Pomoca Race Back Fix Review
Cons: Compromised grip, compromised durability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The bright pink Pomoca Race Back Fix is a fast friend on big, cold ski days. The full mohair plush is low friction, high glide, with just the right amount of grip. The thin backing is light, but stiff enough to keep from rolling or tangling. The glue is Pomoca's proven, proprietary recipe. The full mohair plush will wear out faster than most and doesn't grip as well as some. Budget-conscious skinners and those newer to skinning will want to steer clear.
Like the name implies, the Pomoca Race Back skin is made of skimo race formula plush. Skimo racers seek maximum glide for maximum efficiency. Per square inch these are among the fastest gliding skins we can remember using. Only discontinued all-plastic "fish scale" style skins are faster, and those never gripped as well as these do.
Gliding skin performance isn't just for flats and racer types. Every step forward you make against resistance from your skins. Reduce that resistance and every step gets easier. Make every step easier and you can do more of them. More steps equals more skiing. You win. The enhanced glide of these full mohair skins is most noticeable on dry winter snow (as opposed to melt-freeze snow). They'll glide better than others on MF snow too, but not by as much.
Grip is the opposite of glide. For the most part, we see symmetrical performance. Something that glides well doesn't grip as well. That is true for these Pomoca Race Back Fix. They don't grip very well, comparably. The good news is that you don't need as much grip as you might think. Balanced technique and proper posture enhances your efficiency and your grip. It is a win-win. Faster skins reduce energy expenditure when you stride forward, and they train and reward good biomechanics for grip.
Under skilled skinners, this Pomoca grips as well as it needs to. They grip steeper than your biomechanics are tuned for. Sure, with other skins you can go straight up 30+ degree slopes. However, extensive experience and studies have shown that 30+ degree skin tracks are more strenuous, all else equal, than those closer to 20 degrees. At that gentler angle of attack, the Pomoca Race Back Fix grips just fine. Don't get caught up in "greater grip" being all-around greater. Of course, there will be times you slip out. Those times are also exhausting. Address those moments with planning, care, attention, and balance, not with grippier (and therefore heavier with lesser glide) skins.
We love Pomoca's glue formulation more and more. We've heard that they equip different skins (and even skins sent to different parts of the world) with different glue formulations. To be honest, we have not noticed any difference in the glue formulations on an ever-widening array of Pomoca products we have used. The glue on the Race Back Fix has served us just right.
It holds on like it should and lets go with minimal hassle. As we have mentioned elsewhere, glue and backing need to work together. The glue can only do so much. If it is too sticky it gets unwieldy when not on your skis. The primary failure mode is the skin fabric rolling back from the tip of your ski. Stiffer skin fabric helps slow this roll. The Pomoca Race Back Fix is ultralight, but stiff enough to fight the roll. Other ultralight skins have been made of much softer fabric, with corresponding glue failure issues. Given our long-term experience with other Pomoca skins, we fully expect the Race Back Fix glue to hold up over multiple seasons.
Here we assess the fabric/plush side and its propensity to collecting snow and ice in certain conditions. In the right conditions everything will collect snow and ice. If a sheet of glass (picture your car windshield) can ice up, your skins can definitely ice up. Whether it is your windshield or your skins, the enemy is surfaces going back and forth across the freezing point of water. Warm up your skins (with sun or liquid water, even if that liquid water is minuscule and mixed in with snow crystals) and then expose them to cold (sub-freezing) snow and you get icing. No skin material is exempt from this.
Of course, some ice more than others. The key to prevention is two-fold. First, use technique that, especially in those melt-freeze conditions, continuously scrubs accumulations of freezing snow/water matrix from your skins. The good news is that this technique -sliding your skis forward- is the same as the technique that is best for your biomechanics. Next, your skin material can help by minimizing the absorption or retention of liquid water. Water-resistant coatings, whether applied at the factory or in the field ("skin wax") do this to all skin materials. Finally, synthetic skin fibers absorb less liquid water than natural mohair fibers. The full mohair construction of the Pomoca Race Back Fix will indeed absorb and retain more liquid water than nylon or mohair-nylon blends. In terms of what little role the material has in icing, this Pomoca is not great. However, we have found that technique and waxing are more important and makes a bigger difference than any differences in material.
Packability and Weight
The Pomoca Race Back Fix is lighter and more compact (for a given ski geometry) than almost any other traditionally constructed skin we have tested. It is hard to directly compare skin weight and bulk when we test with so many different skis. However, we have enough overlap to be able to make rough comparisons.
The tester pair of Pomoca Race Back skins we have weigh 496 grams. They are cut for 103mm underfoot skis that are 180 cm long. Other traditional skins we have that are cut for skis in this dimension range are at least 50 grams heavier. The only skins that are appreciably lighter are those made with silicone "glue" instead of more common hot-melt glue.
You can buy the Pomoca Race Back Fix in a configuration that will work for all but the most giant backcountry skis. Any skis up to about 120mm underfoot are compatible with the universal design of the Pomoca Race Back Fix.
The "three dimensional" tip loop is especially forgiving of various tip shapes. Only "hook" type tip fixations are more versatile than this sort of rigid tip wire. The Pomoca tail hook suffers a little bit on very rounded tails, tails with deep and narrow "skin notches", and very thick tails. We haven't found any skis that the tail hook won't work on, but we have used a number of skis on which the hook is a little sloppy.
These are expensive, high-performance skins. Further, the full mohair construction will wear out faster than most. You don't choose these as a value. You choose these for maximum performance and efficiency.
The Pomoca Race Back Fix is a fast, light, high-performance tool. They reward care, cold snow, and good skinning posture and track setting. Get sloppy with any of these things and you might just hate them. Use them appropriately and you'll save valuable minutes and calories for more amazing turns.
— Jediah Porter