ski waxing


I’ve always enjoyed the ritual of waxing of skis. In the fall, it marks the approaching ski season. During the season, it harkens the call of a powder day or the anticipation of an extended trip deserving of fresh glide. Ski waxing can be a social event or a good reason to disappear into your workshop. So when I first heard about DPS PHANTOM, I was skeptical – not really skeptical that it worked as claimed, but skeptical as to why it was necessary. With multiple seasons now behind it, I am finding more skiers using PHANTOM and have my own experience with it. The bottom line is that DPS PHANTOM does indeed work. It offers reliable universal glide in all conditions and appears to last a very long time. But rather than view it simply as a wax replacement, I consider it a base treatment that enhances your ski bases and lets you decide when or if you want to wax.


In the words of DPS, “PHANTOM is a permanent, one-time application, waxless base treatment that forever eliminates the need for waxing skis and snowboards.”

That’s a strong statement for sure. But keep in mind, PHANTOM makes no claim to offer the fastest glide. It’s a base treatment for universal glide. In fact, DPS makes no claim that it outperforms a high-performance temp-specific hot wax. The goal of PHANTOM is convenience, great glide that performs across all types of snow and reduced environmental impact when compared with routine waxing.

PHANTOM is not actually wax. It’s a liquid that gets absorbed into the base of the ski. Once absorbed, a UV light activation process triggers a chemical in the mixture that creates a permanent bond with the ski base. PHANTOM actually changes the chemical composition of the base and becomes part of the ski base, hence the permanence. Applied correctly, PHANTOM permanently penetrates the entire thickness of the base material, so the ski can undergo a base grind or an aggressive buffing and still offer PHANTOM’s full glide benefits. In other words, DPS PHANTOM never wears off, and it permanently alters the ski base for the better.

PHANTOM Benefits

DPS offers three primary benefits to using PHANTOM. First is permanence. Basically, it’s one and done. You never need to wax again. But you do still need to maintain your bases. Ski bases develop a roughness with use that slows them down. So, cleaning, buffing and base grinding are all on the table to keep your PHANTOM treatment performing its best. Second, is universal performance. PHANTOM offers consistent glide in all conditions. Third, DPS speaks to PHANTOM’s environmental benefits. Once cured, PHANTOM does not rub off or otherwise contaminate the environment with VOCs, PFCs or chemical residue. All of these benefits are great, but another side benefit for backcountry skiers is a clean, wax-free base for applying climbing skins. With PHANTOM, there’s no wax residue to contaminate your skin glue.

What About Wax

One might ask, who cares about wax if you have PHANTOM. Well, it’s a good point. But the bottom line is you can achieve better glide – especially in temp extremes – with traditional wax. The good news is that you can still wax your PHANTOM bases for temperature extremes if you want. According to DPS, when your temperature-specific wax wears off, you still benefit from the consistent performance of a PHANTOM treated base. In fact, their testing has shown that topical wax actually lasts longer on a PHANTOM treated base than on an untreated base. How can this be? Well, the science says there is a positive molecular attraction between the paraffin in wax and the permanently bonded PHANTOM chains in the ski base. And it’s this attraction that extends the bond of traditional wax.


PHANTOM delivers. I have used it in subzero cold, above freezing conditions and everything in between. And I can confidently say it offers good, consistent glide across all conditions. I have noticed that skis freshly waxed with temperature-specific wax may well glide a little better. Of course, over time, traditional wax wears off and the glide slows. PHANTOM, on the other hand, is proving to last week after week and theoretically season after season. But remember, your ski bases still require maintenance even with PHANTOM. If you keep them clean and buffed, PHANTOM will keep you sliding. You can even get a base grind to restore that factory finish. The grind will simply reveal fresh base with the full benefits of PHANTOM. Although, I had PHANTOM factory applied by DPS, you can have it done by an authorized local shop or even do it yourself. It’s worth noting that I have heard less-than-stellar reports of PHANTOM performance from a couple of skiers who tried the DIY application. So, if possibe, I recommend the factory or authorized shop application – these guys use a special UV curing box for the process. For DIY, the best case scenario is to do it during spring or summer when there’s plenty of strong and consistent UV rays to activate the process. So, aside from the initial sticker shock of adding a hundred bucks to the cost of your new boards, PHANTOM is as cool as its name.

Learn more: Read the DPS PHANTOM FAQ (scroll to bottom of page) or listen an interview with Stephan Drake and Phantom wax collaborator Univ of Utah Chemistry Professor Jeff Bates on the blister podcast

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