Each cross country ski manufacturer designs its products to outperform any other on the snow by using the best materials and employing the most advanced technology; every curve and bend must be justified.
Once off the trails, however, these well-built ski pairs require meticulous and critical maintenance procedures to ensure their longevity and optimum performance on their next tour in the mountains.
The article below is a guide to storing cross country skis. We’ll discuss the processes you should perform on the skis themselves, the best storage areas, and a few other dos and don’ts.
Off the bat, cross country skis should be cleaned, tuned, and waxed to protect them from humidity and other elements. The storage area should be dark and free of moisture to keep off heat and rust. Finally, the skis should be wrapped in plastic to prevent dust from accumulating in critical areas.
Remember To Inventory The Entire Ski Gear
After being on the snowy mountains for a whole ski season, your gear is most likely beaten and needs repair. What and how much needs to be replaced depends on the gear’s age and maybe how hard you push it.
Your waterproof ski boots or jacket might be leaking due to the many seasons it’s been out there, it might be time you visited ski shops and got a new one.
The goggles too, due to the constant fogging and straining of the straps, they might not be as clear and stable as they were the first time, why not get a new pair?
We insist on inspecting your gear immediately after the ski season so you can fix what needs fixing before the next winter; you don’t want to be running around shopping for ski boots after the snow is already on the ground- the prices at this time are usually not the best.
Tuning And Waxing Cross Country Skis In The Off-Season – Step-By-Step Guide
Caring for and maintaining your cross country skis in the off-season will surely pay off when the snow hits the ground and you decide to head for the tracks.
Protective storage wax is surprisingly cheap but it can make all the difference- leave the expensive wax stations for the sponsored professionals and get your wax box from the local ski shop.
Ski bases are prone to oxidation which roughens up the smooth areas by slowly eroding the top layer. The process is usually slow and can go undetected in the initial stages but one summer is all rust needs to render your gear usable. Storage wax reduces your skis’ contact with atmospheric oxygen which must be present for the oxidation process to occur.
To wax your cross country skis, you don’t need much; a stable DIY station and a few other pieces of equipment will do.
Get the following;
- Wax iron
- Plastic scraper
- Nylon brush
- All temp wax
- Brass brush
With the equipment ready, you can now preform this quick and inexpensive process from the comfort of your garage. Follow the steps below and reap the fruits of your labor when the next season knocks.
Inspect The Skis For Tuning
Before storing skis, double check the bases again and again- they are crucial. They might not have hit the snow in a while so some tuning at this stage will be in order. Tuning makes the skis’ surface more receptive to wax and thereby won’t need a lot of it.
However, this practice is not mandatory; if after inspection, your skis are in good shape, there’s no need for tuning. You can hold this stage until pre-snow conditions progress; this’ll happen in maybe a year. For now, jump right into the waxing stage.
Clean The Skis
Cleaning entails removing all the unwanted material from the ski bases, this could be anything from dirt, and old wax, to mud. This stage is crucial because the storage wax is designed to absorb into the skis’ build and this cannot happen with the surface covered in dirt.
To achieve a thorough clean, we recommend splitting the process into two stages; begin by preforming a hot scrape on your skis’ with a wax iron and some non-fluorinated cleaning wax after which you can employ the graduating brush process to fine-tune things.
The hot scrap should only take you a few minutes; adjust the temperature as indicated, drip the cleaning wax on the ski’s base bit by bit, and run the iron over it several times.
This will remove all the dirt and undesirable wax from the ski’s core build to the surface from where you can simply rub it off. Use a scraper to remove the wax while it’s still wet.
For some skis, this process might be long overdue and a one-time clean will not do it; to get all the dirt off, you’ll need to repeat it several times. In short, repeat the process until the removed wax is pure and free of particles.
Another thing, this is a soft cleaning process so the scrapper must match the task; it should not have any nicks or cuts as these will inflict damage to the skis’ base.
After scrapping, it’s now time to brush the skis but before that, we recommend a 15-minutes break between the cleaning and brushing stages.
For the first brush, use a fine and gentle metal or brass brush to clean off the small bits of excess wax that persisted after the scrap. Run steady and light brushes from the tip towards the tail.
Finally, to get the last bits of wax dust off, rub the surface with a nylon brush using the same method you used when metal brushing ; do it until the base is satisfactorily clean.
Apply Storage Wax
After cleaning your skis’ bases, they are now ready for storage waxing. Most skiing trainers will recommend a particular base prep or summer wax but we’ll tell you, warmer glide wax works just fine- you can use red, yellow, or universal.
If you are using waxless skis, you’ll need to be extra careful not to wax the kick zones. For better results, use a waxing iron for this stage.
If you choose the waxing iron route, make sure to clean it and apply the storage wax over the skis’ bases slowly. The wax iron’s temperature will be dictated by the recommendations on the storage wax’s packaging (look for a picture with an iron and a °C figure next to it).
The recommended temperature will most likely be presented as a range, go for the lowest possible melting temperature to reduce the risk of burning the storage wax’s key properties.
The absorption is not a one-day affair, it’s a slow process that could take all the summer months- to get the best results, be generous with the wax. Then, spread it evenly over the base by stroking it from the base to the tip a few times. Make sure the iron is ever moving whenever it’s on the ski base, it should not stop.
The stroke speed should be moderate because a too-fast stroke will not spread the wax evenly enough while too-slow strokes could damage the ski’s base.
The best approach to spreading the storage wax is maintaining a 3-4 inch stream of wet wax behind the iron with every stroke. Some ski bases soak up the wax pretty fast, if this happens, repeat the procedure until a protective layer of storage wax builds up. Do this for both ski bases and from all sides.
The second option is waxing without the iron. In this case, the best wax to use is liquid glide wax or a rub-on. Apply thin coats over the ski’s base several times or until it covers all the critical areas. Again, remember to apply enough to cover both ski bases as recommended.
Selecting An Ideal Storage Area For Cross Country Skis
Even with the cleaning and waxing, the storage room is as important as any other aspect of the process. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve listed a few considerations.
If not well-controlled, high temperatures can be quite destructive to stored gear. Ideally, you want your gear stored in a room whose temperature you can control.
This sounds discouraging considering the amount of work it’d take to turn your store into temperature controlled environment just so your skis survive but we’ve found a way to work around this hassle- you can squeeze the pair under your bed since most rooms usually have stable temperatures even during warmer weather.
You can put them in your garage if it’s temperature controlled- desist from storing your skis in a regular garage– excess heat is known to cause severe damage to stored cross country skis.
The closet has also proven to be quite a home for cross country skis during the offseason.
The moisture and humidity present in the atmosphere are like a disease that slowly creeps through the skis’ build and breaks it apart bit by bit. This makes it apparent that you store your skis away from humidity at all costs.
You don’t have to give it much thought; storing them in a plastic bag will serve just fine although you can make it more presentable by using ski storage bags or ski covers.
The plastic covers will keep humidity and moisture out. You must also remember to store them in an area with no such elements because well, you never know.
Direct sunlight raises the temperature in an environment and if left on its own for long periods, the heat generated could be harmful to stored cross country skis. To curb the issue, most skiers store their gear in dark places or areas with limited sunlight like the closet or garage cabinet.
If stored in dusty or damp places with direct or indirect sunlight exposure, even the best skis will sooner or later succumb to the effects of these elements.
Availability Of Room
Make room for your cross country skis- avoid compact or space-tight drawers or cabinets which put pressure on the skis’ main frame and could bend or distort the original shape if allowed enough time.
If this happens, you’ll notice a slight change in their appearance which will definitely negate their performance on the snow.
When binding them together, avoid compressing the camber too hard. A smart tip for this is to simply store them on their sides and push them under your bed. To make the package a little compact, you can strap them at the tips and tails but light enough so you don’t alter their natural structure.
In a previous section, we’ve discussed the importance of storing your cross country skis in plastic bags and so on to protect them from destruction by dust and moisture. When doing this, you must understand why we recommended those materials and not any others.
We highly advise against covering your skis in blankets and other fabrics as the fibers from these materials could land on the waxed base; something you definitely do not want.
The reason behind the application of storage wax was to shield the bases of your skis from any form of dirt or dust– a mistake in the covering material could render all the effort useless.
Possible Storage Areas For Cross Country Skis In The Off Season
With the considerations aside, we’ll now mention a few suggestions for storage locations. You can follow our guide or create a space for yourself based on the tips offered above.
Freestanding Storage Racks
This is one of the most basic storage racks- it is self-supporting and comes with multiple slots for your skis and maybe the other gear accompanying the skis. The rack is spacious enough for each ski thus preventing bending and scratching.
The best part about it is that you can safely display your magnificent ski pair for everyone to see as freestanding storage racks offer quite a view.
Skiers who use freestanding storage racks praise their safety in the sense that unlike other rack models that are usually mounted on the wall and risk falling off, freestanding racks sit on the floor and rarely fall over.
The decision lies with the user though, you could be looking for a safe rack that sits on the floor while another skier finds a wall-mounted rack more convenient.
Ski Wall Racks
These are storage racks mounted on walls allowing you to place your skis in the various slots without them falling off. This type of rack comes in two variations; horizontal and vertical. The vertical version is the simplest; it utilizes your wall’s vertical space to accommodate your skis and their bindings.
The horizontal version on the other hand displays its contents horizontally and is supported by a set of arms erected along its underside. Most skiers with two or more ski pairs prefer the horizontal wall rack because of its excellent display which allows you to showcase your ski collection to friends and family.
The fact that it is wall-mounted helps you save on ground space and reduces accidents caused by ski gear lying around in the wrong place.
The main downside that comes with side wall racks is the risk of falling off- even the slightest slip could result in severe damage or accidents. This is however rare and can be prevented by installing the racks correctly the first time.
Another downside you might want to look into is the size of some ski wall racks; you’ll want yours to be spacious enough to fit the ski poles as well.
These are modern bags with advanced features like pockets, padding, and Velcro straps all designed to offer your skis the perfect home during their time in storage. You can use them to store your skis at home or take the bag with you when you go on tours as they are built really light.
The various pockets hold pretty well whatever else you might want to bring along while protecting it from dust and moisture.
Some critics claim you can save on the costs by using a plastic bag to carry your skis around as the two bags work the same way but we disagree; a plastic bag might keep dust and moisture away from your skis but it won’t offer the sophistication and protection that comes with a well-designed ski storage bag.
Places You Can Store Cross Country Skis
- At home
- In the bedroom
- Bedroom closet
- Garage (temperature-controlled)
- Indoor ski storage rack, cabinet, or box
- Dark room with controlled temperature
Places You Should Not Store Cross Country Skis
- A garage without temperature control
- In the car
- On the floor (any kind of floor)
- Anywhere with direct or indirect sunlight access
- On any dusty or dirty surface
- Dump places
With the advent of technology, modern Nordic skis are designed and structured to offer the best glides and longest lifespan. From the article above, however, we’ve seen that even the best-built skis deteriorate if left lying around.
There are several destructive elements you should work around to ensure longevity for your skis. The whole process might appear complex but with the information above, anyone can clean, wax, and store their cross country skis like they make their bed.
We’ve made the guide above as detailed as it can be but we also recommend heading to manufacturer recommendations when working with the different ski brands out there.