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Klister | don't be afraid of it

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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

cross country skiing

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  • 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

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

    Daniel Selikowitz on
  • 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

    ebsadventure on
  • 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?

    Casey on
  • Very informative article, good work!

    Jay Bauer on

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