DPS Phantom Permanent Base Glide Treatment

2.15.18

DPS’s Phantom Glide treatment has been receiving a lot of attention, and for good reason. If it performs as advertised, this single-application alternative to standard base wax could revolutionize the way people slide on snow. (We covered the introduction of Phantom in this article and on this blister podcast).

If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out our conversation with DPS founder, Stephan Drake, and the lead chemist behind Phantom, Jeff Bates. Stephan and Jeff go over the development of Phantom and the details of how it works:

And we are now putting time on several skis and boards that have been treated with Phantom, and will be posting updates here as we continue to get more time on the product.

Blister reviewer Paul Forward now has over 6 days on the DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 that has been treated with Phantom, so he is the first to offer his initial impressions.

Paul Forward:

Shortly after I received and mounted the Phantom-treated DPS Alchemist Wailer 106, Southcentral Alaska experienced a relatively cold spell with temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit). During this period, I spent several days skiing cold, chalky snow on the Wailer 106, mostly on relatively smooth, grippy groomers.

In the cold snow, the Phantom treatment seemed to perform well, and the glide across flatter sections was at least as good as other skis that I’d recently waxed with standard blue Swix CH6X wax (which has a temperature recommendation of -14°F to 23°F). When we got a few inches of cold / light snow, the Wailer 106 continued to glide well without any hint of extra drag from the new cold crystals.

Recently, things got a bit warmer with temperatures in the high 20’s to low 30’s, and we received 10-12” of high moisture-content snow. After canceling our day of heli-skiing due to the ongoing storm, I headed up to the hill for some inbounds maritime pow skiing. The first thing I noticed when I got off the tram and clicked into the bindings was that the skis felt a little sluggish as I was pushing away from the tram deck. Once I started heading downhill, however, that sensation immediately disappeared and I skied down to the next chair with great glide and overall performance.

Throughout the day, the base treatment worked great, and the only time I had any other thoughts about it was while doing a beacon drill during which I took off my skis for about 30 minutes. When I picked up the skis from the snow to click in again, I was a little surprised to see that quite a bit of snow was sticking to the bases. I opted to just toss them down, click in, and ski away, and this was all it took to get back to excellent gliding.

While having some wet snow stick to my skis while stationary was a little surprising, it is something we were told to expect by the folks at DPS. Specifically, I was told that Phantom “behaves differently than wax, since…it isn’t wax. At very slow speeds (like a lift line) you will NOT feel the slippery, freshly waxed feel. But as soon as the initial friction between the base and snow is overcome you’ll have great glide.”

I would say that this description exactly reflects my experience so far.

After only a few days, I’m definitely not ready to fully endorse all of DPS’ claims about Phantom, but so far, things seem to be working as advertised. We will be getting some other reviewers on skis and boards that have been treated with Phantom, and will be providing updates on how Phantom deals with different types of climbing-skins glue, how it performs in different temperatures, and do some A/B comparisons with traditionally waxed skis. So keep an eye out for updates, but so far, so good.

Update: 4.3.18

Four Blister reviewers have now spent time on Phantom-treated skis, so it’s time for an update.

Paul Forward:

I’ve now had another 15 days or so on the DPS Wailer A106 treated with Phantom, and I’ve remained impressed. I’ve skied in temps from about 10°F to the low 40’s°F, and in everything from cold pow to rained-on snow, and still feel like the glide in all conditions is quite good. Overall, I wouldn’t make any changes to my initial impressions.

Sam Shaheen:

I’ve spent several days touring on the Scott Superguide 105 that I treated with Phantom myself. I’m going to do a separate writeup on the application process, and here, I’m going to stick to performance.

When I first heard about Phantom, I did two things: (1) geek out hardcore on the super cool chemistry, and (2) got really excited about the possibility of fast touring skis that wouldn’t get traditional ski wax sticking to the glue on climbing skins.

I’ve had 4 days on the Phantom-treated Superguide 105’s, paired with Colltex Camlock Mix Whizz skins. So far, I haven’t had any issues with skins sticking to the Phantom-treated bases, or issues with the Phantom affecting the skin glue at all. The skins have behaved just as if I had been using an unwaxed, untreated base — which is exactly what I want.

On snow, I’ve had a very similar experience as Paul. The skis have been fast and consistent across snow types and temperatures. The skis certainly don’t have the slippery freshly waxed feel of actual wax when standing and shuffling around (which is actually quite nice as it makes sidestepping and skiing downhill out on flat skin tracks in walk mode much easier).

I have, however, experienced an unusual amount of snow sticking to the bases. Usually I notice this when I take my skis off to transition, as there is often a few chunks of snow stuck to the bases. A quick brush with my glove tends to easily clear the base.

On one occasion, I had ice buildup on the bases during the transition from up to down. I’m not positive that the skis would have iced up if they had not been treated with Phantom, but I suspect that it wouldn’t have been as bad (neither of my partners had serious icing issues with their standard-waxed skis). I think with Phantom-treated skis, it is even more important to keep your bases out of the sun during transitions to mitigate icing. And we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this as we spend even more time touring on skis treated with Phantom.

Luke Koppa

I just spent three days on the 18/19 DPS Cassiar A79 treated with Phantom on both very firm, early-morning groomers, and then on very soft late-afternoon snow at Taos, with temperatures ranging from around 25°F to well into the 40’s. Overall, I thought the skis felt very quick, and on firm snow they felt just as good if not better than any other skis I was on that weekend.

When the temps rose and the snow got even slushier, I thought the skis treated with Phantom had slightly better glide than those without.

Overall, my brief experience with Phantom has been quite positive, and I’ll be treating some skis with it this spring to see how it handles warm days of touring.

Jonathan Ellsworth

I have four days now on the Phantom-treated 18/19 DPS Cassiar 94, and I am extremely impressed so far with how the ski has glided on snow. And if I continue to get this same degree of performance from Phantom as I get more time on these skis — i.e., if Phantom is still performing at day 30 as it has on these first 4 days (as it’s supposed to), then I will be sold.

We were doing a lot of ski swapping over the past four days, and I can say that the Cassiar 94s felt fast, and no ski I was on (well, other than the HEAD i.Speed Pro, which is simply a search-and-destroy missile of a ski) felt noticeably faster or offered better glide.

It maybe — maybe — was the case that on Taos’ long return trail (“Around the World”) that takes you from chair 4 back to chair 1 at the base, maybe the Cassiar was a bit slower on long, flat sections than some of the other skis I was on? But I wouldn’t wager a single dollar that this was actually true.

Point is, I was pleased. And if I get to experience this same level of performance without reapplying wax? I’m sold.

Final two things:

(1) Like Sam, I did notice some snow sticking to the bases of the Phantom-treated Cassiar F94. Especially as we were lapping West Basin and so removing skis for the short bootpack up, in those 30-40 degree F spring temps, some snow would be sticking — which wasn’t happening when I was swapping to the Nordica Enforcer 93 to A/B against the Cassiar F94 on the same lines. But the stuck snow would easily wipe away with a single swipe of the hand, and I never felt any weird on-snow performance. So it’s possible that this was a result of the warm, sticky snow, and we’ll monitor to see if we find this happening at colder temps.

But for me, at least, the on-snow performance was so good that I didn’t care about a little caked snow.

(2) One of the things that actually concerned me most about Phantom — aside from the part where I thought the whole thing was a stupid gimmick and would not work at all — was DPS talking about how the skis would feel “unwaxed” when moving slow on snow. I wouldn’t care about this while shuffling through a lift line, but I did actually worry about this description given that I tend to spend a good bit of time in some steep, techy terrain — would Phantom-treated skis suddenly feel “stuck” when making — or landing — a tight jump turn? Because if it did, I would be 100% out on the product.

The good news is that I experienced no such thing on entrances where getting stuck or bucked would have likely resulted in a slide down terrain where a self-arrest would have been quite difficult. And I have a very personal and very high interest level at the moment in not tomahawking down steeps; my surgeon would not at all approve.

So anyway, I’m not sure whether anybody else out there wondered about this, but when billygoating around steep, techy terrain, I’ve experienced no issues, and honestly, never even thought about it. Which is again the single best thing I can say about my experience of Phantom so far: when skiing steep, techy terrain or maching down groomers, I really don’t want to be thinking or worrying about my ski bases at all.

With Phantom, I haven’t.

25 Comments

  1. Ian February 15, 2018 Reply

    Hi

    What happens if you need to do a base weld or base grind on a ski ? Presumably a new application of Phantom is then required ?

    thks

    • Bob February 18, 2018 Reply

      DPS says it penetrates the ptex and to base grind as normal when the bases need a refresh.

  2. Blister Member
    wilk800jkw February 15, 2018 Reply

    How hard was it to apply the treatment?

  3. k-roc February 16, 2018 Reply

    The thing about this is when you don’t wax your skis, they don’t glide very well on the flats. But when you get into your run, and you’re skiing fast, they work just fine. This seems to be the feeling you get with Phantom!
    I’m the kind of person who waxes once a week or more. I love flying across the flats and traverses, to get to the goods ahead of the crowds.
    I ski with patrollers a lot. I’m not sure about the ones in your area but the Fernie patrollers never, or at best rarely, wax. They might be slower on the traverses but once they point their skis downhill, you won’t be hearing any complaints.

    I’d like to believe Phantom is awesome and the solution to our wax problems, but I’m not convinced. Also why doesn’t DPS just apply Phantom to all their skis at the factory? Why wouldn’t other ski manufacturers license the product and do the same?

    • Blister Member
      rhino May 21, 2018 Reply

      the questions in your last paragraph have been mine from the start. also, fairly universal reports that it does not apply well to used skis make a factory application seem like a more practical(and MUCH cheaper) method.

      not all of the blister staff commented on whether their test skis were new. this would be helpfull.

      as always, thanks to blister staff and readers !

  4. SallyCat February 16, 2018 Reply

    What’s being lost here is the aesthetic aspect of ski waxing. And by “aesthetic” I mean “the opportunity to drink beer and listen to music while still feeling ‘productive.” :-)

    https://facultyjacobin.com/2017/11/11/monsters-of-snowsport-modernity/

  5. Blister Member
    MO February 16, 2018 Reply

    I have it on two pairs of skis now — one pretty used ski with some base repairs and one fairly new ski. Both prepped the same with a stone grind and applied in similar conditions. The newer ski glides much better than the older one after about the same number of days. The older ski was so slow on flats/traverses that I ended up just waxing it on top the Phantom. I’m not sure what conclusion to draw here other than perhaps the application does not take quite as well to an older base.

  6. Blister Member
    Yeti February 16, 2018 Reply

    I just returned from 14 days of skiing in Japan we did a good mix of resort, side country, and back country. I skied entirely on my Blizzard Spurs which I had just treated with Phantom. The Phantom was very easy to apply but a little time consuming. As DPS says the first few runs the skis felt sticky on the snow, almost like I had climbing skins on but after a few runs that quickly went away. You can defiantly tell a difference when standing in the lift line but as soon as you start moving things quickly change and they feel freshly waxed, within a few days everyone else s wax had worn off and I was quickly out running them to the goods. We had 3 days entirely in the back country and I did not experience any issues with the skins not sticking to the base of the skis. I will be treating all of my skis with Phantom.

  7. Blister Member
    Eric February 16, 2018 Reply

    Are there any benefits to waxing over a phantom treatment?

    Would it improve the low speed glide and when the wax starts wearing off give you a backup (at non-slow speeds)?

    • Blister Member
      Antony April 4, 2018 Reply

      Similar question, does waxing on top of Phantom have any negative effects? I don’t intend to do this, but most tune places here automatically wax skis after a grind.

  8. bj25430 February 19, 2018 Reply

    I just got back from a 7 day ski trip at steamboat, co. I skied 5 of those days with DPS Phantom for the first time. First day we had 8-10 inch of fresh powder. I was concerned about skiing for the first time on Phantom in powder. No run to ski off excess Phantom. The skis never were sticky at all! right off the lift into deep powder, in the trees, the skis worked great. I also did something after application of Phantom that was a little different. I called DPS and asked what the main goal was after the “B” application. its to get off as much remaining material of phantom as possible after the “cure” process. i ditched that worthless cork /nylon brush DPS includes in the package and got my robust Nylon brush out and went to town on the skis. i feel it paid off! I had no sticky skis at all. They worked as a fresh wax ski would. Had no problems. Even after the powder was skied over and groomer runs the next morning, no problems at all. Temps were warm. 25F in the morning and 35-40 in the afternoon. Never did my skis stick at the bottom on the warmer snow. I will be applying Phantom to my other pairs of skis. I have no reason to believe that it didn’t perform as advertised. At least for my 5 days of sking the skis felt great. I will say that the brush and cork they include isnt even worth much. For 100$ i feel they could have done better with that. But if you are dropping 100$ on the product then you probably have dropped some money on some good ski tuning tools and have been waxing your own skis. If not, then get a stiff nylon brush that will brush off the excess material after the last product cure.

  9. Blister Member
    Gregory David March 14, 2018 Reply

    I wish they would not include the brushes. Most skiers/boarders have their own kit. These things rarely get “recycled” and end up in a landfill or worse…. and that goes for all plastic and mixed packaging……….

  10. Other Aaron April 3, 2018 Reply

    we need comparisons to skiing an unwaxed ski to determine if Phantom does anything

    • Jay T April 3, 2018 Reply

      ^^ This is a great point.

  11. scottb April 3, 2018 Reply

    I have Phantom on 3 skis now, and have a full season on my first pair. Its easy to apply, but you have to put the skis out in the sun for minimum 3 hours with bases up. Its a UV cure chemical. I left mine out for the full day for each part, because I heard of skis that did not fully cure. You need a close to bluebird day for this. This can get a little tricky depending on the weather. You can wait a few days between coat A and B without any issues. Per their instructions, I wiped down the skis very good after each A and B coat. I also went to town on the skis with the cork and the brush they supplied (brush sucked by the way) after part B. I had no stickyness at all on any of the skis. I agree with bj25430 that getting all the residue off the skis is key to not having to ski off the excess residue.

    My glide has been great on all the skis. It is not faster than wax, but I don’t think its any slower either. On cold days my skis feel slippery in the lift line, on warm days there is just a hint of initial stiction in the lift line. When skating or going slow, just good glide. I plan to put some on my cross country skis because it works well and should last forever. Best part of trying Phanotm was that I put it on my race skis that I use twice a week and never had to even think about waxing them all season. (I coach and don’t compete)

    My only “unusual” experience was skiing fast through a big shallow puddle of water, the skis really slowed down at first, then it felt like someone let off the brakes and I started gliding again. A waxed ski might have done the same thing, I am not sure, but the serious braking effect was noticeable and almost made me face plant. I guess I will put more effort into avoiding puddles of water.

  12. Alexander Babat April 4, 2018 Reply

    Does it harden the base like wax does? Other than not getting wax on skins, do you really think it performs much better or can you possibly distinguish it from a fast, high quality base?
    I’d be interested to see what it could do to some old, beat up skis that just aren’t holding their glide on traverses or floating well.

  13. Todd April 5, 2018 Reply

    It seems like the glide is about as good as universal wax, or possible as good as no wax. Nice.

    Will it prevent base oxidation? E.g. what do you think will happen if you treat a ski with Phantom, ski it all season, then leave it over the summer with no storage wax? What will the base look like in the fall?

  14. Gary April 6, 2018 Reply

    Has anyone used this product on skis like the Voile V6 BC with the patterned base?

  15. Robert Irvine April 7, 2018 Reply

    After having used Phantom for the entire season, I can honestly say that I am not impressed. I applied the product to a brand new pair of skis and I followed the application instructions to the letter. I cleaned the new bases with wax remover several times until a rag rubbed on them came up clean. Then dripped on the part A and rubbed in with applicator. Placed in full sun for three hours. In hindsight, I would have liked to have somehow saved the product that I wiped off the skis. It seemed like a lot. In other words, I got the feeling that the amount I wiped off was equal to the amount I dripped on. In effect, it was as if no product actually was absorbed into the bases. Ditto the above with part B. Then came the final step of brushing. By the way, the brushes supplied with the treatment were absolute crap. DPS knew this and issued a notice saying if you wanted a new brush with an improved adhesive so the cork would not fall off, they would send you one. I replied and asked for a new brush and got no response, and no brush either.
    Performance:
    After having skied all season at several resorts in varying conditions, my assessment of this stuff is that it is snake oil. Designed to separate you from your money. The final straw had to be when I was skiing in St. Anton on a warmish day, (40 degrees and sunny) conditions that are supposed to be where the Phantom product excels, and every person I was skiing with was passing me. I am a reasonably strong skier that likes to go fast, and when friends can pass me as if I were standing still, that is when I decided this stuff is BS.
    People have asked if they can wax over the Phantom product, but what is the point of that? I bought the product so that I would never have to wax again! That makes no sense to me at all.
    I am definitely going to try and get my money back.
    I hope this helps anyone who was thinking about buying Phantom. My opinion is – don’t waste your money!

    • Spencer April 9, 2018 Reply

      “im definitely going to try to get my money back”
      “I would have liked to have somehow saved the product that I wiped off the skis”
      “I replied and asked for a new brush and got no response, and no brush either”

      Do you think you deserve your money back after using the product all season? Obviously you didnt spend any money on ski wax. I think this would be a reasonable request in the first few days of skiing on it, but this sounds like a dirtbaggy backcountry,com customer who likes getting things for free.
      After using the product myself and and reading many more reviews by blister and other people with strong tech knowledge it sounds like a bad application to me. Probably not enough UV in your “full 3 hours”.

      • Robert April 9, 2018 Reply

        Unlike you Spencer, I do not rush to judgement about anything. That is why I decided to give Phantom the full benefit of the doubt and ski on it the entire season before critiquing it. Blister does that with skis, a first impression review, then a more in depth review after spending more time with the product. I was not thrilled with Phantom after day one, but thought perhaps it needed to get skied on more for top performance, but that never happened.
        So enlighten me with your expertise as to how much UV is required to properly apply this treatment. As I recall now, I applied and removed part A one day, and then applied and removed part B on the next day. Each day the product sat in full sun from about 10am until dusk. at the very least six hours per day. This method was actually encouraged from the Phantom web site.
        FYI, I am not a “dirt baggy Backcountry.com customer”, I am a dirt baggy Kickstarter customer.

        • Spencer April 10, 2018 Reply

          Hey Robert, I dont think I rushed to judgement about the product either. My expertise is that i am a professional ski tech and have sold and applied this correctly to many of my customer’s skis. I have yet to receive negative feedback from any customers about phantom so far( i use it myself). obviously, specific waxes in extremes will outperform phantom in circumstances and be faster for racing; my customers understand that. They also understand that maintenance to skis like grinds, bevels and base repair are still needed.

          Since you want me to enlighten you on how i guess you failed… first you said “I followed the application instructions to the letter” “Placed in full sun for three hours”. next you said ” Each day the product sat in full sun from about 10am until dusk” (hmm…). You complained about the brush being inadequate(i guess you dont have any) and also mentioned that you had no interest in doing ski maintenance. My guess is that you cant scrape and buff skis properly in the first place (chris, the wax and buff process isnt described as finicky either, but it sucks to suck). I personally would recommend the phantom to be applied by a dps dealer is all.

          fyi, dirtbag kickstarter customer who wants a refund on his discounted ski product at the end of the season might be worse than a backcountry customer. your entitled to your opinion on the product, but I dont think you can reasonably ask for your money back. You bought it, you applied it, other people like it, you havent improved from a “reasonably strong skier”, you want you money back… its a waxless base treatment not an anti aging elixer

      • Chris April 9, 2018 Reply

        It sounds as though Robert committed himself to using the product for an extended period to give it a fair shot and his skiing suffered as a result. That would be enough to make a refund request perfectly reasonable.

        I appreciated his review because honestly, if the application process is THAT finicky I don’t want to spend a hundred dollars and have it not work because somebody slammed a door or exuded a negative vibe in the direction of my skis while it was curing.

  16. Blister Member
    Martin April 10, 2018 Reply

    To weigh in on this, I was also very excited about phantom and bought it to apply on my brand new skies. I planned to use them in March so I used the best sunny days i could get in February in Germany with 5 hours of sunlight and only little clouds each. Temperatures where at 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, whatever that translates to in Fahrenheit. After having skied them in colder conditions where glide is not as much of an issue I was able to test them against another brand new untreated and unwaxed pair of ski in warm april conditions. They performed both equally awfull when it came to gliding (granted, that’s to be expected from untreated ski in warm conditions).

    However, I since contacted the dps support and they have been very forthcoming and will send me a new package to apply in summer. My speculation is that February in Germany just doesn’t have enough UV-radiation to cure the things.

    So while I will only see if they work as expected this time, I would highly advise anyone tempted to apply phantom in winter to have it ready for a trip not to do so. Be patient and cure them in the best possible conditions, i.e. full sun in summer.

  17. Emad May 14, 2018 Reply

    Hello there, just bought a package of phantom and just wondering if I better apply it now before mounting the bindings to a pair of Head Kore or the scratches and possible mishandling of the shop may affect the applicationBy the way, are there places that sell the phantom for a discounted price?
    Thanks for the advice, as I am quite new to the process.

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