wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

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Woodserson

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wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby Woodserson » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:54 pm

Today got up to 53F/12C, which is like, a total disaster but whatever. It was the first big melt for this last snow. More specifically, five day old cold dry snow was warming up for the first time with no refreeze, so it's that settling wet sticky snow situation that has no ice crystals in it. It can actually make for good skiing, though it can make for very slow skiing if not properly glide waxed and any kind of trailbreaking would be a wet-feet slow-mo slog.

I'm getting up to a new idea, thinking about going back to Switzerland later this winter but this time for a nordic tour. Like many of my dumb ideas it may not work at all, or it may actually happen. I would be interested in skiing along a very long mellow mountain ridge connecting different nordic ski systems, with maybe some wilderness skiing in between. If I do this, I want to bring ONE ski. Weather can vary from extreme cold to 12C like today. What does one do?

1. I could bring a waxless ski, but do I want to pound out a 100km on a waxless ski if it's good dry snow conditions? NO.
2. I could bring a wax ski and use klister, but then what happens if it cools off or snows and I have no good place to clean the ski? This would be just the worst.
3. I could bring a wax ski and use the XSkin insert. But what of performance?

To start, my Toko Yellow (warmest snow in the Toko line) was completely ineffectual. No hope in this snow, it's drastic measures or go home.

I am deeply skeptical of this whole kicker skin idea. I think I'm asking for drag-city and misery. But klister in non-klister situations is misery, not to mention that just handling the stuff in normal klister conditions "breaks marriages" in the words of Kevin Gibb.

There is only one way for me to find out what is acceptable and that's to just go out there and do it.

Fischer E-99 Xtralite Crown 205cm and the Asnes Gamme 54 200cm were my testbeds. They are very comparable skis, I like them both, and the Gamme allows for the skin and the klister.

20190204_153506.jpg


First up was the Crown vs the untrimmed X-Skin 45mm mohair.

Glide was almost identical. I couldn't believe it. There was definitely a slight, oh-so-slight, barely perceptible slowness on the skin but it was well within any kind of acceptable parameters for touring. In the track, out of the track, in the hot untracked snow, it didn't matter it was as pleasant to ski on it as it was on the Crown. One thing I notice is that the
mohair starts to wet out pretty quickly especially in the tail.

20190204_161444.jpg


I did not notice loss of grip as the afternoon continued even though the skin continued to wet out more and more. I should have waxed the skins, and neglected to do so, which I regret. Asnes definitely recommends this to delay moisture intrusion. I also think I could probably trim some of the skins for this 200cm Gamme, but I'm hesitant to put them to the knife this soon without more testing.

So after this it was time to go ahead and ruin my other Gamme and apply some of that klister shit. Goddammit I haven't used this stuff in almost 9 years when I swore it off, but SCIENCE. So I popped open a new tube of Swix Universal Silver and got it all over my hands and pants and thankfully I have a dedicated klister scraper and I wrestled in onto the base. It works, kind of, but wasn't enough, so I added another three inches and almost got myself glued up like Shelob just attacked me, but managed to pull free and go skiing.

20190204_160501.jpg


The klister worked well overall, but was slightly inconsistent depending on the snow. Sometimes it gripped just fine, sometimes it gripped not at all, sometimes it gripped too much. This is all within a few hundred yards with shaded and sunny spots. By the end it worked pretty well (it really needed time to cool down on the snow) but it lacked the consistency that the X-Skin had. Notably, climbing one hill the klister decided to stop working and the skin did too for a moment, but the skin could easily climb the hill if need be. If both skis had been klister in this situation during a big long trip I would have freaked out.

When I think of the energy it takes to manage the klister, apply it, work it right, deal with slippery spots or sudden voilent stops, and then taking it off the next morning when surprise! it snowed 3 inches, the X-Skin wins out without question. Without question!

The X-Skin is consistent, has good glide that is 99% of the Crown and klister (when optimized), the X-Skin is mild mannered, grips fantastic!, and doesn't leave a giant sticky mess all over your clothes. I was blown away at how great it was!

X-Skin wins, scales close second or first, depending on what your parameters are.

Here's a photo of the three for grip area comparison.

20190204_162858.jpg


Does anyone have any ideas or experiments to try? Any factors I'm missing? Anything I should go torture myself with? Feel free to add, I'm all ears.

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby wooley12 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:02 pm

Did you wax your skins? I crayon some wax on mine and then use a warm iron to melt the wax into the fibers.

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Woodserson

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby Woodserson » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:11 pm

wooley12 wrote:Did you wax your skins? I crayon some wax on mine and then use a warm iron to melt the wax into the fibers.


Woodserson wrote:I did not notice loss of grip as the afternoon continued even though the skin continued to wet out more and more. I should have waxed the skins, and neglected to do so, which I regret.


Nope, not these. I have the wax, I just forgot. I am not brave enough to use an iron on my skins though...I usually just rub it on. You must have had success however. Nylon or mohair?

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby lowangle al » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:36 pm

Well if the skins are almost as good as scales I'd go with them.That way you would still be able to take advantage of waxing if temps are good. My guess is that the skins will glide pretty good on the warm snow you plan to use them on, so you will have the best of both worlds(warm and cold).

I think my next ski(Asnes)will be waxable with integrated skins.

Good for you to be able to get back over there again so soon, it sounds like fun.

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby wooley12 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:55 pm

I live in the PNW with a wet maritime snow and wax all of my skins. Better glide and they don't get wet and stretch or ice up. I crayon the wax on and go over it with an iron on a low heat. Takes 10 - 20 slow passes. I raised the heat and reduced the passes as I got more experience. I have some leg strength issues and my nordic exploring is lift served that has me returning on blue groomers with spent legs. With waxed mohair on spent legs I can straight line the blues at the speed of an automatic airport walkway. With waxed nylon I have to give a kick once and a while. All my skis have scales.

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby bgregoire » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:53 am

Can you test Nylon vs Mohair in warm temp? Perhaps Nylon will absorb less water....

Consider a pair of full length skins in your back-pack if you are going deep into the wild.

Have you considered planning that trip in northern Scandinavia instead? You will surely have better nordic ski conditions there for a long tour....
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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby lowangle al » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:47 pm

As far as the klister goes, I would leave it at home with your lurk. :lol:

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:18 pm

Excellence.
Thank you for this detailed test and report!

A number of things-

Klister.
When the conditions call for it- it is wonderful. I have two problems with it that prevent me from using it more:
1) It cannot be used in combination with a kicker skin- which leads me to the second problem...

2) Removing klister is the real hassle- not applying it IMO. Easy to do in the shop with tissue/paper towel and an iron. Major f'in pain in the arse in the backcountry. AND- in my experience, it is almost as much of a pain in the arse to remove when the temperature takes extreme swings in the middle of winter. For example- do I really want to apply klister to the kick zone- just to have to strip it the next day when the temperature and snow return to waxing? Many of the avid Classic track skiers that I know actually keep a klister-specific ski in their quiver for mid-winter thaws and the typical wet and then icy refrozen snow that accompanies the thaw....This is not a solution for a multi-day excursion...

I am actually considering a klister-specific ski in my quiver...
In mid-winter, klister conditions are typically infrequent and last 2 or three days at the most. In mid-winter I have been using scaled skis on warm wet snow- kicker skins on icy refrozen snow- waiting for the return of kick wax snow.

There are loads of Nordic tourers that live in climates where the snow is almost always in klister conditions.

Question: do skiers on long-distance excursions use klister and grip wax, and- if, so- how do they remove klister in the wilderness?

I guess I see klister as impractical on a multi-day excursion, unless the snow is all going to be klister conditions. HOWEVER- this still doesn't help if the terrain on the trip will require the use of skins...

Your comparison test of the E99 Crown Xtralite versus Gamme 54 + 45mm mohair X-Skin is very interesting and very helpful. As a note- have you tried the Gamme with a narrower skin? I am using a 35mm mohair with the Gamme 54- WOW. Personally I find the grip-glide balance a VERY difficult thing to balance on a waxless-scaled double-cambered ski...For example- my 210cm E99 Crown Xtralite is very fast- because the scales are completely released when I stride forwards...HOWEVER- the grip on the Crowns is very limited- unless the snow is ideal and the terrain is gentle. I know that I would get better grip on a 200cm E99 Crown- but then I would lose some glide...By example- my E99 Tour with Easy-Skin (and Gamme 54 with X-Skin) outperform my 210cm E99 Crown in every context...But- both my E99 Tour and Gamme 54 are long enough (210cm) that they both have effective wax pockets. I expect- at my weight- all three of these skis (the Crowns and the other 2 skined up) at 200cm would be very close to each other in terms of kick and glide performance. But I really think that the 210cm double-cambered ski with kicker skin is going to outperform any of the three at 200cm- at least at my weight..

On another note- how do your similar lengthed- or longer- less cambered skis compare? For example- I have tried my friend's 200cm E99 Crown Xtralites a number of times when we have been out together- me on my 205cm E109 Crown Xtralite. To be honest- I don't see or feel a big difference between the two in terms of glide- the grip of the E109 being better due to less camber and more width. However- the E109 is both more stable on steep terrain and much easier to turn. So- if I had to choose between a 200cm E99 Crown or a 205cm E109 Crown- I would definitely pick the 205cm E109...

As a comparison- how does your Fischer 78 compare against the Gamme and the E99 Crown in your comparison test? And by extension- how would a 200cm 78 compare?

If the glide of the Crown vs kicker skin is that close- what about a cambered and scaled ski + kicker skin? Traverse 78 + Easy-Skin?

Another question: will you be skiing on snow that suits kick wax?

And coming back around the circle- perhaps having a narrower kicker skin on the Gamme 54 will blow the whole thing up?
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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby Cannatonic » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:45 pm

interesting test! I like the shot of one ski on each foot - some hardcore testing! :lol: yes, leave the klister in the depths of history where it belongs. Your experiment was brave but sort of like infecting yourself with a disease. :D

In my experience the Asnes skin system is ideal for taking on a trip like this. The only time scales are preferable IMO is when you're yo-yo'ing slopes for turns or on a tour with steep downhills mixed in. I don't think the skins will stay on long while making downhill turns.

you like the full-length 45mm, wait till you try it shortened to the heel plate, the glide is way better. It pays to have a few of these skins. I've used the 35mm nylon ones shortened to the heel w/ Gamme and it worked great. I left my 45mm nylon full-length in case I need to climb something steep w/ the Gamme. Mohair skins would be better for cold snow.

PS, you can also use Swix F4 to wax skins. I tried the skin protector made by Colltex but it has a nasty chemical smell to it, I think I'll try the Nikwax product next time.

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Woodserson

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Re: wax vs scales vs XSkin vs klister

Postby Woodserson » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:56 pm

lilcliffy wrote:2) Removing klister is the real hassle- not applying it IMO. ...This is not a solution for a multi-day excursion...


Yes, agreed.

There are loads of Nordic tourers that live in climates where the snow is almost always in klister conditions.


This is me. Snow, warm, freeze, wait for snow.

As a note- have you tried the Gamme with a narrower skin? I am using a 35mm mohair with the Gamme 54- WOW.


I ordered them about a week ago and am waiting for them to arrive.

As a comparison- how does your Fischer 78 compare against the Gamme and the E99 Crown in your comparison test? And by extension- how would a 200cm 78 compare?


Good question, I did not bring the 78's. I know that the E99's outclass the 78's in longer glide, and probably have similar grip. They are just wider and bit more stable.

If the glide of the Crown vs kicker skin is that close- what about a cambered and scaled ski + kicker skin? Traverse 78 + Easy-Skin?


This would be a winning combo, but it's only the 78 that'll have this, the E99 Crown does not have the EZSkin adapter. This is like the Mountain Tour 51 Waxless not having the XSkin attachment. Who's in charge around here?

Another question: will you be skiing on snow that suits kick wax?


I don't know, but I do know that the worst possible scenario is to be shuffling on a waxless ski when conditions would merit wax. I would rather skin waxless conditions than ski waxless when I knew I had the opportunity to be on wax but took the wrong ski. This is purely personal and psychological-- but I like performance and that wax feel and not having it when I could have it would drive. me. nuts.

And coming back around the circle- perhaps having a narrower kicker skin on the Gamme 54 will blow the whole thing up?


Totally. Skinnier mohair is coming!


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