G3 Splitboard+ Universal Review
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G3 Splitboard+ Universal
|Price||$140.21 at Backcountry|
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|$200 List||$220 List||$148.46 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||All-purpose, good ratio of grip to glide, camming tail clip, easy to align tip clip||Secure and easy attachment system, efficient skinning||Durable, good grip to glide ratio||Good glide, rolls and folds small, robust adhesive||Beefy skins with great grip, durable, excellent attachment system|
|Cons||Awkward folding||Adequate grip, particular rolling technique||Can be hard to pull apart, more involved initial setup||Initial setup is a bit more involved, small range of size adjustments||Bulky, inefficient, tough to pack|
|Bottom Line||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||Whether it's your first day or 100th day, these skins are appropriate for all skill levels||Straightforward and streamlined performance||Great 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|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Attachment System (15%)|
|Glue Icing Glop (20%)|
|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|
|Cheat Sheets Included?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Product Update Note — August 2022
G3 updated their Splitboard+ Universal skins since our last test cycle. The photos above show the old version (left) and the new version (right). Inspired by the more minimalist design of their ski skins, the updated Universal skins have a trimmed-down tip connector that they claim shaves nearly an ounce off each skin. These award-winning skins now feature an updated, non-toxic adhesive and a PFC-free waterproofing treatment. All of these same updates also apply to the G3 Splitboard+ Grip skins. While our review pertains to the old version, we are now linking to the updated Splitboard+ Universal skins, which are more readily available for purchase.
G3 makes a wide range of skins for skiing and splitboarding. The Splitboard+ Universal updates the previous design with thoughtful improvements. This particular model is appropriate for most splitboarders.
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 while hiking.
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.
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.
The Universal 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 a mohair-like glide; our testers were impressed by the versatility offered by its fine-tuned balance of grip and glide.
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 inside 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 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.
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.
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.
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 few 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.
For a nylon skin, the Universal is priced on the lower end compared to the rest of the skin market. 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 given their reasonable retail price.
Inherent in the name, the G3 Splitboard+ Universal is perfect for most splitboarders in the majority of conditions and objectives. The skin's balance of grip and glide is notable. 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.
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