View Full Version : XC Ski Gear Picks?

08-14-2007, 06:50 AM
Know some of you ladies xc ski for cross training in winter months, and I need some gear advice to get started.

I had only been xc skiing one other time in my life, like 20 years ago, and borrowed a GFs skiis, that were also from about 20 years ago, to see if I could still do it. Yep, I still remembered the concept, and what I also remember came back too--it was a great cardio workout. Plus, I love nature. I had forgotten how xc skiing can turn a "ugh, it's winter outside" day, into a sight seeing trip of what Mother Nature has to offer in the snow. There's a perfect pic of what I mean about this on another old thread on the topic of xc skiing on this site...almost makes me wish for snow :eek: ...shhh, don't let my bike hear that :rolleyes: :p . ...or "stone me" thru cyberspace :o . btw...can't ride my bike now for a bit with some surgery recovery stuff, so maybe next time I'm up to really working out hard, there might be snow...so part of is nothing against my beloved bike :(

Any rate, back to square one, like being new to cycling...I need gear. I looked on line, our shops here are so small town lame, and also went to used sporting goods stores last winter. They had some gear, but none of it was quite my right size, and if like my cycling turned out to be (that I loved it), I just didn't want "to settle" for stuff at the re-sale shop that was gonna just rot in my garage because I hated it. I'd rather suck it up and pay the 1st time for something I like and will use. I'm just not exactly sure what that is?

I live in the midwest, so we don't have tons of snowy day, but enough that I think buying a pair of skiis would still pay off, versus I know you can actually rent skiis at parks, etc. I can't do anything impactive exercise wise due to some past lady pelvic support surgeries. So, I don't see myself doing any major backcountry type of skiing that involves more using your legs pulling into the pelvis area, but more groomed trails.

What are some decent quality, but middle of the road priced, skiis/gear I would need to meet my needs? Also, how do I know what size to get? What say ye, board ladies? Thanks!

08-14-2007, 06:28 PM
Hi Miranda,

Well, I've been skiing for over 30 years (since I was 9), so I've bought a few pair in my day! Okay, a whole bunch. Summer is my off-season, and (dare I say it here?:eek: ) biking & running are my cross training.:D

From your description, it sounds like you are thinking striding, rather than skating? Well, I guess brand-wise, that doesn't matter, but the skis are different. Anyway, there are several good brands out there, and each brand makes a variety of skis, from very low end up to high end racing skis. If you are going to stride, you need to decide whether you want waxable or no-wax (waxable = more labor intensive, but better skiing, typically, and waxless = very little labor, other than some wipe-on stuff, but lower performance). Prices vary widely, with the top of the line racing skis running up to $500 or more, depending on where you buy.

Lots of brands, let's see, Fischer (probably the most well-known), Atomic, Madshus, Peltonen, Rossignal, ..... They all make a whole range of skis.

Then you have boots & bindings. And poles. Try to find a shop with a good reputation (where in the midwest are you? There are lots of good shops in Wisconsin, and a few in Michigan). I've been buying skis for so many years, I know what I'm looking for when I go, and look for a nice, smooth pressure profile, nice, flat bases (with clean edges), etc. And I think about what conditions I want them for (soft, fresh snow, like we have almost all season, calls for softer, floatier skis, and harder, icier conditions call for stiffer, more stable skis). You'll probably want something fairly stable, I'm guessing, if you are generally on low snow, with lots of melting/freezing.

A good shop should be able to fit you. You could look online to get an idea on prices (try New Moon Ski Shop, in Hayward, WI, or maybe Gear West, in Minneapolis - they both are pretty big, and sell a lot of skis (to people with a wide range of abilities). I wouldn't buy a pair online, although I did have good luck years ago over the phone with Cross Country Ski Headquarters, in Higgins Lake, MI - very small shop, dealing directly with the owner.

Just remember, every pair is different. I'm 5'-6", and typically ski 182-190cm, depending on the skis. I also prefer a "squirrelly" ski for skating, and have several pairs of Madshus. Fishers and Atomics tend to be more stable, and Rossis very, very (read: boardlike) stable (some people love them, and if you are just starting out, that may be perfect). For striding skis, your body weight is more important than height, as you need to be able to "set" the wax when you kick, while still having it ride off the snow while gliding. I'd say most of the people I've known who used waxless skis had skis that were too soft, so the fishscale pattern just dragged on the snow (no glide = no fun).

Okay, this is probably all way too much info. Just look around online to see what price range is out there, and then try to find a reliable shop, who will take time and fit you correctly.

Have fun!! Skiing rocks!:D

08-15-2007, 06:13 AM
SkierChickie...all I can say is, WOW, thanks so much for that wonderful feedback! Yeah, my brain hurts because I need to learn, but that type of info is exactly what I need! :D

Local sporting goods shops service help, not so good. I will look on line, and really need to take a sebatical to one of those shops. We are similiar in height. Im 5'5" and normally average about 118# give or take a few #s up or down. Not too far from MI actually, so lots of people around here travel into your state for the skiing. One of my GFs is a downhill girl, but they are avid Vail people. Not too much schooling on the xc skiing from her. I know there are clubs you can join too I've heard of, just like the cycling.

OK, don't know if you will find this post again or not...you got me covered on what to look for on the skiis, what say ye about what to wear? Thanks! :)

08-15-2007, 05:06 PM
I usually rent my skis just because when I buy something I like it to be an investment and I don't have the money to invest right now.

Anyways when I do I will take the same approach as I do to any other purchase set a budget and buy the best that that money will buy. Also I love purchases from REI. If it doesn't feel right take it back.

Let us know when you purchase I think next year will be a good year for me.

08-15-2007, 05:17 PM
Glad to help, Miranda! Pardon me if I ramble on - I have a tendency to take 5 paragraphs to say 2 things.:rolleyes:

Clothes. Well, pretty much the same stuff you'd wear running in the winter (I don't know if you run). I don't bike in the winter, but I would guess that would require more clothes than skiing. I suspect that, being a biker, you probably have a lot of these things already, so don't think that you have to have everything I mention here. Just layer up until you know what you really want.
1. I wear a thin layer of long underwear (I wore polypro for years, but got some microweight Smartwool a couple of years ago, and love it). Pants and a crew neck (higher neck shirt if it is really cold).
2. Tights and a light to medium weight top (zip-neck Ts are good - you can unzip if you get hot). Actually, if you have a good long sleeve bike jersey, that would be perfect. If it is really cold and windy, I have a heavier weight top that has windproof panels. I also have thin tights and thicker tights.
3. For really cold & windy conditions, I wear wind pants. Mine zip all the way up the leg, which is great with ski boots, and they are just sort of a shell with a mesh liner (LL Bean from many years ago). Something NOT waterproof, and not too windproof! You want to break the wind, but not build up sweat. And, finally, a light jacket. Just a shell, really. Once again, if you sweat and it gets trapped, you'll get cold no matter what you do. Breathable (I'm not convinced that anything really is) is the key.
4. Gloves - I tend to wear lighter weight ones than most people, because I can't stand it when my hands are sweaty. Any ski shop will carry gloves designed for skiing. Big and bulky is out, unless you have trouble with getting cold - for me (once again) extra bulk = extra sweat = frozen fingers. Also, knit gloves will get worn by the poles, and could lead to blisters. Toko makes very nice x-c gloves, as well as Swix, etc. I got a pair of lobster mitts last year, for really cold. They are really nice, but I don't wear them much (once again, sweaty inside), but my friend was still wearing hers when it was 25-30 out this year.
5. Socks - I like a thin liner sock (Smartwool is my favorite, but my podiatrist recommends polypro), with a heavier sock over. They should fit close (but not tight), or they move around, and then your foot moves around.
6. Hat

For years, when I was only striding, I was hot all the time. When I started skating, I also started wearing more clothes - and I never wore hats, just light earmuffs, until maybe 7 years ago. Getting old, I guess. Striding generates a lot of heat, so layers that you have the option of removing are good (like the jacket and wind pants). I love wool, but it is expensive. I rarely wear fleece - I guess some fleece is okay, but I don't seem to own any of that. I find the wind goes right through what I have, and I also just end up wet. I'm noticing a theme here - I'm just a big ol' sweater.

I have a Nike Dry-fit top I wear all the time (nice and soft, and doesn't hold moisture, although I have other Dry-fit stuff that seems to stay damp - go figure), some Sporthill stuff, Craft, etc. I have a Sugoi top that I never wear - it is soft inside, but still kinda polyestery, and the wind cuts right through.

Finally, I heard a great quote that really sums it up: "Cotton kills!". Don't even think about wearing cotton - it will get wet, and you will freeze. Especially socks.

Hope this helps.:)

08-15-2007, 09:47 PM
I think I shall write about clothing also.

I agree with everything that has just been said.

1. I have sporthill windproof pants. well they are not really windproof but with long underwear below I have never felt wind. They aren't membrane material but on the inside feel more like brushed fleece.
here they are on sale (rei is having a 20% off sale on clearance items until the 17th) http://www.rei.com/REI-Outlet/product/743751?vcat=REI_SEARCH

2. I tried to pick up windproof fleece and that was a bust. I have a goretex windpro fleece though and that is awesome. i wear it for my whole minnesota winter from fall to spring.

3. zip necks are awesome. when I get going I shed that fleece I was speaking of and instead where a zipneck fleece layer.

4. love wool

08-15-2007, 09:48 PM
Skierchickie, worry to piggy back off of your replies. they are great advice. i can't wait to organize my Christmas ski trip now!

08-16-2007, 06:18 PM
Thanks, Madscot. :) So, we usually have super snow by Christmas, with several great places to ski (the MTU ski trails hosted the US Nationals last year, and will again next January), if you are looking for a place within a day's drive.

So, does the box make it difficult to ski (I mean, interfering with your poles and all)? Probably helps cut that cold Minnesota wind though, huh?:p

08-16-2007, 09:21 PM
the box is pretty much windproof. I have NEVER been cold in my corrugated exoskeleton.

Do you know any resort- like areas up there? Or towns that are accessible to trails? I am not famiilar to Michigan. It would be a drive but if there is snow it would be worth it. Or in other words, it wouldn't be worth it without the snow.

08-18-2007, 05:19 AM
HolyBaGeeBas...thank you so much! SkierChickie you are too funny, about the paragraphs to get out what you want to say...that it SO me as well! :D

No, unfortunately I don't have a lot of winter cycling gear--just new to the sport as well, but am starting to get a few pieces, and now will think about the cross training with xc skii. For example, I do have two grades of tights, and I did not get them with the chamois, and now I am glad because I assume I can use them for part of my ski layers it sounds. Also, I can't do anything implactive exercise, like run, thus cycling and xc skiing are good choices for me.

Alas, wool makes me itch and break out in hives. I know it's a great natural fabric. I can't even wear a nice cashmere sweater in winter for fashion fun, whaaa :( . So, I will have to consider some of the other choices listed. Also, on the getting cold part in general, I am sorta a big baby there :o . I lost a lot of weigh in the last couple of years, and as one of my GFs said, "it's cold being skinny". None on my upper body, just all the weight I carry is in my good ole bootie--which I could transfer it North to stay warm.

Lastly, I think I do remember reading about the different types of strides for xc skiing on a gear website in the info section. Gotta do a bit more research, and learn of course.

Snow won't be long for sure...shhh, don't tell my bike! :eek: ;) :) Thanks!

08-19-2007, 05:32 PM
Hi Miranda & Madscot!

Sorry - tied up with house guests for a couple of days.

Sorry to hear about the wool issues Miranda (is it all wool? Smartwool is nice and non-itchy, but I suppose an allergy is an allergy). Polypro works fine. I forgot to mention to be careful with Sporthill if you have pets - it is really nice stuff, but the 3SP material loves pet hair! I have a newer shirt that only requires about one strip off the lint roller before I can wear it, but it just has a couple of panels of that fabric - I could never buy the 3SP pants or full shirts. I have an older shirt made of that stuff, and it takes me ages to de-fur it, and then I still have a layer left:( .

Madscot - we don't really have what you would call resorts around here, but we have great places to ski, and usually great snow by late November (last year not included:rolleyes: ). We typically have 24-36 (a couple of years ago it was more like 48") inches on the ground from Christmas through mid-March.

The Michigan Tech Trails are probably about 25k total, with some really challenging terrain, plus some easier, flatter stuff, and are in Houghton - pretty professionally groomed. Swedetown, in Calumet (about 20 miles from Houghton), is about 30k, with nice, rolling terrain - beautiful & Pisten Bully groomed. Maasto Hiito, in Hancock, combined with Churning Rapids is, hmm, not sure how much - striding only. Chassell Trails are about 10k, striding only. You can check out keweenawtrails.com for info. Since we're in the UP, we get tons of people from Madison, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, etc here over Christmas. Fewer from Michigan, actually, as downstate is pretty far away. Ironwood gets great snow, too. The only problem is that the holidays bring lots of snowmobilers, too, so the motels fill up early. The bigger towns around here (Houghton & Hancock) are each about 7000 people, and the others are, well, smaller, so so don't expect St Paul-like nightlife or anything:p .

Oh, and at least one ski shop does rent skis.

08-19-2007, 07:22 PM
Hi Miranda & Madscot!

so so don't expect St Paul-like nightlife or anything:p .

That is okay, we bring our own nightlife :cool: Well sort of. More like sleep skills. Thanks for the 411 (when was the last time you heard 411?). Now I have a place to retire to in 40 years. How I miss snow...:rolleyes:

That may be quite the drive for us but my friends won't have seen eachother for a while and I'm sure we will have plenty to talk about.

08-19-2007, 07:24 PM
Oh and Skierchicke is dead on with the sporthill pants. I have a lintbrush (red and from target) it doesn't use an adhesive like the rollers and so I use it to my heart's desire without ripping off layer after layer of facny dancy masking tape. It does the job quite nicely might I add.