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Recommendations on a simple XC setup

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Got fed up with the teeming masses of people at Gore Mtn. (NY) this Sunday (1/18) so today my son and I tried XC skiing for the first time (rentals + lesson at a local area east of Albany near the NY/MASS border). We had a great time.

It just snowed last night so the untracked areas had about 3-4" of fresh snow on 'em. Conditions were generally soft. Temps were in the low to mid 20's.

I was using a pair of Karhu boots that fit well (lace-up under covered by zippered flap) and Karhu "widetrack" waxless skis in 179 cm (I'm 5'7" 155-160lbs). I thought they skied great, but that just means I enjoyed using them; I have no basis for comparison. My son (around 4' tall) was in Solly boots (similar style to mine) with either Solly or Karhu waxless skis (around 140 cm).

There are TONS of places around Albany that offer free or modestly priced XC trails, some just miles from my house. For times when I can't afford to kill an entire day heading up to the Adirondacks (or over to VT) to downhill, it would be great to be able to get out for a few hours of XC in the afternoon to have some fun and get some exercise.

My question is, what would be a good setup for me, my son, and possibly my wife as well? Want to be able to go on a moment's notice (we'll only have a 2-3 hr window), so I'd prefer not to have to deal with waxes (especially if you have to change 'em based on the temperature). OTOH, I like to challenge myself/work to improve and I don't want a setup that I'll outgrow in a year or two. Not interested in skate style XC.

Recommendations appreciated.

Tks.

STE
post #2 of 24
Even if you don't want to skate, look at the skate/classic combi boots. They are basically classic boots with a bit more support, which makes them decent tromping around without a track.. I have four boots, but could get by with just those.

For skis, get some mid width waxless skis. Metal edges are a waste ---they only add control in extreme conditions. Ski and boot design are much more important.

Then, pick up some waxable ski for $15 at a garage sale. Wax it with Swix extra blue and use it for cold powder snow. For everything else, use the waxless ski.
post #3 of 24
Currently I am running a Alpina Tracker ski with an Alpina Blazer boot. The Tracker has a metal edge, but is still a classic XC ski, with waxless base. The Trakcer is a solid entry level/intermediate XC ski. As far as I have seen, Alpina offers some of the most reasonably priced products, which are also quality. I think I paid about $200 for the boot, ski, and binding and have been using them for two years now, without a hitch. Also, local ski shops, pawn shops, craigslist, and other places can lead you to reasonably priced, used gear.
post #4 of 24
Keeping it simple for the family is key and a 'waxless' set up (though you do need glide wax) is the path of least resistance. NNN bindings and boots. The metal edges do help in firmer and icy snows, IMO, but not critical.

If you are not inclined to set up the whole family immediately, renting is a cheap alternative to help gauge interest and try different gear. Next year's ski swaps will have many cheap options.

Over the years, if the snow is not optimal at the ski area, I just as soon take the dog and go touring in the woods in soft snow. It gives you more frequent options of getting a different kind of snow and ski fix.
post #5 of 24
My remark about metal edges comes from hearing so many people on floppy boots and 46mm skis say they have no control on hard snow and need metal edges. Then the get a metal edged ski, which happens to be wider, has better bindings, with a bit of sidecut and do better.

Last week Slider showed up on the mountain with a wooden ski with plastic edges. It is a new ski with a moden sidecut and he carved perfect railroad track arcs into well frozen groomed runs. I used to tele on some Silva Huskis, which looked like a tele ski of the era with no edges with good results too.

The only nordic skis which need metal edges are tele skis. A ski with some sidecut and a solid boot binding will be lighter, less likely to ice, and grip as well as any xc boot will allow. That ski can be tough to find---they put metal edges on many of them because they sell better.
post #6 of 24
Metal are not a priority for touring, but there has been a few times on very icy, screamin' downhills that I've been glad to have them. A BC NNN rig (with no little sidecut) gives me a bit more versatility and support than a lighter track oriented touring rig.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
I've read everything that's been said here, I reviewed some of the archives, visited some other sites, and I have some more questions.

What is the "burliest" setup that is still a xc (not tele or AT) rig? Would it be something like the Fischer Boundless Crown Skis + a NNN BC binding + the skate/classic combi boots Newfy recommended?

What is a good "intermediate" XC setup that can handle up to say 4" of new, untracked snow in the woods, but that would also be fine for use on groomed xc paths? Would the Alpinas that Badcalorie recommends fall in this category? What are other options? I'm looking for specific ski, boot and binding recommendations so I know what to look for when I walk into a store.

In terms of weight and effort needed to ski tracked paths, how would the above setups compare to the (presumably) lighter rig I rented this weekend (Karhu boots (lace-up under covered by zippered flap) and Karhu "widetrack" waxless skis in 179 cm)?

I'm trying to get a better sense of my options and what the tradeoffs are.

Thanks again for everyone's help with this.

STE
post #8 of 24
BC-NNN rigs have a wider groove layout for a wider platform than touring & skate NNN. The combi boots are NNN or SNS (Salomon proprietary).

The burliest boots (BC NNN) I'm aware of are Alpina 1550:



I'm not sure how well tha BC NNN Magnums work for turning, but I believe they work better than BC NNN automatics. For skis, the Fischer Boundless Crown or Atomic Rainer would work and there are wider and narrower one's in this 'category', like Karhu Guides. These might be overkill if you are just touring, however.

Something like the Rossignol BC 90 AR Touring ski with a less burly boot will work for a variety of conditions (similar to my go to, most frequently used rig).

For lighter touring, there are tons of options out there that will work fine for light touring. 4" of snow is easily handled by all options. I'd suggest something that is track and touring oriented. Again, renting and getting out will help answer some questions as will talking to your local shop options.

Get comfortable boots and go from there. If you do have interest in skate skiing the NNN combi boot approach might be your focal point.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski the East View Post
What is the "burliest" setup that is still a xc (not tele or AT) rig? Would it be something like the Fischer Boundless Crown Skis + a NNN BC binding + the skate/classic combi boots Newfy recommended?
NNN BC bindings won't fit a skate/classic boot.

There are some really nice, fairly similar boots that do though, and they too can be quite versatle. We have one pair of skate skis mounted with Salomon BC bindings, and the Salomon BC boots we have work decently for skating, and are super with wider skis breaking trail. They would not be so good for Tele.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski the East View Post

What is a good "intermediate" XC setup that can handle up to say 4" of new, untracked snow in the woods, but that would also be fine for use on groomed xc paths? Would the Alpinas that Badcalorie recommends fall in this category? What are other options? I'm looking for specific ski, boot and binding recommendations so I know what to look for when I walk into a store.
Alpina Solution & Control (light option)/ Alpina Woody & Forester & Tracker (heavy option)
Fischer Silent Spider (light option)/ Fischer Outbound Crown (heavy option)
Atomic Mountain BC G2 (light option)/Atomic Sierra (heavy option)
Karhu Escape (light option)/Karhu Pinnacle (heavy option)

+ others from Visu/Rossi/Elan/Salomon but that should be showing the pattern:

something just under 70mm, just long enough for good glide under your weight, just short enough for your leg length that you can get a -hint- of skating without tangling up your tails, and just soft enough so that you don't backslip on hills.

Then get enough boot to control it. If the Karhus laced up nicely, Fischer and Salomon boots should have a similar fit. Alpina boots tend to be higher volume, Rossi ones the skinniest of them all.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Okay, I've done some more reading and I have some more questions and ideas to run by y'all.

1. The Sierra Club claims three pin bindings are safer than NNN BC bindings because they can release. Here's a link to the article:

http://angeles.sierraclub.org/nordic...rdic_Boots.htm

Is this accurate? I hurt my knee skiing last year, so I try to be careful.

2. What trade-offs do you make moving from NNN BC to a three-pin setup?

3. How does climbing work on skis with metal edges, is it effectively the same as the no-metal Karhu widetracks I used?

4. How do these look as possible setups:

a. NNN BC setup--Rossi BC X7 boot, Rossi NNN BC Magnum manual binding, Rossi BC 70 AR Touring skis (70/60/65 179 cm). The BC 70 ARs look good because they can still be used on the groomed tracks if I want to.

b. Light tele setup---Voile Hardwire 3 pin binding, Rossi BC x11 boots (or Scarpa T3 if they're available?), Rossi BC 90 AR Touring skis (88/60/78) or the Fischer Boundless Crown (98/69/88).

Any problems with either setup? Which one is more versatile? Recommended gear additions/deletions/substitutions? Do these setups make sense?

Thanks again for all your help.

STE
post #12 of 24
The sierra club claim:

"The wire bail can easily pop out and disappear in the snow. It's a good idea to carry one or two spares in your pack. This tendency to pop out under stress is good because it acts as a simple release and can prevent a broken leg."

....Is one of the stupidest things I've ever read. Might as well not glue in your binding screws and claim you are safer because they can rip out easier. In 40 years of skiing I can't remember ripping out of a three pin. I've ripped the soles off some boots.

I've never had an ankle or knee hurt on xc skis period. It can be done, but is not that common.

Three pin bindings don't have the nice forward flex and make it more likely to get blisters. They cut you stride short if the boots are stiff. We use to race in three pins, but flexible boots like that don't exist today.

Metal edges have nothing to do with climbing. If you try to herringbone straight up an steep icy hill they could conceivably be better, but so would crampons. Sidecut and boot/binding stiffness gives you edge power, not metal edges.

I'd go with the nnn-bc. The only three pins still on the market are pretty much tele-specific.
post #13 of 24
As a general guide, a telemark rig is probably going to cost a lot more than a BC-NNN set up and will weigh more. If you are mainly out for touring it can be overkill. IMO, you may be better off starting out with the versatile track and off-trail lighter BC-NNN option that is compatible with your family's gear, and then consider the beefier set up if turns become more of a priority. At that point an AT rig may be a better fit.

There are free-pivot tele binding options like the Black Diamond 01:



And the Karhu 7TM Tour which also has a release capability

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski the East View Post
Okay, I've done some more reading and I have some more questions and ideas to run by y'all.

1. The Sierra Club claims three pin bindings are safer than NNN BC bindings because they can release. Here's a link to the article:

http://angeles.sierraclub.org/nordic...rdic_Boots.htm

Is this accurate? I hurt my knee skiing last year, so I try to be careful.
It's antique. It's good for antique bindings, the sort of ones you see for next to nothing on Ebay. The wire has (rightly, for ski control reasons) been replaced with a metal plate clamp.

If you want a releaseable binding, the Voile CRB plate can be mounted under most XC bindings.



I don't recommend it; it doubles the binding weight, has an enormous contact point that definitely affects ski flex, and the tension of the release spring is directly transferred to the ski structure, which sometimes (air cores) cannot bear it so one is required to put a heavy metal plate on the lightest skis.

Quote:
2. What trade-offs do you make moving from NNN BC to a three-pin setup?
You lose the ability to make really loooong strides.
The boot flexes and might blister or chafe the top or sides of the foot with each stride if the fit isn't right.
You start rubbing the sides of set tracks unless the setter tapered them, or the snow is really shallow.
You start having a left and right ski.


You gain:

edge control

and the ability to modulate pressure on the front of the ski instead of the on/off of toe bumpers

and the ability to do it in a way that's more related to natural gait instead of standing on tiptoe.

Quote:
3. How does climbing work on skis with metal edges, is it effectively the same as the no-metal Karhu widetracks I used?
Yep.

Quote:
4. How do these look as possible setups:

a. NNN BC setup--Rossi BC X7 boot, Rossi NNN BC Magnum manual binding, Rossi BC 70 AR Touring skis (70/60/65 179 cm). The BC 70 ARs look good because they can still be used on the groomed tracks if I want to.

b. Light tele setup---Voile Hardwire 3 pin binding, Rossi BC x11 boots (or Scarpa T3 if they're available?), Rossi BC 90 AR Touring skis (88/60/78) or the Fischer Boundless Crown (98/69/88).

Any problems with either setup? Which one is more versatile? Recommended gear additions/deletions/substitutions? Do these setups make sense?

Thanks again for all your help.

STE
You missed a boot/binding combo in there:

Rugged touring boot category: Rossi BC X9 , Alpina BC 1575/2075, there are also double leathers by companies like Asolo and Alico.



3 pin no-cable Bindings: Rottefella (sometimes Rossi) Super Telemark/ Voile HD Mountaineer



(of those 2, I like the Rottefella for bail clearance to 20mm lugs, though Voile have a complete line of accessories like lifters and things. The Voile 3-pin light cable bindings mount to the same holes.




And you can always take the cable off the hooks for the uphill bit.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the extremely helpful advice. I'm going with the NNN-BC setup because I think it will be easier (and cheaper) to get my family to learn to XC ski than it would be to get them to learn to tele.

Newfydog, my question about metal edges and climbing didn't make any sense. What I was trying to ask was whether waxless metal edged XC touring skis have a cambered section with a pattern (fishscale, etc.) for climbing that is held off the snow until you put your weight on it (similar to the no-metal Karhu skis I rented). I didn't ask a very clear question, but I think Comprex got the jist of what I was trying to ask.

To get the best glide out of the "waxless" skis should I be using glide wax (Swix extra blue?) on the non-patterned areas?

Again, my thanks to everyone.

STE
post #16 of 24
Nordic skis have double cambered sections to create a wax pocket/kick zone for grip wax or scales/patterned sections. If a ski is geared more for touring the double camber should be apparent. If it's geared more for turning, then you are likely to see a single camber. I'm not sure what 'tweener' skis are single or double cambered, but you may find the info in the specs.

Then you get into the question of flex relative to user weight to maximize track ski performance. It doesn't sound like an issue for your ski types.

Regarding gliding wax, make sure it's liquid or spray. Clearly biased towards, Maplus, the Super Glide or Universal works well for me. You do not get the same glide as a smooth ski base, but it helps and more importantly, the glide wax keeps the scales or patterned bases from icing up which is a bigger issue. Some people use silicon or paste/cream waxes.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski the East View Post
Thanks to all for the extremely helpful advice. I'm going with the NNN-BC setup because I think it will be easier (and cheaper) to get my family to learn to XC ski than it would be to get them to learn to tele.
One thing about XC with NNN-BC:

Do NOT buy old bindings off Ebay or C-list.

Those bindings use more plastic than old Salomon ones, (75mm XC shouldn't use any plastics at all except for cosmetic trim) and the plastics are very much getting dated and cracking. Nothing quite like getting down trail and having the front pressure housing shred on you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
Then you get into the question of flex relative to user weight to maximize track ski performance.
IMO, the big issue for beginners is getting skis that are too stiff in the forebody for their weight, and therefore backslide when climbing alpine bunny hill grades.

Very annoying, very frustrating, very crampalicious in the rectus femoris area, and easily fixed with a 15lb pack and some heel wires.
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 

Just so everyone knows that, at least sometimes, the advice provided on this forum is followed, I used my Rossi BC70's (with BC Magnum NNN bindings) for the first time today at Lapland Lake XC Ski Area, which is about an hour's drive N/W (mostly W) of where I live.  The entire family had a great time.  I found the blue trails at Lapland Lake to be sufficiently challenging.  The Honka Tie (blue) trail had lots of vertical in both the up and down directions.  It took me a couple of tries to be able to stay in the tracks through the entirety of the downhill run.  I have not ventured onto the black trails yet.

 

Alpinord, the Maplus universal spray wax I got from your shop worked great in temps that ranged from around 20 to around 34 degrees.  One question though, on one of the skis, for part of the fishscale section, the metal edge isn't 100% in contact with the base material (there are small gaps).  That's how the skis were when they arrived (new).  Do I need to get the gaps filled?  If so, how is it done?

 

STE

post #19 of 24

I've seen gaps that fit that description before, mostly on old Karhus (Catamounts and Pioneers) with the positive waxless pattern.  

 

  I've always filled them with hard glide wax by dripping right into the gap -shrug-  lazy.

post #20 of 24

Good to hear you pulled the trigger and are enjoying your new gear. I'm with comprex on the hard wax approach (I'd just use liquid, hard). Otherwise, a thin epoxy or welding if really concerned with moisture infiltration to the core.

post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'll go with the hard wax (probably iron/drip b/c I have it handy), thanks for the advice.

 

STE

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by badcalorie View Post

Currently I am running a Alpina Tracker ski with an Alpina Blazer boot. The Tracker has a metal edge, but is still a classic XC ski, with waxless base. The Trakcer is a solid entry level/intermediate XC ski. As far as I have seen, Alpina offers some of the most reasonably priced products, which are also quality. I think I paid about $200 for the boot, ski, and binding and have been using them for two years now, without a hitch. Also, local ski shops, pawn shops, craigslist, and other places can lead you to reasonably priced, used gear.


I am on a set of these too, after having rented them all last season at Windblown XC center which has a 1500+ vertical and alot of backcountry and set trac runs.  I found them for $139 and had a good time on them. I think it is worth having the stel edges when conditions get extreme and you dont want lose control.  I bought them as a do-all so I could ski with my friends in track and also bushwack when I had the oportunity. They have a scuff tuff topsheet which is durable. Over all it is a decent well made light ski. 

 

post #23 of 24

I would try to find a pair of Fischer BCX6 NNN bc boots, I found them to be much better than the 1550's, and Rossignol BC X-5. For lighter all around use Ive had good luck with Rossignol bc X5's I rented from REI in Hingham ,Mass but when I bought I decided to go with something a little beefier for more power and found the Fischers were much better built and alot more comfortable than the Alpinas. 

post #24 of 24

Um....beungood....  did you check the date of the last post before you replied? 
I'm thinking he's probably found something by now.....

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