The art of ski tuning: 10 must-have essentials for your at-home repair kit
You’re having an all-time day. The snow is blower, double overhead. You’re feeling the flow—you’re in the zone. You are one with your skis, one with the mountain, one with the universe and WHACK! You face plant after a snow gremlin chomps a chunk out of the base of your planks. “Asshole!”
Now what? You could satisfy your local ski tech with that twelver bro-deal, or you could head on home and handle repairs all on your own. Because sometimes, it just feels so good to DIY. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
1. The Shuttle Kit – North by Swix
Swix has pretty much cornered the at-home tuning market. Last year, the brand launched a freeride/backcountry-focused sub-brand called North. The Shuttle Kit has almost everything you’d want for on-the-go repairs: wax, a pocket edge and diamond sharpener, a bronze/nylon brush, polishing cork and a manual. Additional items needed: a scraper, a good attitude and elbow grease. All sold separately.
P-Tex is a ski bum’s best friend. Mountains have rocks and rocks love to thrash the bottoms of skis. Chances are you’re going to drop more base than an EDM festival. P-Tex to the rescue!
Swix has the wax market pretty well covered, but Toko and Dakine offer great options, too. You’ll want both a cold weather and warm weather wax. Don’t be fooled by the all-temp options. Yes, there’s a difference and yes, you’ll notice.
4. “Fire Stick”
While almost any lighter will do, the chance of dripping molten P-Tex onto your thumb increases exponentially when using a classic Bic. Gain some distance with a “fire stick,” that lighter with the trigger you use on your barbecue. Otherwise, see number 8.
5. Table with vises
Chances are the crawlspace you rent does not have a workbench. Don’t worry, most any table or counter-top will work. It’s recommended that said table be bellybutton-height in order to quell the ski tuner’s hunchback. Swix, Toko and Kuu all make portable tables, but that money may be better spent on wood for a DIY table and vises. For a good tune, skis need to stay in place.
No, this will not help your style game. But it will keep wax, P-Tex and tuning gunk-n-junk from staining your pants and favorite flannel. Plus, you can seamlessly transfer from ski repair guru to grill master.
A razor-blade works well but it’s nice to have the power (and safety) of a handle. The go-to is a Swiss Army knife but the brand new Opinel No. 12 Explore knife has a rubber handle, a 10-centimeter locking blade, a cutting hook and a built-in whistle.
8. Swear Jar
While you are cutting, grinding, waxing and altogether seeking tune perfection, f-words will begin to flow, without question. Feed the jar a dollar for every curse word. Use that cash to invest in more tuning equipment… or some anger management classes. Remember to breathe in with the butterflies and breathe out with the bees. Cool moss, friends, picture cool moss.
Swix, Toko, Dakine and others sell tuning irons that are all pretty similar. No matter what, get an iron with a dummy-proof automatic shut off. Leaving the iron on and burning down your winter rental is not a good look.
10. Groovy Tunes
A zen-like mellowness is the be-all, end-all essential for repair precision. This is easily achieved by filling your tune station with some auditory feng shui. Outdoor Tech’s Buck Shot and Turtle Shell 2.0 Bluetooth speakers are great options for bumping calming albums like Enya’s Watermark. “Sail away, sail away, sail away…”
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