Most skiers start out renting their gear then eventually make the investment to buy their own skis. “Investment” is the right word, because new skis are not cheap. As such, taking care of your skis makes sense to maximize their performance and longevity.
In-Season Ski Care
1. Dry off skis at the end of each day
Simply using a towel to wipe off the water from melted snow goes a long way to preventing rust on a ski edges or corrosion in the bindings. There’s really no excuse for skipping this 30-second chore that requires absolutely no technical expertise.
2. Smooth out burrs at the end of each day
If you run your thumb down each steel ski edge, you may feel some tiny nicks or minor scrapes from rock damage. Use a pocket stone to touch up any spots with imperfections.
3. Hot wax skis periodically
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the “how often should I wax my skis” question. Nevertheless, the reality is that most recreational skiers don’t do it often enough. Cold snow tends to be more abrasive on ski bases, so a hot wax might be a good idea after just a few days. If you’re fortunate enough to ski powder for a full week or two, there might not be any need to visit the ski shop or break out your own iron.
When skis could use a hot wax, colored bases will look slightly cloudy. Traditional black bases will turn slightly grey or white when in need of a hot wax. When in doubt, a hot wax is not going to hurt. The hot wax process is easy for DIY-types. As long you don’t leave the hot iron in one spot too long, there’s really not any risk of messing up your skis.
4. Sharpen edges periodically
Like waxing, the necessary frequency for edge sharpening can vary depending on the situation. Lots of carving on hard, icy snow will dull the edges much faster than powder skiing. For average resort skiing, edges often need attention after 8-10 days. While frequent waxing really has no downside, edge sharpening does involve a finite lifespan for the skis. Filing the edges to sharpen them does actually remove some metal each time, so you wouldn’t want to do it every day.
Plenty of skiers do tune their side edges by hand themselves. However, the process is not quite as foolproof as waxing for the reason above that metal material is being filed off. With that in mind, many other skiers feel comfortable with DIY waxing but let the ski shop pros handle the edge sharpening.
Off-Season Ski Care
1. Wax skis before storing them
Cleaning the skis and then ironing in a coat of wax before the summer is a good idea. The beauty of this end-of-season chore is that the scraping step of waxing (the time-consuming part) is not even necessary. Just leave the thick coat of wax on the base and even dripped over the edges for protection. You can scrape off the wax and maybe iron in a coat of harder wax when you’re ready to go the next winter.
2. Store skis in a cool, dry place
If you live in a warm or humid climate, summer storage in a hot attic or garage is definitely not ideal. An air-conditioned spot away from direct sunlight such as an inside closet is a much better choice.
3. Adjust bindings (or don’t)
Some ski shops advise backing off the DIN settings on bindings to take pressure off the springs before putting skis away for the summer. However, the vast majority of recreational skiers probably don’t need to worry about this step as they have relatively low release settings.