Black Diamond GlideLite Splitboard Mix STS Review
Cons: User effort to get from package to field, small range of size adjustments
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Since we tested the GlideLite Split STS, Black Diamond has released an updated variation, the GlideLite Mohair Splitboard Mix. The new version features an updated tip attachment and an adjustable, stretchier tail attachment to fit a wider range of board shapes. Compare the two below; first is the model we tested, followed up by the new GlideLite.
We're linking to the updated model, but until we test that version, the review to follow pertains to the STS version we initially tested.
Hands-On Review of the Glidelite Split STS
The Black Diamond GlideLite Split STS leverages Black Diamond's skin expertise to offer a mohair-blended skin for splitboarders. Splitboarders have been engineering Black Diamond ski skins to fit their boards for years. Black Diamond has an extensive retail network, which allows tip and tail clips replacements to be widely available. In certain instances, you can find this skin offered in rolls at a lower cost per foot; this is a unique offering and is an infrequent distribution model in the industry.
Glide is the root word in GlideLite; the metric is also at the forefront of its design. This skin is 65% Mohair and 35% nylon, which helps support the design principles of making a glide centric focus, and that's exactly what they did. Glide becomes an essential part of splitboarding, as we spend most of our time climbing or walking through flat approaches. Effortless glide while climbing reduces the amount of energy you expend to conserve stamina for descending. This skin glides well enough to be able to capitalize on these efficiency benefits.
Gorilla glue-like grip is not an attribute that any mohair-nylon mix skin exhibits. Instead, this model provides plenty of grip and traction, especially if the user sticks to appropriate lower angle skin tracks and, understands the principles of good technique. With good technique, the GlideLite grips icy and wet skin tracks and inspires user confidence. Without good technique, a beginner may find themselves frustrated in the first few days; this can all be alleviated as you start to understand the mechanics more and more.
Ease of Use
The GlideLite is a very user-friendly skin that lacks frills and does the job. However, there are a few steps to complete before you can satisfy your hunger for powder. Out of the box, the skins need to be trimmed to length and width, and tapered. The tip clip also requires installation. Let's start at the beginning. The skin trimming tool provided was not our favorite but works fine. It has a sharp blade but lacked horizontal stability or strong bracing ability, which can result in a wavy cut. To give yourself the best chance of success, be sure to have a nice working space.
After you trim the length of the skin to fit your split, Black Diamond recommends tapering the tip; this increases glide. Tapering the nose requires set off measurements to ensure your angle and width are correct. Next, the tip clip needs to be installed, which requires a marker, a ruler, a #2 screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a board. The actual installation process is pretty straightforward. It is more to do, which brings a larger potential for error than in the pre-installed offerings. After you have completed these steps, you can hit the skin track.
The skin is very packable. The Glidelite rolls to be about the width of a Nalgene bottle or folds into a nice smooth package. This can be attributed to the thin carpet and simple, non-bulky attachment system.
When it comes to ripping skins, they were relatively easy to rip apart, even on some colder mornings. The same goes for taking the skins off of the base. Aside from the installation and trimming process, the Glidelite STS is a user-friendly option for all your backcountry outings.
Black Diamond takes pride in their STS attachment system for their skin line for skins. The company has modified the STS system to fit the needs of a splitboard skin. As discussed above, the tip does require attachment. The tip clip is a coated wire that is anchored to the tip of the skin; the wire slides over the tip, which is a tried and true design that fits a variety of shapes. The STS System is quick to adjust and attach to the tail of the ski.
The STS system only offers adjustments to board sizes that fall within a five cm range once the skin has been trimmed to length. This should not be a major issue for most individuals but worth noting. The tail clip has two components, which are angled to work in unison and add security. However, we noticed that the angle of the inline tail clip did not rest consistently on a variety of shapes, particularly more blunted tails. The attachment system works well but required our testers to reattach the tail clip on a few occasions. A large plus to the STS system is kits and clips are substantially more available than other options, making the replacement of any part easier.
Glue and Glop
Black Diamond provides the only consumer skin glue available for purchase; the Black Diamond Gold Label adhesive. The adhesive was reliable on our bases throughout a day of touring and easy to pull apart or off when the time came. We observed no glopping or plush saturation when testing this skin in wet and dry snow conditions.
The GlideLite has a slightly below average price range for mohair mix skins. For those looking for skins in the glide performance category, we feel this is the best value for a mohair based skin. These skins are well made, and the incorporation of nylon should allow them to last for a few seasons of use, thus adding to their value.
The Black Diamond GlideLite is an all-around solid performer. In our testing, it never upstaged other models but also never fell short; it's a reliable skin built for is built for any day in the backcountry. The Glidelite is good for most intermediate to advanced splitboarders looking for a day in and day out mohair mix skin that is light and packable.
— Isaac Laredo
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