Gear Review: Skeats Skin Cleats – A Simplified Ski Crampon
If you spend enough time in the backcountry, you’ll eventually run into the situation where a steep and slippery skin track gets the best of you. Skinning on firm snow is no easy task, but if you include a pair of Skeats™ Skin Cleats in your backcountry kit, it can make a tricky skin a little bit easier.
Whether it’s firm spring conditions on a Cascade volcano, steep skin tracks in the Tetons, or slick refrozen traverses through the Alps, Skeats Skin Cleats can help you have a better day. The goal of Skeats Skin Cleats is to increase traction on the uptrack and that can help you save energy, improve efficiency, boost security, and increase stability. Sounds pretty good, right?
Last Fall, Patrick Gasparro, the Teton-based inventor of Skeats, send us his product to use, abuse, and review. We kicked the tires and published our first impression of Skeats at that time. It seemed like Skeats solved a common backcountry problem, but as with any new gear, you don’t know until you try it for yourself. For the past several months, we’ve had the opportunity to test Skeats and here’s what we’ve found…
Besides thinking about the Lil Jon song Get Low every time we talk about this product, we’re impressed with Skeats Skin Cleats.
Here’s a quick look at the Pros/Cons of Skeats. For more details read the full review below:
- Low Profile – Pocket Friendly
- Super Easy & Quick To Put On/Off
- Simple Design That Works On Any Ski/Splitboard Setup
- Provides Added Security When Ski Is Flat On Snow
- Eliminates Some Skin To Bootpack Transitions
- Steep Skin Track Necessary For Optimal Performance – Lacks Sidehill Traction
- Added Resistance Under Ski Due To Constantly Active Traction
Skeats are a pretty simple idea. It’s a stainless steel or delrin polymer plate with short cleats that straps to your ski via a biothane strap with dual adjust plastic release buckles. Skeats work in conjunction with your climbing skins to create added traction on the uphill. It’s best to adjust the sizing before you leave home so it fits properly, but it’s easy to adjust on the fly if need be – just be sure to cinch it down tight so it doesn’t move around.
To attach Skeats to your skis, pop a ski off and place the Skeats in the right position. Or if you’re a ski yoga expert, you can attach Skeats without removing a ski – this is ideal as it limits your transition times. We found that the Skeats need to be positioned near the heel piece for best results. Pressure through the heel results in the optimal traction through the Skeats and your skins. For best results and increased comfort, place your heel risers up. Once on, use the velcro tab to secure the extra strap over the buckle.
Once the Skeats are strapped onto your skis you’re ready to rock and roll. Skeats sit in a static position which results in constantly activated traction. The static position of the Skeats creates added resistance under the ski. It’s minimal, but noticeable. Depending on snow conditions, you also may need to pick up the ski with each step versus sliding the skin across the snow. That can result in a lot of lifting if you’re rocking a heavy setup.
SkinCleats.com defines “To Skeat: To skin steep on hard snow.” Firm, steep, slippery snow is exactly where Skeats excel. For best performance, the ski needs to maintain as much surface contact as possible. Skeats do not excel on side hills as traditional ski crampons do. This means a steep and flat skin track is optimal and that can tax the quads. Of course, if you can accomplish this, you’ll eliminate the dreaded slip and slide that’s both mentally and physically challenging.
One awesome thing about the Skeats design is that it works on any ski setup that are roughly the same size. There’s no brand specific design like their are with traditional ski crampons. Use your own Skeats or keep them in your pack for your rookie split boarder friend who’s always struggling. They’ll come in handy more often than you think.
With traditional ski crampons, you get better sidehill performance and you can set a lower angle skin track which can increase energy efficiency. The downside of normal ski crampons is that they are annoyingly bulky. Skeats are super low profile and pocket friendly – just don’t fall on the cleats.
We found the best place to stash them was clipped to the gear loop on our pack. This keeps them easily accessible and makes for quick transitions. For us, Skeats are an excellent tool to use for short, sketchy sections with minimal consequences where you need the extra grip and the flotation of skis. Ideally, Skeats can save you from a wallowy boot pack and help you efficiently move through the mountains.
Visit SkinCleats.com to buy your own pair of Skeats Skin Cleats, as of this post, they come in three options:
- Delrin Polymer 100mm Plate – 96 grams/pair – $29.50
- Stainless Steel 105mm Plate – 186 grams/pair – $39.50
- Stainless Steel 85mm Plate – 164 grams/pair – $35.00
For us the 85mm Stainless Steel option is the ticket. It’s lighter weight and fits our 100mm skis. It’s probably not something that we’ll use every day, but when we need that extra bite on firm snow, Skeats make a difference. Our impression is that the Delrin Polymer, while lighter weight, lacks long term durability so we suggest going stainless.
Skeats Skin Cleats can be used for backcountry ski touring, split boarding, or ski mountaineering. Of course they’re also handy to have in case you leave your trusty brass knuckles at home and have to fight off a wolverine mid ski tour.
If you’re keen to pick up a pair of Skeats Skin Cleats, visit SkinCleats.com and use discount code MTNJO5 for 5% off when you check out.
Disclaimer: Skeats Skin Cleats send us this product to use, abuse, and review.