Picking the right skis or snowboard is only half the battle when you’re fighting serious hills for a full season. The other part of the equation is picking the right wax. Wax is what lubricates your skis or board so that you can get down the hill quickly, without getting hung up on every bump or snag. It is also what guards the base of your gear against oxidation and keeps it ready to run as soon as the snow flies. If you choose to skimp on wax, you’re asking to not only lose glide for better runs, you’re begging for more damage to your equipment for fewer runs, period.
The base of your skis or snowboard work like a sponge. They soak up the wax you put onto them and then gradually bleed it out to reduce friction. All waxes start with a hydrocarbon base. This is enough for the occasional downhill maven, but if you’re out more often in different conditions then you should have a quiver of waxes with additives for different circumstances. There’s warm, cold, and all temperature waxes out there, along with a few options for the very cold or deeply aggressive alpine drift rider. For whatever ride suits you, we’ve got the 8 best ski & snowboard waxes for any and all.
Magical Go-Go Freezer Burn
Pro: Hot or rub on application
Con: Your board will be damaged if used above freezing temperatures
Deep Freeze: When the dead of winter hits and it’s almost too cold for you to consider zipping up for a day on the slopes, that’s when you need to take extra care of your board and ensure that your edges aren’t beaten down by jagged snow that wants to bite like a nor’easter wind. Freezer Burn is composed specifically for protection during harsh weather when it’s easier to damage your base and give you more smooth, fast runs even when the conditions are against you.
Dakine Nitrous Hot Wax
Pro: Mixes well with other waxes
Con: Often sells out quickly making it hard to find
Go Time: Never again get bogged down in rich powdered snow or slog through muck. From hard pack to wet and loose, whether on groomed resort trails or heading up into the backcountry, Dakine’s nitrous hot wax is the choice for tuning up your board. Perfect for the impatient snow bunny, all you need to do is apply it, scrape it, and buff it to be ready to go. It’s soft as butter which helps it stay slick and fast. If the temperature drops, mixing it with a cold weather wax around the edges will help keep your base running like a champ while the edges are protected.
Kuu Mach Max Wax
Pro: Won’t rub off in wet conditions
Con: Will not work well in colder weather
Feel the Heat: Made for hotter runs, this version of Kuu Mach is going to be better for when you’re deep in mud season but still want to squeeze the last runs out of a hill that is quickly turning to muck. It’s made in Canada, so take comfort in knowing it’s made by people who have forgotten more about snow than most of us will ever know. The company itself makes great waxes for every condition, but they have mastered the art of running smooth when the sun is shining. Less sticking and more float lets your coast along when other waxes would leave you bogged down in the wet and heavy snowmelt.
One Ball Jay’s Push Up F1
Pro: Ability to buff easily anywhere
Con: Best for snowboards
Constant Companion: Despite his deformity, ol’ Jay has become a serious name in the wax world with a line of products made by shredders, for shredders. Complete with a cork applicator to buff it to a keen shine, the F1 llives up to its name as an all temperature racing wax that goes on quickly and will turn your base into a screaming speed demon. Pack this along when you won’t have access to the equipment for better wax jobs, or just want to amp up to speed down on run after glorious run, whether the snow is flying or the sun is shining.
Pro: No mess, fumes, or complicated application
Con: Will dry out your base
Wet Warrior: The NotWax can work perfectly fine in any snow circumstances, partly because it breaks from the pack by using a pure liquid Teflon fluoropolymer from the people at DuPont. It works a little differently from more traditional waxes, giving you the ability to wipe it on quickly and then hit the slopes. It can be used in conjunction with your favorite wax for a longer lasting treatment or used singularly for a few short days. It can’t work alone for long, but having it on hand for a quick pick-up run is important, especially for racers.
Holmenkol Natural Skiwax Paste
Pro: No space or gear necessary to apply
Con: Not as good as hot waxing
Into the Wild: Backcountry skiers love the simplicity of Holmenkol Skiwax, while eco-warriors will enjoy the biodegradable compound. Intended for quick application and use, you can sponge this on anytime, anywhere and it will give your base plenty of slickness for racing down the next run or going for a few casual rides down the hill. Extremely surprising for how simple it is to put on, it can handle most conditions well and even works for easily smoothing out cross country skis on a bad day.
Hertel Super Hot Sauce
Pro: Excellent value
Con: Gets a little sticky in single digit temperatures and lower
Everyday: Uniquely formulated with a microencapsulation recipe that creates a smooth glide whether running hot or cold, this works in slush as easily as a deep freeze. It essentially creates a water barrier between you and the hill. It won’t damage your base over time, unlike some of the more caustic alternatives, and there’s even spray varieties that you can quickly apply between runs. One of the best addendums is that this scrapes off as easily as it goes on. It’s not a speed or performance wax, but it’ll make you faster than most anything on the hill all for a bargain price.
Swix F4 Universal Wax
Pro: Easy application is ideal for beginners
Con: Doesn’t work as well when temperatures get above freezing
Green Dreams: Ecologically friendly and good for any and all conditions, with the special ability to deal with wetter snow, Swix’s F4 is a great universal wax for beginners and pros alike. You can cork it in or iron it for scraping and brushing with equally great effect. It’s Fluorinated making it good for all conditions. You often don’t even need to scour the F4 since it will go onto your skis or board cleanly with just a good nylon brushing. There is a rub on formula that’s popular with this kind of wax, but it isn’t quite as good as the true Universal.