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Military Over The Snow Mobility - Skis

Military Over The Snow Mobility - Skis

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Published by solsys

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Published by: solsys on Mar 05, 2013
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08/24/2013

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Military-Over- The-Snow-Mobility
David LeaningThe traditional NATO issued skis have always used a square 75 mm square toe extension to therubber of the ski boot sole, this fits into a metal bracket on the ski and a cable is clamped around theheel of the boot to hold this in place. This arrangement means that while the toe is held to the ski,the heel is allowed to flex away from the ski base so that each ski can be slid forward in a walkingmotion.
Old school bindings, still good but they can bite fingers when clamping them down.
The skins that can be attached to the undersides of the skis are a solid staple of military skiing, theseare like strips of velvet with all the fibres pointing one way and can be clipped to the tip and tails of the skis with a rubber clamp, they are commonly held down with a sticky skin-glue and their useprevents the skier from going too fast on a downhill or from slipping back on an uphill.While the skins are great for climbing steep hills they can literally be a drag the rest of the time; theextra friction they cause will slow you down and consume unnecessary calories
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always at apremium in the cold. So for skilled skiers they are only used on the up hills and the rest of the time athin layer of sticky wax is applied to a small section of the ski base
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this is the ideal as it offers thehighest rate of movement over ground while consuming the least calories and well trained soldierscan cover in excess of 50 km per day.
 
 
 A full length skin, great for uphill, exhausting everywhere else.
However the trade-off is that to reach this level of competency each soldier must receive severalmonths of instruction. With training budgets being subject to constant scrutiny it can be all too easyfor a bean-counter to declare that this is an unnecessary extravagance, without realising the hugetactical advantage trained skiers have over those using snowshoes in winter warfare
 –
as theRussians discovered when they tried to invade Finland in 1939.
A middle ground that has been adopted by some nations is the use of “intermediate” s
kis & bindingswhich bridge the gap between snowshoes & proper skis. These have a plastic strap binding, similarto that found on a snowboard, so that it can be used with a normal boot and the ski base is texturedlike the scales of a fish
 –
same principle as the skins; this makes the ski base rough in one directionand smooth in the other
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so that she skier can slide on the flats & downhills, while being able togrip on the uphills. They are also much shorter and wider, therefore requiring less skill to controlthem.
Trials skis, a compromise between the time it takes to train and the speed of travel allowed.
 
In tests it has been shown that a company of novice troops can cover ground faster on theseintermediate - or trials skis than they can on traditional skis. However once the traditional ski usershave received a few weeks of training then they will always beat the trials ski users hands-down. Likeshooting, military skiing is a skill which takes an investment of time & money.For specialist mountain units and special forces on whom the spending on training to match theequipment can be justified the technology has moved on significantly due to advances in the civilianski touring sector crossing over into the military. Remember the skins that run the full length of theski? Norwegian company Åsnes has perfected a system called; skin-lock, whereby a short length of 
the directionally frictional skin can be clamped under the “Kick
-
zone” of the ski
. This means that theski will glide when you want it to and grip when you want it to, while being far more efficient interms of calories burnt than trials skis or snow shoes and easier for novice skiers to learn and masterthan the complex skills of ski waxing
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they also come in tacticool white!
The best of both world;, Åsnes skin-lock system, as yet not adopted by any military on a large scale.
Although there are several alternatives to the traditional 75 mm toe binding I have never seen anythat I would consider robust enough for military use, but there are now many new boot typesavailable in 75 mm that are vastly superior (and cheaper) than those currently being procured by themilitary. An excellent example being the Alpina 1575.

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