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G3 Splitboard+ Universal Review

Great grip to glide ratio in a user-friendly package
G3 Splitboard+ Universal
Photo: G3
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $189 List | $179.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  All-purpose, good ratio of grip to glide, camming tail clip, easy to align tip clip
Cons:  Awkward folding
Manufacturer:   G3
By Isaac Laredo & David Reichel  ⋅  Jan 21, 2021
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 7
  • Glide - 25% 8
  • Grip - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Attachment System - 15% 9
  • Glue Icing Glop - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The G3 Splitboard+ Universal finds the coveted and fine line of grip and glide, which gives it incredible versatility. The movement efficiency alone is supported by its top of class features, such as the secure tip and tail connectors. However, the connectors are bulky and make the skin awkward to roll. This skin is at home on long traverses and quick missions before work. We recommend this skin to most splitboarders, who are looking for a well-rounded product, no matter if you're learning or a seasoned professional.

Updated Waterproofing
G3 updated the Splitboard+ Universal skin with PFC-free nylon waterproofing.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $179.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$216 List
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$169.95 at Backcountry$199.95 at Amazon$189.00 at Backcountry
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Pros All-purpose, good ratio of grip to glide, camming tail clip, easy to align tip clipSecure and easy attachment system, efficient skinningDurable, good grip to glide ratioGood glide, rolls and folds small, robust adhesiveBeefy skins with great grip, durable, excellent attachment system
Cons Awkward foldingAdequate grip, particular rolling techniqueCan be hard to pull apart, steps required to get them field readyUser effort to get from package to field, small range of size adjustmentsBulky, inefficient, tough to pack
Bottom Line Great grip to glide ratio in a user-friendly packageGreat skins for proficient skinners who know they want an efficient skin for big daysWhether it's your first day or 100th day, these skins are appropriate for all skill levelsStraightforward and streamlined performanceGreat skins for beginner splitboarders who want all the help they can get ascending
Rating Categories G3 Splitboard+ Univ... G3 Splitboard+ Glide Black Diamond Ascen... Black Diamond Glide... G3 Splitboard+ Grip
Glide (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Grip (25%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Attachment System (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Glue Icing Glop (20%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs G3 Splitboard+ Univ... G3 Splitboard+ Glide Black Diamond Ascen... Black Diamond Glide... G3 Splitboard+ Grip
Manufacturer G3 G3 Black Diamond Black Diamond G3
Weight per pair 674 (g) 560 (g) 658 (g) 650 (g) 580 (g)
Weight per skin 337 (g) 280 (g) 329 (g) 325 (g) 290 (g)
Material Nylon plush Nylon plush Nylon 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 Asymmetrical steel Hands Asymmetrical steel hands Snap-fit attachement Coated cable Asymmetrical steel hands
Tail Attachment SPLITBOARD+ SPLITBOARD+ STS STS SPLITBOARD+
Precut Option? Yes No No No No
Bag Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cheat Sheets Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

G3 makes a wide range of skins for skiing and splitboarding. The Splitboard+ Universal updates their previous design with thoughtful improvements. This particular model is appropriate for most splitboarders.

Performance Comparison


The G3 Universal is a 100% nylon plush skin that provides...
The G3 Universal is a 100% nylon plush skin that provides exceptional performance.
Photo: Laredo

Grip


When we are setting a skin track, we are selecting our route based on our security and efficiency. We primarily rely on our technique to provide our security. In certain times, that might not be enough, and we need our skin to provide the additional grip to boost our security, especially when learning. The G3 Universal provides a 100% Nylon plush with medium length hairs to offer plenty of grip.


G3 claims that the Universal is evenly balanced between grip and glide. After several months of use, we agree. With reasonably good skinning technique, we felt confident in the grip provided by these skins; blown out switchbacks at our local go-to areas are great testing grounds for the grip of a skin. Even after a couple of days of cold, clear nights and some near-surface faceting made the switchbacks slippery, the Universal skins gripped well.

Glide


For intermediate and advanced skinners, glide becomes the bread and butter of the skin. Glide can provide the efficiency benefits we need to make it through a long day in the backcountry. The Splitboard+ Universal delivers an impressive balance of grip and glide, making it a great choice as an everyday skin, no matter how far you are skinning.


It offers effortless and silky glide in every stride and condition. Glide is critical for conserving energy during your tour to ride your best on the way down. Mohair skins generally provide the best glide, but this nylon plush provided mohair like glide; our testers were impressed by the versatility offered by its fine-tuned balance of grip and glide.

The medium-length pile gives this skin mohair like glide.
The medium-length pile gives this skin mohair like glide.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Ease of Use


The Universal is a thoughtfully featured skin that creates a positive user experience. From the box to a windy ridge, the Universal is easy to handle and use.


The skins come out of the box with a pre-cut edge that aligns perfectly with the straight edge of your splitboard. Not only does this cut your time in half from box to trailhead, but it allows for one perfect edge, which helps on every transition. The included skin trimming tool was ergonomically designed for easy handling and bracing against the edge of the splitboard. The tool helped us achieve our cleanest cuts on the review fleet.

The G3 trimming tool provides the most horizontal stability, which...
The G3 trimming tool provides the most horizontal stability, which results in the cleanest cut.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

The secure attachment system features a camming tail clip and a bulky yet user-friendly tip clip. However, the system makes this skin a challenge to roll and can increase difficulty when compact folding. We found this to be a trade-off we were willing to make for the ease of use and security brought by the Universal's attachment system.

The plastic tip connector is the limiting reagent on how compact...
The plastic tip connector is the limiting reagent on how compact this skin can fold.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Attachment System


Splitboarders rejoice. The true camming tail clip has arrived. Camming tail clips have been found on ski climbing skins for years but have been slow to make their way onto splitboard skins. Fortunately, those days might soon be over. The tip and tail systems on the Universal are excellent.


The camming tail connector provides an intuitive and secure attachment. During our testing, the tail clip never fell off; the plastic has held up well to our use and abuse without showing much evidence of wear. As the sport has grown, splitboard manufacturers have been exploring and refining different shapes from blunted tails to swallowtails. Certain styles of tail clips are insecure on these unique shapes. The Universal tail clip is living up to its name by bringing security to these shapes. The actual camming action is very secure. G3's camming tail connector is the best solution we have tested so far for traditional and surf styled shapes.

The camming tail clip uses multi-directional tension to enhance...
The camming tail clip uses multi-directional tension to enhance security on the tail.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

When switching between splitboards of different lengths, we recommend adjusting the camming tail connector at home and not in the cold, at the trailhead, while your friends wait. It is a bit cumbersome to adjust the length properly, but this is really not a problem because after you fit it to your splitboard once, you shouldn't have to adjust it again. Additionally, because adjusting the camming tail connector requires specific manipulations of the tail material, it is very secure and unlikely to work its way loose. Once the proper length is selected to achieve the optimum tension on the ski, it holds the skins securely on the splitboard.

We found the metal clips to do an excellent job of holding the skins to the splitboard; they are reasonably easy to attach and are up to the task of keeping the skins in place.

G3's tip clip is very adaptable to different shapes.
G3's tip clip is very adaptable to different shapes.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Keeping snow from building up under your skins can be a preventative way to avoid skin failure. We had hypothesized that G3's plastic nose connector would prevent snow penetration underneath the skin. Our testing showed that the plastic connector did not prevent snow from building up underneath the skin. To be fair, no other style of connector has cracked the code on this either. We did not find the G3 connector to fare any worse than other skin designs, but it still required that we methodically attach the skins and make sure that they were perfectly attached (to avoid snow intrusion).

Glue and Glop


Glue failures and glop are two components that can drastically decrease the efficiency of your day. The Universal Splitboard uses strong but user-friendly glue and the carpets resited glop, so we weren't lugging bricks on our feet.


The Universal skins performed very well in avoiding or minimizing glop. During testing in Argentina, we encountered periods of warm temperatures while cold snow remained; these are ideal conditions for horrendous glop. The Universal skins almost entirely avoided glopping while some of our partners experienced a build-up of several pounds of snow. We have just over a year of significant use of these skins, and they are still performing well at avoiding glop. Big props to G3 for achieving excellent waterproofness on their skins with a PFOA Free treatment.

If skins don't stick to your base, they are worthless, and the glue is the unsung hero of skins. Unless the owner maintains extreme vigilance, the glue magically collects all manner of dog hair, dust, pine needles, and dirt. After a solid two months of use, the Universal skin glue performs as well as it did when it was brand new. We've kept them clean of contaminants but have also used them in South American huts and driven home from the trailhead stuffed awkwardly in wet packs, to be left there overnight when the Apres Asado went late. G3 deserves credit for finding a glue formula that is non-toxic and still functions well.

These skins have similar design features, but have completely...
These skins have similar design features, but have completely experiences based on their carpet type. The G3 Universal pictured on the left is a 100% nylon plush, while the G3 Glide pictured on the right is a 70% mohair and 30% nylon blend.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Value


For a nylon skin, the Universal is priced on the higher end compared to the rest of the skin market. Through extensive testing, the Universal was awarded our top award for its distinctive performance. Performance and durability are the two driving components of inherent value. While a score for durability is not assigned in this review, the skins are well made, and we have high hopes for their longevity. Both of these factors combined make the Universal a solid value for performance seeking splitboarders.

Conclusion


Inherent in the name, the G3 Splitboard+ Universal is perfect for most splitboarders in the majority of conditions and objectives. The skin made notable accomplishments for balancing grip and glide. This model stands out even more when you factor in its streamlined and reliable attachment system. The product is thoughtfully featured and is an easy to use, reliable skin. We recommend the Universal for any splitboarder looking for a well balanced and straightforward skin that is at home anywhere.

Isaac Laredo & David Reichel