A Beginner's Guide to Cross Country Ski Gear
Is Nordic Skiing Right For Me?
There are so many benefits from cross country skiing and they cross many categories from physical, social, and mental health. Physically xc skiing is well know to have benefits for the entire body, and the nice thing is that you can control how much effort you put in. From a casual saunter, a brisk marching pace, to lung searing efforts that will make the fittest person beg for mercy. Nordic Skiing suits a wide range of fitness levels, and body types.
It's so darn scenic too: Most of the time you are skiing in a winter wonderland with crisp air and snow clad trees which help to rejuvenate your spirit. You never regret going xc skiing.
Should I Choose Classic or Skate Skis?
Classic skiing is easier for beginners. The technique is initially very intuitive: You are essentially walking on skis. You can turn that into more energetic marching if want, which makes for some great exercise! Then, as you progress, and you can build more ‘glide’ into your stride. This is where the flow state happens - it's fun!!!
Generally alpine skiers and ice skaters have some good transferable skills that can be put to use when skate skiing. Essentially, you propel yourself with an ice skating motion, while using poles to propel you forwards. If people want to get more of a fitness work out, they are better suited to skate skiing. It super fun!!
We Recommend Lessons, or Watching Video Tutorials
As with many activities technique makes a big difference. This is especially true with Nordic skiing. Yes you can just go and figure it out, but good technique will help you be more efficient, conserve energy and most importantly, Look Good! Ha! Nordic Ski Lab have some great online videos.
This Video Shows the main differences between Classic & Skate:
Should I rent skis first?
Yes. If you want to see if you like xc skiing, it makes sense to rent. But I would suggest taking a lesson first, and if you think you are going to enjoy the sport invest in your own gear. Rental gear is often not well maintained, and maybe doesn't fit that well. By buying from a specialty nordic shop, you will get expert advice and fitted with gear that will help you get more enjoyment out of the sport. You will be set-up for success.
Can I use alpine skis while Cross Country Skiing?
No, Not Really. While it is possible for Touring, it's not for Classic or Skate. "Use your alpine skis for cross country" said nobody, ever! Apine ski gear just isn't designed for it. It's heavy and bulky, making it super difficult (if not impossible) to get over some hills - try for yourself on an alpine ski run (then come give us a visit when you've come to your senses)… On a similar topic, while you can skate ski with classic gear, it would be like using a tennis racket to play badminton or ping pong. You can do it, but why would you.
What Gear Do I Need to go Cross Country Skiing?
For clothing: Downhill ski gear is usually too warm and you will over heat. Nordic ski clothing tends to be lighter weight. Pants are trim and tapered around the lower leg. We advise good moisture wicking base layers, and a light weight, trim fitting jacket. Toque or woolen hat. Trim gloves. Nordic skiers often using flip up shields for eye protection if its snowing. Often xc skiers carry a waist belt with insulated water holder and room for snacks.
What Size Skis Should I Buy?
Skate skis are generally 10-15 cm above head height, but skier weight is also a factor.
Classic skis are about 20 cm above head height. But, skier weight is more important for classic.
Why it's harder to select your classic ski length: For classic skiing the goal to have the grip zone of the ski suspended above the snow when your weight is evenly split between both skis so the grip zone doesn't drag on the snow. When you shift all your weight to one ski, the ski should flatten out (allowing the grip zone to contact the snow and make a strong kick). Basically there's more of a balancing point at play for classic. Safest bet for your first Classic Ski purchase: It's best to go in-store for your first purchase.