• Grip wax also glides, usually. 

So with waxable skis, when I want better grip, I find there is usually no harm in applying the grip wax over larger portions of the base of my ski -- not just the "wax pocket". 

Grip wax glides better than the ridged-fish-scale pattern on the base of waxless skis. 

My story 

For a long time I really thought that grip wax was only designed for gripping, and that it would substantially drag the ski slower if it were allowed to come in contact with the snow during the glide phase of the stride.  So I was very careful to keep my grip wax confined to a small section of the ski, and certainly never let it go beyond the edge of the "wax pocket".  

Lots of times I didn't get as good a grip as other people, and I thought it was because I didn't know the right tricks for my striding technique. 

Then I got a hint about it from an experienced participant on the rec.skiing.nordic newsgroup (Booker Bense, I think).  Then I found it in an old out-of-print XC ski book at my parents' house.  I think this "secret" is something everybody just knew back before waxless skis took over, so they forgot that some of us new folks trying waxable skis need to be told about it.  So I'm telling. 

Now I've switched my approach to being careful to err on the side of putting wax over more of the base -- and lots of layers.  And I'm much happier with my grip. 

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More . . .

  • The magic of grip wax that also glides. 

You might think that it's difficult enough just to invent a substance to make the ski base grip the cold snow at all.  But grip wax, also called "kick wax" is much more clever than that. 

After gripping the snow, it must also be able to "let go" and stop gripping the snow -- which can get tricky for new or loose snow. 

Even beyond that, most grip wax is designed so that it can glide rather than grip -- if the ski is already moving on the surface of the snow.  It grips only when the ski is stopped with pressure on the snow (static friction). 

There is another kind of non-wax stuff called klister -- very sticky -- which often will not glide very well. 

  • Grip wax glides better than waxless skis. 

So if you enjoy getting long glide in each stride -- and you do a lot of your skiing in an area that typically gets below-freezing weather that is sustained for several weeks at a time -- then waxable skis are something to consider. 

  • But glide wax does not grip (unless something is wrong). 

And glide wax normally glides better than grip wax. 

But while glide wax is only for gliding, grip wax can be made to either glide or grip, depending on whether the ski is moving or stopped. 

  • It is normal to be gliding partly on the grip wax during classic striding. 

Even if the grip wax is applied only to the "wax pocket", it is normal for part of the wax pocket to be touching the snow during the glide phase of the stride.  The result is that some of that grip wax gets rubbed off.  But as long as there is not much pressure on the wax pocket, and the snow is not too icy or manmade, then not much wax rubs off very fast, so this is not a problem. 

While it is possible to design both ski and technique so no portion of the wax pocket would touch the snow during the glide phase, this requires precise and more-energy-consuming technique to get good grip -- so it's only of interest to racers. 

  • So if you want better grip, there is usually no harm in applying the grip wax over large portions of your ski base -- beyond just the "wax pocket". 

The danger of putting wax over too much of the ski base is that it  might "grab" the snow, and then carry icy chunks stuck to the bottom of the ski -- or worse yet send you flying forward onto your face.  

Some likely times for this danger is with new snow, especially when the temperature is near freezing, or the first day the sun hits powdery snow. 

If you carry with you a scraper and some glide wax, you can mostly undo the problem (provided you survived any forward fall) by scraping the grip wax off the "extra" sections of the base, and then rubbing glide wax over those "extra" sections. 

Otherwise the main disadvantage is that the ski glides a bit slower than it would if the proportion of glide wax area were higher -- but that's a concern mostly for racers. 

see also

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