Kick Wax Chart

The Art of Kick
The first thing that you’ll notice about this chart is that it is jam-packed full of all kinds of different stuff. But you’ll also notice that it doesn’t have as much as my two drywax fannypacks pictured above. Kick waxing can be as a simple as picking a good line of wax, and reading the labels. If you need more kick, grab the next warmer wax. But kick waxing can be so much more as well.

The problem with kick waxing is that “good enough” is relative. If you find a wax that kicks well and doesn’t ice, then you’ve got skis that will work – they’re “good enough”. But I’ve had days with good kick and free-feeling skis where I got by butt-kicked by superior skis. I’ve also had days where I had good kick and free feeling skis, and then I found something that completely changed my perspective on “good enough”. So, what is “good enough”?

Perfect kick
The quality of the grip you get when you’re skiing can fundamentally change the way you ski. With perfect kick you don’t have to think about the motions – you relax and more of your energy goes into making speed. With less than perfect kick your motions are less than perfectly relaxed – even if you never miss a kick, you’re putting energy into finding the kick, and there is tension in your motions. A lot of times perfect kick isn’t possible, but when it’s available, you want it!

Perfect glide
We all know about ski speed, and of course we’re looking for fast skis. But when it comes to striding we also want free skis. By that, I mean skis that are free and fast when you step onto the gliding foot. Skis that are free-gliding tend to feel more secure kicking as well because you’re not pushing against as much resistance in the stride. Contrast between kick and glide is important for good feelings of security and freedom.

Perfect balance
Most of the time when we want more kick we can get it, at the expense of speed. Sometimes, what we really want, instead of more kick, is more freedom and speed, which will enhance the contrast between kick and glide and provide a greater sense of security. As a rule of thumb, the wax job that provides the most contrast between kick and glide will produce the best race results.

Base waxes & binders
I have spent an increasing amount of energy testing different base waxes and binder solutions as time has passed, and I’ve come to believe that basewax is critical. One of the really big draws of the Vauhti line is their three base waxes, the AT, Super base, and K-base, providing increasing levels of elasticity and suspension to the wax job. In basic, cold, new snow conditions we don’t make too big a deal out of the binder, and find that you don’t want to complicate things too much. But as you get into any amount of mixed or old snow and high moisture the quality of the basewax can have a bigger impact on the success of a wax job than the finishing wax.

In the past I’ve treated klisters entirely differently from drywaxes, even using a different wax chart. But I don’t think about or work with klister all that differently. Because of their material qualities klisters are a bit easier to mix and drywaxes are a bit easier to layer, but you can do either – mix or layer – with both. And as often as not we end up using klisters and drywaxes in combination. As a rule, klisters go on the ski very soft and goopy, but tend to “freeze” into a harder kicking layer on the ski. Drywaxes tend to maintain similar consistency on the base and in the tin. As such, it’s not inconsistent to “soften” a violet klister by mixing in some blue drywax. As a rule I don’t draw hard and fast lines between the use of drywax and klister.

About the Chart
Of course, we’re featuring lots of Vauhti product here because the Vauhti kick waxes are the reason we picked up the line in the first place. We’ve left more favorites off this chart than we’ve had room to include. If you ever want to have a long conversation with me give a call and ask a simple question about kick waxing. The best advice I’ve heard is to keep it simple. I’ve never been able to follow that advice.