Colltex has been a leading name in natural
mohair adhesive climbing skins for 30 years. For the past few years,
they have been focusing their market on the European community. Now
they're back. (Photo courtesy of Chris O'Grady, Back Country Ski Editor)
We were directed to the Colltex
product line through Jayson Faulkner, of Recreation Outfitters
Inc. in BC.
He was excited to be part of bringing Colltex back to the North American
market. As a result, they are back in the limelight, with a terrific
range of natural, synthetic, and combi adhesive climbing skins. So whether
you're in competitions or out earning your turns, there's a model well
suited to your needs.
Back in December and January
our Western snow editors Chris O'Grady (back country skiing editor)
and Trevor Helwig (snowshoe editor) put the Colltex skins through the
uphill paces. Here's what Trevor had to say after he returned from his
trip to Wall Lake in Waterton National Park, Alberta.
Background: Mohair skins are
somewhat of a departure from conventional synthetic skins. Made
from natural wool fibres, Colltex are made from South African goats
wool. Its stiff wool that gives, according to the manufacturer, a
better glide than synthetic skins. Natural fibre skins are not a new
technology and Colltex, a family owned company, was once a major force
in the back-country skins market in North America.
Colltex (mix combi) climbing
New school meets old school,
this predominantly mohair skin has been mixed with a small amount of
synthetic fibre to improve abrasion resistance and durability.
I tested them on a three day trip into Snowspider mountain, an isolated
peak in the Coast Range of B.C, knowing that this would put them through
all their paces.
The ski into Snowspider Mountain
included large amounts of elevation gain, wet snow, dry powder, long
flat logging roads, short steep sections of tight trees, and long steep
ridge ascents for the mountain itself. I was on a pair of the
new Movement Freeheel Telemark skis, and the skins had been precisely
laser cut by Colltex to a perfect fit, a nice touch I thought.
I rubbed the skins down with
some Glop Stopper wax I picked up from MEC to deal with the wet
snow we started on. Despite riding on such a fat pair of skis,
it was immediately noticeable how well they held a glide. We had
long sections of gently climbing and rolling logging roads before the
climb approach to Snowspider, and this definitely made for lighter legwork.
The further in we went, the lighter, fluffier and deeper the snow got.
Once we'd dumped our gear
at camp, we headed for the mountain itself. It had been snowing
most of the day, and the mountain was a powder hounds paradise.
We climbed up a ridge through the trees into the alpine. The skins
had no problem holding onto the steep terrain, whether breaking trail
or following tracks. The glue continued to stick to the skis,
run after run without issue.
While I tested skins with
the combi-fixing system, with a rubber bail on the tip, and a riveted
hook on the heel, I would personally tend towards their new camlock
fixing system. Coltex's camlock has fully stiched down, no rivets
to wear at your ski bases, less weight than other setups, and, like
the original classic and guides setup, it makes it very easy to remove
your skins without having to take of your skis or pack first, a definite
plus when you want to just stuff your skins in your jacket and escape
a cold and wind blown peak in a hurry.
~ Chris O'Grady
Trailpeak backcountry ski editor
Colltex (Mohair) climbing
The skins I received were
100 mm wide and long enough to fit my 185 cm long telemark skis. Trimming
them with a skin-cutting tool was no different than other brands and
it took me about an hour to get them fitting. Upon advice from the supplier,
I left 3-4 mm on either side of the skins to expose my ski's edges.
Upon first glance I could not tell any difference between Colltex skins
and synthetics. The Colltex skins come supplied with a water proofing
liquid, which is something new for me.
I tried these skins out on
Sunday, January 15th 2006 on a ski-tour to Wall Lake in Waterton National
Park, Alberta. Plans for a more ambitious outing were set aside due
to considerable avalanche risk. Conditions were not ideal as a light
rain from the previous day had been covered by a light dusting of powder
and a hard crust layer had formed near the top of the snow pack. Skiing
with blue wax to the base of Akamina Pass, I threw my skins on for the
500 ft slog up the pass. After placing the skins, I applied the waterproofing
liquid which is put on with a sponge applicator. Taking a couple of
glides on level ground, I immediately noticed a difference over my old
skins. There was indeed a bit of glide! Conditions got better on top
of the pass but things were going so well I skied with skins all the
way to the lake. This is not something I would have considered with
my synthetic skins. With my synthetics you might as well be snowshoeing
almost no glide whatsoever.
Glide: So, just how much glide
was there? I don't want to overstate the glide; it was just a small
amount that is only noticeable, of course, on level or downward sloping
terrain. It's not like regular skiing! But for me, it made a big difference
on my leg muscles, which were kept loose by the gliding motion. I even
kept the skins on for part of the trip down the pass.
Grip: There were steep inclines
on the way up and I was able to go straight up. No questions there!
Durability: I am fairly certain
that if the Colltex skins are used with the waterproofing agent that
they should last a few years, similar to synthetics. But this remains
to be seen.
Glue: Same adhesive as other
skins. They stayed on.
Bottom line: Colltex Mohairs
are high performance climbing skins with more glide than synthetics.
[Note from Trevor: Since January
I have used the Colltex climbing skins on back-country trips in a couple
of Alberta's great parks - Banff and Waterton. These trips have included Molar Meadows, Helen/Katherine
Lake, Forum Ridge. Performance has been great and I
continue to be more than satisfied with the Colltex skins. Still recommended!]
A note from Jayson of ROI
about the durability of mohair skins versus the synthetic type. Jayson
really knows his stuff!
"My only addition would
be that the 100% mohair skins are not quite as durable as nylon but
Trevor's observation is correct, depending upon snow conditions used
in. Spring frozen corn...yes wear could be perhaps 10% - 20% faster
but on normal winter snow this would be less. That being said,
the guides that we know say that there is no issue in their opinion
with durability and given the better glide, well worth any potential
We had a tester here on the
coast who when not using any treatment on the skin, claimed his tests
showed a minimum of 9% better glide vs. his nylon. This was based on
measuring his heart rate over a standard climb on multiple runs, same
snow conditions but measuring heart rate doing the climb at the same
speed/time each round. When downloading his data, his heart rate averaged
9% less with Mohair. A remarkable difference in efficiency!"
Jayson Faulkner, ROI