SKI TECH: A Waxless Touring Ski Setup For Beginners or Off Track Fun

A waxless touring ski is a staple for any XC Skier, from first timers to Olympians!  Photo Credit to North Star


Let's face it, in the small world of XC Skiing, there is way too much attention paid to racing.  There is far more to this wonderful sport than racing.  While racing is an important part of the sport, the essence of the sport is found while gliding silently through the woods - observing nature and flowing with the terrain.

Unfortunately, getting started in the sport is often a big hurdle and can be very intimidating to a potential new skier.  This is in part due to the perception of XC Skiers all being a bunch of neon, lycra clad "forest fairies" that are race freaks.  It's important to remember this sport's roots.  Skiing is about getting outdoors during the winter, having fun, being healthy, and even about transportation

So, get out there and help to grow this wonderful sport of yours!  Help someone discover the beauty of XC Skiing.

In an effort to do just that, following are a few simply equipment suggestions for people just getting into the sport:
  • Skis:  The only way to go for beginners is to start with a Waxless Classic Ski.  Waxless classic skis have a "fish scale" pattern on the bottom of the ski, in the section of the ski that is under the skier's foot.  The tips and tails and smooth and slippery.  This combination of smooth base on the ends and grippy fish scales under foot allow you to propel yourself forward but also glide along.  Good quality waxless classic skis can be commonly found for as little as $130 at most XC Ski Shops.  Fit is critical with skis, so make sure that the ski you choose is appropriate for your body weight.  Note that these skis are called waxless skis because grip wax is not necessary to grip the snow and propel yourself forward.  You WILL still need to apply some sort of liquid or paste wax to help the skis slide along in the tracks and prevent snow from sticking to the "fish scale" grip pattern.
  • Bindings:  There are 2 primary binding systems used these days:  Salomon and NNN.  They are both excellent and you can't go wrong either way.  Beginners should go for either brand's "Automatic Touring' binding.  Rather than choose a binding based on the merits of the binding itself, choose your binding based on which boot fits best!  Auto Touring Bindings are typically in the $50 price range at most XC Ski shops.
  • Boots:  Far and away the most important thing about choosing a ski set up, is to ensure that the boots fit well and are comfortable.  There are many brands of boots available with various features.  Choose which ever boot fits best and then go with the corresponding binding system.  If you are to enjoy your time out skiing, your boots must be comfortable and supportive.  Quality entry level XC Ski Touring boots start at about $70 and go up from there.
  • Poles:  XC Ski poles are the final piece of equipment you'll need to select.  As with all of the above mentioned equipment, the most important factor with poles is fit (length).  Classic poles should be of a length such that they go to the middle of your shoulder while standing up straight.  Most basic poles have a nice adjustable loop strap system and a strong yet lightweight shaft, made of either aluminum or fiberglass.  Entry level touring poles start at about $22 in most XC Ski shops.
Note that if you opt to go for a complete ski package at once, significant discounts are frequently available.  A good solid ski package can frequently be found starting at about $260 in ski shops.  

Cross country skiing is a relatively simple sport, particularly once you get over the initial barrage of technical jargon.  It is a great way to get outside and achieve great fitness during winter.  Most of all, it is a fun life sport with a whole lot of great people involved.

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