Where skins can take you, Hello there, I have done some research on climbing skins and have compiled what I found. The idea came out of a tipping point I had that I needed to start shopping ethically as well as thinking ethically. We all love the natural environment that we play in and want to keep it that way. By doing a bit of homework on the brands that you buy and selecting companies that have higher standards, you can show them and the world that you care if a 10 year old Vietnamese is paid a low wage made your shiny new toy. Or that the factory that produced it dumps tons of wastewater into the local water table.
I was kind of surprised that there were not more companies that were addressing their sustainability; it can be a great marketing tool. So I found that there is still not much on the market specifically for splitboards but as any spliter who has been in the game for a while knows that sometimes you have to rig it to get it to work. With the different tail and nose attachments out there, you could if sufficiently handy retrofit pretty much any skin on the market.
As for Split specific skins I found that G3 out of Vancouver made a slick looking pair but I could not find a shred of evidence on the G3 website of where they were made ( I think in Vancouver) and what if anything G3 was doing to address there environmental impact. Volie, the godfather of splitboards similarly has little information on there production. They are however according to their website MADE IN USA in the Salt Lake area so you don’t have to think about all the additional globe trotting miles your new skins had to be shipped. But they don’t have any mention of addressing environmental impacts. That said, according to their website you can still sleep at night knowing that Volie has been a big supporter of avalanche centers both in Utah and abroad.
That is pretty much it for splitboard specific skins but as I said if you’re feeling crafty you can look at a wider range of companies. I would steer clear of K2 and Dynafit (even though Dynafit has their super popular binding system) until they provide some transparency in their manufacturing process at least in the form of their respective websites. Although Dynafit, according to their website does supports snow leopard research which is pretty cool. A Swiss company Colltex shows their manufacturing process, on their official website but no information on where there material comes from. They do sell 30 meter rolls of any of their four types of skins so you and bunch of friends could be rolling in the stuff that is if you can find out where they sell it.
Then there is Climbing Skins Direct, a small company who has a PO box in Wilson Wyoming and is headed up by a former Life Link development guru and claims according to their website for environmental reasons that they don’t treat their skins with a waterproofing agent and has links on their website to articles on the nasty’s of perfluorocarbon (PFC). Instead they urge the use of wax as a more environmentally friendly way to keep them from soaking up water. But what is in the wax you would be using more regularly? If it is not straight bees wax then I bet there is some petroleum mixed up in it. I think that they could do more by opening up the manufacturing process and showing what a company could do to reduce there overall impact.
The two companies that I found that have seen the train coming and have gotten out in front of the movement is La Sportiva and Black Diamond. Both have loads of information on their websites about what they do and how they do it. They have held themselves to higher standards and some of the things they have done are remarkable. According to Black Diamond’s website they are another Salt Lake city company and have addressed all aspects of their business from transportation, gear, packaging, recycling, to energy use in stores, manufacturing, and warehouses. They sport solar panels on the roof and plenty of bike parking to encourage commuters. Maybe even more importantly they are ISO 9001 certified. This basically means that their overseas manufacturing would not be an embarrassment if it were to be seen firsthand today. Much the same can be said for La Sportivia an Italian company that has similar transparency in there production and a host of ISO certification for their factories once again according to their official website. You can rest easy at night when you deal with these last two companies because you’re buying piece of mind. The rest of these companies may be doing similar things but me as a consumer would never know.
When a company sets goals for being sustainability and opens up their manufacturing process it holds them and their industry to higher standards so it is harder for companies to exploit labor and pollute the environment. So I encourage anyone to think about the company you are buying from and not just the shiny new toy. And I think a company’s sustainability should be looked at first rather than which of the skins have better glide or steeper climbing capability. By buying ethically you send a message to the whole world, and as users of climate dependent wild spaces we should together have a strong voice.
Post subject: Re: Choosing the Right Climbing Skins
Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:35 am
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:08 pm Posts: 14
Im all into "sustainable" manufacturing, corporate social responsibility, and consumer knowledge (we really do vote more with our $'s than in political ballots) but lets not be naive here. I mean skins are by n large made of petroleum based products, primarily plastic and glue. Just cuz someone assembled it in the US doesn't make that much better of a ethical product in my honest opinion.
And buy "ethically"?! And who said that buying stuff thats made in the US is more ethical. Just because some kid in China or Vietnam (who probably chose to work at that plant than starve making pennies in the fields) made it, doesn't mean we should ban it. Do we really need it here too?! Poverty here is 1 car and 2 TVs. Get outta here. I have absolutely no problem buying Chinese or Vietnamese products. Plus, you point me to one product that 100% (and I mean all the way through the supply chain) in the US and Ill point to you a company thats about to go out of business cuz they cant procure materials effectively or is selling their product at 4x times whats made out of Asia.
We tout ourselves on being environmentally responsible?! Well tell that to yourself next time your driving your truck or SUV up to the mountains with a 2 stroke snowmobile behind you... Also China is cracking down pretty hard on environmental regulation too. They just don't pat themselves on the back for cleaning up what they polluted like companies in the US so you just don't hear about it.
Sorry to rain on your parade and I honestly do believe in what you are saying but asking google where someone made their products is to ethical buying like saying your eating healthy by reading the calories at McDonalds.
You want "ethical" skins. Go find a dead horse and pull the skin off that. Take the hairs from the mame and weave yourself some string to tie onto your splitboard or skis.