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Entry Level Cross Country Skis/boots

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Howdy. As I'm waiting for snow, I'm thinking that I need a cross country set-up to ski on lakes/small hills. I've alpine skied for 50+years, but have been on X-C stuff maybe 10 times. Last year I threw away my one and only XC boots that I bought in 1977. Any recommendations for equipment? I won't be using these for serious skiing - just for fun and exercise on days that we don't hit the resorts. More than likely I won't be skiing in more than 5" of soft snow (more than that and we'll be ripping at the resorts.  I'm 55, and around 200lbs. Thanks.

post #2 of 5

Like alpine, boots are important for xc.  But it's not that they need to be overly snug or extraordinarily fitted; it's that you want reasonably substantial, solid boots -- especially at your weight.  Far too many beginner packages go out the door with skimpy soft boots.  That's where you get your control, so if you spend more anywhere, spend it getting more substantial boots. They should fit really well (you're walking/running in them), but they don't need to be snug like alpine boots. Try 'em with one medium pair of wool socks.

After that, get the "new" bindings, either NNN or Salomon (I prefer NNN and they are more universal), rather than 3-pin. 

Buy non-wax skis with a tip width of 53-59; anything narrower and you'll be constrained to staying on groomed tracks and unable to ski in fresh/untracked snow.  You might look at Rossi Evo glade or Evo Action; Atomic Xcruise; Fischer Voyagers, etc.  Look for "light touring" skis that are 50/50 groomed/off trail.  You could do some reading here:  or

If you buy in-person from a shop, make sure they do at least a simple flex test, like the old paper slid under the ski test.  When you stand on both feet, paper should slide under the ski essentially the length of the pattern.  When you stand on one ski, paper should not slide in at all. 

post #3 of 5

Check the REI website (including their REI Outlet site) for deals on XC boots. If something looks good and you have a store nearby you can have them delivered there for free if not in stock. Regardless, you can return if it turns out not to fit (or you just don't like em).


This is a handy link...


I wear a US 10.5 street shoe, but go smaller (27.5) than the chart indicates for Alpine boots, and went with a little larger (45) for XC boots, and that's worked out well. Picked up a pair of NNN BC boots at REI on sale, and they've been totally comfortable and warm the few times I've been out so far in untracked 12-16" snow.


Shelled out for the boots to go with an older pair of Karhu 10th Mountain Tour (waxless, steel edges) skis I picked up for $10 at a thrift store...



Got the Fischer's for $10 too. Both pairs of skis work great, and the Rotefella NNN BC bindings on the 10th Mountain's are selling new online for close to $100. These older 10th Mountain's are still narrow enough to work in classic tracks at a XC ski area, but with the more robust NNN BC boots and bindings makes me feel better about just shooting off into the woods. Good/cheap learning setup.


Lastly, the most important advice you may ever get - click here. I've followed it and it works! Kudos to Skierish! icon14.gif

post #4 of 5

Quick update on the Rossi BCX5 boots I mentioned in the previous post. They are indeed totally comfortable and warm, and seem perfectly suited for the meadows, forests and gently rolling terrain I'm exploring as I learn about this XC ski thing. However, the plastic frame that the velcro cinch strap goes through is total shi-ite - I broke it just snugging up the boots before going out the other day.


Good news is the velcro strap was long enough to improvise and still effectively tighten up the upper cuff, so off I went. I do really like the boots otherwise, so I'm going to see if I can find some pieces at a hardware store and kludge something together to repair/reinforce that part. If I can't get it done satisfactorially I'll take em back to REI, maybe get another pair and buy a pair of velcro power straps so that weak link won't be tested again.


I did get out into a national forest the other day, and I was amazed at how well the 10th Mountains glided along in the spring-like conditions. 3 week old snow, soft but not slushy, kinda corn-like. Equally amazing was how well they climbed a small hillside I went partway up. Didn't slip, worked great!

post #5 of 5

Returned first pair of BCX5 boots with broken cuff strap to REI, and ordered a replacement pair. Then ordered some Sonic skate straps...



I just tighten the built-in cuff strap enough to get it out of the way. Cinch the Sonic straps down pretty good, which improves ankle support. Problem solved.


For anyone who might be interested the NNN BC boots at REI have been reduced another $20 - currently going for $79.93.


I got the Sonic straps on Amazon.

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