Black Diamond GlideLite Splitboard Mix STS Review
Cons: Have to install tip clip, have to trim tip for added glide, small range of size adjustments
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Glidelite Split STS leverages Black Diamond's skin expertise to offer a skin for splitboarders. Splitboarders have been engineering Black Diamond ski skins to fit their boards for years. Black Diamond has a large retail network which allows tip and tail clips replacements to be widely available. In certain instances, you can find this skin offered in rolls at a lower cost per foot. This is a unique offering and is an infrequent distribution model on the industry.
Glide is the root word in the name of the Glidelite; it's also at the forefront of its design. This skin is 65% Mohair and 35% nylon, which creates a skin with a glide centric focus. Glide becomes an essential part of splitboarding, as we spend most of our time climbing. Effortless glide while climbing reduces the amount of energy you expend to conserve stamina for descending. This skin glides well enough to be able to capitalize on these efficiency benefits.
Gorilla glue-like grip is not an attribute that any mohair-nylon mix skin exhibits. Instead, this model provides plenty of grip and traction. Especially if the user sticks to appropriate lower angle skin tracks and understands the principles of good technique. The Glidelite grips icy and wet skin tracks to inspire user confidence.
Ease of Use
The Glidelite is a very user-friendly skin that lacks frills, but it does the job. However, there are a few steps to complete before you can satisfy your hunger for powder. Out of the box, the skins need to be trimmed to length, width, and nose taper. The tip clip also requires installation. The skin trimming tool provided was not our favorite but does the job. It has a sharp blade but lacked horizontal stability or strong bracing ability, which can result in a wavy cut.
After you trim the length of the skin to maximize glide, Black Diamond recommends tapering the tip; this requires set off measurements to ensure your angle and width are correct. Next, the tip clip needs to be installed, which requires a marker, a ruler, #2 screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and something to screw into. The actual installation process is pretty straightforward. It is more to do, which brings a larger potential for error in the pre-installed offerings. After you have completed these steps, you can hit the skin track.
The skin is very packable. The Glidelite rolls to be about the width of a Nalgene bottle or folds into a nice smooth package. This can be attributed to the thin carpet and simple, non-bulky attachment system.
When it comes to ripping skins, they were relatively easy to rip apart, even on some colder mornings. The same goes for taking the skins off of the base. Aside from the installation and trimming process, the Glidelite STS is a user-friendly option that will get the job done.
Black Diamond takes pride in their STS attachment system, which has been standardized across the majority of its ski and snowboard lines. As discussed above, the tip does require attachment. The tip clip is a coated wire that is anchored to the tip of the skin; the wire slides over the tip, which is a tried and true design that fits a variety of shapes. The STS System is quick to adjust and attach to the tail of the ski.
The STS system only offers adjustments to board sizes that fall within a 5 cm range once the skin has been trimmed to length. This should not be a major issue for most individuals but worth noting. The tail clip has two components which are angled to work in unison and add security. However, we noticed that the angle of the inline tail clip did not rest consistently on a variety of shapes, particularly more blunted tails. The attachment system works well but required our testers to reattach the tail clip. A large plus to the STS system is kits and clips are substantially more available than other options, making replacement of any part easier.
Glue and Glop
Black Diamond provides the only consumer skin glue available for purchase; the Black Diamond Gold Label adhesive. The adhesive was reliable on our bases throughout a day of touring and easy to pull apart or off when the time came. We observed no glopping or plush saturation when testing this skin in wet and dry snow conditions.
The Glidelite falls in the average price range category for mohair mix skins. For those looking for skins in the glide performance category, we feel its performance justifies its price tag. These skins seem well made, and the incorporation of nylon should allow them to last for a few seasons of heavy use, thus adding to their value.
The Black Diamond Glidelite is an all-around solid performer. In our testing, it never upstaged other models but also never fell short; just a reliable skin built for any day in the backcountry. The Glidelite is good for most intermediate to advanced splitboarders looking for a day in day out mohair mix skin that is light and packable.
— Isaac Laredo