Testing 7 Cold Weather Wax Strategies
Here in Minnesota, we get more than our fair share of extremely cold days. There is a lot of advice out there on how to make skis fast in cold conditions, but it is difficult to find data to go with it. My current methods for cold weather waxing are based on past experience, reading, and conversations with friends. Seeking real data, I decided to put my cold-temperature ski waxes and techniques to the test to see how they stack up. To do this, I trialed seven different waxing strategies and compared their performance in terms of free glide distance and pace when used on the same 1-Km loop of trail.
I started with the Rex Blue that was already on my skis to use as a benchmark. I knew it would be slow in the cold snow, but I thought it would make for a good comparison. Out on the trail, I set up a glide test area and a 1km time trial. I skied a pace of 3:57/km at an average heart rate of 168 around the 1km loop. Then, I added layers of wax, one at a time, carrying out the same glide test and time trial after each layer while attempting to keep my average heart rate even. The results of the tests are shown below.
All tests were done on the same Fischer 192 RCS skate skis with a universal cold grind and moderate flex.
Note: 5000 grit sandpaper is similar to SkiGo Pink Paper.
It seems like many Vasaloppet, Birkie, Book-Across the Bay, and Finlandia races have been held in sub-zero conditions over the years. I've always wondered how much difference the wax makes in cold temperatures. My takeaway from this quick test is that it's tough to beat two layers of start green when the temperature drops.
Note: This post was originally written in 2019, and since then I quit using fluoro ski waxes. Looking back at this data shows that the fluoro topcoat add much speed in cold conditions anyway.