Guide to Buying Cross Country Skis

Buying cross country skis can be confusing to those new to cross country skiing. Cross country skis are unlike standard downhill skis, making even an experienced downhill skier at a loss of where to begin. Here's some help for buying cross country skis.

The first thing you need to decide when buying cross country skis is which type you want. There are essentially three types of cross country skis: classic, backcountry and skate. Classic cross country skis are the ones you probably see most often. They're versatile yet traditional. Backcountry cross country skis are for the truly adventurous, those who plan on trekking off into the woods to make their own trail, rather than sticking to a predetermined one. Finally, skate cross country skis provide an intense aerobic workout and include more gliding than standard classic cross country skis.

Next, you'll have to determine the length of cross country ski that is appropriate for you. Sizing charts have become the norm for skis now (both cross country skis as well as downhill), making the old, inaccurate way of doing things (putting an arm above your head and seeing where the skis reach) outdated. Consult the size chart, which will use your height and weight to give you an appropriate size. Keep in mind that your ability will play into your ultimate decision as well. The softer the ski, the easier it will be to maneuver. The stiffer the ski is, the faster it will go and the more difficult it will be to control yourself.

Make sure you get measured wearing the boots you plan to use for skiing because bindings can't be swapped out. You'll want to try on the boot and the ski at the same time to get an accurate idea of how the combination is going to feel when you're out skiing.

Finally, decide if you want waxable or no-wax cross country skis. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. If conditions in your area are pretty consistent, you might want to stick with waxable skis, which perform well in moderate conditions. If, however, you never know what winter might bring or you're in an area that gets icy, waxless may be the way to go. They're more versatile, though you do lose a bit in performance.

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