Why Do Skiers Wax Their Skis?

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Ski waxing is critical for mountain success, but it’s often overlooked by a majority of skiers who spend a lot of time on the slopes.

Skiers wax their skis in order to decrease the friction of the skis on the snow. Many people think ski waxing is unnecessary because snow is believed to always be slippery, but waxed skis can help improve movement on varying snow conditions as well as prolong ski life.

What Does Ski Wax Do?

Ski wax does a lot for skiers of all abilities. When you’re flying down trails, wax helps your skis perform efficiently. Friction decreases speed so the goal of wax on the mountain is to allow your skis to slide with limited friction.

Waxing may not seem critical on a perfect powder day or when you’re attacking a perfect groomer, but as conditions get worse wax plays a pivotal role.

When snow gets really slushy, it’s very hard to pick up speed and make turns down the trail. There aren’t many days where you experience perfect conditions from first to last chair so it’s always smart to have waxed skis.

The wax will create a more enjoyable ride for the times of the day when snow conditions get challenging.

Wax also helps with ski longevity. This is more critical than performing well in my opinion because skis are an investment. Ski prices can venture north of $1,000 so you want to make sure that you make them last and waxing is the best way for this to happen.

Friction destroys surfaces so even though snow may seem like it doesn’t grind your ski bases, it takes its toll over time. Friction on snow causes your skis to dry out which will decrease the time that they’ll be safe to use on the mountain.

If you’ve ever had a pair of skis where the bottoms were fading from their original color, this means that your skis were drying out. As they continue to fade, skis can actually shrink which can cause them to get brittle and lose their performance ability.

Another fact about waxing that skiers often forget is that wax helps with carving capability. Wax provides a layer of protection against moisture so you’ll be able to make sharper turns for a longer period of time because your edges will take longer to dull.

Wax is needed to keep the skis healthy and performing well so don’t think waxing is a waste of your time even if you’re not the most advanced skier.

Do You Need to Wax Your Skis?

Yes, yes, and yes again. The answer to this question will always be yes because as I mentioned before wax prolongs ski life and helps make epic turns on all trails.

Consistent waxing isn’t necessary for someone that makes two trips to the mountain per year, but if you make an investment in skis it’s a great idea to take care of them. Skis are meant to last so if your skis become brittle and you haven’t been waxing, that’s the primary reason.

Before I knew the importance of ski waxing, I never did it to any of my skis. I would always see my dad doing it to his skis, but the importance didn’t register in my mind.

I was 16 years old skiing on a pair of skis I owned for probably 4 years and I hit a spring day where the whole mountain was loaded with corn snow. I could barely slide on the snow and I had no speed at all.

By the end of the day when my friends were blowing me off the mountain, I realized how important ski waxing was for long term success so please take my advice, so this doesn’t happen to you on the mountain.

Do You Need to Wax New Skis?

Brand new skis don’t need to be waxed, but I recommend that you still wax them to set yourself up for long term success. Skis typically come pre waxed, but you never know how long ago this wax took place in the factory.

Factory wax most likely has already dried out once you get your new skis so it’s a good idea to wax to create epic early runs. Old wax will slow you down and it will contribute to your skis drying out so it’s not necessary, but I still recommend waxing a new pair of skis.

Waxing will only help ski longevity and performance so never fear a tune up. I don’t wax my skis every trip, but I try to wax them once every couple of weeks and depending on expected terrain, I may add an additional wax to make sure I’m sliding with ease.

Choosing the Right Type of Wax

Ski waxes come in various styles for different conditions and performance desires. Choosing the right ski wax can be tough because of the vast amount of possibilities on the market.

The most common type of ski wax is block wax. This lasts the longest amount of time and it’s the best base wax for great mountain performance. You heat it up with an iron and then distribute it evenly across the bottom of your skis. Once it cools you have to scrape it off the ski base and you’ll be ready to attack the trails.

Block wax is the long-term wax solution, but there’s many other products that provide speed and health, but don’t last nearly as long.

Liquid wax is applied to skis with a cloth. This can be applied over block wax for added performance, but this is unnecessary unless you’re competing in a race. This is easier to apply, but it only provides a day or two of protection on the mountain so don’t mistake the longevity of liquid wax for block wax.

Paste wax is similar to liquid wax, but it’s even easier to use. It doesn’t need to be heated and all a skier has to do is buff it into the bottom of their skis. It doesn’t last nearly as long as block wax, but it’s a great choice when you have time constraints, or you just want a quick tune up for your epic day of shredding.

Powder and spray wax are two other types of waxes on the market. These should be applied as additives to your base wax because I’ve learned that they’re really just speed enhancers. Don’t rely on these two types for long term protection.

When choosing a wax, always start with block wax. It’s the number one way to keep your skis healthy and performing efficiently.

Wax is critical for skiers of all abilities and once you do it for the first time, you’ll experience a notable increase in sliding ability while getting the most out of your purchase for years to come.