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Klister | don't be afraid of it

Klister | don't be afraid of it

No way Jose.  I'll never use klister.

We've seen it a lot.  People come into the store looking at waxes and asking for recommendations.  When we mention klister there is an instantaneous change, as if the person has entered fight-or-flight mode.  Eyes widen, their complexion goes white and they get into the ready stance.  

panic face

It's unfortunate there are so many horror stories about this stuff.  It can turn a dull day into a skiable paradise.  For some conditions it means the difference between pure frustration and blissful skiing.  As long as you're not a Steve Urkel while applying it, it can be a pain free experience.  

It's kind of like training a dog.  As long as you know what you're doing and establish who's boss right off the bat, you can have a long and rewarding relationship.

Ok... what is it?

Klister is the stickiest kind of grip wax you can get.  It's the consistency of honey and sticky enough to affix your ski to a wall.  (Don't try this at home.) 

Traditionally it comes in tubes which are famous for leaking as soon as you get them out of the store.  Nowadays however you can get it in sprays and press on applicator cans.  So no excuses.


When do I use it?

Klister is the gold medal winner when the snow is old and the tracks are glazed and shiny, when the snow has melted and refrozen into ice (or icy ball bearings), and when it is so warm the snow is really wet.

Rule of thumb: try a sticky hard wax first.  If you can't get any of your hard waxes to work, it's time to klister up.  

glazed ski trail

What kind do I need?

Klister comes in temperature ranges, like hard waxes.  If you are a serious skier with lots of time on your hands for testing waxes, you might want to try out the different klisters.

For almost all conditions however, all you need is Universal.  Even World Cup racers rely on Universal.  Ice is the only condition where Universal may not work so well - in this case an Ice Klister comes in handy.

Swix Universal and Ice Klister 

You can also get a klister base spray that can be used under hard wax or your klister of the day.  This is handy when conditions are aggressive.  Just spray a thin layer onto your kick zone, wait 3 minutes, then apply your top wax.

Klister base spray

How do I apply it?

The skiers who are terrified of klister have seen how NOT to apply it.  Cold tube, no scraper, goopy klister strings everywhere.... this is when the panic sets in as everything you touch becomes semi-permanently adhered to you.  

applying cold klister to ski

The first step to taming your klister is to keep it in a Ziploc freezer bag.  It's got to be a freezer bag - a flimsy 100-calorie snack bag is not going to cut it.  Don't underestimate the power of klister to escape from it's container!  

Next step: warm the klister to room temperature.  It's cranky when cold.  You can put the tube in a glass of warm water; just be careful with this as warm klister expands and can explode out the top of your tube when you take the lid off.

Now to apply it to your ski.  Take a deep breath and remember who's boss.  Take your klister out of its bag, speak some calming words to it, and take the lid off. 

If you're using a tube, dab a pattern of thin lines on the kick zone of your ski (see photo).  Some skiers like to use a shorter kick zone for klister.  If you can, use a hair dryer to gently heat the klister, then use the scraper that came with the tube (or your thumb) to spread the stuff into a thin layer.  (You can also use an iron for this.)  You only need one layer. 

Toko applying klister to ski

If you're using a spray or a press on applicator can, just follow the simple directions on the container.

Now let your skis cool off outside for five minutes while you clean up with wax remover.  If you set them down on the snow while the klister is still warm they will ice up.  And if you're transporting them anywhere, put them in a ski bag.  The last thing you want is klister on your car upholstery or smeared all over your skate skis and Thule box.


This isn't as hard as you think.  Scrape as much klister as you can off your skis while they are still cold.  Spray on some wax remover, let it sit a minute, then rub the remaining wax off with Fiberlene.

Uh oh... problems

Icing up.  This sucks.  It could be your klister is the wrong temperature range, or you applied too thick a layer.  It can also happen if you stand still for too long.  Keep shuffling your skis back and forth to prevent this.

Exploding tubes.  This also sucks.  Make sure your klister is kept in a cool place; warm klister expands, and this is not pretty.  

I got klister on my expensive Nordic sweater!  Oh boy... sorry.  We have no solutions.  Even if you Google this there aren't any answers.  Hang the sweater up on the wall to remind you of just how wrong things can go.  And roll up your sleeves next time ;) 

klister on sweater

Previous article Which SUP is right for you: hard board or inflatable?


ebsadventure - December 22, 2023

Icing up. Soooo many ways to ice up in the variable conditions around 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit) . Sometimes on a groomed trail in wet snow conditions the icing up is just a thin film of water on the ski that freezes on your grip wax when skiing slowly and it noticeably reduces your glide. If you are lucky a vigorous kick will banish that ice film. But different conditions will result in iceup even while skiing vigorously. Once you’ve got that ice on the skis, wet snow will want to stick to it as well. which will really slow you down. Also I’ve skied in fresh warm snow conditions where I’ve experienced ice up on wax skis, as well as freshly waxed crown skis. It can be that thin film of ice, or again you start collecting snowballs (snow sticking to ice film on your skis) which pretty much brings you to a plodding walk on elevator skis. Solutions? Nothing is sure fire, but here’s a few suggestions: zero spray over your kick wax if you have it, apply universal klister if you’ve been skiing on hard wax, apply hard wax over klister if that’s icing up, take up skate skiing, slap on a skin (if it’s backcountry skis). or try out skin skis. I haven’t had problems with icing up since I switched to skin skis (using an anti icing skin care solution key here) for those tough to wax for conditions. Good luck.

Neil - December 22, 2023

Icing up- can we define this? I see people mention it and I get the sense different people mean different things. Is it when your kick wax/klister is grabbing snow and ballling up or it actually has ice on it. I dunno, I was away from the sport for a while and things like this I don’t remember. I’m having a hard time kick waxing with the Midwest stuck between 28-40 degrees so far this December. And once or twice I think I’ve iced up, but not sure. Thanks!

ebsadventure - February 17, 2023

Hi David,
Sounds like pretty tricky conditions to wax for. It really depends on the last precipitation the traIl gets, and what it is. Like if you get a bunch of rain followed up by snow and cold – not klister. But if there’s lots of warmth/ rain but no followup snow and they don’t get a chance to really rip it up grooming for the event – probably klister. If there’s a deep snow base, they may be able to dredge up good snow – meaning probably not klister. So many ifs here – its hard to be definitive. If it is a klister situation, and it’s -18 overnight, I would stick with the klister base binder and ice klister (unless its really warming up above 0, and the event it later in the day, and the warmth can get at the trail). Below 0, if find the universal klister less effective and it strips off quickly on icy trails. Grip tape tends to get stripped off in icy conditions – so that wouldn’t be my recommendation.

Look at the blog post for good info on klister application:

Hope this helps – Cheers Jeff

David - February 17, 2023

This message is more for Jeff the wax expert there…………actually I have my answer somewhat but like most here in Eastern Ontario; we too hate using Klister on our skis………….I haven’t applied t since the late 80’s…….OK………so on the 18th of this month I have a 15k classic ski event in Quebec……….thing is leading up to this event Jeff they will be getting a mix of rain/snow more mild temps………….the day of the event the temp will plummet to -18C overnight so my guess is the tracks will be like a skating rink………….Universal Klister come to mind??
When and how to apply this goo again…………
OR………….I have these grip strips made by SWIX which I have also used and they aren’t bad but tend to tear off after only 1 ski??

ebsadventure - March 19, 2021

Hi Daniel,
Yes you can put hard wax on top of klister. Make sure your klister layer is really thin. Set it outside until it’s cold, then crayon your hard wax on top. Cork lightly – you want to smooth the hard wax but not mix the layers. Good to go!
-the Eb’s team

Daniel Selikowitz - March 19, 2021

I was confused by one thing….can blister ever be applied first then hard wax goes on after? I bought universal spray on klister

ebsadventure - December 10, 2020

Hi Casey,
In short, yes. You can easily apply a softer wax over a harder one, and klister is the softest wax. However you don’t want too thick a wax layer so it’s recommended that you start with a clean base.
-the Eb’s team

Casey - December 10, 2020

If a skier arrived at a dk center with a traditional kick wax applied but conditions are different than expected could one apply kilster over a kick wax?

Jay Bauer - March 24, 2020

Very informative article, good work!

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