The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS Review

Whether it's your first day or 100th day, these skins are appropriate for all skill levels
Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS
Photo: Black Diamond
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $170 List | $169.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, good grip to glide ratio
Cons:  Can be hard to pull apart, steps required to get them field ready
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 21, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 7
  • Glide - 25% 7
  • Grip - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Attachment System - 15% 8
  • Glue Icing Glop - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Ascension STS is an exceptional value, and is a staple in the ski industry. Now, splitboarders can enjoy the same luxury. It strikes an incredible grip to glide ratio, which makes it appeal to various skill levels. Its 100% nylon carpet comes with inherent durability and grip benefits. Its limitations are the number of steps required to get these field ready, and they are more challenging to pull apart when folded glue to glue. These minor limitations are far outweighed by the overall performance of the skin. The Ascension STS is an excellent skin for all levels and objectives, and should be reliable season after season.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $169.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$189 List$205 List$259.95 at REI$189.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
75
81
80
77
75
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Durable, good grip to glide ratioAll-purpose, good ratio of grip to glide, camming tail clip, easy to align tip clipSecure and easy attachment system, efficient skinningLightweight, efficient, packable, good climbing abilityGood glide, rolls and folds small, robust adhesive
Cons Can be hard to pull apart, steps required to get them field readyAwkward foldingAdequate grip, particular rolling techniqueExpensive, difficult tail clip installationUser effort to get from package to field, small range of size adjustments
Bottom Line This well-rounded skin is suitable for all skill levelsA great choice for nearly all splitboardersA solid choice for experienced splitters who don't want to sacrifice glide for grip they don't needA solid skin the is best suited for Jones boardsNo frills option for everyday backcountry use
Rating Categories Ascension Splitboard STS G3 Splitboard+ Universal G3 Splitboard+ Glide Jones Nomad PRO GlideLite Splitboard Mix STS
Glide (25%)
7
8
9
8
8
Grip (25%)
8
8
7
8
7
Ease Of Use (15%)
6
9
8
7
7
Attachment System (15%)
8
9
9
8
7
Glue Icing Glop (20%)
8
7
7
7
8
Specs Ascension... G3 Splitboard+... G3 Splitboard+ Glide Jones Nomad PRO GlideLite...
Manufacturer Black Diamond G3 G3 Jones Snowboard (Pomoco) Black Diamond
Weight per pair 658 (g) 674 (g) 560 (g) 460 (g) 650 (g)
Weight per skin 329 (g) 337 (g) 280 (g) 230 (g) 325 (g)
Material Nylon Nylon plush Nylon plush 70% Mohair, 30% Nylon 65% mohair and 35% nylon
Glue Non-toxic adhesive Non-toxic adhesive Non-toxic adhesive Non-toxic adhesive Non-toxic adhesive
Tip Attachment Snap-fit attachement Asymmetrical steel Hands Asymmetrical steel hands Universal clips Coated cable
Tail Attachment STS SPLITBOARD+ SPLITBOARD+ Hooked attachement STS
Precut Option? No Yes No No No
Bag Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cheat Sheets Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Product Updates


Since our test period, Black Diamond revised these skins with some new tip and tail clips. The updated design is meant to provide more stretch and adjustability for different sizes and shapes of boards. Compare the two versions below; the STS model we originally tested is pictured first, followed by the updated Ascension.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Hands-On Review of the Ascension Splitboard STS


The Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS is a great value. It's no wonder why this skin is popular amongst guides and avalanche professionals, thanks to its durability and grip to glide ratio.

Testing the BD GlideLite with the Ascension to sort out the...
Testing the BD GlideLite with the Ascension to sort out the difference.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Glide


The Ascension Splitboard skin might be 100% nylon, yet they glide as if they were a mohair blend. They have one of the best ratios of grip to glide in the category.


The all nylon plush provides a smooth and low friction glide that was very comparable to other mohair blended skins on the market. During our side by side testing with mohair blended skins, we observed minimal differences in terms of glide. The levels of glide provided by this skin make it an appropriate option for advanced skinners looking for a model that supports ambitious objectives, and that can last for a few seasons.

The Ascension is a nylon-based skin that provides plenty of glide.
The Ascension is a nylon-based skin that provides plenty of glide.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Grip


The 100% nylon plush of the Ascension STS works to provide a grippy skinning experience. The grip can always be supplemented by the stellar technique when available. When we are learning, we don't have this margin to fall back on. A grippy skin helps lower the learning curve by providing additional security. The security provided by this model provides plenty of security for skinning.


The nylon plush of the Ascension STS makes this skin plenty grippy; it offers more than enough traction for an individual to learn and develop their technique; this makes it a great first skin. When the going gets tough, or the track is slippy, the Ascension can comfortably get the job done.

Attachment System


The attachment system of a skin to the board has a direct correlation with your quality of experience and safety margin. A good attachment system needs to be reliable, secure, and easy to use, and should fit a variety of shapes.



The Ascension STS utilizes the STS attachment system. The STS system is a tried and true system that has been present on their ski skins for numerous years. Overall, it is efficient, secure on most shapes, and reliable. However, it lacks adjustability in terms of length to fit different board models.

The STS system provides plenty of security but not as much as a...
The STS system provides plenty of security but not as much as a camming tail clip.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

The attachment system is pretty efficient to attach. The camming tail and side clips snap into place easily when fitted appropriately. The tail clips are easy to handle with gloves on. The side clips are also easy to use with gloves on, but their smaller sizes pose a slight challenge with mittens.

The attachment system is quite reliable. All the materials are strong and resistant to breaking. In the very unlikely event that something were to break, Black Diamond offers replacement parts so you can extend the life of your skins.

The tip clip requires you to screw the three breakaway through the...
The tip clip requires you to screw the three breakaway through the carpet at tip attachment.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Ease of Use


The Ascension STS is easy to handle and pack around. However, it will take a few time-consuming steps, from taking the skins out of the box to being field ready. The skins need to be trimmed to fit the length and width of your splitboard. Additionally, you need to install the tip clip and taper the tip of the skin.


Let's start with the beginning of the process; the tool provided to trim to the skin. Black Diamond provides a tool that fits the standard for the industry. The smooth-sided rectangular skin trimmer works best in a defined working space. The design is functional, but we find it lacks the horizontal stability, which makes the user more prone in-cutting the skin.

After the skin has been cut, it is time to install the tip clip. This process requires a few different tools such as a #2 Phillip, a board, pliers, a ruler, and a marker. The process is pretty simple, but there are just additional steps and more than a few ways for something to go wrong. After the tip clips have been installed, it's time to hit the track.

The Ascension STS packed up to be surprisingly small for an all-nylon skin. This is in part due to the simple attachment system. The carpet isn't the thinnest in the review, nor is it the lightest. Its hand-feel was pretty standard for nylon skins and was somewhat stiff. In the end, it still offered an impressive package size.

The Ascension rolls into a compact package. One skin is pictured here.
The Ascension rolls into a compact package. One skin is pictured here.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Glue and Glop


The glue of your skin is your lifeline and a primary form of safety when out in the backcountry. The glue needs to be secure on the board and relatively easy to pull apart when the skin is folded, glue to glue. People have been trusting Black Diamond Glue for years. It has a robust coating of adhesive that provides plenty of security.


When the skins are folded, glue to glue, it takes a medium amount of effort to undo, especially on colder days. The skin has a tip to tail rip strip to help with taking skins off and apart. The rip strip also can be taken off to expose fresh glue if you are having issues with glue integrity or moisture.

Early season in Lake Tahoe can be prime glopping conditions. The sun often prevails and creates an environment where cold snow exists near wet snow. Even when intentionally trying to glop, we had no glopping issue thanks to the sturdy waterproofing on this skin.

Value


The Ascension STS is just slightly under the market average for skins. These skins are a solid value for beginners to backcountry professionals.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Ascension STS Splitboard Skin provides an incredible grip to glide ratio. We were very impressed by the balance these skins provided. These are one of the most popular skins on the ski market, which is well justified based on their on-track performance and packability. The Ascension STS is an excellent choice whether you're a beginner or avalanche forecaster, looking for a well-balanced skin that can last season after season.

Isaac Laredo