Manufacturers design skis such that they perform like a beast on the snowy mountains. However, once home, they require critical care and maintenance to sustain their performance on-site. This article highlights all the dos and don’ts of storing your cross-country skis during the off-season so that you don’t run into any issues when it’s finally time to take out these bad boys.
With the end of the cross-country ski season, cleaning and tuning your cross-country skis is indispensable for preparing them for the off-season, while applying storage wax will make sure that your skis are protected from dust, hot air, as well as humidity. In the summer, cross-country skis should be stored in a dark and dry, temperature controlled room, wrapped in a plastic bag so dust won’t accumulate on the storage wax.
Off-Season Tuning and Waxing Tutorial
If you treat your skis with care during the off-season, you will notice the result for that when it starts to snow, and you decide to go out skiing. Storage wax is a crucial component of ski maintenance and does not require you to spend many dollars on a professional wax station. The bases of your skis are prone to oxidation, which will roughen up the surface as it slowly erodes away.
Although this process does not happen over one summer, you do not want to leave them unattended for even one season, as on close inspection, you will see signs of dried-out bases. Storage wax will minimize the contact of your skis’ base surface with the atmospheric oxygen. You can do this easily at home at your DIY wax station with a handful of equipment, including:
- Waxing iron
- Nylon brush
- Plastic scraper
- Base prep or all-temp wax
- Brass brush or fine steel
To tune and wax your skis at home, you can go through the following steps in order to ensure the perfect performance for every season.
Check for Tuning
Inspect the bases of your skis carefully and closely. Since they haven’t been out in a while and haven’t experienced a good grind, it would be a good practice to tune them first. This way, they will become more receptive to wax absorption. However, if you believe that the structure looks solid and you want to wait for next year’s pre-snow conditions to progress before tuning them, you can move right ahead with the storage wax.
Clean Your Skis
This will get rid of all the accumulated debris, dirt, and wax from your bases. This is crucial as the storage wax will absorb into the ski base, and if it is covered with old wax or dirt, then that will ruin your skis. To clean your skis thoroughly, you should do it in two parts. First, using a wax iron and non-fluorinated cleaning wax, you hot scrape your skis’ bases. Then you proceed with the graduating brush process.
For hot scraping, set the temperature of the wax iron as listed, trickle the cleaning wax on the skis’ base, and iron over it two to three times. This will extract all the annoying and undesired particles away from the structure towards the surface that will make it easier to remove them. While the wax is still in molten form or wet, get hold of your plastic scraper to get rid of the wax.
If this process was long overdue and a lot of dirt has accumulated on your bases, then you might need to do this a couple of times. The key is to keep checking the removed wax until it comes out pure and without any particles. Also, make sure that your scrapper doesn’t have nicks or cuts at the edges. Since the cleaning would be soft, any burrs on the scrapper would inflict damage and scratches on the skis’ bases.
Give your skis 10-15 minutes to cool down before proceeding with brushes. First, you want to take your fine brass or any decent, gentle metal brush and remove all the residual cleaning wax. With steady, smooth, and even pressure, work your way from the tip towards the tail. Then, get the nylon brush, and with the same method and strokes, brush away all excess wax until you can’t see any wax dust.
Apply Storage Wax
Now that you have cleaned your skis’ bases, it is time for storage wax application. A particular base prep is the preferred and ideal way to go; however, if you only have a warmer glide wax (red, yellow, or universal), then that would suffice too. However, if your skis are waxless or skin-skis, then be very cautious not to apply any wax on the kick zones. A wax iron is highly recommended, albeit not mandatory.
If proceeding with a wax iron, clean it properly and slowly pour some of the storage wax on the skis’ bases. Here you want to make sure that the iron temperature is set as listed on the packaging of your storage wax. Usually, there will be a tiny picture of iron next to the recommended temperature in °C. It is always better to set the lowest possible temperature at which the wax will melt, as high temperatures could burn all the useful properties of your storage wax.
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Since the absorption process will go on throughout the summer, don’t hold back on the application and pour generously. After that, evenly spread out the wax onto the base using steady strokes three to four times from the tip to the tail. Make sure that your iron is not stationary and is moving the entire time. If it’s too fast, then the wax won’t spread evenly, and if it’s too slow, then you could risk damaging the base.
A handy tip for that is to maintain a three-four inches stream of molten wax behind your iron. If it seems like the bases have soaked up the majority of the wax, then repeat this process until you have a substantive built-up of the protective storage wax. Make sure that you cover both bases from all sides.
If you don’t have a wax iron, then use rub-on or liquid glide wax. Several thin coats of wax should do the job and give you good coverage. Make sure that you apply ample wax and cover both bases properly.
Storage Ideas for Cross-Country Skis
This is inarguably the most important part of storing your skis for the next season. If you fail to choose an adequate abode for your skis, you are risking all the hard work you have done with the storage wax.
Choosing the Ideal Storage Room
It’s important to choose an ideal storage room. Below are some considerations that you should take before picking a home for them when the snow season is over.
This is one of the most significant aspects that need your attention. Ideally, you want to store your skis in a temperature-controlled environment. Now we understand that you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of making your storage space, especially temperature-controlled, just because of this, but there are ways you can work around this.
You can tuck them under your bed as your rooms generally have a stable temperature. If you have a temperature-controlled garage, then that works perfectly but refrain from stashing them in a regular garage. The heat will inflict serious damage to your beloved skis. Closets have also proved to be an effective storage space.
Moisture and humidity of the atmosphere will be like cancer for your skis – slowly chipping away at their structure from inside and making them weak. Therefore, you want to store your skis in a place where they aren’t exposed to any humidity. A good tip for this could be to store them in plastic bags, ski storage boxes, or ski covers. This will keep them safe from any moisture in the storage area, although you should still choose a place with no such risk as you wouldn’t want to damage your skis.
Sunlight will raise the temperatures of the surroundings, which would again be injurious to your skis’ health. Therefore, it is always better to store them in dark places. This is why closets and places under your bed work so well. Storing them in dusty, damp spaces with direct or indirect exposure to sunlight would be a terrible decision and will greatly reduce the life and performance of even the best and most expensive skis.
Make sure that you don’t lock up your skis in an extremely compact place. If their structure is damaged or bending excessively, you are ruining the frame of your skis and would observe a drastic change in their performance and not for the better.
Be careful not to bind them close with their camber compressed. A handy tip for this would be to just store them on their sides and tuck them under the bed. Strapping them lightly by their tails and tails is also an option but make sure that you don’t disturb their natural structure.
As mentioned above, it is better to put your skis in a plastic or ski bag as that would keep them safe from not only moisture but also any dust. However, if you don’t do that, then don’t cover them with a blanket or any other fabrics, as they would drop fibers onto the wax base. The entire point of applying storage wax is to shield your skis from dust, dirt, or any other nasty thing that could damage their base. Hence, don’t ruin all your work with a mistake like this.
Freestanding Storage Racks
As the name suggests, a freestanding storage rack requires no support and has different slots to fit your skis and their complementary equipment. It keeps them all separate and away from any damage from keeping them bent up. Moreover, it allows for easy display during the off-season.
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While they don’t require a lot of room, equipment like ski wall racks takes even less space. However, one can argue that these are safer than ski racks as they will not normally fall off this rack. In the end, it all boils down to your preference and what you are looking for. For example, some people are looking to save space, while some are wary of wall-mounted racks despite them being safe.
Ski Wall Racks
Ski wall racks are mounted on walls and allow you to stash your skis in their respective slots and generally come in two main variations: vertical and horizontal. Vertical racks make use of the vertical space of your wall and can easily accommodate skis with bindings.
Meanwhile, horizontal ones allow for a horizontal display with different arms to support different skis and components. This is not only an efficient and safe way to store them but also allows you to show them off and present them to your friends and family with ease. It also reduces clutter in your storage space and keeps them safe as no one would step over them or run them down with anything. You also save a lot of room as the ground of your storage space would be relatively empty.
However, with vertical ski wall racks, even a little slip could potentially mean a lot of damage. Thus, you should install them with the utmost care and precision. Moreover, while they generally do save room, you want to make sure that you have adequate space for ski poles as well.
These are specifically designed bags with various features like pockets, paddings, or Velcro straps to keep your skis safe. They can be taken along on your adventures or used to store them safely during the off-season. They have different pockets for different parts that keep them in proper shape and position. Moreover, your skis remain protected from dust, dirt, sunlight, or any moisture.
However, while they are extremely handy for traveling, you don’t necessarily need them for storage since a plastic bag can get the job done as well. With that being said, there is no way that a plastic bag will offer the kind of sophistication and protection as a ski bag hence we strongly advise you to consider buying one.
Places OK for Ski Storage
- In your home
- In your room
- In a closet
- In a temperature controlled garage
- In an indoor ski storage box or cabinet
- In a dark, temperature controlled space
Places NOT OK for Ski Storage
- In a garage without temperature control
- In your car
- On the floor
- In direct sunlight
- In a dusty, damp space
- Premium padded ski bag for air travel. One size fits up to 200cm skis with cushioned adjustable roll top. Safely secured with clips to hold firm. Length is adjustable, 177cm (rolled) to 210cm (unrolled). Purchase with confidence that you will always get the correct size.
- Single ski carry bags with internal webbing to hold skis. Create a stable spine for the bag that does not move so you can arrange all your other gear around it safely. Ski carrier travel case for cross country, downhill, ski clothes, gear, poles and accessories for men and women …
You can buy the best and the most expensive model of Nordic skis on the market, but if you fail to take care of them properly, especially in the off-season, then you are not using them at your full potential and reducing their life.
Therefore, make sure that you have taken all necessary precautions and have followed all the steps, tips, and tricks explained above. If your manufacturer has outlined any specific measures, then make sure to go over them as well. You can then expect to use your skis for the next season in optimum condition and with minimal prep and effort.