Ski season is just around the corner. As the days get cold and rainy in the city, the mountains are hammered with the first heavy snow of the season. Before we know it, we’ll be in the middle of winter, enjoying everything Washington skiing has to offer. If you’re anything like me, you probably skied late into the season last year in less-than-ideal spring conditions, often over patchy coverage with exposed rocks, and it’s safe to say you’re in dire need of a tune-up. Paying a professional when all you need is a fresh coat of wax or a quick edge tune can be costly and a waste of time. If you’re gearing up for ski season, continue reading below for Ski Prep 101: Snowboard and Ski Waxing & Tuning for Beginners.
When to Wax Your Skis
Waxing your skis regularly can help protect the base and edges from abrasion and premature wear and decrease drag, allowing you to ski with less resistance and more finesse. How often you wax your skis or snowboard depends on the frequency you use them and your experience level. You should wax your skis in the following scenarios:
You buy new skis: If you’re a new skier, you can ride the factory coat for a decent chunk of your season without any issues. If you’re an experienced skier, you’ll want to replace the factory coat with a fresh hot coat ASAP.
Snow conditions change: Consider waxing your skis if snow conditions change, like if you’re preparing for a powder day, warmer temperatures, or an especially chilly trip. Waxes vary based on snow temperature and moisture
You’re Skiing a New Region: Heading to the Rockies for a quick ski trip? Wax your skis before you hit the slopes on varying snow types.
You spot burrs or surface damage: Wax your skis if you spot any pronounced chalky/ gray residue on the base of your skis/ snowboard.
At the end of ski season: Rewax your skis or snowboard at the end of ski season to keep your skis/ board from drying out over the offseason.
Ski Waxing Supplies
Ski waxing at home may seem intimidating, but it’s easy and relatively cost-effective. For the cost of supplies, you can wax your skis hundreds of times at home rather than pay anywhere from $10 to $50 or more for someone to do it for you. To get started, you’ll need the following ski waxing supplies:
Ski Waxing iron (use a ski-specific waxing iron) - preferably with a digital thermostat
Brushes (Nylon and Bronze)
Ski supports / vices
Ski brake retainers (like industrial-strength rubber bands)
Wax (first timers start with all-temperature wax)
Step 1: Prepare Your Waxing Area
Prep your workspace by putting down floor protection (a tarp or garbage bags), setting up your waxing table, and securing your skis/ snowboard with vice grips.
Step 2: Prep Your Skis/ Snowboard
To prep your skis for wax, loop the ski brake retainers (large rubber bands) around the brake and heel piece of your bindings. Next, apply the base cleaner/ condition with a sponge to remove any road salt, debris, or contaminants. Then, use the bronze brush to remove anything leftover on the base of your skis/ snowboard.
Step 3: Apply the Wax
Heat the ski waxing iron to the correct temperature for your chosen wax. Ensure the iron isn’t smoking when you apply the wax. Turn the iron over and hover the top corner of the iron over the base of the ski. Carefully hold the wax against the base of the iron and drizzle the wax along the length of the ski/ snowboard, from tip to tail. Try to drip the wax in solid lines an inch apart down the length of the ski. Be careful to not burn yourself.
Step 4: Work in the Wax
Using your iron, work the wax into the base of the skis by slowly ironing from tip to tail until the wax has completely melted and evenly coated across the base of the skis/ snowboard. You should have a few-inch trail of shiny, molten wax behind your iron, otherwise, you may be going too fast. Let the wax cool for 30 minutes or until it is cool to the touch.
Step 5: Brush and Scrape
Use the edge scraper to scrape off excess wax by pushing or pulling the scraper the length of the ski/ snowboard from tip to tail. Be sure to clean any excess drips off the edges. Next, use the bronze brush to brush the base of the skis/ snowboard from tip to tail to remove any unbounded wax. Finish with a nylon brush, brushing in both directions.
Prep for ski season with Gearhouse. Stay tuned to our blog for more useful ski prep tips, and keep an eye on our event calendar for ski season activities and community events. Don’t want to invest in your own tools quite yet (or get wax all over your kitchen)? Gearhouse offers regular community ski and snowboard waxing nights for members.