This is a good time of year to re-visit the pros and cons of waxless skis so I’ve added a section at the end of this post which gives my thoughts but I welcome everyone’s input.
I’ve had some excellent ski trips at Canmore Nordic centre this winter and this was another one. Today was unusual for the fact that I averaged a faster speed on my waxless skis than at any time on my waxable skis.
The tracks were glazed and ultra-fast, with very little slush to slow me down, and I had perfect grip with my zero skis. At 1 pm the temperature was +2°C and the sky was cloudy. At this time of year, clouds are our friends. No sun to make the tracks wet.
I skied to the end of Banff trail(the very end where Rundle Riverside trail begins in Banff National Park), and returned on Bow. I was impressed with how pristine the trails are for this time of year. No debris, no snow fleas, just clean, white snow.
My only (minor) inconvenience was the loose snow in the tracks which was created by sticky wax pulling divots out of the snow. My zero skis dislike loose snow and they get gummed up if there’s a lot of loose snow.
That brings me to the question a lot of people are asking: Which waxless skis are best. There are three choices when considering waxless skis: Fish-scale, skins, and zeros. I welcome everyone’s input on this question, but I’ll give my quick opinion.
I think skin skis are probably the best all-around waxless ski because they work well in all conditions. It’s critical to make sure they fit you correctly or you’ll experience grabbing, or if they’re too stiff, you’ll have no grip. Skins eventually need to be replaced.
Fish-scale skis are my least favourite because they don’t grip well on icy tracks and I’ve always found them difficult to control on fast downhills. As you’ve read on the trip reports, skiers still have trouble with the grip zone icing up in fresh, wet snow.
Zero skis are my favourite but the window where you can use them is very limited. They grip well on ice or wet snow, and offer excellent glide. If there is fresh, soft, or loose snow, they are worse than useless. I use sandpaper on the grip zone before each ski and that’s all the maintenance they need. You can buy an expensive silicone spray for the grip zone which is supposed to prevent icing but it wears off quickly.