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Base Binder: The foundation of a good wax build
By:  Team XC Ottawa   (2013/12/19)


If you follow XC Ottawa wax recommendations, you'll often see references to a base binder that we put on under the kick wax of the day.†Our favourites are Vauhti Superbinder,†Vauhti K Base, and Vauhti Teho Green.

Most people know that a base†binder†is critical to help your kick wax stay on in†icy or abrasive†conditions, or in long distance races.†But base binder can also†influence the quality of your kick. ††

Are you curious about base binders? Peter Rozmovitz has written an excellent and in depth†article that should answer most of your questions (see link below).† He's gotten feedback from†some of the best wax technicians in Canada,†goes over some common misconceptions about base binders, and provides plenty of practical tips.†

Happy Reading!

Base Binder: The foundation of a good wax build

This is an excellent video on applying base klister


And a good article

Grip waxing cross country race skis is too often seen as a product choice instead of a process choice. For example, the latest high dollar fluor stick wax might fly off the shelves, meanwhile base binder wax sits, and sits, and sits. Thatís an indicator that most waxers are missing out on the optimal wax job.
Binder waxes are perceived as a type of glue to assist durability. Certainly true- for a 50k classic race use of a binder wax is a given. And unless one likes to have half their red klister smeared down the tail of their ski, binder should be used with soft klisters.
The larger value of binder waxes is that of building a basewax layer, or cushion layer. In many conditions outside soft new snow, a layer of wax under the primary grip layer can enhance not just durability, but also speed and grip. This is especially noticeable in conditions where grip is difficult, such as very hard packed old granular snow, or glazed tracks.
Out with the old
The old mantra of TLS- Thicker, Longer, Softer- might be fine for touring skis, but is out of date for race skis. The wax pocket is dedicated; for hard waxes thereís the hard wax pocket, the klister pocket is the klister pocket. When the wax ainít gripping, extending the length outside the pocket will make a joyless skiing experience of skis that donít grip, but also donít glide.  Thicker might be better, but surprisingly enough, not always a thicker layer of the primary gripping wax. And going softer can also be suspect- remember the old advice that you can put jelly on peanut butter but not peanut butter on top of jelly, so donít put a harder wax on top of a softer wax? No longer true at all.
On with the new
Building a basewax is about balancing a soft yet tough binder layer to create a large area cushion that enhances the performance of the top layer, or cover, grip wax. When done right, it is tougher, faster, with more kick than a thick layer of the one grip wax.
As example, on old, cold, granular tracks, where a blue extra should work but the grip is only fair. Instead, a mix of a blue klister alone or mixed with a hard wax or a base binder wax creates a cushion layer; and when the blue extra is coated and corked over it the grip is fantastic with no loss of glide. The surprise to many is the use of a klister in what appears to be a pure hard wax condition. But often, the proper base wax layer is softer, or at least more viscous, than the top layer grip wax. Peanut butter over the jelly!
Recently there was a 3Ē snowfall of humid snow over an old icy layer of snow, with the snow temperature at 31į, air temperature at 35į. And a slight rain crust. Time to break out the zero skis, which slipped a bit until the track softened. The wax job was a bit of binder klister (Rode Violet Special), Rode Red Special klister and a bit of Swix VR55N stick wax, all heated up and mixed together. The resulting goo cooled down nicely and was easy to top coat with thin layers of VR55N. The result was faster than the zeros, and gripped adequately in the icy sections, and outstanding in the glazed areas and where the track was still dry and fine grained. Not as easy as jumping on the zeroís, but better if it was a race day.
Of great note is how many wax companies are addressing this. Where before a binder wax was all-purpose, now the binder waxes are specific to temperature and/or track conditions. Some new klisters on the market are pre-mixes of favored race concoctions that were created from two or more existing klisters, or a klister and a stick (hard) wax.
The growth of base wax selections has been far ahead of general understanding of modern grip waxing, but the simple fact of coming across the finish line behind someone who got it right will eventually get the word out.
For new, fine grained snow that is not glazing, ironing in a layer of the chosen grip wax is a simple binder application to improve bonding and durability. For stick (hard) waxes in abrasive snow or longer distances, iron in a true binder wax. Swix VG35 is common, but Tokoís Green binder has become the binder of choice for many. Toko Green has a jelly-like consistency, with some grip properties. Ironed in and smoothed out with fiberlene, it is a good binder. As a thicker layer it is a very good base for other waxes, and has been used as a running wax in difficult, old coarse snow that is transitioning from dry to wet. I find it is a bit slow, and have had better performance mixing or layering, often with Toko Red. Recently Iíve been mixing a few drops of Toko Green Klister into Toko Green Base Binder, and depending on conditions mixing in a bit of Toko Red grip wax (byjack). So far, this has been faster with more grip than Toko Green Base Binder alone.
New to OMC is Vauhti, and they are renowned for their base and binder waxes. Base wax AT is a plain binder for hard waxes, Base wax Super is a binder and a base wax.   K-Base Super is Base Wax Super mixed with blue klister. So far, I find Base Super to be the most versatile as it works very well by itself with hard wax covers; the K-Base Super is better in heavily glazed new snow, or in hard and abrasive old- but Base Super can be mixed with a klister of choice to adjust to the conditions.
For klister, one cannot do without good old Rode Chola, the toughest klister binder available, but it should be used as a binder layer, not mixed for a base cushion. Be aware that if using very soft klisters on top of Chola (they donít bond well) an intermediate cushion layer is a good idea. Rode Violet Special klister is a personal favorite.
Interesting Reading. . .
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