Some consider waxing skis and snowboards a labor of love. For many mountains schlooshers, it’s a pain in the butt or a complete afterthought. DPS Skis has set their sights on alleviating the whine from the wax issue. Their answer: science, tons and tons of science.
Over the last year, the Salt Lake City-based ski company has developed a wax, er, rather, a permanent base glide treatment for skis and snowboards. Yes, permanent. The on-snow go goo, named Phantom, is advertised to be a base-coating glide treatment that will eliminate any need to re-wax, ever. A one-time, four-step application process is all that is needed for the life of the skis or snowboard.
HOW DOES PHANTOM WORK?
Well, it’s a rather simple application of a rather complex substance. Step one, clean the bases of your skis or your snowboard. Step two, apply Phantom (squeeze the goop on and apply evenly). Step 3, set skis or snowboard out in the sun for at least three hours (UV rays bake the goo into skis/board). Step four, brush bases. Now, go ski.
DPS founder Stephan Drake explains, “With Phantom, you apply the formula once at any point in your boards’ life cycle—new or used—permanently altering your bases, and then you never worry about waxing again for everyday riding. It’s that simple. Phantom’s sophisticated timed polymerization process penetrates the entire thickness of the base material, permanently. Even after stone grinding a fresh base structure, the grind just exposes the next layer of fresh Phantom.”
Traditional ski wax sits on top of ski bases and, as skiers and snowboarders know, wears off with use and is affected by weather. Phantom is said to eliminate these traditional wax issues via an advanced free radical polymerization process. Very simply, the goop is on the inside. DPS asserts that Phantom penetrates the pores of the base material and becomes a part of the skis DNA, and will therefore never wear off or wear out, and is unaffected by weather.
HOW DID DPS DO THAT?
DPS employed University of Utah chemists and material scientists—the heads of the team were Jeff Bates, PhD and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Utah and Kelan Albertson, B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Utah—to create their patent-pending ski glide lubricant. According to Drake, initial Phantom research and development went through over 30 different compound variations and extensive testing in both the lab and the mountains of Utah, Chile, and New Zealand before finding the current formula.
WHAT’S IN THE KIT AND HOW MUCH DOES PHANTOM COST?
The Phantom kit comes with a single serving of the ski lubricant; two bottles of Phantom—approximately 25ml per bottle, which is enough for one pair of skis or one snowboard—a 60ml bottle of Phantom base cleaner, a microfiber cloth, a syringe for application, and a brush for base finishing. The kit will cost $100.
DOES PHANTOM WORK?
As far as I can tell, yes. I tested Phantom on a spring-like day this past October at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado. The sun was out and temps were in the mid to high 30s. Snow was hard and set up in the morning but quickly softened and turned creamy and cream cheesy.
Initially, I was skeptical of the product. Not wax but a ski lube, it’s inside the ski, there’s a one-time application, and it has better glide…really? I figured the day would be a classic boondoggle, an excuse to get out from behind the spacebar and go skiing (which I am totally and completely fine with, by the way). But truly, would the feel of Phantom-treated skis be that different from a ski with traditional wax? Surprisingly, yes.
HOW DID YOU TEST PHANTOM?
I skied three different pairs of the 185cm DPS Foundation Cassiar 95 during the test, which was the first outside of DPS’s internal team. All three pairs received the same tune and each was skied at least three times on the same run. The first pair of skis were treated with traditional wax, the second were not waxed at all, and the third pair was treated with Phantom. I tested the skis back to back to back in similar snow conditions.
The first pair of skis performed as one would think a traditionally waxed ski would perform. Fast and stable bases on the first run, but they felt progressively more sluggish during the following runs as the wax began to shed from the bases. The non-waxed skis were complete pigs and did not move with any glide at all. Honestly, that was some dangerous skiing. The Phantom-treated skis were a little sticky during the first run but became progressively faster and smoother during every run thereafter. Out of the three pairs of skis, Phantom made the Foundation Cassiar 95 move with the most noticeable glide at speed, felt the smoothest, and had the most secure hold. I was surprised.
ANY OTHER NOTEWORTHY PHANTOM BENEFITS?
Along with improved glide run after run, a convenient “set it and forget it” one-time application, DPS says that when Phantom penetrates the ski it permanently enhances the strength and durability of the base. That doesn’t mean core shots are a thing of the past but it will help with chipping and scratching.
Phantom is also said to be environmentally friendlier than traditional wax. Phantom doesn’t shed off the ski, therefore it doesn’t end up in the watershed. Additionally, cancer causing chemicals found in traditional wax like acetone, ethyl benzene, and mercury (just to name a few…there are a lot in there) are not used in Phantom’s formula. Thus, it’s said to be safer to produce and apply.
DPS launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in November, raising more than $290,000. Phantom is now available for online purchase.