With the abundance of options available,
choosing the right cross-country skiing equipment can be overwhelming. Sorting through
the myriad of skis, boots, bindings, and poles is a challenge for beginners
and experienced cross-country skiers alike. Steve Hindman, author of Cross-Country
Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness, offers some tips for
finding the cross-country skiing equipment that matches your interests and skill level.
Light touring — equipment for casual outings in
the park, on the golf course, on snow-covered roads, and on groomed
- Don’t be oversold—skis between 50 mm and 70
mm wide at the tip, a system boot, and binding will keep everything
light and flexible so you can ski instead of plod. Avoid metal edges
and adjustable poles.
- Choose widths in the middle of 50mm and 70mm spectrum for maximum
versatility. If you expect to ski mostly at groomed areas, go narrower.
If most of your days will be spent knocking around wherever you find
snow, go wider.
- Avoid buying backcountry system boots and bindings—they are
unneeded and add unnecessary weight.
- Find a boot that fits, and then buy a binding to match.
- Choose a pole that is comfortable and easy to use. Choose an elliptical
basket sized for where you want to ski (bigger for more snow, smaller
Track skiing—when light is right. Equipment
for skiing on machine-groomed trails.
Classic Equipment—for the traditional diagonal stride
Backcountry Equipment—tools for cruising through
the park or climbing a mountain. This is the broadest category of equipment.
If you are new to skiing, be sure to rent before you buy to understand
the wide variety of options available.
- Go with full metal edges if you make turns on icy slopes. Choose
partial metal edges if you want extra security touring in icy conditions
but do not go around seeking slopes to make turns on.
- Match the boot to the ski. A wider ski requires a higher, stiffer
- Select boots that are at least ankle high, but don’t over
do it. The heaviest boots are needed only for traveling in extreme
terrain and carrying heavy loads.
- Choose backcountry system bindings for all backcountry tasks short
of ski mountaineering and steep telemark descents.
- Opt for plastic telemark boots and cable bindings for extreme terrain
and ski mountaineering.
- Choose pole baskets large enough for the snow you expect to ski
in. Size fixed-length poles to fit easily beneath your armpit.
--- Adapted from Cross-Country
Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness by Steve Hindman, The
Mountaineers Books, 2005