Metal-Edge Skis and What Are They For?

Metal-Edge Skis are generally shorter, wider, slightly heavier, and more rugged than your average Nordic touring or backcountry ski. As the name suggests, they have metal edges that give them a sturdier grip in deeper snow.

The metal-edge skis are specially designed for navigating on much steeper trails and terrain. They are used for out of track skiing and their wider, yet shorter structure provides the skier with a better turning and sturdier control on icy surfaces.

What are Metal-edge Skis?

The metal-edge skis deliver you a better glide from one point to the other. Although they can be used on both groomed and ungroomed trails, they are ideal for ungroomed snowy terrains. Most of the metal-edge skis are designed to be shorter and wider, but some metal-edge touring skis can be of a regular Nordic touring ski size with metallic edges.

The metal-edge skis are generally heavier due to their metallic edges which give the skis the sturdy base they need on dodgy snowy grounds, enabling them to ski almost anywhere. Their shorter size provides you with an easy maneuver and better control.

Are They for Me?

If you are thinking about exploring the uncharted snowy territory, getting a grip on the metal-edge touring skis is a great idea. Due to their design and construction, these skis provide you with exactly what you need – wider structure, moderate side-cut, and metallic edge support. The wide structure along with side-cut will provide you with better flotation and easy maneuver.

Metal-edge skis can be good for you if are looking for skiing on tracks as well as out of track skiing. If you plan to ski in tracks, you need to make sure your metal-edge ski fits well in the tracks. For this, make sure to look for the metal-edge skis that have a width around 65mm to 68mm (at their widest point). Most metal edge touring skis are 60mm wide, whereas some can be as wide as 100mm, or even more.

Before making the final decision of purchasing your metal edge skis, you need to understand that you will ideally also require special boots, ski poles, and ski bindings for your metal edge skis. Why do you need to have special equipment and not just any ski gear? The metal-edge skis let you explore the ungroomed powdered snow for which you need a warmer, sturdier, and more reliable gear. You wouldn’t want to explore the unchartered snow unprepared, do you?

Metal-Edge Skis

The metal-edge skiing boots are cozier, stronger, and provide a robust turning mechanism. Some of the metal-edge ski boots have an external plastic skeleton (known as the exoskeleton) for better firmness. Although you can use your backcountry ski boots, it is recommended that you go for metal-edge ski boots. The same goes for the bindings of metal-edge skis. The bindings are wider, and you can either use the 75mm 3 pin bindings or the NNN BC (New Nordic Norm Backcountry) bindings.

For metal-edge touring, the length of your ski pole depends upon the place you intend to ski on. If the intended ungroomed surface is quite rugged, you may want to go for a shorter size. For a relatively flat ungroomed surface, the standard Nordic touring pole size would work. Another good option is to go for telescoping poles where you can customize the length according to your comfort and needs. You may also want to think about going for aluminum skiing poles (which are heavier than composite ones) and perform great in deep powdered snow.

So, whether the metal-edge skis are for you depend upon certain factors: the terrain you normally go for, the budget you have for investing in a metal-edge touring ski as well as its proper gears, etc.

The good thing is that you may be able to enjoy your metal-edge skis in all kinds of terrain provided your metal-edge skis have the proper specs. The standard touring and backcountry skis have a general width of less than 68mm, while the skate skis are somewhere around 41mm to 45mm. The metal-edge touring skis have a range between 60mm to 100mm.

Types of Cross-Country Skis


If you are not sure about investing in your metal-edge skis, let us have a look at the edge these Nordic skis provide over the general ones:

  • The metal-edge skis are highly versatile. They can be used both on proper trails as well as the untouched wild terrain.
  • These skis provide you with better control and performance over powdered snow as well as on tricky ice.
  • The metallic edges of these Nordic skis make them sturdier and durable.


There is no doubt about the fact that metal-edge skis can take you anywhere – just like a mountain bike. They are ideal for unchartered terrain covered with powdered snow as well as prepared ski tracks. However, let us have a look at the cons:

  • To ski on groomed tracks, there are certain width limits that metal-edge skis need to follow. Your metal-edge ski must have a maximum width of 62mm. Although you may find a 68mm metal-edge ski fitting inside the tracks of touring centers, yet it is not recommended to use those as the track setters have a width of 60mm at the base.
  • Since the metal-edge skis are relatively heavier and wider, their kick and glide features are somewhat slower than their traditional counterparts.
  • You may be required to go for some additional gear (as discussed above) for metal edge skis.


If you want to go for one-model-fits-all approach and are looking for a metal-edge ski that is as good while out of track as it is in in-track skiing, it is better to go for a metal-edge ski that is between 65mm to 68mm wide, at its widest point, to make sure it perfectly fits into prepared tracks.

Whether you want to exclusively ski in the wild snow or are thinking about exploring both groomed and ungroomed terrain, metal-edge skis give you the flexibility of enjoying all kinds of territories. These wider-built metallic-edged skis not only add more durability to your Nordic touring skis but also provide you with greater side-cut for better descending and turning.

Your metal-edge skis can take you almost anywhere you want! If you are looking for experiencing the versatility and unmatched performance, go for metal-edge skis. Glide away and see the difference.