeride Pomoca Climb Pro S... Pomoca Free Pro 2.0 Pomoca Climb 2.0 Contour Hybrid Mix
Measured Weight 1.07 lbs 1.23 lbs 1.09 lbs 0.99 lbs 1.21 lbs
Material Mohair and Nylon mix 70% Mohair and 30% Nylon 100% Mohair 70% mohair 30% Nylon 70% Mohair, 30% Synthetic
Weight Per Pair 485g for BD helio 115 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) 4.2 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 Vinyl strap and cam hook Rubber strap and cam hook Rubber strap and cam hook rubber strap and cam hook Vinyl strap and cam hook
Ski Compatibility Universal Universal Universal Universal Universal
Precut Option? 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 Order for length and approximate width, cut to lateral shape

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kohla Freeride skins are light and compact, but the efficiency ends there. The branding suggests they'd be sturdy and forgiving. In other sectors of the backcountry ski market, "freeride" implies heavier, more durable, more downhill-experience-oriented gear. Or gear optimized more for mechanized access backcountry skiing. Skins are a funny thing to brand with the "freeride" moniker. Skis, boots, bindings, even clothing and backpacks are at least somewhat related to your downhill experience. Skins have nothing to do with your downhill experience; you only use them on the uphill. If anything, we might assume that "freeride" skins are easy to use and relatively forgiving for beginner or occasional users. The thin, flexible backing isn't really that user-friendly for beginners, and the high drag coefficient is especially undesirable to more experienced users. The ultra-compact, light form factor, might make them appealing to "sidecountry" users that want to tuck them in the bottom of a backpack for only very occasional use.

Performance Comparison


kohla freeride climbing skin review - kohla freeride skins, ready to deploy in your chosen ski pursuit.
Kohla Freeride skins, ready to deploy in your chosen ski pursuit.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Glide


It only took a step or two for every tester on our team to ascertain that the Kohla Freeride skins glide poorly. In fact, other than some long-discontinued "high traction" skins from a different company, we cannot recall a set of skins that glided so poorly. With so many other options on the market, the low glide of the Kohla Freeride is virtually unjustifiable.

kohla freeride climbing skin review - for long, low angle skinning, like on giant alaskan glaciers like...
For long, low angle skinning, like on giant Alaskan glaciers like this one, the drag of the Kohla Freeride will be unbearable to anyone that knows the difference.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Portability


You want your skins to disappear, unnoticed, into your backpack for the downhill leg. The Kohla Freeride is among the lightest and most compact skins we have ever tested. Given that we test skins on a variety of skis, and therefore have tester skins cut to different dimensions, it is very difficult to objectively compare weight and bulk. That said, we are very confident that the Freeride skins are very compact and light. As compared to skins cut similarly, the Freeride is smaller than most of what is currently on the market.

kohla freeride climbing skin review - skins for big skis (115mm underfoot, in this case) beneath 500 grams...
Skins for big skis (115mm underfoot, in this case) beneath 500 grams is a great benchmark. The Kohla Freeride is light and compact.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Glue Integrity


Kohla's glue on the Freeride skins is excellent. It holds when it needs to and lets go with an appropriate amount of effort. In weeks of testing, we found no failures. True durability testing requires months of testing, and we will continue to slog and evaluate. With other skins, as the glue loses its integrity, stiffer fabric backing helps to keep the skins stuck on. Softer fabric rolls from the ski more readily, allowing snow to contaminate and deactivate the glue. We did not have this happen with the Kohla Freeride, but the backing is indeed very soft and minimal.

Grip


As might be expected, given the low glide performance, the Kohla Freeride skins grip pretty well. It is not exceptional, but it is significantly better than average. Grip is one of the weirder evaluation criteria for climbing skins. Given that all we really need skins to do is grip, more should always be better. If grip performance could be optimized in isolation, that would be the case. However, since increasing grip inherently reduces glide, there becomes a sweet spot for grip. That sweet spot for grip, in conjunction with bipedal biomechanics, requires less traction than you might first think. Your skins don't need to grip on super steep slopes; as terrain gets steeper, your stride loses efficiency well before average to low-grip skins will fail. All that said, the Kohla skins do indeed grip better than most. If you understand all the variables and still prefer maximum grip, you can do well with these Freeride skins.

kohla freeride climbing skin review - that purple plush offers good traction but just too much friction...
That purple plush offers good traction but just too much friction for much meaningful skinning.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Icing/Glopping Resistance


The long, grippy nap of the Kohla Freeride collects a tiny bit more ice and snow than others. Collecting huge clumps of snow on your skins is exhausting and annoying. There are technique adjustments you can make (pacing, micro route finding, waxing) to minimize glopping, but sometimes it just happens. When that is the case, the Kohla Freeride might be slightly more likely than certain better-waterproofed products.

kohla freeride climbing skin review - in steeper skinning, the high traction of the kohla freeride might...
In steeper skinning, the high traction of the Kohla Freeride might be appreciated.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Compatibility


The Kohla Freeride is as close to universally compatible as most. You buy them for length and then trim to width. The rigid tip loop is pretty forgiving of a variety of tip shapes, and the rubbery tail strap is our preferred general type.

kohla freeride climbing skin review - kohla's tail clip is reliable, versatile, and functional.
Kohla's tail clip is reliable, versatile, and functional.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Should you buy the Kohla Freeride?


If you want very light and compact skins for only the most occasional use (think heli ski guides or sidecountry skiers that carry skins only for the weirdest of situations), the other quirks of the Kohla Freeride are likely worth overlooking. For normal backcountry skiing, the glide is just too poor to widely recommend.

What Other Climbing Skins Should You Consider?


If you like the light and compact nature of the Kohla Freeride but want better glide, check out the Pomoca Free Pro 2.0. If you like the high traction aspect of the Kohla Freeride but want better glide, the G3 Alpinist+ Glide or Pomoca Climb 2.0 will hook you up.

Jediah Porter
 
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