View Full Version : xcSkiis How Long To Fit?

12-04-2007, 06:01 AM
I have a borrowed pair of xc skiis that I tried last winter that were sized taller than me when holding vertical (I'm 5'5") that seemed to work ok on fit (the GF that loaned them is about 5'3" to 4"?)??? Only had a chance to use them once. I have just a basic pair/set of gear I was going to buy for myself at a local sporting goods store, and the sales guy said that about "head height" is the general gauage for fit. Or slightly longer. Whatever these skiis are, I am inbetween a small and medium he said. I want to go back and get them before sold out, but what size do I really get? The slightly shorter pair, or longer? I don't want to waste my $ on the wrong size, but don't want to feel like I have "too much" skii to manipulate either. Just a new xc skiier. Think the style would be considered "skate style". Groomed trails, no backwoods skiing, for xTraining purposes. Thanks!

12-04-2007, 06:07 AM
I'm from the "old days" of x-c, when there was no such thing as groomed anything, and we had skis that reached your wrist when you stuck your hand up in the air.

I need to go shopping, eh? :D

Can you post pics of your skis when you get them?

12-04-2007, 06:14 AM
Guess I'm another golden oldie - I was told that the tip of your skis should go to the palm of your hand when you hold your arm up straight in the air - which then would be about 2-3 inches longer than Knott's method.

Groomed trails, what's that? Snow, Forest Service roads, go!

All this said, my skis have been the the garage attic for 5 years now. Sigh. Little chance to go XC skiing in south Louisiana. Mention "skiing" around here and everyone will assume you're talking about WATER skiing. At first I couldn't figure out why you needed a life jacket to go skiing, and they couldn't figure out why I was talking about my lovely wool knickers. The great cultural divide. :rolleyes:

12-04-2007, 07:33 AM
Well the rule of thumb is:
classic technique, body length + 20cm (add an extra 5 - 10 to that for experts), the poles should be up to your armpits

skating technique, body length + 10 to 15cm (even pros don't go any longer), poles should be up to the chin

I am 160cm tall and skate with 176cm, mainly because I couldn't get decent racing skis any shorter. They are fine but longer would not work and I do have to work on my technique to get the most out of them. If the skis are too long, you can end up treading on the tail of one ski with the other.

My classic skis are 192cm and fast!

How hard do you want to train and how fast do you intend going? If you think that you will want to do any citizens' races, then maybe the longer ones, but you will need to think about technique. If it's really just for training, then shorter may be less hassle.

Another thought for skating skis - have you checked how stiff they are?

uk elephant
12-04-2007, 07:37 AM
The type of skis you get depends on what type of skiing you intend to do: traditional xc on prepared trails, backcountry xc or skate skiing on groomed paths. For skate skiing you need short skis like the ones you tried before. For traditional xc on prepared trails you want longer skis, like Knot described, but fairly narrow. For backcountry skiing you want long skis, but wider (so you don't sink into the snow as much in deep snow).

12-04-2007, 02:03 PM
Well... I took a pic of the loaned ski and pole with my arm extended, next to the torso, but can't get it to upload, whaaa:( .

Think with what has been posted so far, they are about right on fit. Maybe I can take them with me to the sporting goods store to show the credit card taking help:rolleyes: . The pole is about to my armpit, and the ski is about edge of palm, to mid palm. At 5'5", that's 165cm. The markings say: 190cm ski, and 130cm pole. So, with the cm measuring tip posted too, about right?

OK, my HUMBLE xcski experience was about 20 years ago. I used to ski at a county park that rented gear to use on their walking trails, partially plowed for such. The GF that loaned me the pair last year to try said, "Hey! I have a pair of skis from about 20 years ago in my garage you could try before you buy!" I said, "Great, because it's been about that long since I have done it, what a perfect retro match!" :D

I used the skis last year just doing laps around the subdivion a couple times. Yes, I know, lame. Low, and no thru traffic, so pretty safe. Actually, it rescued my sanity from the snowbound fm:o . Sometimes there is such a thing as TOO much togetherness in a snowbound situation. Actually, very peaceful... cold nippy sunny day, Ipod tunes, good work out, cute creatures in the snow to watch, and some winter beauty. I thought, hmmm... I remember why I liked this activity.:)

12-04-2007, 04:40 PM
In my opinion, ski flex (soft vs firm) is more important than length. Make sure the shop chooses a ski that will work well for your body weight, and isn't too soft or too stiff. That is especially important for striding (classic) skis, so you can set your wax properly when you kick, and still glide (without the kick wax dragging in the track). For skating, it is still really important.

By the way, I'm 5'-6", and my skating skis are all in the 180-185cm range, and my striders are 190cm. I think the main thing about avoiding a ski that is too long for skating is that you can catch the tip in the snow bank on a narrow trail, and they could be more difficult to maneuver if they are way too long. Too short, and the ski won't float over the snow in softer conditions.

Have fun! :)

12-04-2007, 05:18 PM
Skierchickie... thx for the tip. Lots to learn for me obviously, but I did enjoy myself when out:) . They had a scale at the sporting goods store to figure the weight into the ski picks equation, but the guy didn't say too much about me... 5'5", so close to you, and my weight lately has been up to 125# with some stuff and not getting my work outs in... but normally I'm average 118# on the gym scale, 115-118# buff on the home scale. Dang kids... why can't they eat some kind of ice cream that I HATE lol;) .

12-04-2007, 06:27 PM
the sales guy said that about "head height" is the general gauage for fit. Or slightly longer. I'm guessing this guy doesn't have a clue what he's doing.

It's fine to use your body to judge pole length (armpit for classic, between chin and nose for skate) but the skis come in so many different styles that length is going to be completely different for different ski models (so just because you need one length in one particular ski, doesn't mean you want the same length in another ski).

Have you decided between classic and skate? This is the first decision to make (the styles of skiing are completely different - classic skis won't work for skating and vice versa).

Once you've chosen what type of ski you want- look at the different models of skis available. They should have a size chart available (based on weight) that is a good way to judge things. If you're a beginner you want to go for the shorter ski that fits your weight range. (If the store doesn't have the size chart, you can also try looking it up online- just make sure you have some idea of the model year as well, sometimes they modify a particular model over time).

For classic skiing, a decent shop will also look at the wax pocket and your ability to flex the skis. To do this you stand on the skis. If your weight is evenly split between the two skis there should be a space between the ski and whatever you're standing on. They should be able to move a piece of paper back and forth from the back of your heal several inches forward (this is the wax pocket). If you then put all of your weight on one foot and press down- the wax pocket should disappear (they hold the piece of paper under your foot and they shouldn't be able to move it if the ski is properly compressed). There is more than one way to measure this but that's the basic idea.

Does the shop you're looking at carry a lot of cross-country skis? If that's not their main business I'd at least ask for the person who knows the most about them (or consider going somewhere that does a reasonable amount of cross-country ski business).

12-04-2007, 10:04 PM
I second that!

Height only makes sense for the older kind of skis that were made of similar materials and really didn't differ too much. Now a days each kind of ski has its own specific weight recommendation that corresponds to a length of the ski. this way, when you are standing on the ski, the camber will bend down enough so that the middle part, where you put pressure down to kick, can grab the snow.

each ski is different, not just each maker of ski. try going back and talking to a different person at the store, or talking to the person more. If they insist on sticking to height and you aren't the perfectly normal person (and who is?) be a bit more cautious. I think skis are a fantastic investment and I don't see much of a reason for reinvesting each spring. so but the right pair for the first time!

12-05-2007, 01:17 PM
Thanks so much for the additional thoughts:) ! WAY more help than at the store. It's the only place local that sells skiis:( . Pretty Mayberry, I know. Would need to do some traveling to find a better shop, but a good point. It's always painful when you spend $ on something to later learn that it was not the correct thing. The store has about 3 choices on hand of xcskis. The rest were down hill, and snow boards. I don't think they were exactly top of the line, but not the worst either, maybe? The guy did mention something about the skiis being made out of different materials for a price difference. So, I would guess that's where the ski compression fit factor comes into play. Something about one being made of foam? One of wood? Or wood core? Don't know what the next up was. Maybe after I'm done with this thread, I can teach the guy lol;) :p .

12-05-2007, 05:39 PM
I agree that it doesn't sound like this guy really knows much about what he's selling. What brand(s) are you looking at?

It seems like all the ski brands now put a weight range on the skis (usually in kgs). That is a starting point. Some just say soft, medium, or stiff. The next thing is for the shop guy to either use the fancy new flex-checker-platform-thingy with you standing on the skis, or (as my local shop uses) a gauge that looks like a big c-clamp. The c-clamp is used to put pressure on the skis as they are placed base to base. They can put your full weight, half your weight, etc on using the gauge, and then check to see what the wax pocket looks like, etc. If they don't have at least that, or do the test that anakiwa described, then I would recommend going elsewhere (how close is the nearest town with a ski shop?).

The prices will correlate to the construction of the ski, but not to the flex/compression of the ski. Higher end skis (generally foam core) are lighter weight than lower end ones (more likely to be the wood core ones), in addition to being better made. I'm not sure you could tell the difference based on the flex of the ski. If that makes any sense. Higher end skis will also be made of better materials, including better base material, which will hold wax better. I've seen low end skis that would just not hold wax (not to say that none of them will - just that there is a greater chance).

It might be good to write down the brands and models that are available to you, and then do a little internet research. Sometimes it becomes necessary to learn what you can outside the shop.:rolleyes: There are some great ski shops online that may have some useful information posted. Eagle River Nordic, in Wisconsin, does a lot of research on skis and on wax, so their site may be helpful. Their prices tend to be quite high, but they may have good info. My DH bought a pair of Fischers last year at New Moon (also in Wisconsin), and we were really impressed with the way they fit him. They do have a website - not sure if they have much on it that would help. Based on what you've said about this place, you may do just as well or better ordering from a knowledgeable shop over the phone (I got my best skis ever that way. I think I cried the day they broke).

If you are just starting out, you don't necessarily need $400 top of the line skis, but don't buy something you'll regret, either.

Sounds like you are embarking on an adventure! Just study up, and don't be afraid to walk away from the local guys, if that is what it comes to. You can at least read up on the particular skis they are selling.

12-05-2007, 06:48 PM
You definitely don't need top of the line skis- in fact you may be happier on something that's a little bit wider and more stable, even if it's a little slower.

Have you chosen between classic and skate? What type of skiing did you do on the skis you tried? It's important to decide what type of skiing you want to do first, then look for a model designed for that type of skiing, then make sure you've got the right size.

If you really want to buy from this store, at least look up the brand/model online and check a weight/size chart. If there's a better place that specializes in nordic skiing around, it might be worth the drive.

Good luck!

12-06-2007, 12:42 PM
Well, Ladies, I went back the second time to the shop educated with your tips. Think it went better with the store help this time. They had the scale with the color codes, and at about 125# now, I read in the middle of the yellow color, for medium (5'5" btw). Normally, I try to stay between 115-118#. So, hope it's close enough. The skis are Fischer Jupiter classic skis. Looking at my sales info here, drats... guy didn't write down the binding. The boots are Alpina TR25? Seemd ok. They have some thinsulate material in them, and are suppose to be warmer. Lace ups, with a zipper flap closure over that. The poles were 130cm Fischer, just some basic classic ones I guess, and came right under my armpits when verticle. Didn't do the paper test, but he said the scale was a good measurement tool. They are slightly taller than my head. They are waxless skiis. The price for the package of ski, boots, bindings, and poles was $260. So, yes, as suggested in this thread, I don't think I need the $400 skis either for my purposes. I'd rather put $400+ towards a new bike:D . But, maybe for the price, and basic quality of this pair, they will do the tirck? Hmm, good snow forecasted, kinda itching to go back and get them. Once they drill the holes, no returns. I think they will fit the bill???

12-06-2007, 01:16 PM
It is great that you have a set picked out! I think that you should really practice a lot of skiing before you go out and buy the most expensive skis. I rented a lot before I even bought a middle of the range set.

I also agree, expensive skis may backfire on you. They are designed for highly experienced skiers. It is not just that you may not appreciate the difference, but that they may not ride as easily as a beginner's set. They are designe dto be quite agile and this may feel like a certain uncontrollability to you.

It is like giving a kid a road bike, it isn't a good idea. they need more expereince before they cna handle all of the speediness. Let them grow into it. Not that I am calling you a child, but just think of all of the experience it took to get you to the bike you are riding now. And when you are ready you can upgrade and will be ready to pick out what you want.

12-06-2007, 05:39 PM
Good job! Glad you are getting closer!

I'd still make them do the ol' paper sliding test, though. Just because a pair is marked "medium" doesn't mean it isn't at the soft or firm end of that scale, or else mismarked completely. Try to get them to actually check out that pair, and confirm that the wax pocket (even waxless have a pocket that grips when you kick, and flexes up out of the way when you glide) is right for you. Those markings are just a guide, so you know where to begin, and a good shop will confirm that they fit you properly (you know all those threads around here about having a professional bike fitting?) by actually checking it out. You'll have no fun at all if you have no glide, and even less with no kick!

Don't forget the Maxiglide, or something similar. Even waxless skis need a coating of wipe-on stuff to make things fun. Very simple and quick to use, and will help your skis glide.

I'm living vicariously through you - no new skis for me this year! :( On the bright side, it started snowing here last Tuesday, and we already have mid-season conditions (maybe 1-1/2 feet on the ground)! All of our local trails are open and groomed - all 4! :D

12-07-2007, 03:22 AM
Yes, closer to the purchase:) . I'm hoping the shop has Maxiglide. At least I know what to ask for. I know the guy said something about it being easier to not have to wax skis for maintenance. Just get em out, and go. But the glide sounds simply. I so hate "non fun stuff" ;) , so we wouldn't want any of that biz lol:D !

It does seem odd to not stand on the skis to check them as well. Yes, fit is probably like buying jeans. Even tho the tag says they are the same, notta the case. I will definately do that and investigate the pocket. Too bad for the no new ski purchase for SkierChickie... the living and helping me in mine is greatly appreciated:) .

And, the comment about the bike as a kid, and not having something too advanced is totally true! I have not been cycling that long. All of the roadie gym buds have top of the line carbons. So, that's what I went to the shop after. Mind you, I had not even ridden a bike since before I got my driver's license. I'm a middle aged broad now:rolleyes: . The shop guy could have sold me the mother load, but talked me out of it a bit. He said it could be "too much bike" for me to handle at once.

I own a Giant ladies specific road model bike, OCR1. Some carbon. But mostly aluminum frame. Considered Giant's top end "sport bike". Just even riding it first time, I felt very unsteady on the road tires. Thought I might crash in the neighbor's yard before I made it to the corner.:o But, much better now. So, next bike, I know what to look for, and have some additional skills to go with it. The skis are an excellent comparison to my first bike purchase. Good point!

12-07-2007, 05:31 PM
The "not buying the most expensive thing" is something that my father has been trying to teach me for years! I think it might just be catching on, and I wonder if it has any thing to do with it being my money and I have to be careful of how I spend it. :D Aw well. Good luck with skis. I think that aren't bad ski makers out there so it is all about finding the one that fits you.

09-27-2008, 07:19 PM
I'm giving my old thread on this topic a bump, vs starting a new one, in hopes of getting some more TE expert advice:).

The conclusion of the gear purchased from this thread was:
*Fischer Jupiter Control Ski (traditional nordic xc ski for groomed trails, size 'small' 164cm, load limit 64kg / 141#s )
*Rottefella NNN binding
*Alpina Touring poles 130cm
*Alpina TR25 Boot

Alright, as far as gear fitting me, I think I have that OK with the help of you ladies. Bodyweight w/o gear is still holding between 120-125# (135#s+ish w/gear), I'm 5'5"... and the wax pocket test passes... paper slides underneath ball of foot with weight on both skis, shift to one ski, and the paper becomes trapped. They seemed to work ok on the surface they were intended for.

NOW, here's my delimma... after I got my skis home, I figured out that what I bought, was not really the primary type of skiing I was looking for:(. That would be right out my door... more like a back country type ski.

The package is not a loss, as this summer through mtb more, I found some parks that groom their hiking trails for xc skiers. The GF I borrowed the old pair from is up for going to them. So, they will get more use this coming winter now that I know where to go.

The skiing out the back door thing became more important to me with schedules and time. We have a lot of farm fields in the midwest, and some parks w/fields closer to me than the groomed trails. What I found myself really wanting to do with my skis, aka take them into ungroomed powder breaking the path, didn't work so well with the groomed set up.

If I wanted to get a back country type ski set up also, what would I need? I know 'whatever' type of ski and the binding to go with it. BUT, what about my boots and poles? I think the poles would be 'ok', not ideal. But, will the boots fit BC bindings?

I added some winter cycling pieces to my wardrobe that worked out ok for the xc skiing too. My outter shell though was a size small, and too tight for xc ski stuff with the under layers. It was a Hind waterproof (taped seams) jacket w/big zip vents... actual, I think it's more multi-sport, than cycling specific (no drop tail). I think just a size medium similiar jacket would do the trick. Any favs, please post.

Any more thoughts for me are appreciated. A chill is in the air... snow will be here before we know it ( :eek: for bikes, and :D for winter sports).

EDIT: I had the thought that the groomed xc trail skiing is about like my mtb, compared to my road bike. The road, if you just have an hour to ride, you get on the bike, and go for that long. The mtb, the hour ride is a two hour deal... travel time, PLUS the trail ride time. Both are fun. One just takes more time & planning.

09-27-2008, 07:56 PM
I know they are not the cheapest gaiters, but I have these:gaiters (http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_square.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442386173&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302898801) and they are absolutely wonderful, very well made and snow-proof. I got the large because of my big size 9 winter boots.

I have waterproof rain pants I have worn snowshoeing, but I find I get too hot in them with tights underneath.

Instead, I wear a pair of UnderArmour winter tights, then some Ibex wool tights over that,and the gaiters, with my heavy wool socks and winter hiking boots.
With that outfit, my legs can still 'breathe' and I stay warm but don't get sweaty.
We are talking temps down to about 20 I guess, with no strong winds or freezing wet slush.
I find ANY jacket to be too hot after snowshoeing along for a while. So I wear a couple of thin wool base layers, maybe an Ibex merino Shak top if it's really cold, good double gloves, a wool hat or a thin silky balaclava, and then just a warm wool vest. Again, you can see this type of outfit I've described in my signature snowshoeing photo below....minus the gloves which I took off while we were fiddling with the camera. ;) This type of layering keeps me warm but prevents me from getting all sweaty.
I have no experience in XC skiing, so I don't know if there are different needs involved with that. But I'm sure some of the clothing needs must overlap with snowshoeing clothes somehow.

09-27-2008, 11:07 PM
I know they are not the cheapest gaiters, but I have these:gaiters (http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_square.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442386173&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302898801) and they are absolutely wonderful, very well made and snow-proof. I got the large because of my big size 9 winter boots.

I have waterproof rain pants I have worn snowshoeing, but I find I get too hot in them with tights underneath.

Instead, I wear a pair of UnderArmour winter tights, then some Ibex wool tights over that,and the gaiters, with my heavy wool socks and winter hiking boots.
With that outfit, my legs can still 'breathe' and I stay warm but don't get sweaty.
We are talking temps down to about 20 I guess, with no strong winds or freezing wet slush.
I find ANY jacket to be too hot after snowshoeing along for a while. So I wear a couple of thin wool base layers, maybe an Ibex merino Shak top if it's really cold, good double gloves, a wool hat or a thin silky balaclava, and then just a warm wool vest. Again, you can see this type of outfit I've described in my signature snowshoeing photo below....minus the gloves which I took off while we were fiddling with the camera. ;) This type of layering keeps me warm but prevents me from getting all sweaty.
I have no experience in XC skiing, so I don't know if there are different needs involved with that. But I'm sure some of the clothing needs must overlap with snowshoeing clothes somehow.

Thx BSG for the clothing tips:). There is a method to my madness... trying to overlap the sports. Winter biking, xc ski, and snow shoeing.

Regardless of my ski outcome, I think I am getting my snow shoes. This should help in addressing my "fix" to just go out the back door to play in the snow.

If the TE ski queens tell me that I will probably have to get a WHOLE new set of of ski stuff to make BC work... well, that may have to wait. Guess, I'll shoe in the drifts close to home, and pack up the xc skis I have now for a groomed trail outting.

Yes... I was studying what you had on in that pic w/the snow shoes. I could xc ski like that too.

I didn't get good gaitors last year. Those are something good for both I now know. My winter cycle tights, I bought without chamois to use for other stuff besides the bike. My wool try out itch-test order is going to be that Ibex merino jersey (looks very multifunctional), and SmartWool socks.

I just don't like the snow fall soaking me on the outside:(. Maybe I'm just a weanie on that one:o:rolleyes:.

09-28-2008, 09:09 AM
I have a Go-Lite jacket I use for x country skiing and snow shoeing when it is very cold. Like below 32. What I wear underneath, depends, but it's usually a combination of silk long underwear base layers and winter cycling tops and/or a fleece vest. As long as I can unzip, I'm OK. The jacket is not waterproof, but it's fine for a light snowfall. It is SO warm, but thin. For the bottom, I have a pair of Ibex tights that are part wool, part something else. My husband actually bought them for me, before I knew anything about Ibex. I wear them both with and without long underwear (silk). I also have worn them mountain biking in the late fall/winter and hiking. I also wear them on the rare chance I do a road ride below 40 degrees. They are totally windproof.
I wear the thinnest x country ski socks (long ones) that I can find, with the silk sock liners. I put a chemical heater between the liner and the sock when it's less than 20 out. When I snow shoe, I tend to wear woolie bullies or hiking socks that are thicker, since I am wearing my hiking shoes.
I think that when I bought my skis, they didn't consider my weight, only my height. Next time, I'll know better!

09-28-2008, 09:33 AM
Miranda: It sounds like you are really getting into this - cool!

I don't have much to add, except that the waterproof jacket might be bad. Good that it has pit zips, but if you sweat too much and that gets trapped, you will end up freezing! I have searched for years for something that doesn't trap moisture when it is cold out (I am a sweater, and I don't mean a knit one!:p). Last year I got a Swix jacket that seems to work really well. Craft is a very good brand. Both are more winter-sport specific than, say, PI. I have a couple of PI jackets (get wet & cold), a couple of Sporthill (get wet & cold), Craft (better), Swix (possibly better yet), ........ Not that PI and Sporthill wouldn't work - just not the exact jackets that I have. Something that will break the wind, but still breathe is the key. Some things that are good for biking are not that great for skiing. Then again, I don't bike in the winter.

I always wear my skiing stuff for snowshoeing, if that helps.

Good luck!

09-28-2008, 01:43 PM
Yikes- I'm still hoping to get some biking in yet :)

Attire- my favorite brands would be Craft and Sporthill (the Sporthill pants are a classic). But if I were you- I'd start with using your winter cycling gear, and then figure out what it is you need- in other words- if you're too hot, you need lighter weight layers or if you're too cold, you need heavier layers or more layers or a vest etc.

As far as gear goes- backcountry gear varies all the way from very much like touring gear to very much like downhill gear (and there are a lot of options in the middle). Where are you looking to use the skis? (relatively flat fields or more hilly challenging terrain?) If you're looking to use them on flat terrain- I'd suggest just using the touring gear you already have- trailbreaking is slow going- but it should be do-able in snowy conditions (not so do-able in ice/crust etc)- once you've broken the trail, you're all set until the next snowfall. If you're looking to get new gear, you'd be best off purchasing all new skis/boots/bindings. Theoretically, you can put regular bindings on the skis and use your boots, but you won't have enough control over the ski (backcountry skis tend to be heavier and it takes a sturdier boot/binding combo to put enough force on the ski to turn it).

Hope that helps.

10-03-2008, 06:56 PM
Just getting back to my thread again....

Thx :) ladies for those responses on gear and clothes. One of my winter bike jackets, it's the Sugoi Firewall jacket, says something about xc sking too with it. I think like SkierChickie's PI coat, it will break wind, but get wet. REI just sent me some fall/winter sale notice. Think I'll geek out the brands there too. Also, I kinda thought so much :( about needing to get new gear for true back country. I'll try what I have again, and go from there.