i hate to beat a dead horse, or seem like i am arguing. but this is the one thing about the xc ski industry that really sticks in my craw. wax is the only real "consumables" segment that they can make money on, and boy do they exploit it. i get it from a companys standpoint, but from the consumers standpoint, it sux big swix.
lc, i most often agree with what you have to say, and your advice has been invaluable. but if you have no waxing stuff at all, then a 2 wax system (i'm talking decent wax) will run 25-36 usd in my area just for a green and violet. add 8 for a cork, yes, that's what they cost at a store as im sure you know! i haven't used a real ski scraper always just repurposing other scrapers, but a new one of those if you need it was 10 bux last month. so we are at 42-54. there is no glide wax here. thats another 10 for the cheap stuff. so now an easy 50+.
then, the salesperson will try and convince you that you need a binder wax (which i tend to agree with), so add another 12 at least. $62. plus tax, which may not apply in all areas i suppose.
and the cost at the most popular ski shop in alaska??!! forget it! but i realize that isn't a fair comparison due to cost of living to most places. just sayin'....
anyways, sorry. i'm just hyped up on caffeine and bored
Grip is a big frackin deal.
Yeah, we ski for the magic
of gliding (same passion I have for sailing and windsurfing).
But- when touring- if you don't enough grip, it is either a slippery experience or the skier is HEAVILY relying on poles to get anywhere.
I won't allow my children to learn how to ski with poles (XC and/or downhill)- and when they are learning the basics- I do not take poles for myself when I ski with them.
When touring- If one needs to use their poles to get anywhere- one does not have enough grip.
There are many contexts where waxless scales provide adequate grip- but there are more situations where scales do not provide enough grip.
In my limited experience- Nordic ski shops are geared towards performance track skiing- the skier that is new to grip wax is quickly overwhelmed by obnoxious fitness-arrogance and the details of performance waxing that only apply to performance track XC skiing (i.e. RACING!!!! not TOURING!!!!)
(I continue to use a very simplistic approach to grip waxing (the same one that I use off-track) and it serves me well- and I am often a few kilometres down the trail by the time obsessive waxers have sighed and decided to stop fiddling and get on the track).
I have heard it a thousand times when I need to stop at the shop- verbal download of details and products to maximize performance, which appeals to the fitness-oriented, and the racers alike. After 10 or 15 minutes, when the customer finally gets a chance to speak and say something like "I really just want to get out and tour on skis"- they are told "Oh, well you should just get a waxless-scaled ski- they are so much easier for people that aren't serious
I have heard as many thousand stories of backcountry or downhill skiers dimissing grip wax to new skiers, suggesting it is useless for touring and only applies to performance track racing.
Now- with the right ski and the right conditions, scales provide enough grip- agreed.
But- I continue to meet Nordic ski tourers that have spent years on skis, that have never actually felt what it is like to weight a ski and get enough grip to efficiently glide forwards- the shock, surprise and pure joy that is on their face- I will never get tired of seeing it!
The big "secret" when it comes to grip waxing for true touring/trekking (i.e. NOT
racing) is that when it comes to grip wax
- GRIP is more important than glide
. The MAGIC of grip wax is that it not only grips- it also glides!!!
Even when the snow is so cold that my Polar wax grips- on the entire base(!)- the ski still glides, still glides better than a scaled ski- and, the difference in the grip is like night and day.
My wife is an expert Alpine skier- her muscle and mind memory will always expect to feel the perfect glide of a perfectly tuned and waxed Alpine ski. Every time she sets out on a grip-waxed ski- she initially feels the slight resistance of grip wax on the tip of the ski and grimaces at me "They are sticking too much!" Then- after she pushes down and starts flying down the trail- and up the hill- the grimace is replaced with pure joy and the desire to push herself and the skis to their limit!
Slipping and sliding around on Nordic touring skis may be more fun than sitting on the couch- but it is exhausting!
I agree getting setup to grip wax your skis requires a bit more cash than just buying a waxless scaled ski- but, if you haven't experienced what grip wax can do for your Nordic skiing, you have no idea what you are missing out on.
Don't get me wrong here- there are snow conditions where grip wax doesn't work (though I have yet to see a situation where klister or a kicker skin isn't better than scales...).
A skier can live in a climate where scales are potentially better than grip wax- but, it doesn't help anyone to suggest that is true everywhere.
And suggesting that grip wax is too much bother, too expensive, or even offers less performance is likely more a result of just being uncomfortable and inexperienced with grip wax than it is based on experience.