Review DPS Phantom, the perspective of someone who works on snow.

Telemark Phat

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First up disclosure time, @DPS Driver sent me some Phantom to try out if I would let you all know what I thought of the product.

The last few seasons I've been teaching full time at Perisher teching alpine skiing and a bit of Telemark. I also work on snow training Telemark and Nordic instructors in Australia and Japan. This season I won't be full time on the hill but will probably end up with about 50 days on snow. All of my time on snow so far this season has been Telemark (10 days), but that changes tomorrow. Since I do most of my work on Alpine equipment I've applied Phantom to my new alpine boards, which I start work on tomorrow.

Phantom was pretty easy to apply. First clean off any wax, and I was surprised at how effective DPS's recommended method was, get out the hot soapy water and a stiff brush. It was more effective than the commercial base cleaner I've used before. Whenever I need to clean a base in the future its the method I'll be using.

Second step was to really vigorously knead the phantom part A sachet and spread the stuff out on the base with the supplied applicator. I was a bit hap hazard and let some of it get onto the edges and the sidewall, but it wiped off easily and there hasn't been any staining on the edges, sidewalls or topsheet. Then just put the ski outside for at least an hour, bring it in and wipe/scrape off the surplace phantom and go hard at it with a clean brush. I went crazy with the roto brush.

Do the same with part B and you're good to go. Part B is a lot less viscous than part A and takes a bit more care. The product comes with a little applicator and tiny brush/cork for those who don't have those tuning tools at home and two pairs of what look like nitrile gloves. The process certainly isn't rocket science so don't be put off if there isn't a DPS curing machine near you.

On the down side I was concerned that the product is supplied with what appears to be nitrile gloves yet has no poisoning advice or a MSDS. I'm sure the stuff is less toxic than the low fluro wax I normally use on my skis. But I'd rather have more information and no suspicions than the opposite.

Tomorrow will be my first day on snow with my new, Phantom treated alpine skis, I'll report back on how they go.
 

currawong

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First up disclosure time, @DPS Driver sent me some Phantom to try out if I would let you all know what I thought of the product.

The last few seasons I've been teaching full time at Perisher teching alpine skiing and a bit of Telemark. I also work on snow training Telemark and Nordic instructors in Australia and Japan. This season I won't be full time on the hill but will probably end up with about 50 days on snow. All of my time on snow so far this season has been Telemark (10 days), but that changes tomorrow. Since I do most of my work on Alpine equipment I've applied Phantom to my new alpine boards, which I start work on tomorrow.

Phantom was pretty easy to apply. First clean off any wax, and I was surprised at how effective DPS's recommended method was, get out the hot soapy water and a stiff brush. It was more effective than the commercial base cleaner I've used before. Whenever I need to clean a base in the future its the method I'll be using.

Second step was to really vigorously knead the phantom part A sachet and spread the stuff out on the base with the supplied applicator. I was a bit hap hazard and let some of it get onto the edges and the sidewall, but it wiped off easily and there hasn't been any staining on the edges, sidewalls or topsheet. Then just put the ski outside for at least an hour, bring it in and wipe/scrape off the surplace phantom and go hard at it with a clean brush. I went crazy with the roto brush.

Do the same with part B and you're good to go. Part B is a lot less viscous than part A and takes a bit more care. The product comes with a little applicator and tiny brush/cork for those who don't have those tuning tools at home and two pairs of what look like nitrile gloves. The process certainly isn't rocket science so don't be put off if there isn't a DPS curing machine near you.

On the down side I was concerned that the product is supplied with what appears to be nitrile gloves yet has no poisoning advice or a MSDS. I'm sure the stuff is less toxic than the low fluro wax I normally use on my skis. But I'd rather have more information and no suspicions than the opposite.

Tomorrow will be my first day on snow with my new, Phantom treated alpine skis, I'll report back on how they go.
Do you keep your skis for more than a season? With the promise of a permanent treatment I'm interested in how long it really lasts. OTOH i guess it wouldn't survive a base grind so that might be the limit of effective life.
But hearing about your experience during the season will be good
 
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Chowder11

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Will be interested to see how it goes in the variety of Aussie snow conditions.
 

Red_switch

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I recently caught up with a mate who does a bit of ski and snowboard building. He's very interested in Phantom, but can't get his head around why dps don't apply it to their skis in the factory if it's so good.

Keen to hear how you find it @Telemark Phat
 
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MarzNC

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I recently caught up with a mate who does a bit of ski and snowboard building. He's very interested in Phantom, but can't get his head around why dps don't apply it to their skis in the factory if it's so good.
Do you mean any skis that DPS sells? It can be added for an extra fee now that they have a Curing Station in the factory for skis that are bought directly from DPS. Adding to every ski made would increase the price. Don't think dealers would be too happy. DPS skis are great, but definitely pricey as is.

Skis at the higher end are sold flat. Skis at the lower end of the price spectrum often are sold with system bindings. I don't see Phantom being any different.

At the Alta Demo Day in April 2019, all the skis had Phantom 2.0. Was not the case in April 2018 when it would've required 6 hours of sunlight for Phantom 1.0. There are now special round stickers in the 2.0 kits that can be put on skis treated at home.
DPS Phantom stickers 06Apr2019  - 1.jpg
 
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MarzNC

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i guess it wouldn't survive a base grind so that might be the limit of effective life.
Phantom is not wax. It's based on a chemical process that changes the nature of the base that makes it more hydrophobic. A base grind means a fresh base that's already treated.

In case anyone cares, I'm not a ski instructor or related to DPS in any business fashion. Just a retired ski nut who started demo'ing DPS skis at Alta a while ago. Got Phantom 1.0 from the Kickstarter. Did the DIY process in Jan 2018 on my carvers. Bought Phantom 2.0 in Oct 2018 before the N. American season started. At this point I own three pairs of treated skis, plus treated my daughter's tele skis.

From 2017 during the Kickstarter campaign that launched Phantom:
https://www.adventure-journal.com/2017/12/dps-phantom-lets-never-wax-skis-work/
" . . .
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.
. . ."

For those who read the entire article, note that Phantom kits and the DIY process evolved after early Dec 2017. Phantom 2.0 only requires an hour in the sun for each packet, instead of 3 hours for Phantom 1.0.
 

Telemark Phat

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Today was typical Aussie dry spell man made snow. Cool in the morning, warming through the day. The snow was firm underneath with sugar ontop and the race training area at Front Valley was pretty firm and fast all day.

I've always felt cautious about the claim that Phantom works better than universal wax. Universal wax is pretty rubbish and I use temp specific Low Fluro wax on my skis (if I'm going to put the time in to tune my skis I'll make it worth my while). Based on today I certainly agree with Phantom is better than univerasal wax, in fact I'd say its only a little bit slower than temp specific hydrocarbon wax. What I'm now most interested in is how dirt will effect my newly treated skis glide. Hydrocarbon waxes do attract dirt over time and require either regular hot scraping or base cleaning to stop dirt slowing down your skis.

My initial recommendation is its a good product for people who don't have the time or don't care to tune their own skis. This product would also be brilliant for travelling overseas when finding tuning benches can be tough, and a full tuning kit is a big hit on your luggage allowance. When working full time on snow I often fall into the first category. If you do have the time, or enjoy tuning your own skis I'm not sure the ecenomics stack up, but I'll see how Phantom performs over a wider variety of conditions and how much its effected by dirt before making any reccomendation I'd stand by.
 

DPS Driver

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Sorry folks, I've been skiing with the kids and haven't looked at my computer much.

Thanks to the great Phantom users like @MarzNC on this forum I don't have to answer much. I suppose that's a pretty good indication of the products performance.

I will answer some of the queries, just so you get it from the horses mouth, so to speak. Although I have answered these queries previously in the above thread but all good.
- Phantom penetrates the entire base and works for the life of the ski. After grinding your base it works just as well, in fact many say it even gets better after a base grind.
- We don't apply it at the factory because it's a costly process and our skis are at the high end of the price spectrum already. Plus some people like waxing, so we decided to give the choice. As MarzNC pointed out you can order direct from the factory and we will Phantom your bases for you.
 
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Telemark Phat

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I've finished my first week skiing on a pair of skis treated with Phantom. First up I haven't noticed a loss of glide, but I have felt a variation in glide depending on the snow structure. The big variation in Phantoms performance has been between new cold snow with sharp crystals and old snow which is either wet or has a round structure.

My initial impressions were on warm, old, round snow which Phantom worked far above my expectaions. On new, cold, sharp snow Phantom was better than a univeral wax, but a fair way behind a temp specific hydrocarbon wax.

I've skied through a lot of dirty snow and I haven't noticed a loss in glide yet.

I'm still rather impressed and I think the compromises will end up with a net benifit for most skiers.
 

Any

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I've finished my first week skiing on a pair of skis treated with Phantom. First up I haven't noticed a loss of glide, but I have felt a variation in glide depending on the snow structure. The big variation in Phantoms performance has been between new cold snow with sharp crystals and old snow which is either wet or has a round structure.

My initial impressions were on warm, old, round snow which Phantom worked far above my expectaions. On new, cold, sharp snow Phantom was better than a univeral wax, but a fair way behind a temp specific hydrocarbon wax.

I've skied through a lot of dirty snow and I haven't noticed a loss in glide yet.

I'm still rather impressed and I think the compromises will end up with a net benifit for most skiers.
encouraging results.
that sounds about right compared to what phantom advertising suggests that you should experience.

3rRZn0A.png
 

southpaw

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Still trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on a home waxing set up or just get me and Mrs Paws skis done with the Phantom and be done with it. Our skis are one season old and we’ll realistically have them for a few seasons so it should stack up financially. The pragmatist in me says phantom but romantic side says home wax hmmm....
 

Any

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Still trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on a home waxing set up or just get me and Mrs Paws skis done with the Phantom and be done with it. Our skis are one season old and we’ll realistically have them for a few seasons so it should stack up financially. The pragmatist in me says phantom but romantic side says home wax hmmm....
Why not both?

Your home wax setup doesn't need to be anything fancy.
My wax setup used to consist of a thick plastic ruler, an old clothes iron, a nylon brush (similar to what you might use for a dustpan and brush, just firmer) and a brillo pad. I'd put down an old cardboard box cut flat to collect any drips or shavings, use two chairs which had flat backrests facing away from eachother as a bench to suspend my skis (the ski tips mean they keep themselves in position), and wax away no problems. I remove one chair and make an angle for aggressive scraping, can get my whole body into it and scrape & brush it to death.
My setup has been fine for many seasons living in Japan!
In the last couple of years I've been on a huge spending spree and upgraded to a $35 swix iron i found for cheap in the summer, a $2 scraper on ebay, $1 worth of ptex strips and a discounted $5 toyo nylon brush i found in the hardware store in spring. With all my expensive gear my waxing results have improved, but not significantly.

a local hardware store has a free waxing station. just byo wax.
perhaps options where you live too?
 
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Any

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Would you wax on top of a phantom treatment? Would that be overkill?
I don't have Phantom (yet), dont get much reliable sun so waiting on a hotbox nearby to do it properly. But yeah I plan to.
I find waxing quite cathartic.

I don't wax super often tho, only about once every one or two weeks i suppose mostly depending on how dirty the snow is or if conditions change drastically.
 
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MarzNC

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Would you wax on top of a phantom treatment? Would that be overkill?
For a recreational skier who doesn't know the difference between non-fluoro and fluoro wax and has no interest in investing in a tuning bench, buying stuff required to wax skis after treating with Phantom . . . not sure I see the point.

Reasons to wax in addition to Phantom include:

* Dealing with extremely frigid conditions, say under 5ºF (-15ºC)
* For optimal performance for racing
* For the fun of the wax process at home

I've skied 20+ days on the skis I treated in Jan 2018. They are my carvers so mostly used on manmade or hard snow (U.S. Mid-Atlantic or northeast), but also skied them a few days on very soft warm snow during late season in Oregon in May 2018. I did a direct comparison to my old all-mountain skis with warm weather wax, plus paste wax once or twice a day. After that experience, I treated my "rock skis" for the 2018-19 season. Had a ball with them at Alta in April 2018 on warm days.

I didn't learn to wax skis until about ten years ago. Didn't ski enough to justify the investment. My set up for waxing was similar to @Any. Used a cheap regular iron for a few years until I bought a ski iron after there was more than one pair of skis to deal with. At this point I'm a retired ski nut who has been averaging 50 days per season in the last 5-6 years. I'm not an instructor and didn't become a solid advanced skier until after age 50 when I had the time and money for lessons.
 

Kopite

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Both my pairs are phantomed and for my very average skills it's great. No worrying about waxing etc is a godsend. I'm still putting a storage wax on and found doing a hot scrape has helped clean the bases, but that's all I've needed. Can't fault it.
 

DPS Driver

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We've also found that if you do wax over Phantom your wax actually stays on longer, so even better value.

At first the feedback on this was just anecdotal but it just kept popping up, so we've now bought that back into the lab and this is what the test results are stating as well.
 
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Telemark Phat

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After about 20 days on snow Phantom continues to work as advertised. Slower on colder, newer snow and faster on older, warmer snow. I still haven't noticed a degredation in glide from dirty snow, but I still haven't skied too much of the stuff. Spring will be the test there I think.

As a comparison, and where I was really cautious about the promise of Phantom was how it compared to Low Fluro, High Fluro and pure fluro waxes. Since my main gig is in the office this season I've been able to do more nordic skiing and I've been doing some races as part of my Nordic Level 4 Certification. There is a big difference between the glide of flourinated waxes and phantom. Over a 15 or 20k race I'll pay good money to suffer less and the difference in glide is significant. Phantom isn't for Nordic or any kind of racing. Which is fair enough since the product hasn't been claimed to provide comparable glide to flourinated waxes.

Everyone can feel the difference in glide between a low flouro wax and a hydrocarbon, or worse parrafin wax. The question is how much do you care? If you only care enough to drop your skis off for an occasional edge and wax Phantom is a great product for you. You'll have more glide more consistently than a shop tune will get you (shops almost always use cheap wax, unless otherwise specified).

If you care enough to wax your own skis but you'll only pony up for a universal wax I recon you'll have a better time with phantom on the bases of your skis. If you care enough to wax your own skis and will pay for at least a LF wax Phantom becomes a different question. It could be handy to prevent base burn and DPS might be right and it might help your skis stay waxed for longer. I won't be finding out this season, I want to see how Phantom goes in dirty spring snow. I also haven't tried seeing what happens when you clean your bases with either a hot scrape, base cleaner or hot soapy water. They might be tests for next season.
 

DPS Driver

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After about 20 days on snow Phantom continues to work as advertised. Slower on colder, newer snow and faster on older, warmer snow. I still haven't noticed a degredation in glide from dirty snow, but I still haven't skied too much of the stuff. Spring will be the test there I think.

As a comparison, and where I was really cautious about the promise of Phantom was how it compared to Low Fluro, High Fluro and pure fluro waxes. Since my main gig is in the office this season I've been able to do more nordic skiing and I've been doing some races as part of my Nordic Level 4 Certification. There is a big difference between the glide of flourinated waxes and phantom. Over a 15 or 20k race I'll pay good money to suffer less and the difference in glide is significant. Phantom isn't for Nordic or any kind of racing. Which is fair enough since the product hasn't been claimed to provide comparable glide to flourinated waxes.

Everyone can feel the difference in glide between a low flouro wax and a hydrocarbon, or worse parrafin wax. The question is how much do you care? If you only care enough to drop your skis off for an occasional edge and wax Phantom is a great product for you. You'll have more glide more consistently than a shop tune will get you (shops almost always use cheap wax, unless otherwise specified).

If you care enough to wax your own skis but you'll only pony up for a universal wax I recon you'll have a better time with phantom on the bases of your skis. If you care enough to wax your own skis and will pay for at least a LF wax Phantom becomes a different question. It could be handy to prevent base burn and DPS might be right and it might help your skis stay waxed for longer. I won't be finding out this season, I want to see how Phantom goes in dirty spring snow. I also haven't tried seeing what happens when you clean your bases with either a hot scrape, base cleaner or hot soapy water. They might be tests for next season.
Good to hear TP.

Yes we're not claiming to match the LF or HF standards. We've produced a model for general purpose and it works really well in that space. Here's the clincher though, we can produce Phantom to match or more closely match LF or HF performance and various snow temp performance etc etc. We just haven't.....yet. The more we play with it, the more it amazes us with what it does and what we can do with it. Quite exciting really.

Re dirty spring snow, you will be impressed and hot scrapes, base cleans or grinds & hot soapy water cleaning won't affect it. They'll actually help it as it a solid state bonded material which is now a permanent part of your base.

Thanks for checking it out TP and keep us updated.
 

Telemark Phat

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Well I let my season wrap up slide on by. First I should talk about spring.

I didn't do much alpine skiing in spring and spent most of my time on my telemark skis which weren't treated with Phantom. On my Phantom treated alpine skis I noticed a bit of a slow down on the milo snow we got this spring but it wasn't significant. It continued to feel a bit faster than a temp specific hydrocarbon wax up until things got properly slow. Once suction became a problem phantom felt about the same as my telemark skis with a dry base. I'm sure a spring texture would have helped but I wanted to expose phantom to as much dirt as I could. However in those conditions the only way to get glide is a good spring texture and at least a high flouro wax.

All up I ended up with 25 days on my alpine skis and the recommendation I made above has only firmed up. Looking at the pricing if you don't tune your own skis and are paying for a iron wax and average three days between waxes you break even after about 15 days on snow. Assuming Phantom lasts the lifetime of the skis you're ahead, I can certainly say your ahead if you only ski 25 days on a pair of skis.

With that in mind Phantom is for you if:
  • You don't wax your own skis and will ski at least 15 more days on that pair
  • You wax your own skis with a universal hydrocarbon wax or worse
  • If you're travelling and don't want to use up baggage allowance on all of your tuning stuff.

Phantom isn't for you if:
  • You love tuning your own skis and use a LF Wax or better
  • You only ski less than 15 days on a pair of skis before selling them for the latest and greatest
  • You do any racing
  • You're a cross country skier
Next year I want to see how base grinds and waxing on-top of Phantom goes.
 

DPS Driver

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Well I let my season wrap up slide on by. First I should talk about spring.

I didn't do much alpine skiing in spring and spent most of my time on my telemark skis which weren't treated with Phantom. On my Phantom treated alpine skis I noticed a bit of a slow down on the milo snow we got this spring but it wasn't significant. It continued to feel a bit faster than a temp specific hydrocarbon wax up until things got properly slow. Once suction became a problem phantom felt about the same as my telemark skis with a dry base. I'm sure a spring texture would have helped but I wanted to expose phantom to as much dirt as I could. However in those conditions the only way to get glide is a good spring texture and at least a high flouro wax.

All up I ended up with 25 days on my alpine skis and the recommendation I made above has only firmed up. Looking at the pricing if you don't tune your own skis and are paying for a iron wax and average three days between waxes you break even after about 15 days on snow. Assuming Phantom lasts the lifetime of the skis you're ahead, I can certainly say your ahead if you only ski 25 days on a pair of skis.

With that in mind Phantom is for you if:
  • You don't wax your own skis and will ski at least 15 more days on that pair
  • You wax your own skis with a universal hydrocarbon wax or worse
  • If you're travelling and don't want to use up baggage allowance on all of your tuning stuff.

Phantom isn't for you if:
  • You love tuning your own skis and use a LF Wax or better
  • You only ski less than 15 days on a pair of skis before selling them for the latest and greatest
  • You do any racing
  • You're a cross country skier
Next year I want to see how base grinds and waxing on-top of Phantom goes.
Great rundown TP. Thanks for the candid appraisal.

I might add some context to the racing recommendation, if that's OK.

Our testing has proven that Phantom actually retains wax longer than a non treated base. So we're getting a lot of racers treating their skis now for two reasons:
1: They still have a good gliding base when their race wax wears off
2: Their race wax lasts longer on the base.
 
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Smev

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Well I let my season wrap up slide on by. First I should talk about spring.

I didn't do much alpine skiing in spring and spent most of my time on my telemark skis which weren't treated with Phantom. On my Phantom treated alpine skis I noticed a bit of a slow down on the milo snow we got this spring but it wasn't significant. It continued to feel a bit faster than a temp specific hydrocarbon wax up until things got properly slow. Once suction became a problem phantom felt about the same as my telemark skis with a dry base. I'm sure a spring texture would have helped but I wanted to expose phantom to as much dirt as I could. However in those conditions the only way to get glide is a good spring texture and at least a high flouro wax.

All up I ended up with 25 days on my alpine skis and the recommendation I made above has only firmed up. Looking at the pricing if you don't tune your own skis and are paying for a iron wax and average three days between waxes you break even after about 15 days on snow. Assuming Phantom lasts the lifetime of the skis you're ahead, I can certainly say your ahead if you only ski 25 days on a pair of skis.

With that in mind Phantom is for you if:
  • You don't wax your own skis and will ski at least 15 more days on that pair
  • You wax your own skis with a universal hydrocarbon wax or worse
  • If you're travelling and don't want to use up baggage allowance on all of your tuning stuff.

Phantom isn't for you if:
  • You love tuning your own skis and use a LF Wax or better
  • You only ski less than 15 days on a pair of skis before selling them for the latest and greatest
  • You do any racing
  • You're a cross country skier
Next year I want to see how base grinds and waxing on-top of Phantom goes.

I was considering using Phantom on the tips and tails of my waxless cross country skis to avoid periodically hot waxing glide wax. Would you recommend against that for some reason, or why do you say Phantom in not for cross country skis? I have Fischer skis with a fishscale grip pattern in the middle. Thanks for the helpful discussion on Phantom.
 

DPS Driver

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I was considering using Phantom on the tips and tails of my waxless cross country skis to avoid periodically hot waxing glide wax. Would you recommend against that for some reason, or why do you say Phantom in not for cross country skis? I have Fischer skis with a fishscale grip pattern in the middle. Thanks for the helpful discussion on Phantom.
From a company perspective, we've made that statement because most cross country skiers want to change their wax set up regularly, like from morning to afternoon. It's a critical part of their glide requirements when under human power. Therefore a GP wax or in the case of Phantom a GP wax replacement, isn't necessarily worth the investment.
Now, as long as your fish scale bases are sintered bases it will work and retain wax better than an untreated base. So yeah for sure, if you've got access and wish to spend the dollars then no harm in applying Phantom, as long as you can get the excess out of the fish scale. This might require some creative roto brushing and good removal of the excess while it is still in liquid state after the soak period.
We are working on some variations to the formula for special conditions etc and a solution for cross country skis is being looked at as well.
 
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