Buy Wax, Go Fast
A Guide to Ski and Snowboard Waxes
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No matter what level of skier or rider you are, or what type of skis or board you ride, everyone needs wax. From ski racers to noobs lapping the bunny slope, wax is the common thread connecting all manner of winter alpine snow sliders. Unless you are in the racing community, the type of wax that you use is often overlooked — but it shouldn’t be. You can buy a $1,600 snowboard and expect to be the fastest man on the mountain (assuming a certain level of skill and courage) but without the right wax, you might as well be riding an original Snurfer. These waxes will help keep your skis and boards operating at peak performance and increase their longevity.
Toko All-in-One Hot Wax
Best All-Temp Ski Wax: When it comes to ski waxes, most reach for an all-temp wax — and not all are created equal. Toko’s non-flouro all-in-one wax works well in snow conditions from 50 degrees Fahrenheit down to negative 20. As an added bonus, it is also Bluesign approved and biodegradable. While all-temp waxes won’t get you to the bottom fastest, they will keep your base from drying out and make sure that you’re sliding quickly and smoothly in all temperatures.
Best Warm Weather Race Wax: The biggest name in race wax is Swix and their HF10BW is the best of their warm-weather offerings. While it can be used as a base for powders such as FC10X, when used alone it protects your base on warm, manmade contaminated snow. (Often, manmade snow has oils in it that can clog the pores of your base and slow you down.) Swix’s HF10BW protects against that and also has a high-flouro content and a hard compound to get you sliding smoothly across boxes and rails. It’s good in temperatures ranging from 32 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Cold-Weather Race Wax: When the temps drop and you are lined up in the gatehouse, you best have your skis waxed with Swix’s HF4. The Norwegian company’s best cold-weather race wax is intended for temperatures ranging from 10 down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. HF4 also features a new nanotechnology developed specifically for snow with dry friction conditions that are frequently experienced in the Rockies and Wasatch mountain ranges.
Dakine Indy Hot Wax
Best All-Temp Snowboard Wax: Dakine produces a host of great snowboard tools and waxing accessories, but they also produce great all-temp wax. Their Indy Hot Wax is a favorite of ours for days when the temperature is going to change dramatically, especially during the shoulder seasons on the East Coast. It comes at an affordable price point and is also a great wax to throw on your board before putting it away for the season.
Bluebird Wax Box Black Graphite Warm
Best Warm Weather Snowboard Wax: Wyoming‘s Bluebird Wax sponsors a stellar team of pro riders including Travis Rice, Nicolas Mueller and John Jackson. Their Black Graphite Warm Wax is perfect when the snow is slushy and warm with a consistency akin to mashed potatoes. It is also made in the USA, so you can feel good about where your money is going.
Oneball X-Wax Cold
Best Cold-Weather Snowboard Wax: Waxing for cold temperatures can be a hassle and most people don’t bother going through the necessary process. Oneball makes it easy with their X-Wax Cold. The package comes with two bars, a rub-on graphite and a hot wax. First rub on the smaller graphite bar, then hot wax like usual. According to Oneball Jay’s website, “The X-Wax series is the fastest offering from Oneball. Because second still sucks!”
Holmenkol Natural Ski-Wax Paste
Best Paste Wax: For those who don’t have access to the tools or space needed to hot wax a board, paste waxes are an adequate stand-in. While they don’t last nearly as long as a hot wax, they still provide base protection and speed. German company Holmenkol is lesser known in the US, but is popular in Europe and makes an excellent paste wax.
Swix FX Rub-on Wax
Best Rub-On Wax Like paste wax, rub-on wax is a quick and easy alternative to hot waxing. If you are a first-chair, last-call type of person, you will likely need a couple of applications throughout the day. Thankfully though, rub-on wax bars are easy to toss in your pocket as is a polishing cork (recommended) for easy re-upping in-between runs.
Hertel Liquid Super Hot Sauce
Best Spray-On Wax: Liquid spray-on waxes are fairly new to the game, and offer a welcome alternative to rub-ons and pastes. Hertel’s Liquid Super Hot Sauce spray-on wax has “tiny surfactants from the wax spray that get lodged into the pores of your ski or snowboard surface.” What this translates to is reduced ski and board friction and therefore speed. The two-ounce bottle can easily be carried in a pocket for easy application between runs.
Beaver Wax Soy
Best Environmentally Friendly Wax: Like it or not, flouro waxes are damaging to the environment. As they interact with the snow and slowly seep out of your base, they eventually end up in the water table — contaminating the water supply. Beaver Wax’s soy-based wax is an environmentally friendly option that offers similar performance without a guilty conscience. It can be used as a hot wax or a rub-on wax.