How To Choose XC Ski Equipment
Whether you are just starting out in the world of cross country skiing or you are a seasoned skier looking to upgrade your equipment, Velorution has the kit for you! But how do you choose your skis, bindings, boots and poles?
The first step is to choose your discipline. There are two to choose from and within those, a few sub-disciplines.
First, we have skate skiing. Skate skis are more about speed and give a bigger cardio workout than other disciplines. The forward momentum is generated by "skating" the skis and using that energy to propel you onward.
Next would be classic skiing. Classic skis work differently and use a portion of the ski base to grip the snow allowing you to push forward off one ski while gliding on the other.
There are 3 ways that the ski can generate that grip. The first method is to apply wax to a grip pocket on the ski's base. The wax you apply is specific to the temperature of the snow on the day you ski. You'll need to apply this wax each time you head out to ski.
The second method is to use a "skin" on the base of the ski which glides in one direction and grips in the other allowing forwards motion. This is low maintenance as the skin will work no matter the snow condition. Though we refer to this as a waxless technology, the tip and tail of the ski still require waxing to keep the glide. The skins will also need to be cleaned periodically.
The third method is a fish scale or crown pattern ski. This type is generally seen on backcountry skis which are at home skiing on lakes or away from the groomed trails. There are even models that can be used off track but are also narrow enough to fit into groomed tracks for skiing in track.
Once you've chosen a ski discipline, selecting the individual pair of skis comes down to your body weight. Each individual ski has a suggested weight range to ensure that you get the correct grip and glide from their classic ski as well as the correct flex for a skate ski. The store has a camber test board that we can use to confirm the chosen ski is going to work for you out on the trails, so come and see us today!
The brand of ski you select does, to a degree, decide your binding as some skis come pre-drilled or with a plate mounted that is designed to accept a specific type of binding. Some skis, both classic and skate, will come with a blank topside and allow a full range of choice for the binding you wish to fit to the ski. Skate bindings and classic bindings are different due to the difference in skiing action as well as the features they provide.
Some bindings will offer a "shift" feature where the binding is able to slide backwards and forwards on a plate to give more glide when moved rearward and more grip when moved forward. Higher end bindings for both disciplines will also be made from different materials in order to reduce weight and increase stiffness and durability.
There are quite a range of boots to choose from. Boots are specific to each discipline, so a skate boot is constructed differently from a classic boot which is constructed differently from a backcountry boot. The level of boot you choose for classic skiing based on your budget will give you different levels of performance and insulation. A recreational boot has the expectation that the user will be moving slower and have more insulation, whereas a performance boot will have less insulation since you produce more body heat moving at faster speeds. The higher end boots will also have a sole that offers more spring and therefore more performance.
Skate boots have the same quality progression and are, in general, lighter on insulation as the motion of skiing means you are again generating more natural heat. For both disciplines, super lightweight carbon boots are available for those looking for maximum performance.
There are also back country specific boots available with rugged gaiters fitted to keep the snow out when moving on ungroomed trails with deeper snow.
The length of your ski pole is based on your height and your skiing discipline. The length you will use differs between the two main disciplines (Classic & Skate) and, if classic skiing, whether you're on groomed trails or getting out into the back country. The design of pole does not change between disciplines, just the length. However, the baskets at the bottom should be larger the further you go from groomed trails.
Basic aluminum poles are the least costly, but are prone to bending, heavy, and have a lot of flex which results in lost power. Mid range poles will be a mix of carbon and glass fibre to give a blend of performance and value. Top tier poles will be 100% carbon for maximum stiffness and lowest weight.
The hand grips and straps will also improve as you go up the range from plastic grips with basic biathlon straps to cork grips with quickly removable power straps so you can use better pole technique, make adjustments, and reach for those trail snacks on the fly.
More information can be found in the video below featuring our very own Jan!