Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

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lilcliffy

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Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lilcliffy » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:48 pm

This is a question I get paralyzed by.

If you were going to buy a ski like the Objective/Vector/V6/FINDr, for backcountry touring, would you choose the waxable version and use grip wax, or the scaled versions?
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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby connyro » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:08 pm

The scales on the Vector BCs are really good for climbing. Way better than any kick wax I've used. Also, I HATE to endlessly fiddle with my ski gear, so simplicity is important to me. I like to get to the top of the slope and go down without fussing. Skins and wax and fooling with bindings, and all that mess get in the way of this type of skiing IMO.

These type of skis are for downhill turning performance, so it makes sense that most people using these skis will be spending the majority of their time climbing and descending (laps) or touring through very rugged terrain, where max grip is essential. I've heard people say that the scales won't work well for dry, cold snow but in my experience, that's not true. The snow conditions where I ski are pretty much cold, dry, deep snow and IMO, nothing climbs in it better than the Vector BCs (aside from using skins.) Granted, good technique is essential. Where I DO notice the scales negatively is low-angle descending. They are slow. But there's better skis in my quiver for low-angle turns so for the most part, I stick to the steep, rough terrain on the Vector BCs.

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lilcliffy

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lilcliffy » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:10 pm

connyro wrote:The scales on the Vector BCs are really good for climbing.

The Vector BC's traction blew my mind when I tested them. Truly amazing.

Also, I HATE to endlessly fiddle with my ski gear, so simplicity is important to me. I like to get to the top of the slope and go down without fussing. Skins and wax and fooling with bindings, and all that mess get in the way of this type of skiing IMO.

Well- I hear you on this- especially with low vertical. When I backcountry skied in the western mountains- I took a break when I reached the top of the mountain- therefore putting on cables was not a big deal!!! (However- I sure wish I had had free-pivot Telemark bindings back in the 90s when I climbed true mountains on skis...)

The waxless-scaled versions of these skis is where I always initially gravitate towards for low-vertical touring for turns.

But- then I wonder- in cold snow, would grip wax not be enough grip?

I've heard people say that the scales won't work well for dry, cold snow but in my experience, that's not true. The snow conditions where I ski are pretty much cold, dry, deep snow and IMO, nothing climbs in it better than the Vector BCs (aside from using skins.)

I agree with you here too- but I think most people- myself included- that are commenting on the lack of cold, soft snow grip of scales, are speaking of traditional Nordic touring skis that are narrow, stiff and cambered.

The Vector BC is a traction machine- but, it is wide, has a downhill camber that is easy to engage, and has scales that are oriented towards climbing traction. Not even Fischer's very impressive Off-Track Crown design on the current S-Bounds can compete with the Vector BC (I personally think because the S-Bounds are significantly more cambered than the Vector...)

Granted, good technique is essential. Where I DO notice the scales negatively is low-angle descending. They are slow. But there's better skis in my quiver for low-angle turns so for the most part, I stick to the steep, rough terrain on the Vector BCs.

Makes sense to me- that is why I would get 'em!
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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lowangle al » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:59 pm

I think one reason the vector bc climbs so well is the tip rocker. More of your weight is on the scales and less is being supported by the tips compared to a conventional ski. The rocker combined with the shorter ski length make sidestepping and herring boning easier too.

I have both versions of the vector and I'd be surprised if the scales outclimbed wax but I could be wrong.

As to which ski to get? I think the all around performance of the bc version being real good combined with fluctuating temperatures with more frequent thaws I would get the bc version.

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby teleclub » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:33 pm

Assuming we're talking about single camber skis, I wonder how long kick wax lasts on a single camber ski? Where I am, I mostly use skins on single camber skis. I'm generally a fan of waxing and don't have any scales skis at all in the current family quiver(!). I used to wax BCX skis all the time (back in the day) but they were skinny double camber, and even on those I started using skins most of the time for steep climbing (damn canyons everywhere). Never occurred to me that scales would have enough grip for that kind of steep climbing if I was already climbing at the limit of wax grip.

So for me to answer the OP question for myself I'd need to figure out if 1) I'd need to re-apply wax a lot to single camber skis as it gets scraped off, because that's not necessary with wax-pocketed skis where I love waxing because of how little attention it requires and how much I can ignore it for long periods. And 2) would I need to scrape off the wax on a single camber ski to get decent glide on the downhill. This question just shows how my use of skins has left me ignorant about waxing single camber skis.

connyro wrote:The scales on the Vector BCs are really good for climbing. Way better than any kick wax I've used...


This kind of review is surprising but very good to know. Makes me want to consider a scaled Vector since it's a natural in my terrain anyway.

Sounds like Low-Angle Al has also skied Vector scales and noted surprisingly good grip, although noting it's only approaching as good a grip as wax(?). It's always useful to have scales reviews from people who like to wax, not only from those who hate to wax. I totally appreciate connyro's review but I do know that if you dislike waxing to start with, your satisfaction with scales might be a little different from mine.
Last edited by teleclub on Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby phoenix » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:05 pm

"So for me to answer the OP question for myself I'd need to figure out if 1) I'd need to re-apply wax a lot to single camber skis as it gets scraped off, because that's not necessary with wax-pocketed skis where I love waxing because of how little attention it requires and how much I can ignore it for long periods. And 2) would I need to scrape off the wax on a single camber ski to get decent glide on the downhill. This question just shows how my use of skins has left me ignorant about waxing single camber skis."

My thoughts and experience on the above:
1) I've never had to re-apply wax much at all on my single cambered skis. This has been true for jaunts of up to about 15 miles.If you're not waxed correctly at first, yes, you may need to adjust your wax accordingly. Don't think I can remember wearing the wax off; I take my time corking in a few layers before heading out. Granular snow might be an exception. Might be... but then if it's a klister day, the stuff will last longer than you want.
2) Likewise, I've never had any need to scrape off wax for the descent. Although if you're waxed too warm and clumping snow on your bases, you'll want to scrape the snow; don't even need to take the skis off for that. The wax still won't matter going down.

I'll add that I've always been partial to waxing; the Objective's I'm skiing this season (first waxless ski I've owned, though I've skied many over the years) have, so far, far outperformed any other waxless ski in this category. In grip, glide, and relative quietness. Voile has got it right on their BC skis.

Finally, if anyone can explain to me how to do the highlited quote thing for these responses, feel free to educate me!

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lowangle al

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lowangle al » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:31 pm

The only time I have a problem keeping wax on single camber skis is in the same abrasive conditions that affect double camber skis. Turning also removes kick wax from either double or single camber skis.

Glide is decent, but a double camber ski may be more forgiving of either too much wax or too soft a wax.

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lowangle al » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:42 pm

phoenix wrote:"

I'll add that I've always been partial to waxing; the Objective's I'm skiing this season (first waxless ski I've owned, though I've skied many over the years) have, so far, far outperformed any other waxless ski in this category. In grip, glide, and relative quietness. Voile has got it right on their BC skis.

Finally, if anyone can explain to me how to do the highlited quote thing for these responses, feel free to educate me!


That was my experience when I bought my vectors. They ski so well that any negative aspect of the scales is outweighed by the increased convienience of not waxing. IMO

I just quote the whole post and delete what I don't want, but I think there is another way.

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby martin2007 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:02 pm

I confess to having great faith in waxing. Had a wonderful ski today. I decided to do some experimenting with two different skis, one set right after the other.

1) I re-fitted a narrow set of skins to my Karhu XCD-GT's and set out just north of here for the Grand Lake entry to Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park. I thought I'd ski a trail that my wife and I had walked and snowshoed a week ago. Since then the park's received a good foot of snow...finally. Fresh snow in the woods and packing done by several snowshoers. Anyway, I set out on the trail which climbs gently for 2 miles to Big Meadow. It began to snow almost as soon as I began. Once at the meadow, I took off the skins and skied around the perimeter with Swix blue and a little purple underfoot. A good 18" wall of snow bordering the snowshoe track. Good, not great, kick, very good glide.

2) 3 hours later back down at the car, I decided to try out my S-Bounds and re-climb the same trail. Great grip, perfectly adequate for the climb, but with nice glide unhindered by aggressive skins. I hadn't skied the S-Bounds since last year, and once again, I was very impressed by the action of the scales. These are my only waxless skis, but they climb better than any of my other skis. They still require skins, though, once the pitch increases beyond "gentle-moderate".

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Re: Alpine Touring/Telemark skis- grip wax versus scales?

Postby lilcliffy » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:13 am

lowangle al wrote:I think one reason the vector bc climbs so well is the tip rocker. More of your weight is on the scales and less is being supported by the tips compared to a conventional ski.

This is also a result of camber and flex. The only time I have ever really put the Vector BC through its paces I was able to test it against the Guide and the S-Bound 112. The Guide and the S-112 are both more cambered than the Vector BC. The Guide has a K&G scales design- that offers limited climbing performance. The S-112 is more cambered than the Vector as well- and is also stiffer than the Annum- but its current scale design is further forward than the Guide (and more aggressive)- it climbs more effectively than the Guide. The scale pattern on the Vector BC is quite plain and unremarkable from my perspective- but the width, camber, flex and placement of the scales allows the Vector BC to absolutely blow away the other two skis when climbing.

I have both versions of the vector and I'd be surprised if the scales outclimbed wax but I could be wrong.

I would be surprised as well...

As to which ski to get? I think the all around performance of the bc version being real good combined with fluctuating temperatures with more frequent thaws I would get the bc version.

Yeah- keep thinking this as well- but if I owned a Vector I would probably only use it when the snow is deep and soft- ideal for grip wax...
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