Nobody likes a dry base! Dragging your sorry ass across the slope on an unwaxed snowboard (or skis) is probably not your idea of fun.
But maybe spending your holiday waxing your equipment isn’t either? This is where rub-on wax comes in handy. But is rub-on snowboarding wax worth it?
Rub on snowboarding or ski wax is definitely worth it when used correctly. Whilst rub on wax should not entirely replace a hot wax, it is extremely useful as an interim measure or if needing to wax on the fly. It’s important to use a well-rated product and apply it properly.
Keep reading to learn more about rub on wax and how to apply it correctly!
(Or click here to skip straight to the waxes I recommend trying).
What Is Rub-On Snowboard Wax?
Wax is used to hydrate snowboards and skis. This has the benefit of keeping your equipment healthy and ensures optimum performance (speed!).
There are essentially two different forms of wax:
- Hot wax
- Rub-on wax
A hot wax is the gold standard – the method used in snowboard and ski shops all over the world. Your equipment will also arrive with a factory hot wax (as discussed here).
Unfortunately, a hot wax either requires dropping your board/skis off at a store overnight or buying the equipment and learning to do it yourself. Both of these options are obviously time (and money!) consuming. For lazy people such as myself, our gear therefore isn’t waxed as often as it should be.
Rub-on wax was developed as a solution to this. It can be applied by simply… rubbing it on.
But is rub on ski wax good? Let’s take a look.
Is Rub-On Wax Worth It?
Yes, rub-on wax is worth it.
This is a very unpopular opinion with the online winter sports community. They tend to recommend a ceremonial hot wax every 2-3days.
Whilst this is unarguably the best way to treat your gear, it is overkill for the average rider. It’s also impractical when you’re away on a short trip.
Rub-on wax solves this problem thanks to its simplicity.
It improves your gear’s performance whilst requiring minimal effort to apply. It’s also relatively inexpensive, making it an outstanding option for skiers and snowboarders on the move.
When To Use Rub On Wax
Let’s say you find yourself gliding less smoothly than normal. Simply whip out your rub on stick, apply it to your gear and you’re good to go (that wasn’t intended to sound as rude as it did).
The downsides are that it does not penetrate as deeply or last as long (again, I’m sorry). I’m therefore not suggesting replacing your hot wax with rub-on wax, but you should consider it to bridge the gap between waxing sessions.
For this reason alone, rub-on wax is worth it.
Does Rub On Wax Work?
Rub on ski and snowboard wax does work, however it will wear off much quicker than a regular hot wax. It is therefore not necessarily a replacement for a hot wax. Consider using rub-on wax between hot waxes rather than instead of them.
Some of the winter-sports veterans will be furious at the statement I’m about to make. But for some people, rub-on wax can actually work better than hot wax!
Hear me out!
If you’re anything like me, you put off waxing your board or skis for as long as possible. This inevitably means riding with a slow-running base. Since discovering rub-on wax, I find this is happening far less often.
Maybe this is evidence of my laziness, rather than evidence for using rub-on wax. Either way, my board is gliding smoother than ever!
Rub-On Wax Vs Hot Wax.
Here are some of the key differences between rub-on and hot wax:
- Hot wax lasts for longer than rub-on wax, which tends to only be useful for 1 to 3 days.
- It is faster to apply rub-on wax. As the name indicates, all you have to do is rub it onto the surface of the ski or snowboarding surface.
- Rub-on wax tends to be better for the environment than hot wax. This is because many hot wax brands contain petroleum, which can infiltrate water systems. Cheaper hot wax brands tend to be especially high in petroleum, so it can be worth paying more to avoid this. Ideally, you should invest in petroleum-free wax!
- There isn’t any mess involved with using rub-on wax. In comparison, hot wax can be a little messy to apply to skis and snowboards.
The Pros and Cons of Hot Wax.
- The industry standard!
- Lasts much longer than rub-on wax.
- Should achieve the best performance.
- Many riders find the process of waxing their gear quite therapeutic.
- Much larger up front investment.
- Harder to do correctly.
- Messy! (wax shavings go everywhere)
- Gear is out of action for longer - especially if left in the shop overnight to be waxed.
The Pros and Cons of Rub On Wax.
- Super user friendly.
- Extremely convenient.
- Cheap - lower upfront investment.
- Can be applied on the mountain.
- No mess!
- Great way to keep your gear going whilst waiting for the next hot wax.
- Doesn't last as long.
- Less effective than hot wax.
- Price does build up if needing to reapply regularly.
- Some brands are pretty much useless.
How Long Does Rub On Ski Wax Last?
Realistically, rub-on ski wax only lasts for 1-2 days. Many manufacturers advertise longer time-periods, but this is unlikely when spending long days on the slopes. The benefit of rub-on wax is that it can easily be reapplied daily if needed.
As a result, hot wax is the best option if you are looking for a wax that has longevity. Hot wax tends to last for about 3 or 4 days.
The reason for this is that hot wax penetrates deeper into the snowboard than rub-on wax. When hot wax is applied, it will force the pores of the surface to expand, allowing melted wax to settle deep within the P-tex base.
Which Rub On Wax Should You Get?
Here are some great options. The Zumwax is exceptionally well rated and is the easiest to use. The others double up as hot wax, saving you from buying two products. Take your pick!
- Super quick to apply
- Safe for the environment
- Made by snowboarders
- Available in 3 temp choices
- Proven quality (Dakine).
- Free base scraper!
- Doubles up as a hot wax.
- Large block - should last a while.
- The infamous One Ball Wax Co!
- "Dude scented wax"
- Great for all temps
- Made In The USA
How To Apply Rub On Wax.
- Give your base a quick clean with a sponge or towel.
- Use a scraper to get rid of any built up old wax. This is usually only a problem if you’ve recently carried out a hot wax. You can also use a base cleaner but it’s not essential.
- Let the base dry.
- Rub the wax the full length of the board, making sure to cover all areas.
- Let the wax dry (this only takes 5-10 minutes).
- Polish the base for a silky, glossy finish. If you have a waxing cork then use this. These come free with some rub on products. Otherwise a microfiber cloth will do the trick.
If you’re still unsure, here’s a (slightly corny) video from Zumwax on how to apply rub-on wax.
As you can see, it’s a darn sight easier than a full hot wax!
Can You Wax Your Skis Too Much?
No, you don’t have to worry about waxing your skis too much.
Of course, from a financial perspective, it’s not a good idea to constantly wax your equipment.
Instead, you should aim to use wax whenever it’s needed. You’ll start to get a sense for when your base is drying out – you’ll see fading of the color/graphics around the edges. The base will also feel dry to the touch.
Hot wax is a different story.
Many people cake on too much wax, thinking this will make them go faster. This will actually slow you down!
You only need a thin layer of wax – anything else will just be wasted and scraped off.
Rub-on wax is a great addition to your equipment.
On those mornings when you’re too stoked to spend 20-minutes waxing your board, simply slap on some rub-on wax and you’re good to go.
Obviously, a full hot wax is still the superior option. But there will be plenty of time for that after your vacation or when the snowfall isn’t pumping!
Let me know in the comments below.