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Ski tuning and storing during an off-season


With ski season is over (at least for me), the question arose of post-season tuning and waxing the skis and their storage. 

I have a decent ski quiver, consisting of 4 pairs of cross-country/BC skis (3 out of 4 pairs have full length metal edge and are fairly wide) , 1 pair of dedicated resort downhill ski and 2 pairs of AT skis with tech bindings. As long as I know, the bases of the AT skis are generally thinner than those of the resort skis but made of harder material, at least some Voile models do have stiffer bases. Therefore I think it is not unreasonable to assume that the tuning procedures for the AT and resort skis could be different and some shops may do later but not the former.

So, I have these questions to the community:

1. Are there any good and reliable places to tune AT skis (primarily, do REI tune them) in the Bay Area. Calski is good place but that's a long commute.

2. How all three types of skis are stored best? 

So far I was storing XC/BC skis horizontally in the closet, upside down (bases up)  to preserve the camber from potential creep. Since my resort skis are full traditional camber, I did the same for them. I am not so sure what to do with AT skis, as they have both rocker and camber and both have lots of carbon in them.

What should I do with bindings and brakes, I assume that the bindings need to be switched to ski mode to allow for the full expansion of the brakes. Do I dial down DIN settings?


9 Replies

Hi @Dmitry!

Thanks for always bringing great questions! You've come to the right place for these answers:

You can come to any of our Bay Area stores to get all of your skis tuned. I and all of our Bay shop teams are really proud of the quality of ski tune work we do in our stores here.

The process for tuning AT and resort skis is actually the same. We use a stone 'cutting' wheel to remove the minimum amount of base material that we can for each individual ski to be flat and free from nicks and gouges. If a gouge or scratch is deep, we first fill it in with p-tex material (the same stuff that ski bases are made of) so we don't have to remove too much of the ski bases' material to get them flat.

Then we re-dress the stone wheel so that it cuts 'structure' into the base. Structure is a pattern of tiny grooves that allows the water formed from the top layer of snow melting as the ski passes over it to escape from under the ski base. Water's surface tension naturally creates suction which is felt as drag on the ski. We cut these little grooves- like the treads on your car's tires- to allow the water to pass more freely underneath and the ski to glide over the top. Good structure and wax = a ski that glides freely and fast.

When storing skis, the most important element is a thorough cleaning and application of storage wax. Cleaning and adding wax removes moisture and contaminants, and seals the surface of the ski- and more importantly the steel edges- from moisture. If a ski sits all summer exposed to moisture, rust can develop and we have to remove more edge and base material to get all the rust off- this can shorten the lifespan of a pair of skis.

All skis should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. The position of a ski when storing is not as important. There is historical lore that skis need to be stored a certain way so they don't flatten and lose their camber. Modern ski construction negates this- they will not deform or lose their shape under their own weight. Make sure nothing is stacked on top of a flat ski, or that nothing is pushing on a vertical ski causing it to bend, and they'll be just fine. 

Bindings and brakes should be just fine too. It's not a bad idea to back all your DIN settings off and let the brakes fully extend at the end of the season, but certainly not a death sentence for your bindings if you forget to do so. Just remember to have your shop re-adjust before the next season starts. 

I hope this is helpful! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks, @REI-ReinkeM 

Out of curiosity, what is the thickness of a touring ski base, and how many tune cycles a base can withstand provided there are no core shots, only typical wear and tear.




@REI-ReinkeM Also, what is the proper care for climbing skins in the off season? The skins I was using (Old model G3 Alpinist) unfortunately got some junk on glue (pine needles, dust, etc) and towards the end of season developed propensity to catch snow between the ski base and glue layer in first 6-8 inches from the tip. Is there any good method of cleaning the base?




@Dmitry Getting skin glue clean and keeping it sticky is a constant struggle. I use this method for getting skins clean and applying fresh glue:

That snow-catching can also be alleviated somewhat by how your skins are trimmed. Cutting straight taper lines at the tip, rather than convex or concave curves can help with this. There's a good picture in this article from BD:

For summer storage, I like to put a sheet of plastic mesh between the glue sides: This, or This. Then fold them up neatly in the bag they came with and store in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.

Raw ski base material that manufacturers use comes in thicknesses ranging from about 1mm-3mm. Touring skis will generally fall in the 1.2-2.2mm range. How many base grinds a ski can sustain depends on a LOT of things. It's hard to put an exact number on what constitutes 'typical' wear. 

Bases take a beating every time you ski. How much that surface is impacted depends on a lot of things- how fast/far/often you go, the quality of snow you're skiing(icy snow is tougher on bases than soft snow), whether there's debris on the snow surface, etc. 

When we're grinding a ski, we aim to remove the least amount of material necessary to achieve a flat base. We use a straightedge tool called a true bar to evaluate for flatness across the width of a ski. Depending on what's going on with a ski- scratches, uneven/warped base, etc., sometimes that means a few more cutting passes over the stone, sometimes a few less. 

Contrary to what most folks imagine, it can actually be beneficial to have your ski bases tuned more often (at least 1x/season, 2x with frequent use) because we can usually keep the bases closer to perfect flat between services and don't have to cut as much material away with each shop visit.

Either way, you should be able to get around a dozen or so base grinds out of a touring ski with thin base material, barring any other factors. 

Thanks for the questions!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Dmitry Dmitry,

When I store my skis, I follow four simple steps to make sure that they're ready for the next season.  First, I get them tuned at the end of season.  This way they're ready for an early, unexpected first snow day and I'm not waiting on them to be tuned in the fall when I'd rather be making first turns on the slopes.

Second, I put a coat of wax on my base and sides before storing so that they are protected from moisture during storage.  REI has a lot of choices for wax.  You probably want a quick wax with applicator so that you don't need additional equipment.

Third, I use a pair of ski ties to put them together and handle them without allowing the bases to slide against each other and scrape.  I've never seen these at REI.  I picked them up at Shaggy's Copper Country Skis online.  

Fourth, I store them under my bed and laying on their sides.  They are out of the way and won't be damaged falling out of the closet, as happened when I stored them that way.

I know guys that take their bindings off for the season but I've never found that necessary.

Hope this helps!  Let's also hope that we'll get to ski this upcoming season!!! 

Thanks, @drrocket 

Thanks for the tips!

Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to to #1 and #2 after the season and it looks like I might need to wait until November when shops start tuning the skis again (I live in Bay Area). 

I store the skis in the inside close where i made a special attachments. In my experience, they are pretty stable there. They lay flat right now (not on the side), but maybe it is a good idea to rearrange them.





Have you gotten a chance to get the skis out and go?  How did the tips on storage work out?  What did you find that you'd do differently?  

Live, learn, and ski every chance you get right?

I pulled mine out for some alpine turns at Big Sky, Jackson Hole and Park City before Christmas.  Going back to Salt Lake for six days at six different hills in the Canyons next week.  My storage worked well.  They were ready to go right our of the ski carrier.


Hi @drrocket 

Over the New Year's break (vacation would be too much ow a word) I did have a chance to ski on a resort and make a rather lame attempt at touring. Among other things I planned to to test new setup. I skied on Dynastar Mythic 97 + Scarpa Maestrale RS on the resort and was very pleased with the setup, the ski is fantastic and Maestrale provided a good power transmission, balance and shall I say, comfort.

The touring setup (Voile HyperVector + Dynafit TLT8 Carbonio)  worked like a charm on the uphill, but the boot feels very different from anything I skied before on the way down. Need to practice more on these, and perhaps dial the forward lean angle a bit. If I find a way to handle TLT8, I'd try to pair it with Dynastar, that'd be interesting.

I actually took your advice for storing skis and did keep them under the bed. The only problem is that both touring skis have hard time getting under the mattress box (both are too wide in the shovel and brakes don't help it either), so I think of an alternative.




@REI-ReinkeM @Dmitry @drrocket 

This is an awesome thread. What is the difference between storage wax and regular wax? I usually take the left overs from scarping all season, melt them together and just iron on to the base for storage. Scrape it off at the beginning of the season, change it out with red/yellow or blue wax depending on the time of year and global warming trends (;-P) and I am off to the races. What am I doing wrong?