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 Cross Country Skiing

Selecting Cross Country Ski Equipment for Kids

If you decide to purchase Cross Country Ski equipment you must do your homework.  It is important that you understand what you are purchasing so do some research, ask questions and shop around.

Industry-wide, cross country ski gear is some of the best designed and most affordable outdoor sports equipment available. To go skiing you will absolutely need the following: skis with bindings attached, poles, and boots.  

Selecting Cross Country Skis

There are a couple types of skis you can get based on your skiing style.  There are two main terrain types for cross country skiing: smooth, groomed trails at ski hills or parks, or off track backcountry terrain. 

Type of skis for smooth, groomed trails...

  • Recreational Classic In-track Skis

    Classic skis are the most common cross-country ski and dominate the Nordic style of ski. If you stick mainly to groomed trails then classic in-track skis are a good choice.  These skis are light weight, fast and flexible.  They are great for flat areas but not recommended for hills.  Generally they are long and wide however shorter, wider skis are available to provide more stability.  If you envision the stride-and-glide motion while thinking of cross-country skiing then you need classic skis.

  • Skating Skis

    Skating skis are another type of popular Nordic ski . This is for a more aerobic form of cross-country skiing and has an angled skating motion.  These types of skis are better for racing on wide, groomed trails and are not recommended for climbing hills. 

  • High Performance Classic/Skating Skis

    You can also get high-performance Nordic skis, and these can be either skate or classic skis. This ski is stiffer, thinner, lighter and faster than the classic or skate skis.  These skis are built for the advanced skier looking for speed during competitions.

Type of skis for off-track skiing...

  • Backcountry Touring Skis or Off-Track Skis

    These skis are for those skiers who want to ski on ungroomed trails, away from crowds, and in search of perfect snow. Off-Track skis are heavier, wider and shorter which gives them stability and control in deep snow.  They have a better turning radius and they can handle hill better than their in-track counterparts. These skis are geared towards success in the backcountry.

Other Ski Features to Consider…

  • Ski Flexibility

    There are three levels of ski flexibility: soft, moderate, and stiff.  The flex that you will need depends on your weight and ability.  Generally the heavier you are the less flex you will need in your skis and the lighter the more flex needed.  Heavier individuals will need a stiffer ski. 

    According to, this quick test will give you a good idea of how much flex is enough:

Stand on the skis on a hard surface.

When balanced on both feet you should be able to slide a piece of paper underneath the arch.

Stand on the skis on a hard surface.
When on one foot the paper should not be able to move.
  • Wax  or Waxless skis

    Waxed skis are smooth on the bottom and waxless skis feature a special tread.  

    Most beginner classic skis are "waxless" skis meaning you just put them on and go.  The waxless skis do not need to have wax on them. These skis are great for kids and beginners because they are low maintenance.   Waxless skis are a little bit slower but much easier to use so they are perfect for the beginner to get the feel of the ski on their foot.  However, the tread can slow down the skier on flat surfaces but improve the grip going uphill.  They are also ideal for deep powder and ungroomed trails.

    The waxed ski needs a different type of wax based on snow conditions, skier’s ability and the type of ski being used.  A hot wax is used for classic and skate skis and a cold wax are used for touring skis. 

Selecting Cross Country Ski Boots...

Comfortable, warm boots are the most important component of your ski package. 

Cross country ski boots are sized in three different ways: European, American and Mondo Point. European sizes are numbers in the 30s and 40s.  Traditional American sizes are generally standard sizes for example 5 -12.  Mondo Point is the length of the boot in centimeters.

Bring the socks you'll be wearing on the slopes when you try on the boots.  A liner sock under a winter sock will provide extra warmth and comfort. The liner will help draw perspiration away from your feet, help prevent friction blisters and keep you warmer with an additional layer.

XC boots to be used on groomed trails should feel like running shoes.  They should be comfortable, flexible and lightweight. Classic touring boots that come up over the ankle might be a good choice for new skiers.  For off-track skiing you will need boots to handle the conditions so opt for a lightweight boot with more ankle support that is moderately rigid to resist twisting.   Boots should have some insulation between the inner lining and the outer shell.  Some boots have extra features such as lace covers and rings for attaching gaiters. These can be especially helpful for keeping snow out of the boots when you're skiing off track.

Do your homework, spend some time reading magazines and researching on the internet so that you have a good idea of what you are looking to purchase.  If possible go to a specialty ski shop.  They will have a better selection and knowledgeable salespeople.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  Due to the different ways boots are sized you will need to try on a variety of styles to see which boots suit your foot best.  Always try on both boots, laced up at the store.  Walk, jump, run, move in the boots.  Pay attention to how they feel.  The fit should be snug and your heel should remain in place. You should be able to wiggle your toes.


What are Bindings?

The basic concept of bindings is to keep the toe and front of the boot locked in place and the hell and back part of the foot free to move up and down.  There are many different types of cross country ski bindings available.  Boots and bindings are normally sold together since they must work as a team.  So it is extremely important that the bindings are matched to the type of boots that you select.   It is important that bindings be set by a certified technician, because if they are set incorrectly, you could suffer a severe injury.

What Kind of XC Ski Poles Are Needed?

XC Skiers use their poles to push forward.   Any reasonably light pole will be fine for a beginner.  The height of the pole and the size of the basket are important features to consider when purchasing poles.

If you plan to ski on groomed, maintained trails then you will need strong, lightweight poles.  The pole should reach from the ground to under your armpit or slightly higher.  Try to avoid poles with overly large baskets.  The basket is the loop or plastic cup at the bottom of the pole and its function is to keep the pole from sinking too far into the snow. Since the snow on these trails typically involves packed, groomed snow your pole baskets should be relatively small.  Make sure the poles have a comfortable, adjustable strap assembly for a full range of poling motion. 

If you plan on off track skiing, touring outside of the groomed areas, you will need a slightly larger pole basket. The larger the basket, the better it is for use in deep snow.  You may also want to consider multiple-piece, telescoping poles that will allow you to shorten both poles to climb uphill comfortably, lengthen both poles for descents, or shorten one pole and lengthen the other for traversing slopes.

Tips for Buying Kids Equipment as Their Child's Skills Progress Through Lessons.

For a beginner, a pair of no-wax skis that should be approximately the same height as the skier. It is better for the child to outgrow their skis than to grow into them. Classic length poles are needed.  The height should reach the child’s armpit with the pole tip in the snow.  Select a binding that is not difficult to operate, but is not prone to releasing either. If you select strap-type bindings used in conjunction with snow boots, ensure that all the straps are integrated into the binding construction.
As your child progresses to the next level of skill development it is preferable to have waxable skis, even if it is the child's first pair. Skis can be dual purpose (classic skis that can also be used for skating), but poles must remain classic length.

When the child is ready to progress to skating techniques they will need classic, dual purpose skis, but they now require both skating length poles and classic length poles.

Eventually, as skill levels progress, parents may wish to provide the child with two sets of equipment (both skating and classic) if their ski skills and future involvement in the sport appear to warrant the investment.

Other Tips...

  • Classic skis should reach just below the wrist of the skier's outstretched arm, with the camber suitable for classic skiing.

  • Skating skis should be 3-4 cm above the head of the skier, with a camber suitable for skating.

  • Dual purpose skis should be a length mid-way between the length for a classic ski and a skating ski, but the camber must be determined by what is suitable for classic skiing.

  • Poles must have adjustable straps.

  • Classic poles should reach under the arm when the skier is standing on the floor.

  • Skating poles should be the same height as the chin