Reviews You Can Rely On

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 splitboard skin review
Credit: Black Diamond
Price:  $200 List
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 21, 2021
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 7
  • Glide - 25% 7.0
  • Grip - 25% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6.0
  • Attachment System - 15% 8.0
  • Glue Icing Glop - 20% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Ascension STS is a solid value and long-standing staple in the backcountry ski market. 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 ready for use, 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. While they may have a lot more competition in the market than they once did, the Ascension STS is an excellent skin for all levels and objectives and should be reliable season after season.
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Good grip to glide ratio
REASONS TO AVOID
Can be hard to pull apart
More involved initial setup

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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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 skinningGood glide, rolls and folds small, robust adhesiveBeefy skins with great grip, durable, excellent attachment system
Cons Can be hard to pull apart, more involved initial setupAwkward foldingAdequate grip, particular rolling techniqueInitial setup is a bit more involved, small range of size adjustmentsBulky, inefficient, tough to pack
Bottom Line Whether it's your first day or 100th day, these skins are appropriate for all skill levelsGreat grip-to-glide ratio and solid all-around performance in a user-friendly package makes it a great choice for most peopleGreat skins for proficient skinners who know they want an efficient skin for big daysStraightforward and streamlined performanceGreat skins for beginner splitboarders who want all the help they can get ascending
Rating Categories Black Diamond Ascen... G3 Splitboard+ Univ... G3 Splitboard+ Glide Black Diamond Glide... G3 Splitboard+ Grip
Glide (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Grip (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Ease of Use (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Attachment System (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Glue Icing Glop (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Black Diamond Ascen... G3 Splitboard+ Univ... G3 Splitboard+ Glide Black Diamond Glide... G3 Splitboard+ Grip
Manufacturer Black Diamond G3 G3 Black Diamond G3
Weight per pair 658 (g) 674 (g) 560 (g) 650 (g) 580 (g)
Weight per skin 329 (g) 337 (g) 280 (g) 325 (g) 290 (g)
Material Nylon Nylon plush Nylon plush 65% mohair and 35% nylon Nylon plush
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 Coated cable Asymmetrical steel hands
Tail Attachment STS SPLITBOARD+ SPLITBOARD+ STS SPLITBOARD+
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.


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.

Performance Comparison



black diamond ascension splitboard sts splitboard skin review - testing the bd glidelite with the ascension to sort out the...
Testing the BD GlideLite with the Ascension to sort out the difference.
Credit: 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.

black diamond ascension splitboard sts splitboard skin review - the ascension is a nylon-based skin that provides plenty of glide.
The Ascension is a nylon-based skin that provides plenty of glide.
Credit: 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 compared to other models.

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.

black diamond ascension splitboard sts splitboard skin review - 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.
Credit: 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.

black diamond ascension splitboard sts splitboard skin review - 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.
Credit: Isaac Laredo

Ease of Use


The Ascension STS is easy to handle and pack around. However, it will take a few time-consuming steps between taking the skins out of the box to being ready for use. 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 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 horizontal stability, which makes the user more prone to 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 Phillips head screwdriver, a board, pliers, a ruler, and a marker. The process is pretty simple, but there are additional steps and more than a few ways for something to go wrong compared to models that come with the tip clips pre-installed. 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.

black diamond ascension splitboard sts splitboard skin review - the ascension rolls into a compact package. one skin is pictured here.
The Ascension rolls into a compact package. One skin is pictured here.
Credit: 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's glue for years, and the Ascension 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 the skins off your board and apart from themselves. 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. Like all skins, however, they will eventually need to be treated with a skin wax to help maintain their glop-free performance.

Value


The Ascension STS is just slightly under the market average for skins. These skins are a solid value for everyone from beginners to backcountry professionals given their good all-around performance and proven longevity.

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, packability, and durability. 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
 
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