How Do You Know if Your Skis Need to be Waxed [Visual Hints]

Keeping your skis waxed not only makes your riding more enjoyable but it also is one of the best ways to take care of your skis. Waxing doesn’t talk long and it is a high impact on the skiing experience. So when is the last time you waxed your skis? Do you even know what to look for?

We will cover how to know if your skis need to be waxed, how long it takes to wax your skis and what happens if you don’t wax your skis.

waxing green skis

How Do You Know if Your Skis Need to be Waxed: Signs to Look For

Before you get ready for your runs on the mountain, examine your skis from tip to tail. Is the base shiny, or does it look dull and dark?

If the base is dull and dark, can you see dirt on the top surfaces of your skis? It could be time for another wax job. If it is shiny, the wax still has a fresh coat on the skis.

One of the best ways to test if your skis are ready for a fresh coat of wax is by spraying down a small patch with water. If it slides off, then there’s no need for waxing.

If it doesn’t slide off and instead beads up, then you probably need to apply some fresh wax.

If you notice that there is starting to be an accumulation of dirt on the surface of your ski, but no dirt on the base or sidewalls, then it should be fine for a few days, just give them a wipe down.

Does Waxing Skis Make a Difference?

skier with waxed skis

It is important to wax skis for several reasons.

The first reason is to help the skis glide more easily on snow. The second reason is that the thin coat of wax helps to keep dirt and grime out of the base of the skis.

Take a freshly waxed ski and an unwaxed ski and you will feel the difference on the mountain. It doesn’t even take an expert to notice.

How Long Does Wax on Skis Last?

Many people can go 3-4 days skiing in perfect conditions before needing to reapply their base layer of whatever product they are using.

Wax typically has a lifespan of 2 weeks, but if you’re only skiing for a couple of hours per day then it may only last 7-10 days.

In icy conditions, the wax on your skis can last even less. Often the wax on the bottom of skis at ice coast resorts may only last 3-5 days. Sometimes where I ride falls into this range. You east coast people know what I’m talking about!

Do New Skis Need to Be Waxed?

easygoing skier

New skis come pre-waxed from the factory but it only lasts a couple of days. It is no magical formula that is going to last longer than when you hot wax it yourself.

The most common misconceptions about new ski waxing is that it’s a waste of time and money, or that if you just wait a week or two your skis will get “seasoned” enough to provide all the benefits of wax – none of which are true. You don’t want to wait weeks to wax your new skis, that is for sure.

With enough neglect in your skiing routine, eventually, you will have to re-wax your skis just so that they work properly again. As in eventually, we mean in that short timeframe we mentioned above of earliest in 3 days and at the latest around a week if riding a lot in powder.

What Happens if You Don’t Wax Your Skis?

The manufacturers of ski wax intend it to be used as a protective agent. If you don’t apply it, your skis will accumulate dirt and grime on the bottom which can lead to your skis becoming heavy and sluggish.

A beginner can tell the difference is a good pair of waxed skis vs ones that haven’t seen wax in ages. The stickiness is a tell-tale sign.

Sure, neglecting your skis a little and going a little over the recommended waxing timeframes is ok but going weeks without waxing doesn’t help protect the base of your skis.

Plus taking good care of your skis with ahot wax and scrape will help get out any dirt, oils and grime getting trapped in the base.

While not waxing your skis won’t eat away at your base, it certainly won’t do any favors to the skis.

Key Takeaway: Make it a habit to get into a good waxing routine if you are riding often. It is worth it to take good care of your skis.

How to Tell If Your Skis Need Sharpening?

sharpening skis

They is really two way to check for the sharpness on the edges of a pair of skis.

The first test is pre-mountain. When you are at home or at the car, rub your fingernail on the edge of the skis. What you are looking for is for the edge to make a mark on your nail. If it doesn’t make a mark on your fingernail then you need to get a tune-up and sharpen your skis.

The second test and a little less noticeable is on mountains. You’ll be riding and instinctively feel that the skis just aren’t digging in like they used to be. This is the sign of worn-down edges on your skis. It is the second common sign that your skis need sharpening.

You can even run the fingernail test after noticing some slipping on the mountain. Head in and get a tune and you should see immediate improvement.

Final Thoughts on How Do You Know if Your Skis Need to be Waxed

We now know that new skis come pre-waxed, the time frames when to wax and what to look for to see if skis need to be waxed. You should be an expert in telling if your skis need to be waxed.

Knowing when to wax your skis isn’t a guessing game. By knowing to look for the tell-tale signs, you should be in the best position to make a judgment call to wax your skis and get them running at better performance going down the slopes!

Alec Wilson writes for Proper Peaks and lives near Claremont, VT. He hardly misses a weekend on the ski slopes in the winter. If there is snow, Alec’s skis are on for a go. Look out for his stickered-up helmet and you might just meet him on the trails.

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