Waxing Tip - Kick Wax Layering and Covering

Nathan Schultz

Classic waxing can sometimes seem like arcane voodoo, and there are a lot of tricks and tips that can make a huge difference. One of the most useful tools to have in your kick-wax belt is to understand the concept of layering and covering.

Kick wax works by building a physical coating of sticky material on the middle "kick zone" of the ski which engages the snow when pressed down into it. How you apply the wax on the ski and the ways you can mix and layer waxes can have a huge influence on the performance of your kick and glide.


It is important to layer kick wax on the ski to create physical depth so the kick wax can engage the snowpack, but it is also relevant for adjusting the glide and kick properties to maximize both. Warmer kick waxes are generally softer and stickier than those for colder snow. These soft kick waxes don't stick as well to the ski base and therefore can create durability issues if some sort of a harder base layer is not put on the ski first. Starting out with this first base layer is vitally important. This is a different topic that we will cover in-depth elsewhere, but different base layers are used in different contexts to provide durability for the waxes you apply over them. Sometimes we use the most durable base "binders" in abrasive snow and for long races/events. Base binders are super sticky and can slow down glide, so for shorter events and when the snow is less abrasive, we use a green or blue kick wax as the base layer. Base layers can be ironed or heated into the ski for extra durability.

Once you have a base layer on the ski, it's time to put on the wax of the day. This is usually the wax that matches the snow conditions and temperature. Depending on the specific wax you are using, your skis and the snow conditions, apply 3-8 thin layers of kick wax, corking every layer smooth. You will use more layers if you have a stiffer ski or are waxing for hard tracks. Fewer layers in cold, dry conditions and softer tracks.


In many conditions especially colder conditions in the blue or green ranges, you may be good to go once you have built up layers of the wax of the day. In warmer conditions where we need sticky waxes to give us grip, sometimes we need to prevent icing or speed up our kick wax choice. This can be accomplished by applying one more layer, a cover.

We generally go down one or two temp ranges for the cover wax. If the wax of the day is red, then you might choose a violet or warmer blue. The key is to apply the cover wax in a very thin layer on top of the existing layers, and minimize mixing of the layers. Carefully apply a thin, smooth cover layer on top of the wax-of-the-day layers, then cork it very lightly so you don't end up mixing the layers. The idea is to have a thin shell of the colder wax sitting on top of the warmer waxes. This shell prevents snow crystals from sticking to the sticker underlayers, but is thin enough so that when the ski is pushed down hard into the snowpack, the snow crystals engage the under layers through the cover.

When applied correctly and not mixed in, the cover will speed up glide, maintain good kick and prevent icing. All good things. The same technique can be applied with klister using a hard wax cover (klister covered). You may lose a small amount of kick when covering, but generally it makes the wax job much faster and prevents icing with only a small penalty in kick strength.