Last season, G3 pushed innovation in the climbing skins game with their Scala Skins.  For a first-year product, they were really good, but not without issue.  This season, G3 created a new iteration of the Scala skins – the G3 Scala LT – that fixes some of the issues with last year’s version, loses some weight, and overall improves on an already cool product.

Review: G3 Scala LT Skins

G3 was generous enough to hand me a pair of the Scala LTs at the end of last season, so I was able to get time on them before the snow disappeared.  I took them out on a few dawn patrols and, as you can see in the video, even got them out in an abnormally fluffy spring dump in April.  On dawn patrol, the Scala LTs behaved like any G3 Alpinist skin would – consistent, decent traction; smooth, but not great, glide.  The question was, would the smaller scaled section make any difference while skinning in deep pow?

SIA Snow Show 2017 Skiing backcountry alpine touring 2018 G3 Scala LT Skins

G3 Scala LT Changes

So what did G3 change?  It’s all in the nose…  Where the old Scala had TPU scales that covered the entire nose, usually back to where the ski’s rocker transitioned, the Scala LT’s scaled section is short.  It appears G3 scaled the scaled section back to the minimum length required to do what it’s designed to do.  Now, the scaled section just covers the shovel of the ski.  Even then, the new scales are more thong bikini than board short.

In addition to shrinking the scaled section, G3 changed the shape of the transition between TPU and plush.  Where the original Scalas saw the TPU section extending into the middle of the plush section by about two inches, the reverse is true for the Scala LT – the TPU section extends on the edges and the plush extends into the middle of the TPU.  Now, instead of water and snow having a pocket to collect in, it all gets sloughed out the sides.  Small design change, but big effect.

Everything else stays the same.  G3 still uses their standard Alpinist plush.  The backing was updated last year with lighter fabric and new adhesive, which stay the same for the LT.  The DWR is also the same, updated last year to be PFOA-free.  The tail clip doesn’t change and still works really well.  Nose clips are shaped the same.  However, on last year’s skins, I had to spread them a bit to fit them over the nose of my skis.  This year I didn’t have to do that.

g3 scala lt climbing skins review

Keeping the Scala Magic

After my experience with the regular Scalas over the last two seasons, and with Alpinist skins for years before that, I knew what to expect from the Scala LTs as far as performance.  I was curious if the more compact scaled sections would fix some of the snow-packing issues I experienced with the first Scalas.  (During one especially warm tour last season, the Scalas packed so much snow that I couldn’t get them to stay on my ski.)  The short answer is yes, they did.

With the skins remaining the same from the nose-back, climbing on packed snow felt identical to the old Scalas and Alpinists.  But, if you read our Scala review, you may remember that trailbreaking was where the Scalas really excelled.  With a reduction in scale size, you don’t see a commensurate reduction in trailbreaking ability – the smaller scaled section bashes pow just as hard as the larger one on the OG Scalas.  Meaning, G3 kept all of the juicy, good parts of the Scalas while eliminating the bad, sour parts.

Final Thoughts

The Scala LT seems like a small update, but the changes are thoughtful and effective.  Reducing and reshaping the TPU scaled section of the skin eliminates some of the issues we saw with the original Scalas last season but maintains the advantages of having scales up front.  I experienced no issues with the Scala LTs.

G3 Scala LT come in three widths – 100mm, 115mm, and 130mm – and three lengths covering skis from 153cm – 199cm.  Remember that you can’t really cut the TPU section.  So, those of you who order wider skins and cut for full coverage, make sure you order based on your ski’s shovel width.