the magic and power of grip wax

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lilcliffy

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:51 am

greatgt wrote:Thinking go with the wax pocket....In these conditions below zero skiing the snow will be slow to begin with...


So- I have been thinking about TM's comment here for a few days now...My 15-year-old son made a similar comment when I grip waxed up the Eon Wax from tip to tail for him...

So- here is what I just did last night with one of my skis (E109 Tour):

1) Swix Polar from the heel forwards to the very tip.
2) Kick wax of the day (currently Swix Green) on top of the Polar- just in the kick zone.
3) Hot glide wax on the tail.

When XC skiing, your grip comes from the downward pressure, with the ball of foot fully-weighted, and your weight is on the kickzone and the tip of the ski. This is why the traditional wisdom- when kick waxing (for touring- not racing)- is that if you are slipping, is to first extend the kick wax forwards- before moving to a softer wax.

When XC skiing- when you glide forwards- the heel is down on the lead ski- with glide weight on the tail. This is why traditional wisdom is that putting kick wax on the tail- for XC skiing- doesn't really improve grip- it simply reduces some glide. (In fact, if you extend kick wax behind your actual kick zone, you will end up smearing it onto the tail as you glide forwards.)

When climbing- again- one must push down in order to get grip- similar to XC skiing- which is why a skin under the kick zone- and extending on to the tip- offers the most increase in traction. So- similarly- if you are slipping when climbing- extending grip wax forwards on to the tip will increase grip. Obviously, a full-length skin will provide maximum grip when climbing- as it holds the entire ski on a steep slope- but when climbing extreme slopes- grip definitely is more important than glide.

So- here's the thing- the art of Nordic Touring is very different than just climbing an extreme slope.

When Nordic Touring one wants both GRIP AND GLIDE.

So my thinking is that if getting extra grip on the tail provides a limited increase in grip- with a noticeable loss of glide-

Then perhaps the best compromise, is very hard grip wax from the heel forwards on to the tip, and glide wax on the tail?

Should be able to compare this with the fully-grip-waxed base tomorrow and into the weekend...
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lilcliffy

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:58 am

SanfordM wrote:Now you make me wanna do the same, Cliffy. How long does it last?

As long as the snow is not abrasive it lasts for weeks- with occasional 5 minutes touch ups. Without abrasive snow I probably spend 20 minutes a week touching this up with grip wax and cork- and I ski 5-7 days a week at this time of year (approx. 10kms on average per day- a bit less on a busy workday- more on a less busy day or weekend).

It's when the snow gets transformed and abrasive that is the question of longevity. I am wondering whether it might be better to iron in base binder first- then cork in the layer of Polar...This would be much more durable- much better wax retention. Base binder certainly improves wax retention in the kick zone, so why not under a hard grip wax as a base binder for the entire base?

Certainly, the wax retention of kick wax on top of a harder grip wax (e.g. Poalr) gives much better wax retention than kick wax on top of hard glide wax.
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lowangle al

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lowangle al » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:29 pm

I think I would put the wax of the day directly on top of base binder. I don't think it will bond as well to the polar in abrasive snow. Let us know.

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lilcliffy » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:08 am

t-$ wrote:hey!

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 :lol:



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 about skiing..."

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.
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lilcliffy

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lilcliffy » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:21 am

BTW- I am NOT an expert on waxing- and that is my point.
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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby t-$ » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:38 pm

hey lc,

i hope i wasn't being too argumentative earlier! and thanks for correcting my thread drift, btw.

anywho, i completely agree with what you stated above. on all points. my little rant in the other thread wasn't that scales are better or something, it was just that from a fiscal standpoint, waxless might have an edge over wax skis. and that it might be tough for a complete novice to get waxing for $20 if they want to do it right and experience the greatness of glidewax.

i am no expert at waxing either! for sure i have struck out on my wax choice on many occasions. just the other night in fact i could have used a much softer wax. (oh yeah, and i forgot klister in my little price list earlier...add that to the bill :D :evil: )

i am slowly coming to the conclusion that for a total newby a waxless ski may be superior. just for the ease of it (and the cost). if the newby has an experienced skiier and waxer that is teaching them, then whatever, lucky them. but if not, as you know it can be a frustrating waste of time and money that might make a person ski less than they would. let them have fun and get hooked on waxless, then discover what they had been missing all along when they first ski on wax and feel the magic!

the art and science of waxing is great, though, isn't it?! happy weekend...

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lowangle al » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:02 pm

Skiing on waxless skis is like taking a jump with a rubber on, still worthwhile but not as good as it can be.

The cost of waxing isn't all that high. Even with waxless skis I use a cork and a tube of polar or other glide wax, and a scraper is a good thing to have if you ever get your bases wet crossing a wet spot and then get into cold snow that will freeze to your bases. I think you can get by with as little as 3 or 4 tubes of different waxes and even the one you use most should last a few seasons.

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby Lars » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:57 pm

Is a spray wax an acceptable compromise between doing nothing and a hard/tube wax?

Pros and cons?

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby teleclub » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:18 pm

lowangle al wrote:...The cost of waxing isn't all that high. Even with waxless skis I use a cork and a tube of polar or other glide wax, and a scraper is a good thing to have if you ever get your bases wet crossing a wet spot and then get into cold snow that will freeze to your bases. I think you can get by with as little as 3 or 4 tubes of different waxes and even the one you use most should last a few seasons.

That's been my experience too.
The price and cost consideration must be different for people standing in a shop looking at different pairs of skis, waxable or waxless, and all skis look surprisingly expensive to beginners, even with package deals.

Skiing, like cycling, is one of those sports where it's hard for beginners to appreciate the value decent equipment provides. You hear beginner shoppers look at a line of new bikes and say "I can't believe a bike costs $300!" Alpine skiing succeed long ago in creating the impression that spending a lot of money is part of the allure :roll: so people don't balk at $700 skis (for a once a year trip even) because it's a ticket to the jetset. But that same beginner in a nordic shop looking at half-price left-over touring skis will say "I can't believe these skis cost $200!, why so much?!" In that mood, someone is also telling them you need this $8 cork and this $6 scraper, and then this $12 blue wax, but you should probably take along this purple too, just in case... Then you hear, "but if I get these I don't need any of that stuff right?"

L-A is right that really you still need at least a scraper and glide wax with scale skis too. And he's right along with LC that the actual experience of gripping and gliding is complete with waxless, and only a pale imitation with scales.

In my own ski-money history back when I was buying skis at ski-swaps as a graduate student, you never saw used scales at swaps in the 90s or oughts (even the cheapest package junk scales were rare), but you'd see a line of surprisingly decent used waxable skis for sale. Probably because they were so much more common back then than scales (?), but I knew folks who concluded from that: waxing must be heinous if everybody wants to get rid of their waxable skis.

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Re: the magic and power of grip wax

Postby lilcliffy » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:29 pm

t-$ wrote:hey lc,

i hope i wasn't being too argumentative earlier! and thanks for correcting my thread drift, btw.

OH! NO worries- didn't take you as "argumentative"- not that I have any problems with a good healthy argument!
Expressing and debating ideas is critical to any meaningful learning!

anywho, i completely agree with what you stated above. on all points. my little rant in the other thread wasn't that scales are better or something, it was just that from a fiscal standpoint, waxless might have an edge over wax skis. and that it might be tough for a complete novice to get waxing for $20 if they want to do it right and experience the greatness of glidewax.

Well- it certainly is more expensive- you do have to buy wax and cork.

I guess I am not convinced that cash is the main reason why new skiers are avoiding grip wax. I believe that the established, experienced ski community is mostly to blame for it. Those that are into performance racing- and are catering to customers that are (including the people that pretend they are)- make waxing overwhelming and far too complicated and complex- I often think people in their arrogance actually get off on this. (In reality- SERIOUS racers keep their waxing recipes and techniques quite secret in hopes of having that extra bit of grip and speed on race day.) There is this ridiculous attitude that Nordic touring isn't serious skiing- so, if you are "only" touring then anything that has a binding will do. This phenomenon is uniquely 21st-century and North American- Nordic touring is a way of life in other parts of the world- and being able to grip and glide your way thru the landscape is considered VERY serious skiing. HECK - Asnes doesn't even make skis for the track- nor do they make any waxless skis!

i am slowly coming to the conclusion that for a total newby a waxless ski may be superior. just for the ease of it (and the cost).

This is where I disagree with you in general- it sure isn't easier if you are miserably slipping all over the place. In my neck of the woods, Nordic skiing is also becoming thought of as something that can only be done by people that are very fit- that it is too physically demanding otherwise (this is part of what is driving a choice of snowshoes over skis). This attitude is also a result of not having enough grip as well- my dear 72-year old friend can easily ski great distances in the backcountry- chiefly because he has enough grip!
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