Equipment: Wax

"Advice on wax" 

You don't need waxable skis in California. The snow is too warm and the temperature hovers right around freezing. If you try to wax you'll end up changing wax all day and holding up the rest of the group. If you travel to Colorado, Canada or other places where the temperature gets below freezing and stays there, the following advice may help.

There are two schools of thought on waxing: some people use a glide wax such as Maxiglide on the tips and tails, and kick wax in the kick pocket (under the foot); others use a colder kick wax (which functions as a glide wax) on the tips and tails, and the temperature- indicated kick wax in the kick pocket.

Many people suggest beginning with a "two (or three) wax system". These use two hard (solid) waxes and one klister (gooey liquid) wax. The hard waxes are for new snow -- one for cold/dry snow and one for warmer/wet snow. The klister is for old snow or snow that has thawed and refrozen. Visit the Swix  Wax System Website for detailed waxing instructions.

The next step up is with a hard wax system that uses a color-coded progression of waxes that correspond to the snow temperature. For example, in the Swix brand system (the most common US brand), a wax progression might be: Green, -15 to -8 C (5 to 18 F); blue, -8 to -3 C (18 to 27 F); violet, around 0 C (32 F); and red, 0 to +3 C (32 to 37 F). There is a non-color-coded wax called "Polar" for -30 to -15 C (-22 to 5 F), but who's want's to be skiing when it's that cold?

In the Swix system in addition to the "basic" colors there are intermediates called "Special" and "Extra". "Special" waxes are geared towards the low end of the regular wax's range and usually a bit colder. "Extra" waxes are geared towards the warmer range and often go up a degree or more. For example, Swix Red Special is recommended for -1 to +2, Red regular from 0 to +3, and Red Extra from +1 to +3 degrees C.