Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS Review
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Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS
|Price||$189.95 at Amazon|
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|$140.21 at Backcountry|
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|$220 List||$148.46 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Durable, good grip to glide ratio||All-purpose, good ratio of grip to glide, camming tail clip, easy to align tip clip||Secure and easy attachment system, efficient skinning||Good glide, rolls and folds small, robust adhesive||Beefy skins with great grip, durable, excellent attachment system|
|Cons||Can be hard to pull apart, more involved initial setup||Awkward folding||Adequate grip, particular rolling technique||Initial setup is a bit more involved, small range of size adjustments||Bulky, inefficient, tough to pack|
|Bottom Line||Whether it's your first day or 100th day, these skins are appropriate for all skill levels||Great grip-to-glide ratio and solid all-around performance in a user-friendly package makes it a great choice for most people||Great skins for proficient skinners who know they want an efficient skin for big days||Straightforward and streamlined performance||Great 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|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Attachment System (15%)|
|Glue Icing Glop (20%)|
|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|
|Cheat Sheets Included?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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