The G3 Splitboard+ Universal pairs G3's impressive tip and tail connectors with a plush that balances grip and glide. This is a great choice for nearly every splitboarder out there and is an Editors' Choice winner. The attachments work well with a variety of splitboard shapes; G3 provides the easiest to use skin cutting tool and the two sizes with an adjustable tail mean that fitting the skins to your board is incredibly easy. Apart of the length of the plush the Universal, is essentially identical to the G3 Splitboard+ Grip, and G3 Splitboard+ Glide skins. Those are more specialized skins that are ideal fits for a smaller segment of splitboarders, while the Universal is more…uh, Universal.
G3 Splitboard+ Universal Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: All-purpose, efficient, convenient, easy set up
Cons: Awkward folding, generalist, plastic
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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.
G3 claims that the Universal is evenly balanced between grip and glide. After several months of use, we agree. The plus is not shaggy, but it is noticeably longer than on the G3 Splitboard+ Glide skins and some of the mohair mix or pure mohair skins available from other manufacturers. With reasonably good skinning technique, we felt confident in the grip provided by these skins; blown out switchbacks at our local go-to Powderhouse 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. While some other skins the Voile or G3 Splitboard+ Grip have longer and more tenacious plush, the performance that the Splitboard+ Universal provides is close.
Again when examining the gliding quality, we agree with G3 that the Universal is a solid balance of grip and glide. Glide is an often underlooked attribute for skins, but the better your skins glide, the faster you will travel and the more energy you will have when you arrive at your destination. This is especially true on longer tours that involve flat and/or rolling terrain. The less resistance (i.e., the more glide), the less energy needed to push the skins forward. The Universal is close to the Jones Nomad Pro in terms of its glide but offers more grip.
Ease of Use
We are big fans of the included skin trimming tool. It significantly simplifies the process of cutting the width of your skins to match your splitboard. Because of the thoughtful design, there is no need to trim the straight edge of skins (it automatically lines up with your splitboard).
Additionally, all the G3 Splitboard skins are available in two size lengths. The S/M fits boards from 144-162 cm, and the M/L fits boards 154-172 cm. The splitboards in our testing quiver were primarily 157-158 in length; we chose the S/M to review. As experienced splitboarders and confident skinners, we preferred a slightly lighter (because it is smaller) overall skin. As the photos show, there is still room for a slightly longer splitboard. The exposed base material near the tail did not impact grip in our testing.
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 (sorry for that amigos). 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. Although we had to tighten the tail connector once because our initial adjustment was not tight enough, once properly adjusted, we never experienced any issues with the tail connector.
Like similar splitboard skins, the elaborate tip and tail connection systems can make folding up the skin in a compact manner a challenge. Carefully folding the stiffer parts of the system reduces this bundle, but compared to a skin with a simpler or attachment system or skins without a tail clip, there is a price to pay for this added security.
The tip and tail systems on the Universal are excellent. The tail connector, in particular, is a favorite, and the plastic has held up well to our use and abuse without showing much evidence of wear. After a few attachments, it becomes intuitive to attach the tail using the clip and cam lock system.
The actual camming action is impressively secure. The asymmetric shape of splitboard noses and tails is challenging for many splitboard skin attachment systems. G3's camming tail connector is the best solution we have tested so far. Once the proper length is selected to achieve the optimum tension on the ski, it holds the skins securely on the splitboard.
Looking at G3's ski skins, it is clear they see plastic as a useful material for connecting the to nose of a ski. The splitboard skins show this influence but are tweaked for their asymmetric shape. We found the metal clips to do an excellent job holding the skins to the splitboard; they are reasonably easy to attach and are up to the task of keeping the skins in place.
The side of any skin that lines up with the part of the splitboard with sidecut is often the first place that snow works its way underneath the skin. We had high hopes that G3's plastic connector would solve this issue, and we were slightly disappointed that it did not.
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 they were perfectly attached in this area to avoid snow intrusion.
Glue and Glop
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 build-up of several pounds of snow. We have just over two months of significant use of these skins now, 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 G3 Universal skin glue is performing as well as it did when was brand new. We have kept them clean of contaminants, but we 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.
As the name states, the Universal should work for almost all splitboarders in almost all conditions. It successfully finds the sweet spot between grip and glide. The attachment systems work well across a range of board designs. G3 includes their easy to use skin trimmer tool, and only trimming one side of the skin is required.
These skins are not cheap, but they are similarly priced to other options, and their pricing seems fair relative to what is available. One of the biggest factors influencing the value of skins is how long they last. If you keep the skins for several years, the use to cost ratio gets better all the time. Overall, the skins feel well made.
We are impressed with the G3 Splitboard+ Universal skins. The clips are the most thoughtfully designed we have used, while the Universal fur length is a happy medium between grip and glide. These skins are a great choice for most splitboarders.
— David Reichel