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Snow Types

This page describes the colour-coated snow types I use to organize waxes according to snow conditions. The colour-coatings are based on the colours of Ski*Go's glide wax series which often line up with the colour-coatings of other brands as well. Having at least one glide wax and grip wax from each snow type in your wax box will mean you'll always have something that works no matter what mother nature throws at you. 

Links to colour-coated snow types:

 

Wet, Slushy Snow (Yellow Conditions) +20°C to 0°C

 

Yellow conditions happen when the snow is thoroughly saturated with water. It's slushy, it's wet and it's warm. The temperature range for these conditions range of 0C to... however warm it can get with snow still on the ground! Older snow at this temperature tends to drain a bit better since it is more coarse-grained with space between the individual icy crystals for the water to drain away. Whereas fresh snow at this temperature has a miniature crystal structure that causes it to pack together and form a kind of seal on the top of the snowpack that keeps water on the surface. However, when the snow is this warm and this waterlogged, the differentiation between old and new snow becomes indistinct. You’re still dealing with a lot of water either way so your main waxing consideration will be to get rid of water from the ski base!

All Waxes for Yellow Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

Physically, wet snow crystal structure has the most rounded edges. This means kinetic friction is very low so physically harder waxes are not necessary. The main source of friction in this snow type is suction friction from the vast amounts of liquid water between the ski base and the snowpack. The top priority for glide waxing for these conditions is getting rid of water from the bottom of the ski base. Waxes for this temperature range are physically softer (soft waxes are more hydrophobic than harder ones). Fluoro compounds are massively hydrophobic so anything with fluorination will likely be an excellent choice. Adding aggressive structure to your ski base with a rill tool will have the biggest benefit to glide as the grooves and channels will give water an escape route. Often waxes with dirt-repellant compounds have a leg up on others since dirt builds up on the surface of the snow as it melts. All Glide Waxes for Yellow Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Yellow Glide Wax 60g & 200g (+20C/-1C)
$15.00 CAD

Gallium GIGA SPEED Maxfluor Jet (2-pair wipe) Glide Wax (+10C/-5C)
$36.00 CAD

Ski*Go C22 Fluoro Block 20g (+20C/-4C)
$195.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Snow crystals in yellow conditions have melted into round, wet, blobs. This makes finding a grip wax that is able to stick to snow crystals very tricky. The water surrounding the snow crystals acts as a lubricant, which is the equivalent of having oil on your brake pads. This means in order to find a kick wax that gets grip in this kind of snow, you'll have to get something as soft and sticky as possible: hence, klister! Hard wax is a no-go when snow gets this wet, but rub skis (hairys or zeros), skin skis, fish scales tend to work quite well if klister isn't your thing. All Kick Waxes for Yellow Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Orange Klister 60g (+10C/+3C)
$19.00 CAD

Guru Silver (Red) Klister 55g (+5C/+15C)
$30.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Yellow Klister 60g (+20C/+3C)
$42.00 CAD

 

 

New, Glazing Snow (Orange Conditions) +5°C to -5°C

 

Orange conditions occur when freshly falling snow or new snow is humid enough to be packing snow. This type of snow is perfect for making a snowman or a snowball fight! The natural snow crystal structure is still present - you can still pick up snow from the ground and still find relatively unbroken snowflakes. However, when this type of snow is skied over, its high-humidity causes it to pack and glaze. This is a very tricky condition for waxing. On one hand, snow crystals can still be sharp if there hasn’t been heavy traffic on the trails presenting you with a level of kinetic friction. But as the tracks get skied in they tend to glaze, meaning kinetic friction is less of an issue. High humidity causes a suction component(wet friction) to always be a consideration in orange conditions.

All Waxes for Orange Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

Because orange conditions usually occur when the snow is actively evolving from fresh, powdery blue conditions to wet, slushy yellow conditions, orange conditions occur at a crossroads of friction types. Kinetic friction is an issue when the trails have not been skied in much. But since the snowflakes are not too cold, they tend to melt when skied over rather than cut into your ski base making it a lower priority. Generally, orange waxes are quite soft for this reason. Fluorinated waxes are fantastic in snow like this because the HF or LF compounds help repel water. Glazing that occurs will act to seal water on top of the snowpack where it interacts with your ski. Aggressive rills are often needed in snow like this. All Glide Waxes for Orange Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Orange Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-1C/-5C)
$15.00 CAD

Gallium KASSOH VIOLET LF Glide Wax 50g (+3C/-4C)
$30.00 CAD

Ski*Go N21 Pure Fluoro Powder 30g (+2C/-9C)
$270.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Usually, the advice for getting kick in this type of snow is to resort to rub skis, skins, or fish scales. But when that’s not possible and you need to use wax, you have a few options. Depending on the level of glazing in the tracks, klister or hardwax can work, but usually, a klister-cover is the way to go. If there is very little glazing, use a hardwax. It will be faster and won’t ice up as quickly. If there is glazing happening, use klister since it will stick to the icy sheen. More often than not, there is a variety of glazed sections and powdery sections on the trails. This means taking advantage of both hardwaxes and klisters will give your grip wax good kick and glide on any part of the course. Klister-cover is where you start with a thin layer of klister, and cover it was a hard hardwax (usually a hardwax that’s a step colder than the temperature). The klister gives you grip, and the hardwax prevents icing. All Kick Waxes for Orange Conditions

 

Ski*Go XC Orange Kick Wax 45g (+3C/-2C)
$12.00 CAD

Guru Red Kick Wax 45g (0C/-4C)
$26.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Yellow Kick Wax 45g (+5C/-1C)
$35.00 CAD

 

 

Coarse, Packing Snow (Red Conditions) +5°C to -5°C

Red conditions occur when old snow or artificial snow enters the transition temperature range around zero Celsius. High humidity differentiates red conditions from violet conditions - if there’s moisture in the snow it’s red, if it’s dry, it’s violet. The track in red conditions tends to be corny, moist, and packs/glazes when skied over. 

All Waxes for Red Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

Hard, rounded snow crystals from repeated freeze-thaw cycles can be quite abrasive even in higher humidities so red glide waxes can be somewhat hard to combat kinetic friction. Dirt that gathers on the surface of older snow is also an issue. Dirt-repelling additives such as graphite, moly, or gallium can be quite helpful. Red conditions have a high humidity content, so highly hydrophobic waxes like pure fluoros, HF or LF waxes reduce suction between the wet snowpack and the ski base. Rills are often necessary to break up large water droplets and pert them out the back of the ski. All Glide Waxes for Red Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Red Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-1C/-5C)
$15.00 CAD

Ski*Go LF Red Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-1C/-5C)
$27.00 CAD

Ski*Go C44/7 Fluoro Liquid 30mL (+2C/-9C)
$195.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Since the snow crystals in older snow have lost their idealized snowflake pattern and are now rounded blobs of humid ice, kick waxes will rarely ice up in red conditions. This means a straight klister may not degrade your glide too much. However, a layer or two of hard wax on top of a thin klister will defiantly give the best combination of grip and glide. Sometimes straight hardwax will work but often the humidity and rounded snow crystals mean hardwax can’t find a purchase. All Kick Waxes for Red Conditions

 

Ski*Go Universal Spray Klister 75mL (+3C/-1C)
$28.00 CAD

Ski*Go LF Orange Kick Wax 45g (+3/-2C)
$25.00 CAD

Guru Extreme 39 Hard Klister 55g (+4C/-5C)
$38.00 CAD

 

 

Icy, Sugary Snow (Violet Conditions) 0°C to -15°C

Icy, old snow that breaks up into sugary or corny snow. This type of snow is old, transformed and quite abrasive. Usually, this type of snow has a lower humidity. Often artificial snow falls into this category. These are the fastest of all conditions. Usually, waxes for this temperature are coloured violet by most wax brands.

All Waxes for Violet Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

Violet snow has almost no suction friction, but the abrasive, hard, icy snow ice crystals provide a kinetic resistance. This means durability is the biggest issue for both glide and kick waxes since the abrasive snow structure tends to rip away whatever is on your skis. Physically hard waxes, even synthetic hardeners, are your best bet for glide in these snow types. All Glide Waxes for Violet Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Violet Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-1C/-12C)
$15.00 CAD

Ski*Go LF Violet Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-1C/-12C)
$27.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Violet Glide Wax 45g & 200g (-1C/-12C)
$95.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Violet conditions come in a variety of snow crystal sizes. It can be very fine-grained, in which case hard waxes will work really well, or the icy crystals can be large, and corny in which case klister may be necessary. Violet conditions can also be straight up ice where klister might not even work. On days like those, double-poling is probably in the cards! Base binders are super important in violet conditions. Always start with a hardwax or klister binder when you’re waxing for this snow type. Grip can wear off in less than 5km without it. All Kick Waxes for Violet Conditions

 

Ski*Go XC Blue Kick Wax 45g (-3C/-10C)
$12.00 CAD

Guru Super Hallgeir Kick Wax 45g (-3C/-15C)
$34.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Blue Kick Wax 45g (-1C/-20C)
$35.00 CAD

 

 

Fresh, Powdery Snow (Blue Conditions) 0°C to -12°C

 

Blue conditions are fresh powder. New snow: the natural snowflake structure is still intact. These are what we call perfect conditions. The trails are silky smooth and it is difficult to make a snowball. Blue conditions are not so cold that the snow makes a squeaking noise when you step or pole on it. Not too warm, not too cold. And not too humid either. Just right.

All Waxes for Blue Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

New snow crystals in this temperature range and with medium to low humidity are like a million tiny knives to your ski bases. Kinetic friction is basically the only kind of friction to deal with. This means a good hard wax that will remain durable and keep the sharp knives of the snow crystals out of your ski base is what you need. Any other water or dirt repelling compounds in waxes will help your glide, but not to a terribly high degree. All Glide Waxes for Blue Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Blue Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-3C/-10C)
$15.00 CAD

Gallium KASSOH BLUE LF Glide Wax 50g (-3C/-12C)
$30.00 CAD

Ski*Go C105 Fluoro Powder 30g (+1C/-15C)
$225.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Kick waxing is dead easy in blue conditions. Hardwax sings. If you’re skiing over 15km use a base binder, but aside from that, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a hardwax that gives you good grip and glide. All Kick Waxes for Blue Conditions

 

Ski*Go XC Violet Kick Wax 45g (-1C/-9C)
$12.00 CAD

Guru Blue Kick Wax 45g (-4C/-10C)
$26.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Violet Kick Wax 45g (-2C/-15C)
$35.00 CAD

 

 

Cold, Squeaky Snow (Green Conditions) -12°C to -30°C

The coldest conditions. This snow will squeak when compressed. Can be new, old or manmade snow. Usually very dry. The harder the wax, the better it will be in these conditions. HF waxes have trouble working in the low humidity usually found at these temperatures. These waxes are coloured green by all the brands I can think of.

All Waxes for Green Conditions

 

Friction Characteristics:

Green conditions have two types of friction: kinetic and electrostatic. Kinetic friction is the result of snow crystals being frozen so hard they have no trouble biting into you ski’s base. Using the hardest wax possible is key in green conditions. Synthetic hardeners straight or mixed in with your hardest wax may be even better. Since snow this cold holds virtually no liquid water, electrostatic friction becomes an issue where electrons are ripped away as your ski tries to glide. Graphite or gallium can help with reducing electrostatic friction. Because humidity is so low, fluoro compounds are usually unhelpful and can sometimes get in the way of good glide. LF or hydrocarbon waxes may out-test high-fluoro waxes if it’s dry enough. All Glide Waxes for Green Conditions

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Green Glide Wax 60g & 200g (-7C/-20C)
$15.00 CAD

Ski*Go P16 Powdered Hardener 60g (-4C/-25C)
$84.00 CAD

Ski*Go C111 Pure Fluoro Powder 30g (-10C/-25C)
$255.00 CAD

 

Kick Waxing:

Pretty much anything will give you grip in these conditions, but the main question is 'how much grip is too much grip?’ Green, grip waxes are very hard, but some of them are also tacky or sometimes have tar additives. The tacky ones are essentially base binders. Often just a base binder is the best grip vs. glide combo in these conditions. Green waxes that aren’t tacky need to have a base binder to keep them on the ski since green conditions are abrasive. Keeping layers of hardwax thin and the number of layers minimal is very important in these conditions. All Kick Waxes for Green Conditions

 

Ski*Go XC Green Kick Wax 45g (-7C/-20C)
$12.00 CAD

Guru Green Kick Wax 45g (-6C/-20C)
$26.00 CAD

Guru Green (Base) Klister 55g (-6C/-25C)
$30.00 CAD

 

Dirty Snow (Brown Conditions) Any Temperature

Brown conditions are a quasi-condition. I think of brown conditions as a wrapper on yellow, red, violet and green conditions when the snow is dirty. Blue and orange conditions are never wrapped in brown conditions because new snow is almost never dirty. Glide waxes that have graphite, moly, fluoros, or gallium are dirt repelling and will resist the buildup of dirt on the ski. Grip waxes can be sped up with liquid or powder covers that contain these compounds. Some klisters and hard waxes for dirty snow come with dirt-repelling compounds already mixed in.

 

Recreational Sport Racing

Ski*Go XC Graphite Glide Wax 60g & 200g (All Temperatures)
$15.00 CAD

Ski*Go LF Graphite Glide Wax 60g & 200g (All Temperatures)
$27.00 CAD

Ski*Go CM10 Fluoro Liquid 30mL (+20C/-2C)
$255.00 CAD

Guru Silver (Red) Klister 55g (+5C/+15C)
$30.00 CAD

Guru Violet Klister 55g (+4C/-5C)
$30.00 CAD

Ski*Go HF Universal Klister 60g (+10C/-5C)
$42.00 CAD