• Basics on where to apply it

To decide where to apply the grip wax, it's valuable to know which is the "wax pocket" section of the length of the ski.  To learn about what this is and how to find it, see 

 - - Exploiting the Wax Pocket 
 - - Fit of Skis 

The normal strategy for firm groomed snow is to put lots of grip wax on the central section of the base that is definitely inside the wax pocket, and to put only glide wax on the tip and tail sections which are definitely outside the wax pocket.  

How to wax the uncertain sections on the boundaries of the "wax pocket" depends on conditions and which grip wax (or other substance) is being used -- more on this below.  

  • How to apply grip wax 

The best way to learn is to watch someone who really knows.  

It's just too hard to explain in words what "thick" and "thin" mean, how much corking is "enough", etc.  Local shops and ski centers sometimes have little sessions about it, so by all means call them and ask. 

Grip waxing is more fun as a communal activity -- sharing the on-snow experiments of the day, the frustration of the bad results, the satisfaction of getting solid grip working. 

Entering a race can be helpful:  I learned more about grip wax in 15 minutes from watching and talking with the other racers just before a local citizens 10K race than from reading three books. 

Using a cork is valuable -- but not one made of real cork.  For waxing, the synthetic ones are clearly better.  Serious waxers have (at least) two corks:  one for softer waxes (for around freezing) and one for harder waxes (colder temperatures). 

  • Waxing "long" is a key trick 

Do not believe in that wax pocket that you so carefully measured and marked.  It's not a rule, just a reference point.  

As I learn more about how each of my skis works with wax in different snow conditions, I add more marks to help me remember and quickly execute my different waxing strategies.  The point is to learn what actually works for me in real snow conditions, not just record theoretical measurements taken on dry land.  Serious racers typically have at least two marks for the tail end of their grip wax zone, and at least three marks for the tip end. 

Often I also put grip wax on part of the tip section outside the wax pocket -- called "waxing long".  

This can be a very effective way to increase grip -- see the discussion on the Grip Wax also Glides "secret".  Even though I know that extra wax will get rubbed off faster during the glide phase, I'm still glad to have its help while it lasts. 

I often go 2 inches (5 cm) further toward the tip, and I have little hesitation about waxing 4 inches (10 cm) longer.  I've never tried grip wax all the way out to the tip, but it sounds like an interesting experiment. 

But I almost never put grip wax on the tail section of the ski which is definitely outside the wax pocket.  

Because the tail section is usually reserved for best gliding when the body weight is back -- see Exploiting the Wax Pocket.  But it's not wrong to wax long toward the tail:  It can help just like toward the tip -- there just tends to bigger penalty in gliding a little slower and wax rubbing off sooner. 

  • Waxing "thick" is a good trick. 

The thicker the wax coating, the lower it hangs down, so the more firmly it gets pressed into the snow.  The tip and tail sections where the glide wax is start out lower than the center.  Waxing "thick" helps the grip zone "compete" better with tip and tail for its share of the down-force pressure. 

Comment from a video by the world's best racer:  Most people simply do not put on enough grip wax. 

I routinely put on at least two non-skimpy layers. 

  • Soft snow 

Waxing "long" is especially useful for soft snow -- snow which is compressible.  That's because less of the center section of the ski base reaches the snow once the tip of the ski has has packed it down or "shoveled" it out of the way -- so there's a larger area of the ski base where the grip wax does not get rubbed off so fast.  And soft snow is less abrasive.  I would typically apply wax 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) longer toward the tip for skiing in soft snow. 

  • Stiff skis 

If you bought your skis somewhat on the stiff side, one way to compensate is to wax "long" all the time.  

Also wax "thick" -- not one fat layer, but apply more multiple thin layers, with corking after each layer.   

Then get into the habit of checking your ski bases frequently while you ski, to see if the grip wax on your "long" section is wearing off.  And stop and re-wax "long" and "thick". 

I've read that in the old days lots of people used to apply grip wax all the way out to the tip -- and sometimes back to the tail, too.  Our modern grip waxes usually work better than theirs.  But if you're stuck with a pair of stiff skis, it could make sense to take "grip wax on the whole ski base" as a starting point -- just thicker in the middle.  Try that out -- then play around with how far you can cut it shorter. 

  • more . . .  

Sometimes with very soft grip waxes, or with special non-wax grip substances called "klisters" -- very sticky -- it is important to confine the grip substance to an inner sub-range of the wax pocket, to make sure it is kept away even from the boundary areas.  Because loose snow, dirt, pine needles, etc., easily get stuck onto these super-sticky substances for the whole rest of the day -- not just gripped for an instant during a single leg-push.  But waxing "short" is mostly for racers. 

It would be very unusual to put glide wax on a part of the base which is definitely inside the wax pocket. 

  • applying glide wax versus grip wax

Do not carry over glide-wax instincts to putting on grip wax: 

- - A good job of applying glide wax is finished with scraping and brushing, to leave only a very thin coat over the surface of the ski base -- to make it difficult for snow to get embedded in it.  The objective is to leave only just enough of a thin layer for good lubrication between ski base and snow.  When large amounts of glide wax are used in a waxing job, the idea is to get most of it to soak into the pores in the base of the ski -- not to remain on the surface. 

- - But a good job of applying grip wax leaves an even and thick coat over the surface of the grip wax pocket, to make it easy for snow crystals to get embedded in the wax temporalily. 


For lots more on using grip wax, see

back to main Grip Wax page 

see Discussion of Grip Wax 

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