Cross country skiing is the most popular form of skiing that attracts a majority of beginners when they are exploring the skiing sport. Since in XC skis only the toe is attached to the ski, the unfixed heel helps the skier to navigate up and downhill as easily as possible, that too in different kinds of terrain.
In order to determine your ideal type of cross country ski for a beginner level skier, you need to have a good balance between some important factors including comfort, grip, glide, lightness, stability, and control.
As a cross country skiing beginner, your main consideration must be the ski gear, primarily the skis. Cross country skis are the most popular of all skis. These are quite narrow as well as long and are exclusively designed for groomed as well as ungroomed terrain. Unlike other skiing styles, the XC skis have a free heel mechanism that provides the skier with maximum control. Your ideal ski should be durable, flexible, and must provide great flotation and control by leaning towards a wider style. That is what makes your XC skiing more fun and super easy.
Consider the following factors if you are looking for a cross country ski for beginners:
Terrain – groomed or ungroomed
While your XC ski may let you enjoy skiing on groomed trails as well as on off-the-track snowy slopes, what is your primary terrain going to be? There are three main types of XC skis – classic skis, skate skis, and backcountry skis.
If you plan to ski on groomed slopes of an XC ski resort, classic cross country skis, as well as skate skis, may be best for you. On the other hand, the backcountry cross country skis give their best performance on unexplored and ungroomed terrain. Having said that, you can enjoy all of these types interchangeably as well – depending upon the exact nature of your terrain and your skillset.
The length of your skis
The length and width of your skis primarily depend upon how and where you plan to do cross country skiing. If you are a beginner, you must go for lightweight skis that are narrow in shape. These skis are specially designed for groomed trails keeping beginners in mind. Once you ace gliding on your beginner skis on groomed tracks, you can then move up the ladder and go for heavier and wider skis which are specially designed for advanced level of backcountry XC skiers.
A famous rule of thumb to determine your ski’s ideal length is to raise your arm over your head and pick a ski whose tips reach your wrist. However, the weight of your body is also the main factor that should determine the length of your skis.
Beginners should go for shorter skis as these skis are easier to manage. Since the groomed skiing trails have a general width of 60mm to 70mm, make sure the tip of your ski is not wider than 70 mm.
Waxable versus waxless skis
Your cross country ski can be waxable or waxless. Beginners should start with waxless XC ski options as wax-less skis are easier to manage. Moreover, the surface of the waxless skis is textured (fish scales or skins) that digs into the snow providing the beginner a better grip. You can easily climb uphill or navigate downhill without any hindrance. Although the glide of a waxless ski is not as fast as that of a waxable XC ski when you are a beginner level XC skier, you need to focus more on skiing properly and having a proper grip than the pace.
Go for flexibility
As a beginner, you will find that a flexible ski is more forgiving than a stiffer one. When you are using a stiff ski, the ski is more responsive towards you and your skiing techniques and may amplify your skiing mistakes.
You should go for an XC ski with a good camber – the slightly convex curve that is underneath your ski binding in the middle of your XC ski.
The same goes for your ski boots and ski bindings. You should have flexible boots which may not be an ideal situation for expert skiers, but for beginners, these flexible boots provide the comfort and convenience that you need while learning a new skill. Flexible bindings are also less likely to rub your ankles and cause you blisters. This is especially important for beginners who are not used to spend long hours out in the slopes – in order to make a long day at slopes more enjoyable and not painful at all.
If you are a female beginner, you may want to have a look at the women XC skis that are exclusively designed keeping the gender in mind. The reason for this is the ratio and proportion of a woman’s body is quite different than that of a man. Women skis are relatively shorter and not as thick as a men’s ski. These skis are also more flexible and lighter, provided that lighter skis do not require much stiffness.
Not only that, but the center of gravity is also different when it comes to male and female skiers. The women ski bindings are normally shifted to an inch forward to cater for a lower center of gravity (women normally carry most of their weight towards their hips, while men do that towards their chest region).
If you are a woman, you can start with men’s skis (or unisex skis), but to make things even easier and customized, you can begin your ski journey with women XC skis for a better grip according to your body.
Fit for an XC ski resort?
If you are a beginner who plans to try cross country skiing on the groomed tracks of ski resorts, you can skip the metal edge skis as many resorts ban using metal-edged skis. Also, make sure the width of your ski is between 65 mm to 70mm as going higher would cause a problem in pre-made ski tracks of the resorts.
There may be multiple considerations, as mentioned above when you are going for cross country skiing as a beginner. However, the most important consideration is the ski gear, primarily the XC skis, that you will be needing. With so many skis available in the market, it is better to start with the ski that is exclusively designed keeping an XC ski beginner in mind.
Our Top 5 Picks for 2020/21
Here are our top 5 picks for this coming ski season:
1. Rossignol Evo Glade 59 AR Cross-Country Skis with Bindings
If you are looking for the best and nothing but the best, the number one bestseller Rossignol Evo Glade 59 AR XC Skis are for you to begin your skiing journey with. They are specially designed for beginner level cross country skiers and are easy to use, convenient to put on, and have an easy to maintain and manage wax-less exterior.
These skis are short in length and have a wider dimension which is ideal for beginners as it gives you a more stable grip, stronger control, and is easy to maneuver. The Rossignol Evo Glade 59 boasts a sidecut of 61mm/ 55mm/ 60mm. Thanks to the waxless AR Plus base, you get a perfect balance between grip and glide. So, instead of wasting your time in the wax-room and learning how to do it, you get to spend more time on the slopes with your wax-less skis.
The step-in bindings make Rossignol Evo Glade super convenient to use. Due to the ski’s wood air core where the air channels reduce the weight of the ski and accelerate its on-slope performance, it is easy to carry when not in use, and easier to glide on when on the slopes.
Each ski weighs around 750 grams on average. Available in different sizes ranging from 166 cm to 196 cm, these elegant cross country skis are available from $162.95 to $230 depending upon your body weight and hence the size of the skis chosen.
2. Fischer Spider 62 Crown
Although the Fischer Spider 62 Crown Cross Country Ski is a favorite among both experienced as well as intermediate XC skiers, these beautiful skis are ideal for beginners. They are perfect on groomed as well as ungroomed terrain, making them ideal for skiers for all kinds of experience levels who want to explore a wide range of slopes.
The skis are intelligently designed with a tip rocker that keeps the tip of your skis slightly above the snow while the camber underfoot provides a strong kick underneath. They come with full-length steel edges that provide the skier with full control while going downhill no matter how steep a slope is.
The Fischer Spider 62 Crown XC skis do not require any waxing, which means you do not have to waste your precious time waxing and maintaining them. Ski bindings are not included so you will have to purchase them separately. If you are a beginner, you may want some professional help with putting the bindings on.
These elegant white/ grey XC beauties are great unisex skis and can be purchased from $239.95 to $345.49, depending upon the size you choose – from 169 cm to 199 cm.
3. Salomon Snowscape 7
The Salomon Snowscape Cross Country Skis are not just your normal men’s skis – they are a perfect blend of control, stability, grip, and glide. Their classic fish scale style is perfect for XC skiing in all kinds of weather conditions.
With a side cut of 59/ 55/ 51/ 55 mm, the Salomon Snowscape 7 features a shorter length and an exclusive S-Cut shape that gives you the greatest maneuverability no matter which direction are you going to – up or down. Its G2 Synchro base gives you a good amount of grip, and its Densolite core is responsible for a highly durable yet lightweight structure. It boasts the Densolite 1000 technology that features a uni-directional fiberglass exterior and a specially cut high-quality Densolite foam.
Even though the Salomon Snowscape 7 is a wax-less ski (which means less time in its maintenance and more time on the slope), you will be surprised by the consistent glide and kick it offers. You can get your Medium and XXL sizes with prices ranging from $149.99 to $164.99.
4. Beginner Package: Whitewood 75mm 3Pin Cross Country Ski Package
The Whitewoods XC skis are light in weight and have a laminated wooden core. With an aluminum tail protector and a powder tip, you can enjoy gliding in all kinds of snowy conditions. These elegant wax-less skis are ideal if you are afraid of learning the waxing techniques or do not have the time to wax.
The Whitewoods 75mm/ 3 pin ski boots are compatible with all kinds of 75 mm binding systems. These boots are made with waterproof, snow-proof, and wind-proof material which is breathable as well as long-lasting. So, while you are exploring the snowy mountains, your body stays dry and comfortable.
The 75mm/ 3-pin ski bindings are also pre-mounted on the skis so you do not have to worry about fixing them – a dream come true situation for new skiers! The beginner package also comes with multidirectional fiberglass poles with straps on handles and ski baskets. These poles are light in weight but sturdy in performance.
The beginner’s XC package from Whitewoods is exclusively designed for your ultimate cross country skiing experience. There is a wide range of sizes to choose from, and you can get your cross country skiing package for only $259.99.
5. Alpina Sports Control 60 with NNN Auto Tour Binding
Alpina Sports Control 60 XC skis come with NNN auto tour bindings and are great for beginners as well as intermediate levels of cross country skiers. If you are looking for a pair of skis for both in-track as well as off-track skiing, these are for you.
With their intelligently designed Ultra Lite Wood Core, your skis get air channels underneath great quality laminated wood. This is great for an even pressure distribution across the skis as you feel light but still in control. Due to Alpina Sports Control 60’s multi-grip embossed PE base, you get a fast glide with great traction. These XC skis are waxless and save you tons of time while giving you the best possible performance.
If you are a newbie, the last thing you want is to worry about mounting the bindings. The best part about the Alpina Sports Control 60 for beginners is that these elegant pair of skis come pre-mounted with NNN bindings (compatible with NNN boots). There are no metal edges and they have a side cut of 60 mm/ 50mm/ 55 mm.
Whether you are planning to ski on groomed tracks on ungroomed ones, these waxless skis come with a 12-month warranty so you do not have to worry about their quality or performance. Pick your color from the two available options of red and orange, and your size from 170cm to 200 cm, and all you have to do is to enjoy exploring the snowy slopes.
If you are a beginner and want to explore cross country skiing, you need to keep in mind a number of factors including the terrain, your fitness level, and the XC ski gear. Start by finding a flat surface or a light slope and determine your own pace. The best thing about starting at a flatter surface is you won’t be requiring much physical endurance.
Everyone has a different ability to learn and grasp, along with having different levels of physical fitness and endurance. If you have a background in alpine skiing or are physically active (which means that you indulge in regular workout sessions for the upper as well as lower body), it will make things easier for you. However, if not, there is a reason why cross country skiing is the most popular branch of skiing that beginners start with. You should always start with a warmup and increase your pace gradually.
Choosing the right kind of ski for your body is also vital. You need to make sure the XC ski you are using is according to your weight. Skis are available in varying lengths. The ideal size of your ski depends upon multiple factors including your body’s size, his/ her strength, and style of skiing. For many beginners, going for a waxless ski versus a wax-able is ski also an issue to think about, where both types of skis have their own pros and cons. You also need to make sure you have the right kind of ski gear to accompany you on your cross country skiing adventure. Once you have passed these preliminary checks, all you have to do is to enjoy the slopes!