Is waxing waning? A new, waxless base treatment has hit the market recently and it’s gaining favor with ski technicians as well as hardcore skiers and snowboarders as a fresh alternative to conventional waxing.
The product – known as Phantom – is a one-time application that replaces traditional wax and is permanent. Yes, apply it once and your skis or snowboard are good … for life. According to DPS, its manufacturer, Phantom provides a smooth ride across all snow temperatures.
The innovation has recently received favorable reviews in Ski Magazine and the Denver Post, but is still a relative newcomer to the industry.
The Aspen Skiing Company experimented with Phantom two seasons ago and used it on about 350 premium rental skis last season to glowing results, according to representatives. Earlier this fall, the waxless base treatment was applied to around 2,300 pairs of skis at the tune shop at Aspen Highlands. Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands.
When applied, Phantom absorbs into the base of the skis or snowboard via a chemical bond created from exposure to UV light, according to DPS. The result is a stronger, faster, more responsive base.
According to the DPS website, Phantom is comprised of a “sophisticated, timed polymerization process that permanently penetrates the entire thickness of the base material with powerful go-fast fluoro-compositions designed to operate across all snow temperatures.”
Conventional wax is a topical layer and must be reapplied at various times during the ski season. All-temp wax, fluoro-race wax and waxless base applications all wear off over time and must be serviced. Phantom’s one-time application lasts the lifetime of the skis or snowboard, even after sitting all summer long, according to the DPS website. To get the same results with traditional waxing, you’d need to be constantly waxing your ride with the correct temperature-specific waxes. With Phantom, there is no glide degradation like normal ski wax.
Phantom is eco-friendly. One of the company’s mottos is “Today’s snow is tomorrow’s water.” DPS officials say Phantom does not cause any biological damage or present any long-term environmental risks.
Traditional hydrocarbon wax may contain environmentally dangerous (and sometimes cancer-causing) chemicals like acetone, benzene, 2-butanone, carbon disulfide, carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride, chlorobenzene, cresol, cyclopentene, ethyl benzene, mercury, styrene, tetrachloroethene, toluene and xylene. Fluorinated wax applications create fumes that can be inhaled during the application process. Phantom has no chemical risk, according to the DPS website.
“The innovation centers around the inclusion of glide-friendly fluorocarbon functional groups, but in a superior, new delivery method that renders them inert and harmless to humans, plants and animals,” according to the DPS website.
Traditional wax can cause damage on the mountain when the wax rubs off on the snow. (Hence the need to reapply several times throughout the ski season.) On a warm ski day, you’ll see the snow beneath your board or skis turn the color of your wax. In the spring, that wax flows into the local rivers and streams, or gets absorbed into the soil. When these toxic chemicals get into nature, it can affect everything from plants and fish to animals and even humans. In recent years, manufacturers have developed a safer, soy-based wax alternative that’s better for the environment, but nothing is as safe a Phantom.
Ski Magazine has endorsed Phantom for its permanence a performance. “[Phantom] will change the game in ways that are hard to imagine now, but in a few years’ time, we’ll be scratching our heads wondering how we ever skied without it.”
According to the DPS website, Phantom exceeds the performance of other waxes on several levels. First, Phantom is the only treatment that is permanent. Next, Phantom is safe for flora and fauna. Soy wax is also safe for flora and fauna, but other waxes like high-fluoro, low-fluoro, and all-temp hydrocarbon wax are not. Phantom is also safe for water, as is soy wax. Other waxes are not.
Phantom has also been rated as safe for lungs, while none of the other waxes are safe, the DPS website said. The waxless base treatment also has no toxic chemicals (like PFOA). Soy wax does not have toxic chemicals, but other waxes do. Phantom and soy wax are the only treatments that also have no dangerous VOCs and are non-chemically reactive. All-temp hydrocarbon and Phantom are the only products that offer broad snow temperature versatility.
Since most skiers don’t do a very good job of keeping their skis waxed, performance can wane over time. Following an application of Phantom, there is no reduction in performance after five, 50 or 500 rides. Think of it an investment in the lifetime of your gear.
Vacationers typically rent skis for few days, sometimes a week. Over a week, skiers may need to reapply traditional wax once or twice. With Phantom, there’s no reapplication or extra time spent getting your gear ready for the next run. The innovation won’t eliminate the need for an edge sharpening, tune up or repair, but it will decrease your downtime.
Yes. Even following an application of Phantom, you can still wax your skis or snowboard with no concerns. Temperature-specific waxes can be applied directly to a base that’s been treated with Phantom. You may find that your traditional wax lasts a little longer on a Phantom-treated ride compared to an untreated base.
DPS offers Phantom 2.0 on its website for $99. It is a do-it-yourself kit. The high-performance base treatment for alpine skis and snowboards is a new formula that is quicker to apply than the original. The Phantom 1.0 required six hours of UV cure time in direct sunlight while the Phantom 2.0 only cures for one hour each for Part A and Part B.
Some local shops are charging for the product and application, along with a stone grinding. According to the DPS website, Phantom can be purchased at a shops in the Aspen area.
Phantom is also available at several locations around Colorado, including Boulder, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Fort Collins, Frasier, Gunnison, Pagosa Springs, Silverthorne, Steamboat Springs, Telluride and Vail, along with many stores around metro Denver.