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Skinning with boots buckled or unbuckled?

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For skinning in hardshell boots like Phantom Slipper, Atomic Backland, or similar, do y’all unbuckle the top buckles while skinning or not?

I’ve been experimenting with this on Phantom Slipper HDs while skinning up inbound groomed trails and I’m still undecided. In general, I find it easier to glide forward with top buckle loose. But when terrain is icy or traversing across the fall line I have more control and stability, especially if I need to engaged my edges, with boots buckled up. It may depend on conditions and terrain. 

This is my first year splitboarding and I have no prior AT/skinning experience. I’m curious to hear what others are doing. 



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I'm pretty new to splitboarding myself, but have been enjoying getting into the sport. I think I'm pretty much like you on how tight I like to keep the boots on approach. I'm using Atomic Hawx 130 with Phantom Link lever springs.

When walking around I have the boot's link levers in walk mode/unlocked and the top cuff straps really loose with those top straps in the open/tour position. (My situation has me walking in my boots a far bit... why I mention how I have them set up for walking around).

When I click into my split skis to start skinning up I like to tighten the boots straps up quite a bit, but not really tight. I don't leave the top two straps open. I close them, but leave them not too snug. As things get steeper or when more control is required I will snug things up more all around.

Great that you have been getting out and hitting the resort for inbounds experimenting and practice/fitness.

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I've used both Backland Carbons and Hawx XTD 95 and the pivot behaves very differently. Backlands allow a lot of movement in walk mode even if the top buckles are closed. With Hawx closing the buckles restricts movement a lot. So with Backlands I would use closed or open top buckles depending on the situation but with Hawx it's open top buckles all the time while skinning.

My problem is that I tend to forget to close the buckles when I go ride.

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Today, while experimenting with the buckles, I did noticed more movement with the top buckles undone. At one point, it felt like my heel was starting to lift out of the boot while skinning so I stopped to do up the buckles. I think I want to tighten up the instep buckle a bit to prevent this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm fairly new to splitboard hardboots, but I keep them buckled the same throughout the day.  I feel like I have plenty of stride just by putting them into walk mode (i.e. lever up), and don't want to risk any rubbing and blisters by undoing buckles.  Phantom Slippers HD.  Loving being back on hardboots!

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