Editor’s note: This year, we opted for a spin on the holiday gift guide. Rest assured, we tasked the right guy — our gear-review guru — with the job of compiling a 12-day list of gift ideas (in various price ranges) for all the nordies in your life.
It’s only Day 4, but we’re getting picking up steam here, I can feel it. We’ve teed up a vast array of skiing-related products and gear, but no self-respective gear review is complete without diving headfirst, like Billy Demong into a shallow pool, into tech. And not just tech, TECH. Kinda like when Billy Ray Valentine fought off the police. “It wasn’t COP, it was COPS, with an ‘S’.” (Fast-forward to 7:30 in). This isn’t tech, it’s TECH (still not with a ‘s’, though)!
Day 4: Tech
Like any good prima donna ski racer, I hate working on my skis. I just want them to be fast. Nathan Schultz and the gang at Boulder Nordic Sport have gotten me race-ready many-a-day. Usually if I ask them what they did, they tell me to STFU. This might seem a bit harsh, but it reality it works out well for everyone as I really don’t want to know, as this would perhaps lead me to think that next time I could do it myself, which we all know that I cannot. Thanks to some “tough love” from both Nathan and Zack Caldwell, I learned long ago that I’m actually better off NOT knowing what’s happening out there in those mysterious shipping containers, as I need to focus all of my energy into skiing fast. Since it’s the holiday season though, Nathan seems to have let his guard down a little, as he gave me one of his secrets, Holmenkol Natural Wax (comes in solid & fluid). I believe his exact quote was, “This stuff is amazing, not only it is fast, but even you can put it on, FBD.” No offense taken, as I’m still going to have him do it. I’m no dummy, this way I can blame him if the race doesn’t go well. #SoPro. Available at Boulder Nordic Sport.
FS Staff Pick* (*Not necessarily FBD tested): Vauhti K-Base Binder, $25
On those warm, transformed days when any hard wax that grips wears too fast or ices, this binder lets you run a harder grip wax, solving both problems. A shoulder-season star. Available at CaldwellSport.com.
$30-$100: Red Creek Golden Magic Ultra Steel Brush, $87.50
Speaking of Zach Caldwell and ski-tech curmudgeons, when Zach’s not busy shaming Tad Elliott and me into attempting to properly apply klister (in case you missed it yesterday, here’s the video again), Zach spends his free time putting together what is perhaps simultaneously both the most nerdy and the most awesome article on brushes ever written (be sure to watch the embedded video, too; it’s totally worth it). This of course begs the question: is this the only article on brushes ever written? I sure hope so, but regardless, it’s excellent. I’ll save you the humiliation of having a link to this video in your browser cache by cutting to the chase and telling you to simply get one of these: Red Creek Golden Magic Ultra Steel Brush. Available at Caldwell Sport.
$100 – $250: Holmenkol Syntec Race Nordic Fluoro Powders, $189
Now we’re approaching super-nerd territory. Love it or hate it, fluoros are like pesticides and condoms — necessary evils. Again, I must have caught the head honcho on a good day, as Nathan was doling out all sorts of secrets. As noted earlier, I hate every part of this process (burning my skis, burning my beautiful, expansive eight-liter lungs, and burning a hole in the Ozone layer just so I can put Smullin in his place in races), so I made Nathan write the description on this one. I’ll see you in Hell, Schultz.
“These new fluorocarbon powders from Holmenkol are the result of 3 years of development and testing. The investment seems to have paid off – in testing over the winter of 2015-2016 we found this new line to be consistently at the top of our results, and many times far superior to everything else. As a bonus, the new raw materials in the Syntec line are not subject to the pending EU environmental fluorocarbon ban.” (After reading just this one paragraph, I bet you miss me already, right? Don’t lie.) Shop options (cold, mid & wet powder) at Boulder Nordic Sport.
Over $250: Star Digital Pro 200C Iron, $399
Back to the ultimate ski curmudgeon, Caldwell (hell, his Twitter handle is @GrumpySkier, which pretty much says it all). I love talking to Zach as he’s perhaps the only person in the world more cantankerous than me, which is probably why we get along so well. You know how the saying goes though, “It pays to have friends in low places,” and trust me Zach excels here. He’s logged more time in World Cup wax cabins than almost anyone I know, so when I recommends an iron, you KNOW it’s legit. So legit, that I bought one. (Yes, yes, I know, you’re thinking, “I thought FBD never preps his skis…” HA, I got cha! I rarely race prep my skis. I prep my skis all of the time. So if I am going to be forced into this dreaded task, why not bring a gun to a knife fight and tackle the task with the best iron available to man. Thanks to my incredible foresight and vision, there is mind-blowing continuity in this recommendation as well, as this is the iron of choice when applying fluoros. #MindBlown. Available at Caldwell Sport.
If you’re wondering how the hell we got here, or you just love my beautifully crafted preamble so much that you revisit every day before heading off to face the challenges of the working world, the introduction and backstory can be found here. If unlike most of America, you actually spend you time at work, working, you may have missed some of the previous days and they can be found here: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3