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XCMAN Iron vs. Toko T8

March 22, 2018

This won't hurt. Unlike waxing your sexy bits, ski & snowboard waxing is relatively easy and pain free. This review is for guys and gals that are new to waxing and are looking for a cheap-n-dirty setup to start with. It's not for the lucky bastards that get to ski 50+ days a year. If you already own a dedicated waxing iron and have your technique dialed in, the only reason to continue reading is to laugh at my incompetence. I’m testing 3 different irons to find a setup that is good enough for weekend warriors.

 

A few notes before I actually get started. I fucking hate the current trend where you have to read through a novel before you find the information you’re looking for, so I’m posting ratings and summaries at the beginning of all my reviews and then the long-winded bullshit.* I really don't care if you read past the summary, I wouldn't. However, I would appreciate if you use my affiliate links to buy crap.

 

All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars. I'm not going to convert for my American friends, you're already on the internet, do it yourself. Also, keep in mind Amazon and Aliexpress prices are about as stable as Donald Trump. Some product prices change daily. If you have to get the best price or want to see fluctuations and trends, use price tracking sites like camelcamelcamel and Aliprice.

 

*Sorry about the novel of an introduction on this post, but I had some important shit to say before I got to the good part. If you don’t eat your meat you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

 

Ratings

Thrift store iron

◆ ◆ ◆ out of ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

 

Xcman

◆ ◆ ◆ ⬘ out of  ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

 

Toko t8

◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ out of ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

 

 

Which one should you buy?

 

I'm cheap, I love the thrift store iron. The value can't be beat and it works well enough. A thrift store iron, a brick of cheap universal wax and a scraper (or fiberlene) are the cheap-n-dirty.com approved setup.

 

 

 

However safety, portability, and temperature control are better on a real waxing iron, if you care about those things.

 

Americans who want a real waxing iron should buy the Toko T8 or any iron at the same price point made by KUU, Winstersteiger, Swix, etc…. I think they’ll work just as well. If you break one of them under warranty you'll probably get a replacement.

 

Amazon.com Toko T8 Affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2FrWsnZ

Amazon.ca Toko T8 Affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2DsZ0fx

 

For Canadians the Xcman iron from Aliexpress is the cheapest waxing iron by about half. I paid a total of ~$100 for the Toko and ~$40 for the Xcman. It seems worthy of its cost and would make a good travel iron due to its light weight and relatively compact size.

 

Aliexpress Xcman affiliate link: http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/RRrRb2f

Amazon.ca Xcman affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2FBDE5C

 

The Full Story

 

Why wax?

 

You’ll be faster. Most importantly you’ll be faster in the flats, on cat tracks, and in the lift line. No one likes getting stuck or being the slowest. I started waxing my own skis when my local shop started using a machine instead of hot waxing. Machine waxing licks balls. It doesn’t last long and it's not that cheap. I think my cost is less than $1 each time I do my own skis. Doing things on your own isn't necessarily better, but as a  married man I  promise that you'll get used to it.

 

How can waxing can be so inexpensive? $5 for a thrift store iron, elastics to retain the brakes and prop the skis up on anything you can find. A kilogram brick of universal wax is ~$25 and a scraper is ~$10. Less than $50 in total! I’ve been using a similar setup for over 5 years, including the same brick of wax.

 

I lust after waxing irons a few times each year, but before I found the Xcman I never saw anything cheaper than ~$70+.  Personally, I prefer to keep that money in my beer fund.

 

My Waxing Method

 

I use a quick and dirty process for waxing skis, which is dictated by the necessity to wax inside my house.

 

Process:

1. Clean bases

2. Drip wax on ski

3. Iron wax from tip to tail assuring all areas of base get saturated with wax. Keep iron moving at all times.

4. Place fibrelene under iron and slowly run the iron the length of the ski from tip to tail. Done.**

 

That's it. No scraping, or brushing or edge work. No mess, ok a little bit of wax drips on the table, but nothing liking the wax bukkake your floor gets from scraping. I let the snow do the work. After waxing it takes <1 run for my skis to feel right. For edge and base maintenance I let the pros with the fancy machine at my local shop tune them up once or twice a year.

 

**For my powder skis, I’ll brush them after letting them cool. I use a brass brush, then nylon, and finish with horsehair. Powder doesn’t scrape the bases well. On those perfect days when I'm chasing virgin pow I don’t want to be slow or all I’ll get is sloppy seconds.

 

First Impressions

 

Xcman

  • Free Scraper! Throw it in the trash. It’s too thin. Easy to bend and damage your bases.

  • Smeary logo - dirty!

  • Feels light. Bad for temperature stability. Good for putting in your suitcase.

  • Temp control knob is kind of trash. Bad sound, feels cheap. Not stiff enough.

  • This thing is kind of ugly, unless minimalist postmodernism is your thing. Patrick Bateman would approve.

  • The shape is comfortable. No sharp edges or awkward angles

  • Cord feels good. Flexible and soft. Strain relief looks stupid, but should work fine.

  • Intertek certified. Probably won’t void your insurance if your house burns down.

  • Appears to be the exact same iron as the Demon Volt.

 

Toko T8

 

  • Feels heavy. Probably a good thing, more iron (probably not iron even though that's its name). Should mean good heat retention

  • Temp control knob feels and sounds ok.

  • Quite a bit wider than the XCman, but a bit shorter. I like the wider shape but I don’t think it matters.

  • Ugly. I’m not a fan of the yellow and the shape is weird. I don’t like where the lights are.

  • Cord is a little stiff. Same weird strain relief as the the Xcman.

  • Intertek certified. Electronics bought in North America are required to have some sort of certification.

 

Thrift Store Iron

 

  • Ugly. Cracked in a couple of places.

  • Big and heavy.

  • Has holes in the base which are bad for waxing.

  • Temperature control doesn’t indicate actual temperature. I set it to the crotch of 1 and 2.

  • Easy to accidentally bump and change temp.

  • Plug looks dodgy.

  • Certification? If the standards are from the 1970s does it matter?

 

Review and Comparison

 

Test Parameters

Real world conditions. I’m testing irons exactly as I would use them: Skis at room temp, in a vise, iron pre-heated, and beer in one hand. I set both irons to 140 C as the wax I used, Hertl Super Hot Sauce, has a melting temperature of 138 C.

 

Weight

XCman - 767 g

Toko T8 - 985 g

Thrift store iron - 1231 g

 

Warmup time

XCman - 1:02

Toko - 1:33

Thrift store iron - 1:12 (hard to say as it has no indicator light)

 

Temp Stability

 

Xcman - seemed poor. The light was on more often than it was off. The thermostat clicked on and off 8 times while waxing 1 ski. For normal use I would probably set this iron 5 degrees hotter than I actually want.

 

Toko - Not bad. The heating element and light clicked on 4 times in the process of waxing 1 ski, but this iron recovered quite quickly.

 

Thrift store iron - difficult to say. Has no indicator light and hard to hear the heating element clicking on and off. Better than the Xcman, but it might be because it's set higher.

 

Feel/Ergonomics

 

Xcman - Handle is comfortable. The light weight is nice in actual use compared to the other irons. Kind of easy to bump temp control by accident. The cord is the nicest of the bunch.

 

Toko - Handle is comfortable. Temp control is stiff. I like the extra width. The cord is a little too stiff and easily gets caught on things.

 

Thrift Store Iron - I like the extra width. This iron might be too heavy, it’s a bit of a beast. Cord is terrible, stiff and tangled.

 

Performance

They all melt wax and slide across a ski. All work equally well using fiberlene. I told you not to read anything past the summary.

 

Final notes

Have a beer or two and just rip it. You won’t regret it, your partner will love how smooth and fast you are. Lie to them about how long waxing takes and you can probably enjoy a six pack in quiet without any judging eyes.

 

 

Xcman

Aliexpress Xcman affiliate link: http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/RRrRb2f

Amazon.ca Xcman affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2FBDE5C

 

Toko T8

Amazon.com Toko T8 Affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2FrWsnZ

Amazon.ca Toko T8 Affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2DsZ0fx

 

 

Check out some other reviews of these irons:

 

https://www.backcountry.com/toko-t8-wax-iron-800w - a lot of reviews are too similar - shills, planted reviews?

 

http://snowboardtuningtools.com/featured/toko-t8-wax-iron-review/

 

http://snowboardtuningtools.com/snowboard-wax-irons/xcman-wax-iron-review/

 

What we’ve got here is cheap-n-dirty.

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