Ski Waxing for the Backcountry
Backcountry skiing is a far cry from ski racing, but freshly waxed skis are still important to keep you sliding and slashing through the pow with ease. And the good news is that ski waxing for the backcountry is not rocket science. In fact, it’s down right simple. You just need a few basic tools and supplies to keep your skis ready for the next tour.
Work Space / Ski Tuning Stand
Number one, you need a good place to wax your skis. Ideally, it’s indoors and reasonably warm – like a basement, workshop or garage. Short of a dedicated work space, you can always lay down a drop cloth and set up a make-shift work zone in the kitchen. If your space is not heated and the temp is cold, bring your skis indoors to warm them up to room temperature before starting to wax.
You’ll also need a ski stand of some sort. Our favorite ski waxing stand is the Voile Ski Tuning Tree. The Voile tuning tree is affordable ($60), can be set up almost anywhere and works for any ski or board. It’s a must-have tool for any home ski bench. Of course, you can rig a variety of temporary ski stands. Check out a simple, low-cost ski tuning stand made with 2x lumber here.
Beyond a work space and supports for your skis, the list of required ski waxing tools is pretty basic. For pure and simple waxing, the must-have items are:
- A dedicated ski waxing iron for melting ski wax
- A plastic ski scraper for removing wax
- A Scotch Brite scouring pad for cleaning and buffing ski bases
- Wax – Go with a general wax for backcountry skiing – either a warm wax or a cold wax. Universal temperature wax works too, but will be slower than a more specific wax given one temperature extreme or the other.
To take your ski waxing kit to the next level and add some light tuning and edge maintenance, consider the following tools for your home ski waxing bench:
- Base cleaner for prepping your bases
- A metal scraper for stubborn wax and cleaning base damage
- An 8- or 10-inch flat file for base and edge touch up work
- An edge file tool for deburring and sharpening dull edges
- A wire brush for cleaning the file
- Sandpaper for keeping your plastic scraper sharp
- A nylon brush / wax cork for buffing wax – Dakine makes a nice combo brush/cork
Ski Waxing Basics
Waxing skis is easy. Follow these simple steps for a basic hot wax.
- Clean ski bases – simply scrape off any old wax and wipe down with a damp rag – use a base cleaner solution if you have one. Scotch Brite pads work well for base cleaning, too.
- Set waxing iron to medium heat – if it’s smoking, it’s hotter than it needs to be.
- Hold wax against hot iron and drip on ski base moving quickly to distribute wax along length of ski. It takes surprising little wax to cover the base.
- Hold iron on base of ski and move back and forth along the length of the ski to melt wax into the base. Do not let the iron sit in one place – keep it moving continuously to help distribute wax evenly along base.
- Let wax cool and repeat process on other ski
- Scrape wax off the base. Buff with wax cork or brush if you have one – otherwise, just go skiing!