Wax Tips

Great Kickwax Video: https://youtu.be/TmqycGpeLh0

Kick wax notes per Betsy Youngman Dec. 2020

Different brands & using different waxes:

Learn one brand first (Swix, Toko, Start, Vauhti, Rex, Rode, and others) and then build on what you learn. Some brands are better for different regions of the country/ world.  Understanding and using the best kick wax for the conditions is like understanding different spices and creating good food, start simple build your knowledge over time.

Kick zone:

The bigger the kick zone the more it slows the ski for glide. Have someone help you define your kick zone, by conducting a “paper test” on a completely flat surface. 

If you aren’t getting good kick then try lengthening the kick zone an inch or two in the front.

Optimal kick zone is under the ball of the foot and just forward of the binding.

Skin skis – the back end of the skin can wear over time and can make the ski faster. A new skin ski can be “catchy” in powder.  

Irons, blue tape & covering glide and kick areas:

You don’t want to get kick wax on glide zone or glide wax on kick zone. 

Either have an iron dedicated to kick waxes and glide waxes of if you only have one iron, clean the iron, with a paper towel or (lint-free rag) before switching from kick to glide wax and opposite.  

Cover kick wax zone with blue, paper tape if you are glide waxing so you don’t get glide wax on the kick zone. ( I don’t do this, but some are more concerned than  I am.)

Preparing the kick zone:

To clean the bases, scrape off as much wax as you can with a thumb scraper, putty knife, or other gentle scraping tool to remove old wax.  Scrape in the direction of travel. You can gently warm the kick wax with an iron before scraping. Use a minimal amount of wax remover or Citrus-based remover.   Lightly sand the kick zone with 120 grit paper, rough it up back and forth.  

Wearing gloves is recommended when preparing skis so as not to be exposed to all the chemicals on your hands.  Latex garden gloves work well as do dedicated waxing gloves.  

After sanding wipe away the grit with lint free paper such as a coffee filter, brown paper towel or special wiping tissue (fibertex) sold at the ski shops.  The skis are now ready to accept wax.  

Now apply binder/base wax, the terms are interchangeable.  Using binder keeps the wax in place and eliminates wax drift (when the wax moves around while skiing).  In most conditions you can ski about 200-300k before you need to redo the skis from the base up.  Open the tin, by peeling back the edge, then hold it at a 45˚ angle and stroke/crayon the binder on in one direction.  You can hold the wax on the iron to soften it a bit first. For best performance, iron in the binder or cork it.  Allow the base wax to completely cool before applying the kick wax, overnight is best.  If you iron the base wax, then cool it lightly and then cork to smooth finish, again make sure it’s not tacky to the touch before adding your next layer of kick wax.  

Dedicate a cork that is specifically for binder or mark one side of cork for use with kick wax and one side for base/binder wax.  To smooth, go back and forth then go in one direction.  Just do one thin coat of binder.  Start and Vauhti binders are more durable than Toko binder/base wax. 

The wax brands that Galena sells are Swix and Toko.

Options for kick wax, corks, temperature & conditions:

Use different kick wax depending on whether the snow is new (fresh), old (regroomed), or icy (transformed).  

Snow holds its temperature overnight so err on the side of cold wax.  You might want to buy a snow thermometer, but a cooking thermometer works also. Snow in the shade is colder than in the sun.  The air temperature changes faster than the snow temperature. 

Layering & pyramid the wax:

Betsy recommends using a synthetic cork and applying 2, 3 or 4 layers of wax in decreasing lengths.  

“Thin to win, thick to stick” – apply wax thinly and cork in smooth.  

If you get rippling or clumping of the kick wax, you can iron and then cork to get it smooth.  Cork in one direction to prevent rippling.  

Wax the length of the kick wax zone and then on subsequent applications go a little shorter so that there is more corked in wax under the foot and just ahead of the binding. The tallest part of the kick zone can take more wax. 

Some special tips on kick waxes to acquire and their optimal conditions:

Swix waxes:

Extra Blue is good for warmer days and a cushion under a colder blue wax.  Blue and Green kick wax is mostly what is used around here in Dec, Jan and the first half of Feb.  For colder weather use green. 

Vauhti:

Betsy, husband Bob and Caitlin Gregg use Vauhti GS “Carrot” for its wide range of temp application (+10- +28F).  It is extremely wear-resistant.  Works best on old cold and dry snow. 

Betsy also uses the GS blue (fine, new & coarse snow) (+14 – +27F) and GS Purple for warmer newer and snow with higher humidity. 

Toko:

Caitlin Gregg also likes Toko red for +10- +29 degrees. 

Toko waxes are wide-range, good for longer days. 

Start waxes:

Oslo:  is sticky – it has some klister in it.  Good for icy, transformed, abrasive, conditions.  It will not scrub off your skis like other “hard” waxes.  Keep wax cold in the refrigerator or cold garage.  Warm up the skis with a cork if outside before applying wax.  Use dedicated cork.  Can iron in Oslo to get it smooth & then can cork or not.  If it is too tacky, or there is fresh snow in the tracks, you can add a layer of hard wax, over it.  

Racing Super Green: (+5 – 19F)

Racing Extra blue: (+18 – +28F)

Purple: (+27 – + 36)

Start Terva waxes:

Has pine tar in it – good in new-fallen snow

Develops a tough outer layer that helps to prevent icing.

Green: (+10- +20F)

Blue: (+20 – +28F)

Red: (+27-+32F)

Synthetic Start waxes:

Exceptionally durable.  Good for “older” re-groomed conditions snow that has been around for a few days or weeks.  Will speed up Terva or Oslo


Special Situations:
Sandwiching waxes:  When to use?

The hard wax over sticky wax makes a cushion. Think marshmellow coated with chocolate. 

Goal: Create some cushion, grip newer snow and yet maintain better glide. 

The colder waxes are harder. You can put a harder wax (like blue or green) on top of softer wax (like red).  After waxing & corking with the softer wax, put it out in the cold to harden the wax.  Bring ski in and immediately apply the colder wax & cork in gently.  Strive for smooth not blobby or blotchy (causes loss of contact with the snow and less kick).  

Warm- wet new snow:

The trickiest waxing is in new falling snow at 30+ degrees F because it can ice.  Good waxes to try: 

Terva Red, Vauhti GF Pink, Rode Weiss, Star Racing Red

Shearing of snow:
When snow is newly fallen and the tracks are “soft” it can “shear” (slide on itself).  Some tricks:  Use a slightly warmer wax, and wax 1-2” longer in the front of your glide zones.  You may also need to adjust your technique – ski a little less aggressively.  


Downhills:

If you notice that your skis feel slow on a gradual downhill, the wax pocket is probably too long, or the wax is too thick, or the wax is too warm or too soft.  If you feel slow on the downhills, put a harder wax over the soft wax.  Inspect your skis and note where you wear wax off that will help you define your wax pocket.  

Where to find waxes and more information:
Boulder Nordic Sport Catalog has a lot of wax options and instructional videos
Enjoy Winter is an online Nordic store that has a good selection of Start waxes and instructional videos

You can buy a separate iron for kick waxing but not necessary, just clean the warm iron with a rag when using for both glide and kick waxing.

Keep a wax journal to learn what works for you and your skis.  

Per Henry instructor at Galena:

If using a warm wax and have corked it in, put the skis outside on the snow so the warm kick wax hardens before skiing.  Getting it colder will harden it and help prevent it from scaping off as quickly since it is a softer wax.  

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