Never wax again? It's a strong claim, for sure. I am not sure about “never,” especially for all skiers, but for some, it is viable. The closest thing I can equate to DPS's Phantom Permanent Base Glide Treatment (PBGT) is that it is like using synthetic oil in your car and being able to go 10,000 miles between oil changes instead of 3,000. Phantom could be that type of advancement, synthetic oil for your skis.
We finally got a chance to play with the Phantom treatment, and on one level, I am disappointed. Yes, disappointed that I will no longer have to spend hours in the garage waxing skis. Disappointed that I will no longer be smelling wax fumes. Disappointed that [wax fumes] ... where was I ... [/wax fumes]. You see where this is going, yes, my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek. With that said, after our first impression of the Phantom PBGT, we have no reason to dispute DPS's claims.
We received two pairs of Foundation Cassiar 95s prepped with Phantom, a 168 and a 185. This worked out well because we currently have the new versions of these skis to test so we can do straight-up, head-to-head comparisons. The 168 was previously treated and had a few days' head start over the 185, which is good. The 185 had the treatment applied just before it was shipped and was fresh to the touch. To compare the 185, I brought out a pair of the new version that was waxed and buffed with Holmenkol Red, the ideal choice for the current Tahoe conditions. DPS contends that one of Phantom's attributes is that it will save time in getting skis to the slopes. I prepped the skis by crayoning the wax, ironing it on, using fiberlene to absorb it, then rotobrushing -- a process that takes about 20 minutes from start to cleanup. Twenty minutes might not seem like a lot, but when you have multiple pairs of skis that need attention thoughout the season, it adds up. The application is not inexpensive, but neither is time.
For those who love to live on the tuning bench, no, Phantom PBGT might not be for you. For traditionalists and for racers, the same thing can be said. Just click on to the next page. But for most skiers, and people who ski, Phantom is a viable alternative to waxing -- something that a high percentage of skiers view as more of a chore than a performance enhancement. When working on the retail wall, it is not uncommon to hear a customer ask why skis even have to be waxed, even at high-end shops.
Initial impressions: Conditions at Mt Rose were a mix of abrasive manmade, fresh, and wind buff; temps were mid-30s. @Andy Mink and I took out the two pairs, one with regular wax and the other with Phantom. Andy started on the regular Holmenkol-prepped ski, which initially was smooth and glided effortlessly, and I was on the ski treated with Phantom. The Phantom ski felt a little slow at first, but just for one run. After a run, it ran as smoothly as the regularly waxed ski. After a few more runs, Andy and I switched. I found no difference between the traditional waxing and the Phantom.
Days 2-5: We skied a combination of Mt Rose and Squaw Valley in old snow conditions. We have been getting the Phantom ski out every day just to get some miles on the wax to see how it glides, and there have been no surprises, either positively or negatively. In the meantime, I waxed the other ski, and it glides like the Phantom again.
Andy will be spending some more days on the ski(s), as will @Alexzn, who has them as I type. Alex will test them at Squaw, where the snow has been degrading a bit. @Tricia will report on the two smaller skis.
After I get another five or 10 days on the skis, I will bring them to @smoothrides to have them ground. DPS claims that stone grinding a Phantom-treated ski actually rejuvenates the glide so that it is even better than the initial application. This happens because Phantom actually penetrates into the base, whereas traditional waxes stay on top. DPS isn’t saying to stone grind for the sake of stone grinding, only as needed, just like you do now.
This will be an ongoing review from numerous members in varied conditions and regions. If anyone was involved with DPS’s Kickstarter Launch, we would love to hear from you; please post your reviews and experiences in this thread.