There are a few different approaches to stocking your wax box. Some people like to stick with one brand, others like to find those "gems" from each brand that seem to work particularly well for local conditions. Neither system is better than the other; it's more of a subjective thing. Whatever suits your personality.
All the major wax brands make good waxes. They are all used on the World Cup circuit. One thing you can do is take a look at where the brand originates. Swix is Norwegian, Start and Vaughti are Finnish, Rode is Italian, Ski-Go is Swedish. Finland has similar conditions to Saskatchewan; it makes sense that the Start and Vaughti waxes work well here.
Being skiers, coaches and racers ourselves, plus having a long and close connection to the local ski community, we have found some tried and true waxes for Saskatchewan conditions. This blog will outline some of these waxes and the accessories we believe should be in every skiers wax box.
1. Rode Special Green An old favourite and affectionately known as "Rode 10-30", this kick wax has a huge range (-10° to -30°) and is reliable whenever the temperatures get cold. It's great on the fine grained snow we often get here.
2. Swix Blue Extra Swix's most popular grip wax, this is a must for your wax kit. It is often perfect for those gorgeous days when the temperature is a little below zero.
3. Vaughti Carrot This kick wax is well known for its versatility and covers the range below zero to about -4°. If the snow is old or it's humid out this range stretches to -6° or more.
4. Vaughti Super Pink This has to be a great wax just because it has the word "super" in it. Seriously though... it can be very useful around freezing and can even be applied over klister when conditions call for that kind of wax layering. (Just make sure you get the klister good and cold before you attempt to apply a hard wax on top.)
5. Swix Universal Klister Believe it or not, this stuff is used on the World Cup circuit. It's useful in a variety of warm conditions and is a go-to warm wax for many people. You can get it in a traditional tube with scraper, or you can buy the easy-apply can so you don't have to get your hands mucky. Ice is the one condition it does not do well on; go to Ice Klister in those conditions.
6. Swix Blue Ice Klister If you look down the track and the sun is reflected back at you, it's icy. Time to reach for this stuff, which is about the only thing that is going to work, which makes it ESSENTIAL to have in your wax box.
7. Swix VX53 & 43 New stuff from Swix: this pair of racing kick waxes is packed with fluorocarbons that reduce icing in high humidity conditions. On the World Cup circuit, they use them as thin finishing layers over top of other hard wax.
8. Swix Grip Tape It may seem hokey, but this stuff is darn cool. Kevin got almost 200km on one application and if you're only on soft snow you can get up to 400km. Just apply it to your skis, peel off the backing, and you're good to go in conditions from +5° down to -15° (it still works great in colder). Be aware that it won't last nearly as long or work as well if you ski in icy conditions.
9. Toko Snow Thermometer As soon as you poke a thermometer in the snow everyone around you figures you're a wax expert. Swix uses air temperature on their kick waxes, but some other brands (such as Toko) use snow temperature. Because change in snow temperature lags behind air temperature it can help with your waxing decisions if you have this little doohickey.
10. Synthetic Cork Corks are used to create heat from friction to soften the wax layers so they spread more evenly and thinly. Synthetic corks heat up more quickly than traditional cork ones. When they become gummy with wax, time to get a new one.
11. Multi Scraper So light and slim, it fits nicely into a pocket. It's also got lots of different edges and corners on it so there is hardly any wax surface it cannot scrape. Macgyver would have had this scraper if he was into cross country skiing.
12. Ski Ties It's always embarrassing when your skis explode out of your arms on the walk down to the trail. These help.
13. Swix Glide Wax Cleaner It seems sacrilege to put any kind of cleaner on the glide zone of your ski but after a lot of hot waxing and powder applications the pores can get clogged with particles. This cleaner opens the pores of sintered bases, acting on the loose particles yet leaving the hydrocarbon wax intact so your bases stay saturated. This is an important step in your hot waxing scheme so that new wax can enter your bases.
14. Swix Base Cleaner There will always be kick wax residue left after you scrape the bulk of it off. This stuff dissolves wax without leaving any residue behind, so you can wipe your bases completely clean. Use it to clean your kick zone before hot waxing and to clean up sticky sidewalls and ski decks. Just don't ever put it on your glide zone!
15. Swix Fibertex Use these abrasive pads to deburr your bases and open the pores to receive wax. This is a pack of three different pads - each one is used in various stages of hot waxing. More details on how to use them here.
16. Fiberlene A lintless disposable cloth used to wipe your bases.
17. Start Green Glide Wax Tried and true, this is a great glide wax for Saskatchewan snow. You can get it with no fluorocarbons in it, medium amounts, or high fluoro.
18. A good iron The more money you spend on an iron, the better the thermostat. That means a cheap iron may cool too much from tip to tail of the ski - not a problem with warm waxes usually, but if you use cold wax (hey - it's Saskatchewan) or are applying powders, you're going to need something that can keep a constant temperature as the iron travels down your ski.
19. Groove Scraper There is no other tool that can get the wax out of that groove in your base better than this one. You gotta have it.
20. Flat Scraper For scraping off glide wax. Generally, the thicker the scraper the smoother your bases will stay. 5mm is a good thick scraper. However if your bases are not completely flat you will need something more flexible - like 3mm, say - to be able to warp the scraper to access that wax you want to get rid of. Or... just get a better pair of skis with nice, smooth, flat bases.
21. Plexi Sharpener Your scrape is only as good as the sharpness of your scraper. We sharpen our scrapers regularly - some of us at home sharpen our scrapers every one or two pairs of skis waxed. This little sharpener can be screwed into the top of your workbench and is easy to use.
22. Copper Brush If you only buy one brush, this is the one to get. Normally you use this to brush your bases after scraping, then finish with a soft nylon polishing brush.
23. Start Base Wax Extra This binder is the more durable of the two that Start makes and works especially well on transformed, contaminated snow. We often get that here in Saskatchewan so this is a great binder to rely on.
24. Swix Base Klister Spray Super handy stuff. Use it as a binder under your klister or hard wax; it really helps your wax of the day stay on. Best of all, it's easy to get a nice super-thin layer. (Just be sure it is entirely covered if you get anywhere near fresh snow for some reason, or you'll ice up instantly.)
25. Swix Hand Cleaner Ever had klister gluing your fingers together? This stuff gets it off. Reason enough for having it handy.
Happy waxing folks!
Note: this post was written before skin skis hit the Saskatchewan market. To care for your skin skis, check out our blog posts on care and maintenance of skins.