Review: Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins
Since glue was added to climbing skins skiers have been having issues and complaining about it. It either sticks too well, doesn’t stick enough, clumps, leaves a residue on the base, etc. And while modern glues generally work quite well the majority of the time there is of course still room for improvement. That’s where Contour’s Hybrid adhesive comes into play. Definitely not your traditional glue this Hybrid technology leaves no residue on your board or skis but still sticks well to the base and the 70/30 mohair/nylon blended skin glides well and has plenty of grip.
- Max Length: 180 cm
- Max Width: 135 mm
- Composition: 70% mohair 30% nylon
- Country of Origin: Austria
Who is Contour?
Contour is part of Koch Alpin, the family-owned company that introduced the first adhesive skins to the Austrian Market in 1971. By 1978, Koch Alpin was making their own skins in Austria, which they continue to do until today in the small Austrian town of Mils.
Contour does things a little differently than other companies. Have you seen the Contour Hybrid Free Split skin? This time around they’ve kept the skins in one piece but instead changed from using a more traditional glue to a proprietary Hybrid adhesive system. But more on that below.
What are the Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins?
Above all else, these are splitboard skins. Really good splitboard skins, actually. Splitboard skins that go on backwards, with velcro, and hybrid glue.
What is Hybrid Technology?
Hybrid technology is what sets the Contour Hybrid skins apart from the crowd. In Contour’s words, it is a “twin layered adhesive.” What that boils down to is a two-part adhesive: The first to attach the skin to the ski. The Second to attach the surface adhesive to the skin.
The Hybrid Technology sticks to skis really well in most conditions. So well that it pulls out more wax than normal glue. You will need to wax more often than usual and to be honest, you should probably wax more than usual anyway. Anyway, my board seemed to dry faster than normal. I don’t mind this compromise at all as I’d much rather my skins actually stick to my board at the cost of a bit more wax or slightly less glide.
Somehow I have managed to keep almost all and any gunk (hair, pine needles, etc) from getting on the sticky side of these skins. They have, however, lost a little bit of their tack over time. There are two ways to renew the stickiness of these skins. The skins come with two small hybrid cleaning wipes. Simply wipe the skins down with the saturated cloth, and somehow, the skins become tacky again. If you run out of clothes, bottles of spray can be purchased separately. Substantially less work than replacing the glue on a set of skins.
Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins Set-Up and Attachment to the Ski
Every skin has a different route to getting set up. The Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins come with both nose and tail clips and a razor blade. Contour has a great video outlining the process, but alas, it is only in German. The steps are easy to follow thanks to subtitles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPxjYTl3JFU
When putting skins on the board, you usually attach them at the nose-first. Then the skins attach to the tail by stretching some sort of specialized clip over the end of the ski. Not so with the Contour Splitboard Skins. We start by attaching the skins to the tail. That’s right, the tail! These skins go on backward. Lay the skin down on the ski lining up the straight edge. Then, the front of the skins attaches via a velcro-mounted hook. Admittedly, when I first saw the velcro I thought it would not work. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong. There is one caveat though, do not drop that velcro in the wind. I would not want to try touring home without the velcro tab.
Glide and Cold Temps
The Contour Hybrid Splitboard skins glide through the snow quite easily. They’re made of 70% mohair and 30% nylon blend, a sweet spot with backcountry touring skin really. The mohair is really good at glide, and nylon provides grip. This combination provides good glide on the flats with good traction on the uphill. It is about finding a good combination of the two. I would place the Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins somewhere between High glide skins and normal glide skins. I rarely slip backward on steep skin tracks and they require very little effort to move forward.
Cold temps provide a bit of a conundrum for the Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins. They stick really well in all conditions, provided they are placed on your skis when they are warm. If the skins are kept in your pack in temps much below -15, they have a hard time with initial adhesion to the ski. If you apply them while they are warm, even after keeping them inside your jacket for a few minutes, the skins stay attached as per usual.
I received the Contour Skins about two weeks prior to a Ski Guide exam. The timing was perfect as my previous skins had taken on the habit of failing, suddenly. Normally, I wouldn’t want to make such a large adjustment this close to my exams. But I’m glad I did.
The Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins have great grip and decent glide. I’m not the best silly skier so the slight loss of glide gave me a little more confidence when I did have to skin ski. I was confident in their grip on the ups but also their hold onto my board. The last thing I wanted was for my skins to fail while being tested.
Renewal of the glue is simple, clean, and fast. I have done it once so far in the year that I’ve had them and am due to refresh it again. There’s no need to prep any surfaces and you could likely do this at a hut or on a traverse if you had to. It’s nice knowing the skins can be returned to near new performance within a few minutes.
The two biggest caveats I have with these skins is the reverse transition order and cold weather. I’ve gotten used to installing the skins from tail to nose, but it did take a while to break the old habit of the nose to tail. Once or twice I’ve dropped the velcro tab, but have found the best thing to do is reattach it the moment you have removed it. The biggest issue is that below -15 the skins do need to be kept warm before application. If you can remember to do that (just keep them in your jacket), these are great skins that I have trusted for over 70 days and will continue to use for at least another 70.
Pros: Great tack when kept warm, easy renewal of hybrid glue, decent glide, great grip. No glue residue.
Cons: Attaching tail to tip takes a little to get used to. Keep ’em warm or they won’t attach.
If you are interested in checking out a pair of Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins head on over to Camp USA to check them out.
Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free pair of Contour Hybrid Splitboard Skins. This in no way affected our opinion or review.