Vancouver-based G3 offers up a line of skins in their Minimist series with three builds on offer. We’ve got a review of the Universal (all-nylon), the Glide (a 70/30 mohair/nylon mix), and the Speed (100% mohair).
G3 makes several skin varietals; G3 touts their Minimists as the leanest in their line of skins. This means the Minimists are the lightest and most easily packable of their skins.
Back in 2020, Lou reviewed G3’s Minimist Speed climbing skins, which are a %100 mohair carpet. Like other skin manufacturers, G3 in-fills with a 70/30 nylon/mohair mix called the Glide and an all-nylon goody in the Universal. What should be noted, and will be detailed, is “in-fill” is not to be confused with pack-fill.
Tip and Tail Clips
With the G3 system, adhere the tip clips first, then cam the tail clip to tension the skin on the ski.
“I’ve had no problems with the tail clip, I adjusted them pretty tight from the start,” Lou replied to a commenter in his 2020 review. “They’re not exactly simple, could be mis-configured I suppose, though they come in the box correctly set up aside from adjusting length.”
All that is true – the stuff about the tail clips. The tail clip employs a “hooked” aluminum piece and a plastic piece through which a rubberized tail is threaded.
The G3 system is simply enough out of the box. Shorten or lengthen the tail accordingly, and the cam action as the aluminum flips over the tail secures the skin. It, of course, works in conjunction with the skin already connected on the tip and the skin adhered to the base. Anyhow, all this is pretty easy — meaning the initial adjusting. I accidentally overtightened the tail attachment initially, and on a 5-degree day, with the plastic piece becoming brittle, my over-tensioning caused the plastic piece to snap: a user error. I received a replacement, and since then, which has been nearly a year of use, I’ve had no problems with over or under-tensioning the tail clips. But, when I threaded the rubberized tail through the new plastic piece, let’s just say I had a functional tail system placed next to me as a guide, and still, it wasn’t easy to configure.
I’ve been testing G3’s Speed, Glide, and Universal skins all that time, and beyond snapping the plastic piece long ago, I’ve never popped the tail off a skin. For me, they’ve been 100% secure.
The tip system is semi-simple: two shaped and pivoting hooks sit several centimeters apart, grasp the tip (from the topsheet to base), and hold firm. What’s useful about the tip system is that no matter the tip shape, the clips should work; this includes squared-off models.
On maybe four occasions, as I kick-turn, follow through, and ascend, I’ve knocked one of the two hooks off. In all but one instance, this was no bother; the skin remained adhered to the ski. I attribute my kicking the hook off this to sloppy skinning. Lastly, as detailed by Lou, G3 weaves a thin carbon sheet into the tip area to help the skin remain flat. In my experience, the skin’s edges near the tip do not curl nor allow snow to work under the tip section.
G3’s tip and tail system has been around for several years and remains reliable. Like with any tip and tail system, if you are heading out for a multi-day tour or hut trip, have a backup system to affix the tail/tip in the event of failure. Also, the skis I’ve paired the Minimists on are not extreme in their tip and tail camber. I cannot address how they hold on those types of shapes.
I’ve had no issues regarding packability, and I don’t think the multi-part tail system is too bulky or impedes packability.
The typical grip ratings for skin material go as follows (in ascending order of better grip): mohair, mohair/nylon mix, nylon. And this rule rings true in the G3 Minimist line too. I will not dive into skin track setting, but under most conditions, a mohair skin should provide the traction you need to ascend a well-set skinner. The Minimist Speed, for comparison, grips as well as Pomoca’s Free Pro 2.0. mohair skins. I use the Speeds mid-winter for deeper-colder snow (they’re fit to a 107mm underfoot ski), so I had little experience with the skin wetting out. Mohair skins, traditionally, can be a liability as they wet out and can lose grip more readily than mix or nylon skins. For my purposes, the Speeds remained hydrophobic for their intended use.
The Minimist Glide and the Minimist Universal are pretty close in grip rating. Just this weekend, on some rather steep skinners, using the Glides, the grip misfired maybe twice, which was in the usual places; a semi-glazed section set way too steep. The Minimist Glide grips great, but the nod for those wanting a smidge more grip goes to the Minimist Universal. Nothing extraordinary in these results. Predictable from the outset.
This is where things get interesting. The low-hanging fruit is this: for those wanting superior glide, the Minimist Speed had Lou pretty giddy compared to the pink race skins we see all over the uphilling scene. “I am delighted to report the two skins, Minimist and the ‘other,’ were indistinguishable in terms of glide, and so close in weight I can’t state a meaningful difference, as the race skins had a straighter cut and lighter hardware. I did do some estimating and am confident saying that if normalized (same hardware and cut) the Minimist would probably weigh about 20 grams more than the race skin (that’s on my uphilling rig, 164 cm x 79mm). Okay with me.”
We are not insinuating the Minimist Speeds will co-opt the ski-mo shufflers and convince them pink is passe. As far as I know, G3 is not selling their mohair carpets with race-style skin tips.
While the glide on the Minimist Glide and Minimist Universal are not quite up to the Speed’s benchmark, they are no slouches. Again, the Minimist Glide outperforms the Minimist Universal in this department, but only by a little. (I did a very informal glide-out test to assuage any bias — the Minimist Glide on some Blizzard Zero G 95s, the Minimist Universal on a FINDR 86, which is slightly longer and heavier than the ZG 95. Science matters, but in this case, it is hard to control for variables.)
Here’s where I’m going…toward durability. In the past, I’ve opted for mohair skins for their excellent glide and packability. I’ve also trashed a pair of nearly new mohair skins during a single crusty ascent of our local South Sister. 5k of skinning over what seemed like sandpaper was probably not such a good idea. Sure, skins are as close to a disposable good as we’ve got in the backcountry scene, but potentially wrecking some precious mohair carpets on any given pre-dawn tour doesn’t seem prudent or economical. $200 is still a sizable sum when considering something disposable. Anyways, I was looking for a more durable option for springtime skinning but with a longer lifespan and the greater overall durability nylon skins afford.
But I’m damned if I’m giving up good glide. Score a win for the Minimist Universal. Durable? Check. Glidy? Very.
Nylon skins aren’t sexy skins, but they sure are reliable. If you want a workhorse skin that doesn’t compromise on much, the Minimist Universal makes sense. After solid use in abrasive spring conditions, these skins remain in great shape. The Minimist Universal’s glide outperformed my expectations. I never felt disadvantaged on the uptrack regarding glide/speed with the Minimist Universals when my partners opted for mohair or 70/30 mix skins. And it’s nice to know I’ll have a skin to reuse this spring rather than opting to replace an all-mohair skin I trashed during a few month volcano season.
G3 glue is known as sticky glue. Still, it remains sticky. All three Minimist models have a removable ripstrip (a non-glued surface) running for roughly 1/3 the skin’s length.
In colder temps, with the glue not softening as much, separating the skins (glue-to-glue) is straightforward. However, stash a pair of G3 skins glue side to glue side in beyond freezing temps, and pulling the skins apart can take some oomph. I’ve got two strategies to deal with over-sticky glue, though. One is to fold the skin in a three-fold pattern: fold the tail section to the middle, then fold the tip section to the center. For me, this makes pulling the sections apart easier than simply folding the skin in half.
The other solution, which I’ve already opted for this season as I’ve been on the Minimist Glides a bunch, is to bring the plastic-mesh backing, and paste the glue-side of the skins directly to the backing. Bundled together against the backing makes for a two-skin package, which is more challenging to place in a jacket pocket. However, I’ve been using a BD Cirque 22 Ski Vest this season; it boasts an easy-access skin pocket, which swallows the two-skin unit with no problem.
Lastly, some sticky glues, over time, can gum or ball up on the skin or leave a residue on the ski base. So far, after much repeated use, I’ve not experienced this with the G3 glue. I do see some glue wear near the tips, where the carbon sheet resides to stiffen up the tip area. Causation/correlation? I’m unsure.
Heavy skins are a thing. Yet the move towards a thinner backing helps reduce both bulk and overall mass. G3’s Minimist skins trend towards neither bulky nor excessively heavy. I’d compare them in thinness and bulk to be on par with Pomoca’s newer skins.
Let’s compare G3’s claimed weights for the Minimist line.
-Size 172cm-188cm 130mm wide
–Minimist Speed: 224g – 273g
–Minimist Glide: 227g – 274g
–Minimist Universal: 223g – 2295g
Across the board, in-brand weights are pretty similar, with the all-nylon Minimist at ~188cm, 130mm wide, being the outlier. Again, these are all claimed weights pulled from a G3 table. I’ll close with this: underfoot, G3 Minimist skins do not feel like a burden on the uphills when considering their weight.
Closing Minimist Thoughts
Minimist skins are packable. I’m a folder, but if you roll them, stashing each skin in its own pocket should be fine (given your jacket has pockets). I’ve been known to fold my skins and secure them under my pack’s sternum strap for quick yo-yo laps. Minimist skins pass this storage test too.
There’s for sure brand loyalty when it comes to skins. Some like Contour’s magical non-stick hybrid “glue.” Others have stuck with BD skins and their gold label glue or Pomoca’s standard of high quality, and sweet, carpet colors, and reliable yet not too sticky glue. I know back when the pandemic began, and supply chains became stuck like pair of skins left in a car over the summer, finding any type of skin was a blessing. Now that supply chains have eased a bit; you’ve got some choices. And you should not overlook G3’s Minimist line of skins.
The glue is sticky relative to other brands. So far, that’s not been a deal breaker. And the tip and tail clip systems do the job and can accommodate a wide breadth of tip/tail shapes.
And if you cut your own skins, G3’s trim tool, in my opinion, is still the best.
I’ve got some skis on which Pomoca’s tail clip won’t budge over the tail protector (Atomic Backland 107). You could take a Dremel to the tail protector and trim it down, as suggested by one commenter. Or you could deploy a G3 Minimist where the tail clip secures easily. The point is to find what you like and make sure it fits and is functional for your needs.
I’ve been pleased with G3’s Minmist skins and their durability, form, and function.
Prices may vary depending on length and width.
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.