This page covers what the grip zone is and how to determine it. The grip zone goes by a number of other names including "kick zone" and "wax pocket".
The grip zone is a term used for classical skis. That is, skis that use grip wax or klister. The grip zone is the area on the ski base that grip or klister wax can be applied to that will minimize the amount of wax being dragged across the snow maximizing the amount of wax that can grip. This area is under the binding -- in the center of the ski. The grip zone is determined by the length of the ski, stiffness of the ski and the weight on the ski. The weight on the ski is a combination of the skier, clothing and anything being carried (packs with gear or small children).
Skating skis do not have a grip zone. In brief, a ski has camber to help distribute the weight over the trail. But a skating ski has only one camber. A classic ski has two cambers. The first camber is to help distribute about half of the weight on it. The second camber keeps the grip or klister wax off of the snow. By being off the snow the wax does not drag (giving a better glide) and the wax lasts longer (by not being physically worn off). When the classic ski has full weight on it the second camber is pressed so the wax will contact the snow.
A grip zone that is too small can result in not enough grip because there is not enough surface area of wax to grab onto the snow. With a reduced surface area there is not enough strength in the "bond" between the wax and the snow.
A grip zone that is too large is usually an indication of a ski that is too stiff or too big for the skier. This usually means the skier will not be able to press the second camber enough for enough of the wax to make contact with the snow. A ski such as this also means that the skier has to work harder to make the ski work. This is tiring and after a while is not fun (recreational, training or racing).
The portion of the ski that is not the grip zone is known as a glide zone. Classical skis have two glide zones: one at the front of the ski and one at the back of the ski. Since skating skis have no grip zone this makes the entire ski base a glide zone.
If you buy your skis at a good ski shop then part of the process of selecting your new skis is determining the grip zone. The process is straightforward and simple. If the shop doesn't know how to do it then either go to another shop or you can get them to help you do the test.
The process is:
If you find you are carrying extra weight for a short ski trip don't worry too much. Wax as you regularly would. But check regularly (every 8 to 10km) that the wax is not wearing off too fast. If it is add some more wax.
If you find that you are not getting enough grip using only the grip zone:
If you have any questions about this web site or it's content please contact
with e-mail to "Askus at SkiWax.ca" (replace 'at' with '@') or
telephone (519) 747-5293.