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purchasing first pair of X-C skis...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I just got some birthday $$ to buy myself some XC skis, love the girlfriend. 


Question is which kind? Since I am a...wait for it...newbie, its kinda overwhelming. You see, normally, I hang out on the cycling & mtnbiking forums, there I know the sport and its equipment. But this is my first year on XC skis, so if I get things wrong, well...


I borrowed a friend's Rossingnol Evos and, besides having lots of fun, I had no ability to slow or stop. He said I will need backcountry skis which I now know I cannot for now (as I'm unemployed for the moment) afford! He will sell me super-cheap his old poles and boots (old as in 2 years so not really that old) for touring skis that I can afford. But, he said that I'd be better off with backcountry skis for the city & state park skiing that I'd be doing for the most part.


Cheap, affordable touring (non-metal edged) skis vs digging DEEEEP down for backcountry (REI has a $420 beginner package...)

Opinions appreciated. Thanks.

post #2 of 10

Could you say a little more about the kind of skiing you want to do?  


You said "city and state park" skiing.  That almost certainly wouldn't require backcountry skis.  


Where do you live? What kind of terrain? Are there established x-c trails that are either groomed or tracked in by other skiers in the places you'll ski? How much snow do you typically get where you live?


I've been a casual recreation x-c skier for 30 years, and have always been on gear that was just that -- casual recreational.  Once you get the hang of it you can use that kind of gear to go through some relatively rough off-trail terrain when you have some nice fresh snow.


I picked up some Evo Glade skis last year, with come backcountry xc bindings and boots.  Whole package was about $240 (I have poles already). Unfortunately have only been able to get out once this year due to lack of snow -- and that was a lot of scrambling over roots in the woods. I liked the setup and I think it would be great fun to blaze some new tracks through the rolling woods I typically ski, if we ever have snow this year.


If you are skiing on groomed tracks, or designated or heavily used x-c areas where others will set tracks, you could start with just about any setup for really cheap (Craigslist) if you want.  In the spring, we typically can walk around our neighborhood and pickup nice x-c ski gear out by the curb as people clean out their garages...for free.



post #3 of 10

I haven't skied XC for years (moved away from big-snow country), but I used to bushwack some pretty rough terrain north of Lake Superior. No one I knew had metal edges or any of that heavy-duty backcountry gear, just general touring stuff. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. I would think that's all you need for what you're expecting to do. I think you would do fine with your buddy's offered boots and poles and some affordable touring skis to match.

post #4 of 10

If you are going off well-groomed trail with tracks I would suggest getting something like the Madshus annum in the correct length for your body weight, with a 3-pin binding, and a pretty stout boot like the BCX 675 (or bigger), Scarpa T4, or Garmont Excusion (choose a boot that fits).  My rationale: beginners are unsure and unsteady.  The broad platform of the Annum adds steadiness; the aggressive waxless base lets it climb and traverse well and surely, the 3-pin binding makes a nice solid boot to ski connection, and a reasonably rigid boot compensates for lack of finesse in skiing style.  Expert skiers can ski anything on narrower skis and NNN-BC or SNS-BC bindings and boots; beginners need all the support they can get.  You may find some good buys for used T3s, Excursions, Annnums, or karhu Guides (the same ski); I just gave away 2 pairs of plastic boots (brown T3s and black T3s) and would sell my Salomon X-adventurs with 3-pin cable cheap, but at 190 cm and stiff camber I don't think they are the best ski for a beginner at all.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughtful responses Billy SS and Andy. 

BillyMc - I've got a small field, 2 city parks and a golf course all within 3-4 blocks of my apt.


Two Fridays ago, we got 1-2 inches and I tried the Evos out on the golf course. Other XC skiers seemed like they were getting around fine, and as I had wide open, gently undulating terrain it was an okay day for me.


Then on Saturday we were gifted with another few inches of snow then freezing rain then snow so there was a thicker, crusted layer of snow to ski on. I went to the park with my girlfriend and had a blast...except that I couldn't stop or even slow on the declines.


Then I went to a XC trail that was part of a small ski resort the next day, Sunday. It went up into the low 30's & the skis were once again great on flatter terrain but utterly uncontrollable on any any any decline.


What I decided was last year, my first time out on XC, I'd had much more control from the skis I'd rented from a ski shop. People at the local REI said that those were most likely backcountry with metal edges and that's the difference. All I know is that I was flying around having a blast going down slopes and managing to snowplow when necessary.


On offer at REI is the Rossingnol BC 90 Positrack for $200 (was $300) - the reviews consistently describe how they descend very well but are awful at climbing. I think I could be fine with that compromise.

post #6 of 10

I think you're going about this wrong.    


I would spend big money ($200 ish) on a boot that will give you stability and edge control, spend another $60-$80 on a binding to fit the boot, and $25-$40 on used skis that may or may not have metal edges.  


You can always upgrade the ski later when you figure out what you want.


I am /not/ sure you want a good descender and a crap climber - that combo is likely to be miserable for the majority of time you're there, especially if the ski backslides out from under you as you're climbing.

post #7 of 10

My own $0.02:  take some lessons or take some time to learn how to ski better.  Going downhill on XC is really nothing like downhill skiing for someone unused to the equipment.  I agree with Andy Carey that beginners need more support and stiffness than they usually get in "beginner" boots...but I don't think you need to go to BC equipment for the terrain you're describing. 


I suspect that, with some lessons or time, your difficulty with descending will abate.  But remember -- it's never going to be like alpine, even with metal edges and big boots.  And as much as you may want to give up speed or glide for downhill're going to miss those things at some point.  Real xc skiing is faster, more fun, more elegant than stomping around with long planks on your feet, and once you get the feel of the glide, you're going to want to have it more, not less. 


Going downhill on xc involves some careful stepping turns, some relatively inefficient snowplowing, some riding-it-out.... and some falling... until you develop more balance, comfort, and skill with precise movements.  Skill on the downhill will come with experience/practice.  You can't really buy it. 

For the kind of terrain/skiing you're doing, I think the cheap touring skis are fine until you know what you want/need.



post #8 of 10

Well, after a post like /that/'s time for some video stoke.





post #9 of 10

GREAT POST!!!!!!   Love these vids, cantunamunch!

And we might note for the OP that most of these stunts were done on skating skis, even less substantial and lighter than regular touring skis, not to mention heavier backcountry skis. 


"It is a long road, Grasshopper...."

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

I hear what you're saying CtunaM, it makes some sense: when I tried to throw some body english into the skis or even snowplow (ugly-plow is what it looked like), there was no response from the skis, no 'input' from whatever I tried. A better, stiffer boot might transmit more of that input. Those videos are CGI, just no way.


tch - the thing is there was a difference in ease of control, but I think that the cost of the BC setup makes that moot. Finally we just got enough snow to go out again, so I am going back to the trails I visited last year, rent the same skis and see what happens. There are some beginner classes happening this month, I intend to get to one of them. If only the snow would last more than a few hours, I hope to figure this out by the time the winter clearance sales arrive so I can put together a good XC setup.

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