Waxing takes time. But wax makes skis sail.
Paste glide waxes are important for the recreational skier who wants fast gliding skis, but who does not want time consuming maintenance. Pastes are a combination of a rub-on solid and a liquid wax. The solids treat the surface of the base, but do not penetrate the base, while the liquid penetrates into the base, but generally is not durable (the inexpensive ones at least).
What’s the secret for applying paste glide waxes? DO NOT let the wax dry and gel on the ski base. For the fastest and most durable wax job, apply the paste evenly over the entire base of the ski; then immediately wipe the excess off and polish it. This leaves a micro-thin layer of wax over the ski base. Allowing the wax to gel before polishing leaves too much wax on the base. Excess wax slows the ski down and causes more friction pulling the wax off the ski base.
High fluoro pastes are quite fast, but are not good for backcountry use under skins. Instead, use pastes that do not contain fluorine or rub-on solids. High fluoro pastes are so slippery that they prevent the skins from sticking to the ski base.
Waxless skis offer a somewhat compromised, yet simple opportunity to enjoy skiing with little time spent on preparation. To maintain waxless skis, prevent dirt from sticking to the “tread pattern” or grip zone. Two products specifically designed for waxless skis shun dirt build up: Swix Easy Glide and Toko Grip and Glide. Before skiing, apply either of these two products to the entire base of waxless skis--both the gliding surfaces as well as the grip zone. Not only will these wax products make the ski glide easier, but they will prevent the grip zone from picking up dirt. In addition, in new snow at freezing temperatures, grip patterns will resist snow build up and clumping of snow sticking to the bases. After skiing, clean the bases with wax remover to ensure removal of any dirt stuck in crevices.
For classic skiers who do not want to compromise with no-wax skis in all conditions and are willing to do a bit of extra base preparation, simple and easy-to-use grip wax products have wide ranges of use. These waxes should only be used with waxable classic skis, not with waxless skis! Cleaning kick wax or klister out of the tread pattern of a waxless ski is painfully difficult.
For simple classic ski grip waxing, Toko offers the Sportline Grip waxes (XCold, Cold and Warm) while Swix promotes the four-wax system (Blue Extra, Violet Special, Red Special and Red/Silver). Best in non-transformed snow--snow that is not corned up or icy--these waxes print recommended conditions or snow temperatures on the tins and can also be mixed if the temperature seems to fall between the advice. Apply three layers of these waxes to the ski’s grip zone while smoothing the wax with a cork between each layer.
In very wet or transformed snow, use klisters. To apply klister, warm the tube, so the wax comes out easily. Then, apply it evenly to the kick zone of the base, covering the entire ski’s width. Smooth the klister with a “klister spreader” or a thumb. Toko markets Sportline Universal Klister, its best overall and most universal klister. Following its four-wax approach, Swix offers four klisters based on snow type and temperature: Blue Ice, Silver Universal, Universal and Red Wet Snow.
Spend just a little time waxing and your skiing will be much more pleasurable.
Article is by Ian Harvey. Ian Harvey is a past U.S. Ski Team member, U.S. National Champion and represented the U.S. in the 1992 Olympics.