So you have your snowboard setup and you’re itching to ride. But wait; does your snowboard have wax on it? Brand new or not, waxing is something you’re going to have to familiarize yourself with as wax is something your snowboard base needs throughout its lifetime. The art of waxing can become highly technical right down to seemingly simple snowboard wax selection. However, if you aren’t worried about squeezing as much speed out of your snowboard base as possible, you can just skip to All Temperature wax. If you’re a speed demon, keep reading my friend. We’re going to walk you through a general overview of the types of temperature specific waxes.
Temperature specific waxes will give you a temperature range and will have some overlap. The safer choice to make is to choose the colder range as a colder wax will work better in warmer temperatures than a warmer wax in colder temperatures.
Cold temperature waxes are optimal for colder, drier conditions. Colder temperature waxes harden the snowboard’s base structure giving it a better gliding property on cold, dry snow. The wax also lasts longer because of this.
Warm temperature waxes are optimal for warmer, wetter conditions. Warm waxes allow the snowboard’s base to be more resistant to suction so you experience less of the dreaded “ZOMG I’m stuck in this wet spring poo” factor. Warmer snow conditions mean wetter snow. Warm temperature waxes tend not to last as long.
All temperature wax is the Jack-of-all-trades in the wax world. This wax performs well in any temperature range and is great for the recreational rider. Basically put, unless you’re a competitive rider that relies on every bit of speed or a rider that is constantly pushing their speed limits, this wax is good enough for you.
So those are the three types of temperature specific waxes available to you. What’s that you say? That was easier than you thought? Hold on Bucko, now we have to go over the types of wax. There are too many blends of waxes to go over so we’ll give you a general run-down.
Hydrocarbon is usually the base composition of all recreational waxes. It is very economical so hydrocarbon waxes make for a great cleaning or storage wax. You can also use it as your riding wax if you really can care less about squeezing out that extra second of speed.
Flourinated waxes are faster than pure hydrocarbon waxes, but the downside is its toxicity. You definitely want to be in a well-ventilated area when waxing with this. Flourinated waxes come in a wide range of mixtures from low-flouro to high-flouro. High-flouro waxes usually come in a powder form and are pricey. This type of wax is used as a second layer that is applied between runs to add more speed to the snowboard.
This is where things get really techy and pricey. All types of mixtures going on here, but flouro will definitely be the focus here. Racing waxes more often than not come in base and top layer types. The base layer wax preps the base for the top layer. Brands will often partner these layers so you will see base layer waxes describe the types of waxes it best compliments.
Eco-friendly waxes are for all the Hippy riders out there… just kidding… kind of… In all seriousness, eco-friendly waxes are a great option for those that wax in their house especially with kids around. The most common base composition for an eco wax is soy. However, there are other blends out there. Some waxes are just “more” eco-friendly rather than “completely” eco-friendly. All-natural waxes like soy-based ones are 100% biodegradable. Yup, if you wax outside, you don’t even have to clean it up! Just don’t blame us if your neighbors give you bad looks. On very common downfall of eco-friendly waxes is that they are notoriously hard to scrape. A simple solution to this problem is to do a couple of “hot-scrapes”. This is where you scrape the wax while it’s still warm.
Rub-on waxes are good for two things:
1.) Riders who don’t want to bother with irons and spend the time to hot wax their boards
2.) Touch-ups between sessions when a complete wax is not necessary
Rub-on waxes often receive a bum rap by those who hot wax their snowboards religiously. However, rub-on waxes do have their utility. Some people just don’t need to spend the extra time and care to hot wax their snowboards. These are your recreational riders that take a couple of trips a year to ride. Rub-on waxes do have a benefit for those of us who ride the whole season. They are great for touch-ups between waxes or even between a few laps. Wax around your edges is always the first to go so going over the base by the edges with a rub-on wax is beneficial. You do need to go over rub-on waxes with a cork though. Most rub-ons come with a cork attached to the lid anyway. Just rub, cork, and shred.
Now that you are familiar with the various types of wax compositions, time to talk about the base of your snowboard.
Two main types of snowboard base exist: Extruded and Sintered. Both are made from P-Tex, but have very different properties. Extruded bases are not very porous thus they do not absorb wax that well. Sintered bases are highly porous and as a result, its wax absorption properties are excellent.
An unwaxed extruded base is faster than an unwaxed Sintered base. However, when both are waxed, the Sintered base is much faster.
There you have it! You’re ready to delve into the wonderful world of snowboard waxes! Wax-on, wax-off, but definitely wax-on more grasshopper.
For a general overview of just how to wax a snowboard check out the video courtesy of One Ball Jay below.