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XC noob.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am gettign 2.5 hours per week to go do athletic stuff. Sadly, downhill skiing does not count. And I don't want to sit in a gym. There is a groomed XC trail right from town and I want to get into XC this winter.

It seems there are a variety of options for equipment. What should I get? Do the skis have edges? What are the different boot types?

What size skis? Is boot fitting important? What about bindings? Won't I get too hot in goretex? Do people use soft shell pants or what? 

Obviously I have many questions. Thanks in advance.
Edited by tromano - 9/6/09 at 3:22pm
post #2 of 18
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Edited by comprex - 9/9/09 at 10:56am
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

I am gettign 2.5 hours per week to go do athletic stuff. Sadly, downhill skiing does not count. And I don't want to sit in a gym. There is a groomed XC trail right from town and I want to get into XC this winter.

It seems there are a variety of options for equipment. What should I get? Do the skis have edges? What are the different boot types?

What size skis? Is boot fitting important? What about bindings? Won't I get too hot in goretex? Do people use soft shell pants or what? 

Obviously I have many questions. Thanks in advance.
 

 


You have to decide first off if you're getting in "classic" or "skating" style. Equipment choice depends on whether you go classic or skating. For "work-out" skiing in touring centers, metal edges are not needed.

Skating is a much harder workout. Though it's a bit harder to get the hang of.

You're going to get very hot indeed, even in the "easier" classic style. A good un-lined Goretex shell with do. At the begining, you're likely to fall a bit more. So the waterproof Goretex is a better choice. Once you got proficient, I just wear stretch pants for the quick spin around the track kind of skiing.

 

post #4 of 18
The basic boot/binding types are SNS and NNN, and there are backcountry and skating versions of each. I use SNS but NNN seems to be taking over to some extent, so I'd go with NNN.
My personal suggestion is to start with classical technique and try skating once you're comfortable with that. Skating is a lot more fun to me, but much more difficult...I haven't mastered it at all. If you're climbing a hill and lose your momentum, you're in a pretty tough spot on skating skis...you can always just walk up on classical skis.
Waxless (scaled) classical skis are easy to use and don't require you to have a PhD in wax selection for snow conditions...you may move on to waxable skis if you really get into it, I never did.
Don't buy super cheap, floppy XC boots...you'll wish you had better ones after a week. Probably worth actually trying on your first pair rather than buying sight unseen from the web, but places like Sierra Trading Post and eBay offer some tremendous deals once you know what you're looking for.
Heat is definitely the enemy of the XC skier...I started off skiing in a jogging suit with some kind of wicking tshirt, but now have a light waterproof/breathable XC pants and jacket combo. Unless it's below about 10 degrees, you'll heat up fast. You'll want gloves and a hat (or ear warmers) to block the wind, but they've gotta be light and breathable.
post #5 of 18
I'm in kind of the same boat;  is it worth renting some equipment somewhere to get an introduction to the sport?  Having never done it, I can see it being difficult to really appreciate the differences between different boots, bindings, skis, etc. 
post #6 of 18
With one of the best BC mountain ranges in the US out your back door (Bear Mtns) why don't you spend your money on a BC set up?  That way you can get your workout, plus you then get to ski downhill.
post #7 of 18
As others have said, when it comes to clothing your concern is staying dry rather than staying warm. I wear insulated tights (with long johns are a very cold day but normally without), a wicking top, lightweight fleece, and waterproof shell jacket. Then light-weight xc-gloves and cap or ear warmer.

As for equipment, you have to make some decisions about what you want to do. Skating or classis (for a beginner I'd start with classic). Then do you want narrower, faster race-type skis or wider, more stable touring skis. Touring skis will allow you to ski on un-groomed snow. This is before you get to metal-edged nordic backcountry skis that have a lot more float and are getting pretty close to telemark skis. With a xc-touring ski you're still able to fit in groomed tracks.

Virtus_Probi mentions different boot/binding standards. This is one reason why you would want to go to a good ski shop to buy your first pair. They will also help you get the right length ski (much more dependant on weight than on height). Keep in mind that an excellent alpine ski shop that has a small xc section might not be a good nordic ski shop. Better to go to a smaller specialist shop or a larger shop that has xc specialists on staff. My local ski shop has only a small nordic section, but one employee who knows his stuff. I only take advice from him and never buy anything on the advice of their other employees (no matter how well informed they are when it comes to downhill skiing).

Just last winter I took my first nordic lesson. It helped greatly. You can "figure out" what to do more easily than alpine skiing, so lessons may not seem necessary. But you'd be amazed how many bad habits you can pick up that way. I'm skiing much faster and exerting far less energy now.

Have fun. It's a great workout and a ton of fun.
post #8 of 18

I have done some sporadic x-c skiing since the '70s, but by no means an expert. Have owned the same waxless (fish scale bottoms) classic x-c set-up for about 20 years. Stuff lasts a long time when you only use it a handful of times each winter. Any ski swaps in your area? Usually swaps also have some used x-c stuff for sale, but selection can be limited. IIRC buying new x-c gear was about half the price of new downhill gear.
Clothes: for the workout type thing you are considering on an urban/suburban track you only need to dress like you are going out for a winter run/jog. Initially you will likely be moving at a slow walk-like pace requiring warmer clothing, but as you get better/faster plan to sweat and breath heavy. Even on classic gear after some practice you can move at a pace that is equivalent to a fast jog. If your track has hills you can have fun with even faster downhill glides. It's a good workout and has some fitness benefits applicable to downhill skiing (balance, leg strength, triceps/biceps, cardio). The one area I have trouble with sometimes is blisters on my heels when I try to move fast when I'm not in shape for that. Wearing two pairs of thin socks can help.

post #9 of 18
A clear advantage of 'going both ways' or being 'AC/DC' is you open up more opportunities for getting out in variable conditions. A prime skate ski day may be way more fun and beneficial than 'classic' or touring XC  and visa versa on a given day or time of day. Plus the cross training is good. So I would suggest trying to do both or all of the above. Combi boots and skis are one approach versus very specific gear for starters and evolve as you go and gain experience.

The clothes for XC/skate/biking/running/hiking/etc can be very similar or the same relative to comparable conditions.
post #10 of 18
Lots of opinions here.  I'll throw in mine.

I wouldn't touch goretex unless it was raining.  Might as well wear a plastic bag.

Combi skate classic boots are good:  combi skis suck

Skating vs classic is a big subject.  Classic is easier to do from the start, but harder to do well.  Skating takes a few lessons and 10 days on snow to before it has a good flow.  Neither can be called easier/harder aerobically, they both can be what you make them.

Waxless skis are like running dragging a sandbag.  In Utah, I'd get some waxable skis, put swix extra blue on them, and do something else when it is too cold/warm/icy for that to work.
post #11 of 18
Do combi sucks so bad that they would not be a reasonable option for someone to reduce start up costs to get introduced to both disciplines and then improve gear later?
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help. I am just going out to fart around for at most a few hours a week on some local groomed trails. I really don't care about going fast, racing, the most efficient techniqe / gear. Just want to get out there.
post #13 of 18
The key is to keep it simple so you have few obstacles to getting you out the door. Have fun. It's addictive.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

Do combi sucks so bad that they would not be a reasonable option for someone to reduce start up costs to get introduced to both disciplines and then improve gear later?
 

Good question.  Probably not.  I mean, I ski on my wife's skis from time to time to test wax, and they can't be a much worse fit for me than a combi ski.  They are not something I'd own for myself, but they wouldn't keep me from having fun.

The thing to look out for is that to learn skating one absolutely must have a fast ski.  (It is nearly impossible to learn skating on a fishscale ski, and even an accomplished skater won't skate more than a few strides on those things.)  Putting kick wax on a combi ski insures it too will be a bad skating ski, particularly in cold powder, until it gets a major cleaning and glide waxing.  Then, it becomes hard to get kick wax to stick to a ski which has been glide waxed.  I guess combi skis would be ok if you didn't plan on doing both in one day.

oh yeah---don't try to use the same poles either.  Skate poles are much longer than classic poles, and that too makes a big difference.

These aerobic sports tread a fine line between joy and drudgery.  Compare biking a smooth road to riding into a wind with soft tires.  The right equipment is a real key to having fun.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

Thanks for the help. I am just going out to fart around for at most a few hours a week on some local groomed trails. I really don't care about going fast, racing, the most efficient techniqe / gear. Just want to get out there.

Let me repeat this:

These aerobic sports tread a fine line between joy and drudgery.  Compare biking a smooth road to riding into a wind with soft tires.  The right equipment is a real key to having fun.

Sort of like the people who have a heavy old clunker bike with bad shifting, and claim it is a "good workout bike" because it takes more effort.  Actually they don't get any workout, because they don't ride the miserable thing.

Here's my bottom line rec:

Buy good skate classic combi boots.  Buy a fast waxless fishscale ski and learn some basic technique.  Using them when there is some new snow will be much better than skiing on packed or icy conditions.  Rent some skating skis and take a lesson and see how fast you think you can pick it up.  Keep you eyes out for some ski swap waxable classic skis.  Get some of Alpinords Maplus waxes...they are versatle and easy to use.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
I don't have a problem with aerobic sports. I think we will rent for a while to start and see how it goes. What's better for climbing? Skate or classic? I forgot to mention that the trail I am thinking of climbs about 1800ft in 6 miles.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

I don't have a problem with aerobic sports. I think we will rent for a while to start and see how it goes. What's better for climbing? Skate or classic? I forgot to mention that the trail I am thinking of climbs about 1800ft in 6 miles.
 

I used to do a race at Beaver Creek which was a Ski- snowshoe-speedskate triathlon.  The first leg was XC skiing and was basically  4000' of climbing.  One year we all did it classic and the leg took 2 hours.  The next year we were all skating and it went 30 seconds faster.  I guess uphill is uphill.

One nice thing about waxable skis is that on a trail like yours you can put extra kick wax on for the climb, then scrape the skis clean and fly back down. Some people actually put down duct tape, wax the tape, and peel it off at the top.  A world cup race was once won that way.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

What's better for climbing? Skate or classic? I forgot to mention that the trail I am thinking of climbs about 1800ft in 6 miles.
 

Classic is easier to get the hang of for beginers.

Climbing is hard work. So, for starting out on a hilly trail, classic is probably the easier way to go.

Once you get your fitness to the point the climbing is "routine". AND you got half way proficient at skating, you can then tackle skating uphill for extended period of time. THAT, would be a fantastic workout.

They say x-c skiers are the fittest athlets overall.

But as newfydog puts it: "aerobic sports tread a fine line between joy and drudgery".

Don't forget to have fun!

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