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Gadgets and Tech

The Phantom Test

DPS Skis just introduced a ski wax alternative that goes on once and lasts for the life of the ski. Believe the hype.

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Author’s update: Since the first test in October 2017, I have skied a pair of DPS skis with Phantom almost a dozen times at Eldora Mountain, and it still works! The skis with Phantom consistently accelerate better than a waxed pair of skis every time. More importantly, however, is that the on-snow feel has remained the same since the first run: Fast! There has been no base burn, no gimmicks, and most importantly, no need for wax.

Original Review, Published November 1st, 2017

It’s a sunny October day in Colorado’s high country, and, while most of my friends are still savoring autumn by trail running and mountain biking, I’ve got my ski boots buckled and I’m ready to rip some turns at Loveland Ski Area. I have three pairs of DPS Cassiar F95 skis to test: one pair freshly waxed, one pair nude (both skis are wax-free), and a third pair with a special technology installed in the base, called Phantom, a lubricant that might replace ski wax in the near future.

DPS Phantom three skis for one guy
Three skis for one, please.Photo Credit: Jon Jay

My fellow product testers and I start with the waxed skis. We load Loveland’s Chair 1, briefly discuss that speed is the biggest safety hazard of the day (everyone invited has a penchant for going fast), and talk about how wax helps and hurts our general skiing ability. Yes, wax makes your skis extra slippery and helps them accelerate through the arc of a turn, but it doesn’t last much longer than a day—or, in certain conditions, a few runs—plus it takes a lot of effort to make sure your skis are waxed every day of the season.

After a few runs, we swap for the wax-free skis. The nude boards are not slippery like the waxed versions, but still super fun—after all, we are skiing in October. We take a few more lift rides to feel how the nude bases slow down through the turns, especially where the snow has been getting sunbaked and slushy, thanks to the increased friction that ski wax would normally diminish.

DPS Phantom Technology Explained

After a few runs without wax, we click into the skis with Phantom installed. I say “installed” because it is actually in the base of the ski. Developed by a team of chemists and material engineers at the University of Utah and DPS, Phantom is a liquid compound that permeates your ski bases. This patent-pending, non-reactive chemical formula has been lab-tested, and it tested better over time than traditional ski wax across all temperatures and conditions. Activated by UV Light, Phantom is inert to both the environment and safe to those applying it, plus it makes ski bases harder and less likely to scratch.

mike hunt testing dps phantom at Loveland Ski Area
Freelance Gear Tester Matt Hart lays down some Phantom turns at Loveland Ski Area.Photo credit: Jon Jay

Because it permeates the base, Phantom becomes permanent for the life of the ski after a single application. Install it correctly, and you’ll never have to worry about waxing your skis again.

Outside of the lab, DPS Ambassadors tested versions of Phantom last spring in Utah and over the summer in New Zealand and Chile to get the formula dialed. The final product is now in the base of my skis on this sunny day at Loveland, and I’m ready to see what the buzz is about.

Right away, side-stepping towards the lift, it’s not as slippery as a freshly waxed pair of skis. “At slow speeds, and in lift lines, Phantom doesn’t have that slippery feeling that fresh waxed skis have,” says Alex Hunt, DPS Skis’ PR manager, prior to the chairlift ride. “That’s because it’s not wax, and there is just a touch of friction as the Phantom transitions from stillness into motion. Once you get going, you’ll feel the difference.”

And he’s right. As soon as my ski tips are pointed downhill, the skis feel just as fast as the waxed versions. Making turns and transitioning from cold, shady snow into hot, melting slush during the same run did not affect speed, and the skis accelerated into and out of every turn.

Matt Hart tests DPS Phantom and DPS skis at Loveland Ski Area
Matt Hart really pushing the DPS Cassair A95 with Phantom on a sunny October day.Photo Credit: Jon Jay

As we spent the rest of the day slipping and sliding at Loveland, Phantom’s performance never faltered. The skis felt consistently great as the afternoon warmed up and the snow continued its heat-catalyzed metamorphosis.

How to get DPS Phantom

Phantom is now available for $100 MSRP. It can be installed on any ski, just as long as it’s a new pair or has been recently stoneground. While wax might not be dead for everyone, we at SKI especially recommend Phantom for avid backcountry skiers who never want to deal with wax ruining their skins ever again.

We’ll continue to test Phantom throughout the season in various conditions, but at this point, I feel confident in saying that Phantom’s permanence and performance will change the game in ways that are hard to imagine now, but in few years’ time, we’ll be scratching our heads wondering how we ever skied without it.