Pomoca Climb Pro S Glide Review
Cons: Mohair blend will wear out faster than all nylon, harder to find than other brands
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Pomoca's Climb Pro S-Glide skins are the best we know of. We aren't alone in really liking them; the web is full of enthusiastic supporters. Our women's backcountry ski lead tester chose this model to equip her tester skis with. Every attribute of climbing skin performance is balanced by an essentially competing attribute in the same product. Optimize for one thing, and another suffers, to at least some degree. With these skins, for all-around, human-powered backcountry skiing, Pomoca nails the balance in every way. They aren't the best in any one category, but they beat the competition overall.
With skins, glide isn't just what you do on short downhills. Ergonomically efficient skin technique slides the ski forward with every step. High friction in this direction sucks energy, in a big way. Yes, the whole point of skins is to grip against backwards sliding. But the real efficiency difference between models is in their forward glide. Full mohair skimo race skins glide the best but might last just a couple races. Full mohair "all-around" skins don't glide quite as well but are at least a little more robust. Blended skins combine mohair and nylon to increase durability, grip, and water resistance.
The Pomoca Climb Pro S Glide is a blended skin, with all the advantages of that construction, but they glide as well as, or better than, the 100% mohair "all around" skins from other manufacturers.
We had one weird negative observation of the glide characteristics of the Climb Pro S Glide tester skins. Multiple testers noted that our test pair "pulled to the left". Whether striding forward or gliding down a small hill, the nap of the fabric pulled the ski and skier to the left. Visual inspection revealed that the fibers are angled out of parallel with the long axis of the skin. We have never noticed this in any other skin we've tested, but some of the test team reports it in other products they've used.
If the longitudinal cut of the skin fabric, at manufacture, doesn't perfectly parallel the fabric's "grain", you will get this sort of behavior. No online reviews indicate this, and testers with experience with other pairs of this same skin report nothing like it. We are guessing this is a minor and rare quality control issue. Every tester that used these skins noted that the initial observation was interesting but that long term use didn't suffer. We all kind of "got used to it".
Grip is why you need skins. You need them in order to turn your slippery ski bases into traction machines. It is logical but downright wrong, to conclude that if gripping is the whole point of skins, you might as well maximize it. You don't need maximum grip. You need enough grip. The Pomoca Climb Pro S Glide skins have just enough traction.
Yes, other skins have more traction. Yes, in some circumstances, you might find that the Pomoca doesn't have enough grip. Those circumstances, though, usually involve poor technique or a track that is steeper than your body mechanics are optimized for. For your muscles and skeleton, there is an optimal skin track angle, and it isn't "as steep as my skins will grip". On that optimal skin track angle, the Climb Pro S Glide grabs any conditions you could encounter.
Pomoca's glue is legendary. These skins are new to our review, but the Pomoca adhesive formulation is not. We've liked this glue formulation for a long time. Like every other characteristic of climbing skins, the glue requires a balance. When in use, you want maximum stick. During transitions, you want minimal stick. You can't max out them both; you have to pick some sort of middle ground.
How skins stick to your skis is informed by the glue itself and by the rigidity and shape of the material at the tip of your ski. If it can roll, and/or is shaped to catch snow, that snow can "creep" between ski and skin Rigid skins better resist snow creep, but are bulkier in your pack (see what we mean? Every single criterion is a compromise…) As is the theme, the Pomoca fabric is the right stiffness. Snow creep isn't impossible, but it is minimal.
The glue lets go from itself and from your ski base with the right amounts of force. You can readily rip these from your ski with the ski still on your foot, and you can pull them glue from glue without the deltoids of an NBA player.
When you skin through warm, moistened snow, your skins risk getting wet. When wet skins encounter cold, fine-grained, usually fresh snow, you form a vicious amalgam of snow, ice, water, and fabric. That mess can accumulate even more snow and ice, negating any and all gear weight savings and all glide characteristics of your skins. Iced up skins are unusable.
Icing like this is managed by technique (slide them skis forward!), terrain, and timing (avoid sun to shade transitions when that sun is "softening" the snow surface. Especially after a fresh coat of snow), and some gear characteristics. Skins can be treated with a water-resistant coating. The Pomoca has this, but it wears off in all cases. Skin plush material matters a little bit. Nylon absorbs less water than mohair; this is one of a few reasons why blended skins include nylon. Finally, you will almost certainly need to wax your skins at some point in a career or season.
There is less variation between skins and icing characteristics than any of the other attributes we test for. The best aren't that much better than the worst. That being said, the Pomoca is among the best. Especially when new, we had few to no problems with the Climb Pro S Glide. When the coating wears off, you need to wax a little more diligently.
Packability and Weight
Packability and weight is a function of the thickness and stiffness of the material and of the nature and bulk of the tip and tail fastening methods. The tip and tail kit of the Pomoca is pretty low profile. Similarly, the fabric is rigid enough to resist peeling, but flexible enough to fold back on itself with minimal bulk. Quad-folded Climb Pro S Glide skins will fit inside your jacket without dramatically harming your photographed profile.
We test skins on a variety of skis. Each model of skins we test is cut for a certain ski shape and size. We can use each of our skins on a few tester skis, but not all the skins are exactly the same size. This makes direct weight and bulk comparisons difficult. This is a limitation we have come to accept, but must acknowledge that it affects our reviews. We can say on good authority that the Pomoca Climb Pro S Glide, in a given size and profile, is not the most compact or light but is in the top echelon.
Compatibility is mainly a function of how the skin model is sold and its tip and tail attachment. Some skins are sold only for use with specific ski models. The Climb Pro S Glide is not this sort of product. We call them "universal". You buy for approximate width and length and then cut for longitudinal shape. Pomoca offers a range of sizes, in this model, that covers every conceivable mass-marketed backcountry ski size and shape.
Other compatibility concerns include tip and tail kit. The rigid tip loop of the Pomoca is pretty good, holding on even the broadest and roundest tips. The tail kit is excellent. A stretchy, notched rubber strap holds a simple, plastic cam lock hook. The hook stays in place between uses so you don't need to reposition it at every application. The hook also seems to grab on all but the most rounded and up-turned ski tails. On such "twin tips" the hook will slide to a side and disengage. Thankfully such ski tail profiles are waning in popularity, especially on backcountry ski models.
These European skins aren't inexpensive. As you might expect from a top performing product, you will pay a premium.
It was easy to grant these our Editors' Choice award. Despite the quirky and isolated offset glide characteristics, we love these skins. The best endorsement we can give them is that our discerning and dialed women's backcountry ski gear tester chose this exact model to equip her tester skis.
— Jediah Porter