The Skinny on Skin Skis

Posted by Garrott Kuzzy on Dec 15th 2023

The Skinny on Skin Skis

The Skinny on Skin Skis

Will you be traveling to ski this winter? What skis will you be bringing?

This is a common question Lumi Experiences guests ask us as they prepare for skiing in Europe. It’s a good question. You definitely want to make sure you have the right ski equipment to hit the trail as soon as you arrive for your cross-country ski adventure.

Whether you’ll be skiing in Italy, France or Iceland, in addition to sharing tips for flying with skis and a detailed packing list with all Lumi guests, we always recommend that guests bring Classic Skin skis (as well as Skate skis if they wish).

I personally was hesitant to try Skin skis for many years. I knew they would have more drag than my Waxable classic skis, but when I finally gave them a go, I realized how awesome they are, especially for skiing while traveling.

With inevitable temperature fluctuations throughout a full day of exploring new trails, it’s much easier to “grab and go” and keep going with Skin skis than to have to pack waxes, a cork, and re-apply wax along the trail. Not to mention cleaning kick wax afterwards. And don’t even get me started with the annoying buzz of fish-scale classic skis.

What are skin skis?

First, there are two main styles of cross-country skiing: Classic skiing and Skate skiing. Skin skis are only for Classic cross-country skiing, not Skate skiing.

Second, there are three main types of cross-country skis for Classic skiing: Waxable, Skins, and Fish-scales.

Some Lumi guests still pack Waxable classic skis, especially if they will be skiing a Worldloppet ski marathon on their trip, as they are still the fastest out there. Because of this, they’re still my favorite overall – but it takes time, knowledge and an extensive collection of wax to get it right. Our trip leaders are often World Cup wax techs when they’re not leading Lumi trips, so for Worldloppet events, we like to let them show off their skills and wax race skis with kick wax

But I love Skin skis for exploring new places! They’re similar to Fish-scales in that they don’t require any kick waxing and work well in a range of conditions, however the big benefit is that they have much less drag than Fish-scales. And they’re silent. The glide is great, so in terms of glide speed, I would put them somewhere between a Waxable and Fish-scale classic ski.

How do the skins work?

The skins, which can be made out of mohair or a similar synthetic material, are in the kick zone, where you would otherwise add kick wax on Waxable classic skis. The skins grip the snow as wax would so you can kick and then glide forward. Remember to pick up some skin glide to help keep your skin skis gliding fast and prevent the skins from icing.

With Skin skis, you can ski to your favorite trailside restaurant on a cold winter morning, enjoy Pönnukökur or a hot goulash soup with friends, and then clip back into your skis for a snowy and slightly warmer ski back to your hotel, without any wax adjustments!

Most cross-country ski area rental shops have them, in case you want to give them a whirl before deciding whether to purchase a pair for your upcoming travels.

Also, if you or your favorite ski buddy is looking to try Skin skis for the first time or wants to buy a new pair, New Moon and Pioneer Midwest ski shops sell all the main brands.

Happy skiing!


P.S. Keep an eye out – we’ll be launching 2025 Lumi trips soon. Where will you ski next winter?