A Beginner's Guide to Waxing Cross Country Skis

Waxing is an important part of cross-country skiing. Wax-less, skate, skin, or wax-able, all skis benefit from at least glide wax applied every 35 kilometers or so. Even newcomers!

I've learned this firsthand. I'm new to skiing and built my own quick and inexpensive routine to get the most out of my skis.   

Our guide: Joe, ski-shop employee

Bio: I became a skier in 2020 as a way of exercising and socializing during the worst of the pandemic. Since then, I've picked up skate and classic skiing. Last year, I did the American Birkebeiner for the first time without a lot of training. The whole experience was incredibly difficult but also very rewarding! I usually ski two to three-times a week in the Twin Cities. 

Why should beginners learn to wax skis?

Waxing will make skiing more enjoyable. I notice a huge difference, even when I'm just going out for a quick 30-minute loop at Wirth. Spending just a couple minutes preparing before my ski will often make a difference between a so-so outing and feeling very fast (I'm not very fast). 

My wax routine has also become a way of taking a break and getting my mind off some of the stressful parts of my days. Aside from my job at Gear West, I'm a software engineering student. The "wax on, wax off" routine is a great way of relieving stress and clearing my head. 

What do beginners need to get started?

Liquid glide wax is an effective and simple way for skiers who are just looking to get started. This is what I use for temperatures above 10 degrees. As we've already covered, all skis have glide zones and benefit from glide wax. The entire skate ski is a glide zone, and the tips and tails of classic skis are glide zones. 

 For most conditions: Vauhti Pure One Cold Liquid Glide (Here)

For warm conditions: Vauhti Pure One Liquid Glide (Here)

Application: I think this is the easiest and least expensive way to wax your skis. You don't need an iron and it's also quick and mess-free. If you want a great glide but are also short on time, this is a great option. Simply marker on the wax, let dry for at least 15 minutes, brush out and go. Pro tip: apply glide wax to room temperature skis for better application and durability. 

Waxing Classic Skis

I've found waxing to be even more important for classic skiing. I have wax-able classic skis, and kick wax is applied every time I ski. If you have skin or wax-less skis, skip the kick! I use liquid wax on the tips and tails then apply a layer of kick wax in the parking lot before I head out. I use two options for kick wax:   

Swix V30 Blue (here) and Swix V40 Blue Extra (here)  

I've had some frustrating moments on classic skis year, especially during the thawing temps we've had in January. I'd also recommend Swix Universal Klister (Here!). It works for almost all warm conditions. 

I learned the hard way that Klister should be stored at room temperature. I left it in my car and it froze and became almost impossible to apply. 

We apply kick wax based on the snow temperatures. If you aren't getting enough kick, apply more. If that still isn't working, lengthen your kick zone. If that STILL isn't working, switch your kick.

Are brushes, irons, and scrapers actually necessary?   

If you're using liquid wax, all you really need is an inexpensive nylon brush (like this one from Swix).

For wax-able classic skis, I also use a wax remover, fiberlene, and 4mm scraper. A quick spray and wipe of your kick zones will help make sure that you're getting the right amount of kick. 

Swix Fiberlene (Here) and Swix Base Cleaner (Here)

There is a lot more you can do to make your skis ready for any condition. Check out Gear West's wax reports here for condition-specific waxing.

Happy skiing! 

Gear West Videos

How to Stop on rollerskis