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Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

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Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:45 pm

For flat touring or low angle climbing?

I've been doing a lot messing with wax this year, and although I like it at times, I've not found the holy grail that some old-timers swear by. It's probably awesome for XC ski racing, or whatever, but I really just like to be able to climb without sliding backwards all the time or get some glide on shallow hills or flats. When the pitch increases going down, I couldn't care less... I get going plenty fast enough with either.

I've actually found, except for a few conditions, the performance of scales vs wax is pretty darn close. The exceptions being really wet, warm snow where it seems I can climb awesome with scales and really dry, cold snow, where it seems I can climb way better with wax. By warm I mean above freezing and cold I mean below 20F. Anything in the middle it seems to be a coin toss from my experience, and actually scales seem more consistent. I could walk through a spot in the sun with wax and all the sudden have zero grip.

I've also done a little playing with wax on different camber skis. I DEFINITELY feel a difference on Alpine camber. The wax definitely slows them down. Camber-and-a-half is much better. It almost feels like sliding on a smooth base DH ski when you get it right, which is rare IME, but still obtainable. More often than not it seems I'm trying to get more grip than glide. DC everyone knows works with wax but probably has more grip issues out of groomed tracks.

The biggest detriment I've found with the scales is on packed trails on flats or shallow pitches... It won't glide as far and you have to kick a bit to maintain the same speed. And even that's dependent on the snow. Wet, warm snow they glide pretty good actually. Really cold snow (like around 0F) everything feels slower.

So I don't know, I like having the option these days but I really cannot foresee a day where I throw the scales out and stick with smooth bases. And I've been thinking a little about my next possible ski purchase and whether it will be smooth or scaled, and I think it will have the scales.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby RobRox » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:31 pm

I kick wax and carry kicker skins for rolly-polly terrain. I have twice taken full skins with my waxable skis. Never had any wax transfer to the glue or visa versa....probably start happening now that I've said that.

Kickwax slows the Kazamas, but doesn't bother my Outtabounds.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:21 pm

Wax on skin glue doesn't seem to be an issue. I don't scrape it, just throw the kickers on... no issues thus far.

Asnes even makes wax skis with little kicker attachments. They say nothing about removing wax when applying them.

Seems kickers are a good idea no matter what ski, wax or waxless. I usually zig and zag as it seems easier for me to do this than take off my skis. But sometimes that isn't feasible.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby greatgt » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:25 am

Wax!....@ 30-33o bones are pretty good...In fact they work ok on most surfaces.....But if you know wax it is generally better....Will re tell yesterdays ski in the BC section but suffice to say wax was way better than bones on a hardpack up trail...Not even close....TM
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby lowangle al » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:13 am

I never thought I'd say it, but I could be happy with a fully no wax quiver for the bc, with Voile skis anyway. Especially back East.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby greatgt » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:23 am

Don't know where you are referring to...but....not around here Al....Wax is better...take it to the bank...Bones work well but wax works better....For almost all aspects of skiing...Up...down....all around...Wax! I have some old beater Rebound waxless....Will say they work well ...but...if they came in wax versions they would be better...faster.....quicker....cruise better....handle all conditions better except for spring mushy conditions...then the Rebounds come out!!!! Teleman
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:31 am

Pretty sure a waxless objective will be my next ski Al. Not sure when, but I can't see being a detriment for skiing the hills around here. I get along good with my S Bounds but unless I'm skiing some distance, I don't really need as much camber as they have. And after trying my Tuas in the pow, I really have a point of difference on how that camber affects turning (they are kind similar shape and length, just different camber and flex). The camber definitely helps when touring, I would never claim otherwise, and it was readily apparent, but if I'm skiing 5 miles and mostly going doing short laps, I think I'd rather have something that can climb and descend better.

With the weight, I'm pretty sure I could ski them with my leathers still in good conditions.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby lowangle al » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:47 am

I don't disagree with you gt, I've been a kick wax fan for over 40 years. What I'm saying is that they work well enough that if I only had one ski I would go with no wax. I would be willing to give up the added performance of wax for the convenience of no wax and for the ability to ski warm snow without resorting to soft red wax or klister.

When I said especially back East I was referring to Pa, where because of warm temps and frequent abrasive crusts I would have a higher percent of ski days that wax wouldn't be optimal.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby lowangle al » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:57 am

MikeK wrote:Pretty sure a waxless objective will be my next ski Al. Not sure when, but I can't see being a detriment for skiing the hills around here. I get along good with my S Bounds but unless I'm skiing some distance, I don't really need as much camber as they have. And after trying my Tuas in the pow, I really have a point of difference on how that camber affects turning (they are kind similar shape and length, just different camber and flex). The camber definitely helps when touring, I would never claim otherwise, and it was readily apparent, but if I'm skiing 5 miles and mostly going doing short laps, I think I'd rather have something that can climb and descend better.

With the weight, I'm pretty sure I could ski them with my leathers still in good conditions.


That sounds good Mike, have you checked to see if anyone has any vectors left at a discount? That would be my choice.

What leather boots are you using? My T4s are only 2 ounces heavier per boot than the Asolo leathers I was currently skiing. I don't want to rile gt up but, I think I'm done with leather boots.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:04 am

lowangle al wrote:
That sounds good Mike, have you checked to see if anyone has any vectors left at a discount? That would be my choice.

What leather boots are you using? My T4s are only 2 ounces heavier per boot than the Asolo leathers I was currently skiing. I don't want to rile gt up but, I think I'm done with leather boots.


Nah - I don't need anything right away and the Vectors are too wide and heavy. The Objective is lighter and will ski shorter than my S98. I don't think I'll have any issue with it for leathers.

My leathers weigh less than 1kg per foot but it's not so much about weight, it's more about feel and comfort. Even my T2s, which are as comfortable as I've found for plastic boots hurt my feet. And they just feel heavy and clunky to tour in. I've tried Excursion and T4s, and I don't like them any better. I'd use my T2s in some conditions with those skis, but I mainly prefer leather.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby Bern » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:08 am

I think it is one of those issues where we can say "it all depends". I've not been happy at all with scales. When they work they can work well. When they don't work the only other option is skins, and by the way, a half skin, sometimes called a thong, and made from an old skin cut in half, will work well on surprisingly steep slopes with decent glide.

The above situation highlights the problem with scales. When they don't work they don't work at all. On the other hand, waxed skis have more options. You can wax for maximum glide but if the skis begin to slip, one can extend the wax area and or go to a grippier (softer) wax. My latest procedure is to wax normally in the wax pocked with a layer of harder kick wax over top. I read somewhere that normally one waxes with a softer wax over a harder wax but I've also read that reversing the order can work well and it has for me. A lot may depend on the actual degree of steepness.

Finally, I suspect there are, as someone once said, unknown unknowns, such as ski area divided by skier weight and possibly the phase of the moon and who knows what else. Maybe we get better traction after the Christmas holidays.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:15 am

I actually find the opposite Bern... it seems that once we've got up in temp or water content, or dealing with refrozen snow, there's nothing that will work short of maybe going to a Klister. I don't carry red in my wax "quiver", but maybe I should. Violet special is my warmest wax, and even in its optimum range I still have trouble with it - often having to really cake it on there and everywhere to get any kind of grip, and even then, it can be spotty.

If it's cold and you have more temp options, it can be better, but I've still had many issues finding the right one, especially in transformed snow (old snow with icy crystals). Fresh snow has always been my best with wax.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby lowangle al » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:34 am

Bern, not all nowax skis are alike, have you ever tried any Voiles? Also, as far as versatility I would have no problem putting kick wax on a fishscaled ski if I thought that was what I needed. I haven't had to do it, but after corking polar wax into the bases of my scaled skis this season I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a problem.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby RobRox » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:59 pm

MikeK wrote:...
If it's cold and you have more temp options, it can be better, but I've still had many issues finding the right one, especially in transformed snow (old snow with icy crystals). Fresh snow has always been my best with wax.
The "right" solution may not be right at hand, but a good one follows:
- remove all wax from the kick zone (night before a day on the refrozen)
- apply the next colder kister over the entire kick zone
- iron it to a smooth thinish coating (thickness of a heavy-duty, freezer, zip-lock)
- put skis outside and wait for morning
- in the morning put the day's coldest wax on thin and smooth
- bring more of that wax plus the next 2 warmer waxes when prepping your day bag.
- keep your waxing cork in a warm place (in your jacket, for example)

The klister works as a binder wax, making your cold kick-wax last a lot longer. It also acts as a flexible and slightly compressible layer, absorbing irregularities so that the kickwax is less exposed to abrasion, thereby making it last longer. Cork in extra thin layers of the warming waxes as needed during the day.

It was a game changer for me.
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Re: Wax or Scales, what's your flavor?

Postby MikeK » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:11 pm

Wow - that sounds way too complicated... I prefer to just throw a few sets of skis in the car and see what works. If I'm pissed off 100 yards from where I parked I turn back and try again.
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