The Best Ski Waxes in 2021

Choosing the best ski or snowboard wax is much like choosing ski or snowboard bindings in that it often gets overlooked despite the fact that it can have a real impact on your performance. With a wide variety of temperatures, prices, snow conditions, price points and additives available, it is no wonder that choosing wax is a daunting task you are new to waxing or simply trying to figure out which product suits your needs best.

We have selected some of the best waxes that perform well in a wide range of temperatures to help you find your ‘go-to’ product this season. Take a look and the pros, cons and application options for some of our favorites below!

swix f4 universal glide wax liquid
  • Conditions: universal
  • Application: wipe on & buff
  • Equipment: integrated applicator included
  • Prep time: < 8 minutes
  • Fluorinated: yes
  • Size: 100ml
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Here is an ideal option for anyone looking for a quick fix. This liquid wax goes on fast and easy. It is applied with the integrated foam applicator and the base of the bottle can be detached and used to buff the base of your skis or board. All in all the Swix F4 Liquid is very convenient. The 100ml size also makes it easy to slip this liquid wax into a pocket or backpack: it can be applied at home or on the hill between runs. This video shows the super simple application on cross-country skis, but the process is the same for any ski or snowboard.

The downside of a liquid wax like the Swix F4 is that it is only designed to last for one day meaning regular reapplication is required if this is your go-to choice. While the fluorinated wax repels water wonderfully and delivers a great glide feeling, it cannot replace a hard wax in terms of full-spectrum care of your skis so this liquid wax is best used as a glide enhancer in combination with hard wax.

Pros:
  • Fast easy application
  • Convenient pocket size
  • No equipment required for application
  • Can be applied on the hill between runs
Cons:
  • Durability: only lasts one day
  • Doesn’t provide full-spectrum care

ZUMWax RUB ON Wax Ski/Snowboard

The Best ‘On-The-Go’ Ski & Snowboard Wax

zumwax rub on wax ski snowboard
  • Conditions: universal
  • Application: rub on
  • Equipment: integrated applicator included
  • Prep time: < 10 minutes
  • Fluorinated: no
  • Size: 70g
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Faster and easier to apply than traditional hard wax and more durable than liquid waxes – this rub on wax is a great middle option and can be expected to last for several days. The application is simple: rub the wax onto the base of the ski or snowboard then work it in using the integrated cork. Best applied to a slightly warm, clean, dry ski base – this rub on wax can also be applied on the go if need be.

Designed for all conditions, this universal wax can be used a stand-alone product or to enhance your glide, applied on top of hot wax. While it doesn’t provide the same level of base care as hot wax, it will still go a long way towards caring for and maintaining your bases when regularly used. It is also available in variations specifically for warm and cold temperatures. ZUMWax RUB ON wax also comes with a unique perk – the wax is vanilla scented!

Pros:
  • Fast easy application
  • Convenient pocket size
  • Cork integrated in the lid
  • Vanilla scened
  • Durability: up to 3 days
Cons:
  • Doesn’t provide full-spectrum care

Hertel Wax Super Hot Sauce Wax

The Best Long-Lasting Ski & Snowboard Wax

super hot sauce all temperature ski and snowboard wax
  • Conditions: universal
  • Application: rub on or iron on
  • Equipment: iron, cork, brush
  • Prep time: 20 minutes (or rub in!)
  • Size: 340g
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Hertel has been making wax for almost 50 years and their experience shows. This unique formula can be applied as a traditional hot wax with an iron or rubbed on cold for a quick pick-me-up for your skis. Iron-on application provides better, longer-lasting performance, but it is convenient to have both options available. For ideal application, the ski base does need to be well prepped and this wax should needs to be ironed on quite hot, which makes the overall application, cooling and scraping process a bit more time-consuming.

One application can deliver up to three days of improved glide performance on the ski hill. The universal formula enhances glide in all snow and temperature conditions. It really does work – from pre-season manmade snow to springtime slush. Whether the backcountry is your territory or you prefer the snow park, Hertel Hot Sauce wax can up your game wherever you spend your time.

Pros:
  • Hot or cold application possible
  • Durability: 3+ days
  • Biodegradable
  • All white – no color additives!
Cons:
  • High melting temperature

Demon Hyper Wax

The Best Value Ski & Snowboard Wax

demon hyper wax
  • Conditions: universal
  • Application: iron on
  • Equipment: iron, scraper, brush
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Size: 480g
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This universal wax comes in a large bock and you can count on it to last a while. Appropriate for all snow and temperature conditions, the Demon Hyper Wax reliably improves your glide and speed delivering especially good results in terms of initial pickup speed in wet conditions.

The wax melts very quickly, which can make for fast easy application if you have had some practice, but can also make a mess and waste wax if you are newer to hot waxing. Not a big deal – but it may take a few tries to get a feel for the application. This wax can be used for cleaning your bases and in case you still aren’t convinced, it smells like citrus.

Pros:
  • Great value
  • Excellent speed pickup
  • Appropriate for base cleaning
  • Citrus scented
Cons:
  • Can be tricky to apply evenly
  • Melts very fast

North Glidewax Cold Wax

The Cold Spectrum Biodegradable Wax

north glidewax cold
  • Conditions: cold, 21˚F to -4˚F (-8˚C to -20˚C)
  • Application: iron on
  • Equipment: iron, scraper, brush
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Size: 180g
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This is a great go-to wax for whenever the mercury drops. Designed to perform in temperatures between 21˚F and -4˚F this is a simple training wax that will keep you gliding without unnecessary chemicals or a high price tag. You will be doing Mother Nature a favor with this fully biodegradable option.

This classic hard wax needs to be ironed on in a thin layer and scraped off. It has pretty good durability so you can count on a few days on the hills before you need to re-wax.

Pros:
  • Fully biodegradable
  • Affordable cold weather training wax
  • Good durability
Cons:
  • Must be ironed to apply
  • Takes some effort to scrape off

Dakine Nitrous Hot Wax – All Temp

The Best Budget Universal Wax

dakine nitrous hot wax all temp
  • Conditions: all temperatures
  • Application: iron or rub on
  • Equipment: iron, scraper, brush (ideally)
  • Prep time: 4 minutes for rub-on, 15 minutes to iron on
  • Size 170g
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This blended paraffin formula wax provides decent speed in almost any snow conditions. It is ideally applied with a hot iron and scraped off – this delivers the best and longest lasting performance; however, if you need a little pick me and don’t have the time or equipment for the hot application it can also be rubbed into the base of your skis or snowboard.

This is as good as affordable versatility can get! Don’t expect outstanding performance in any particular condition, but if you all looking for a convenient all-season wax, then look no further.

Pros:
  • Very versatile
  • Can be rubbed on if necessary
Cons:
  • Doesn’t excel in a particular condition

SWIX CH7X Violet Wax

The Best High-Performance Mid-Range Wax

swix ch7x violet wax
  • Conditions: -2˚C to -8˚C (28˚F to 18˚F)
  • Application: iron
  • Equipment: iron, scraper, brush
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Size 170g
CHECK PRICES

This hydrocarbon wax is a step above your average training wax. It is designed to deliver high-performance speed in cooler winter temperatures and can be used for training or racing. Like most hot waxes, it needs to be applied with an iron and scraped off and brushed out for optimal performance.

You can expect decent durability: this wax is also well suited to providing a more durable base layer and can be layered with warmer waxes as needed. An excellent option for anyone looking to care for their bases and enjoy great glide on cool winter days.

Pros:
  • Delivers great speed
  • Well suited as a base wax
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Must be ironed to apply

One Ball Jay Fruity Pebbles All Temp Wax

The Best Smelling Ski and Snowboard Wax

one ball jay fruity pebbles all temp wax
  • Conditions: universal
  • Application: iron on or rub on
  • Equipment: iron, scraper, brush
  • Prep time: 20 minutes to iron
  • Size: 210g
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Don’t let the name fool you – there is nothing ‘fruity’ about this great wax other than its awesome smell. This wax should ideally be ironed on for long-lasting performance, but can easily be rubbed on and buffed if you just need a quick touch up or are tight on time.

This is a fun, colorful option for anyone looking to care for his or her equipment and enjoy guaranteed glide whether you are out every weekend or only a few times a year.

Pros:
  • Smells great
  • Can be ironed in or rubbed on
  • Appropriate for all snow conditions
Cons:
  • Low durability when rubbed on

What to Consider When Buying Ski or Snowboard Wax

Let’s start with the basics: why do need to wax your skis or board anyways? What if top-speed isn’t really important to you?

Waxing the base of your new all-mountain snowboard is just as important as waxing your dusty, decade-old skis. When the bases of your equipment get dry, they aren’t able to repel the water produced from friction as you glide over the snow, which means you won’t have the consistent gliding feeling you need for a good run. Not only that, but a good layer of hot wax helps protect your bases from minor scratches as well as from collecting dirt.

Type of Wax

All of the waxes we reviewed are glide waxes – wax that is designed to help your gear glide over the snow, fast. If you are new to waxing altogether, you may stumble across the so-called ‘grip wax’. This ski wax is specifically designed for classic cross-country skis and its job is to create a sticky area. So steer clear – you don’t need (or want) grip wax anywhere near your alpine skis or snowboard!

Application

Hot-wax refers to glide wax that comes in the form of a solid block and is applied by melting the wax into the base of the ski or snowboard with an iron. After a thin even layer of wax has been melted onto the base, the wax is allowed to cool before it is scraped off. Scraping is important because excess wax will fill in the texture of your base leaving no escape path for moisture underfoot; this creates a sort of suction and is anything but fast. After the excess wax has been scraped away a brush should be used, from tip to tail, to remove finer wax particles.

This article and short movies summarize the techniques and tools of the trade quite well.

Pastes, gels and liquid waxes can be dabbed, wiped or smeared on and most often the wax container includes the application sponge or brush. The advantage here is that application is fast and requires no electricity or tools. For optimal performance the base still needs to be polished with a cork or cloth after application. The disadvantage is that these types of waxes don’t last as long as their iron-on counterparts and usually require reapplication each day. They also do not protect the ski base to the same extent as hot waxes and are cannot fill in any scrapes or gouges you may have. These waxes are best used as performance enhancers in between or in addition to hot wax applications.

Rub-on wax can be applied without an iron but usually requires a bit of muscle to work the wax into the base using a cork. Though rub-on waxes do not provide the same base care as hot-wax, they are longer lasting and protect your base more than the pastes and liquid variations.

Some waxes can be applied with an iron or as a rub-on, which is possibly the best of both worlds: you can take the time to hot wax your skis when it’s convenient and rub-on touch-ups in between without having to purchase separate types of wax.

Temperature & Durability

Generally, waxes designed for colder temperature ranges are harder and also last longer. This is because harder waxes withstand snow abrasion better. Hot waxes always come with instructions including what temperature the iron needs to be to melt the wax onto the ski. Waxing with the iron too hot can cause the wax to burn and smoke, which damages both the wax and potentially your base, so make sure you check the package. Colder and harder waxes also require a bit more effort and patience to scrape off and brush out compared to softer ones.

Many waxes are designed to perform in specific temperature ranges, and often specific snow conditions as well. We chose to review primarily universal wax – products that perform in all conditions – because there are some excellent options out there and having one great wax is a lot more convenient than having five! If you want to get specific, most of the brands we reviewed also produce waxes designed for individual temperature ranges.

Cleaning Your Bases

Even if you can’t see it, the base of your snowboard or skis collects dirt particles overtime: these particles slow you down. Depending on how much time you spend on the snow, you should be cleaning your bases every 3rd to 5th time you apply hot wax. The process isn’t hard! Apply your hot-wax as usually but instead of letting the wax cool, reheat the wax several times by running your iron over it. This allows the collected dirt particles to swim to the surface of the liquid wax. Now scrape off the wax while it is still hot.

If your wax is light-colored, you will actually be able to see the dirt you are removing – the amount of it may very well surprise you! After you have scraped off the dirt containing, warm wax you can hot wax your skis or board as per usual.

As a rule of thumb, hot wax is always best applied to particle-free, room temperature, dry bases, so make sure you give your bases a quick wipe down before you get to work.

Additives & Speed

Some waxes are faster than others, but the fastest generally come with the tradeoff of containing chemical additives, which also makes them more expensive. It is definitely worth it to consider how much speed you really need and whether it is important for you to choose an environmentally friendly product.

If you are an all-mountain rider or skier who tends to enjoy the groomers or the backcountry, then a well-applied universal, or temperature appropriate, the wax is probably more than adequate. If you spend a lot of time in the pipe or racing then you may very well need all the speed you can get.

The most common additive for top-speed performance waxes are fluorocarbons which are not good for you or for the environment. They need to be applied in a well-ventilated space and we would like to recommend using them sparingly, and preferably not at all. The top international winter sports federations have agreed to ban the use of fluorinated wax in competition starting with the 2020-21 season, check out this article to learn more.

If protecting our winters is really important to you, consider going with a fluorocarbon-free, biodegradable wax.

Now that you have the down low on wax, pull on your ski or snowboard boots and get ready to enjoy some great glide!

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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