Tips on Which Is the Best X-Country Ski for Your Style

Dec 7, 2022

Winter is on its way and once again many of us are starting to think about what we’ll do to fill the cold snowy days to come. Getting outdoors during winter does help to make the season more fun and a great activity many people love to pursue or decide to take up for the first time, is cross country skiing.

It’s a sport that doesn’t have to break the bank when it comes to equipping oneself and possibly the other members of your family either. Often people don’t even need to buy brand new equipment as there are plenty of sports swaps and second-hand options available if you do a little hunting around. This way your capital outlay won’t be too big, especially if you find out after trying the sport that it’s really not for you.

A Look at 3 Nordic Skiing Style Options

Depending on an individual’s personal disposition there are different types of cross-country skiing to engage in. Knowing what you want to do or what goal you’re interested in pursuing will determine which kind of cross-country skis you’ll want to pick.

Contemplative and relaxing: Perhaps you just want to be contemplative and gently schuss your way across some snowy trails or fields, in a dreamy kind of reverie. No pressure, no exact destination, just you and the beauty of nature.

Competitive and goal-oriented: Are you into breaking personal records and challenging yourself to more difficult levels of fitness and success? Does a race to the finish line get your heart thumping? Is racking up miles on your agenda?

Somewhere in the middle: Are you someone who likes to go on quasi-sporty/recreational outings, taking time to enjoy the scenery and stopping for a winter picnic with a few friends or your family, and engaging in the more social aspects of the sport.

Choose Your Skis According to Your Needs & Style

Mountain Equipment Coop (along with many other online sites) has an excellent online site where you can find out more about which type and size of Nordic (cross-country ski) would best suit your style based on the descriptions we laid out above.

We’ve provided a quick synopsis of the three main categories of cross-country skiing and, according to their recommendations, a brief description of what to buy when it comes to the optimal ski to go with your choice.

Classic Skiing

Stride-and-glide. This is what most people envision when they think of cross-country skiing. You’ll follow a groomed trail in most cases which is generally flat, with perhaps a few very gentle slopes if any. Classic skiing can be relaxing if you want it to be, but it can also be done vigorously for aerobic exercise.

  • Classic skis are skinny (usually less than 60mm at the widest point).
  • They fit into the special classic tracks that are set into the trails at most Nordic ski areas or resorts.
  • They don’t have metal edges.
  • Classic skis come with either a waxable or waxless base.

Skate Skiing

Skate skiing is a much more energised, highly aerobic and dynamic style of cross-country skiing than classic. It’s performed on the groomed space found between track-set trails. These Nordic skiers go very fast and use a pronounced ski pole plant and a skating stride to propel themselves down the trail. Your intention is to exercise vigorously and may include personal goals.

  • Skate skis are narrower and shorter than classic skis.
  • They do not have metal edges.
  • Skis used for the skate style of Nordic skiing have waxable bases for smoother gliding.
  • Skate skis have a similar camber to alpine (downhill) skis in structure.

Off-Track Touring

Off-track touring skis are designed for folks who ski mostly on ungroomed trails. These are skis built for skiers who go off into the woods and wilds, go up and down hills and take to the open fields. Far more adventurous than slide and glide.

  • Off-track skis are wider than classic X-country skis as they don’t need to fit into a standard groomed trail conformation.
  • Touring skis are recommended for hilly terrain, deep snow and where there’s the possibility of telemark-style descents/ascents.
  • They’re shorter, wider and heavier than most Nordic skis.
  • They often have full metal edges (like a downhill ski) to help with traversing and descending.

It’s Entirely Up To You!

Whatever the type of Nordic skiing you decide to pursue, the choice of ski will be an important decision you’ll need to make. Waxed or unwaxed? Narrow, wide, light or heavy? Long or short? The final decision is yours.

Most people are recreational skiers and decide to choose skis that don’t need waxing and conform to the requirements of groomed trails – mainly because it’s a relatively carefree option. But, if you’re looking to ski competitively, or off-track, you’ll want to go for skis that are designed for the particular terrain/conditions you’ll encounter and also the nature of the skiing style called for – those kinds of skis will deliver better performance.

Whichever you choose to do, have fun and we hope to see you out on the trails!



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