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Absolute XC novice looking for basic advice

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi gang:

 

I'd like to get into XC skiing this year - and I'd like to take my wife with me.  Can I get some basic advice?

 

First, what type of skis should we be looking at?  I imagine that we'll mainly stay on tracks, but there will likely be times when we're breaking trail, especially on powder days.  Is there a type of cross-over ski out there that's good in a variety of conditions?  This question is extended to bindings as well.  Is there a type of binding I should be looking at?

 

Second, what length of skis should we be looking at?  I'm 6'2"/180.  She's 5'9"/130.  How about for poles?  I assume the 90-degree rule for alpine skiing doesn't cut it here.

 

Third, I know that a good day of skiing has everything to do with one's boots.  Are there different types of boots out there, and what type would be best for casual day-trips?

 

Fourth, is used a good way to start, or do XC skis loose too much spring if they're used?

 

Thanks (as always!) for all the help!

 

Best,

Dan

post #2 of 23

1- Wax less or "no wax" skis to start. That will also eliminate skate skis and put you into a width that will work. Any binding that fits your boot is good.

 

2- Check some of the manufacturers or online retailer websites for sizing on a ski for your weight. Correct fit varies by ski model. That said, it's really always a compromise between grip and glide so close is good enough is sizing your skis. Poles should be longer that alpine, about armpit length works.

 

3 - Boots. 3-pin, step in or one of the nordic norms. Fit is as important as in a casual shoe and not as critical as an alpine ski boot.

 

4- Around here, used stuff is so cheap - used, basic touring skis are free to <$50 (exactly what the are worth) - that it makes sense to get an idea of what you need size wise and jump on anything used that comes close. I got 2 sets including boots for $20 ea last summer off craigslist. For $20 how can you go wrong?

 

Have fun. Get started. The wife and I started 40 years ago on the cheap and still really look  forward to winter.

post #3 of 23



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbuquerqueDan View Post

Fourth, is used a good way to start, or do XC skis loose too much spring if they're used?

 

Thanks (as always!) for all the help!

 

Best,

Dan



XC skis don't really break down.  I've got some that are 40 years old, and use lots of 10-20 year old skis.

 

I'd just go to a touring center, rent some skis and see what you like.

 

Be careful with used skis/boots.  The binding designs keep changing and there are many discontinued and incompatible models.

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post

I'd just go to a touring center, rent some skis and see what you like.


^ This.

post #5 of 23

Have to agree a touring center is a good start if they are available where you live. Buying used is my religion. Never forget our first outing. Wood skis we got at a department store. Smeared red wax on (way too much)  per suggested temperature range for that warm sunny day. Out the back door and into the woods. A new  1/2" layer of snow stuck with each step we took. After slogging, falling and laughing for about 500 yards we had enough so we dug out a snow cave and ....... it was a great day.

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the help so far!  Renting at REI will likely be my first step...  Can't wait for that snow to fall again!

post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbuquerqueDan View Post

Thanks for the help so far!  Renting at REI will likely be my first step...  Can't wait for that snow to fall again!


Depending on which REI you go to they can have decent stuff, but I think newfy and I were speaking more of renting at the pro shop that is located wherever they have groomed tracks, because  both the gear and the wax is going to be correct for the terrain and the snow.

 

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post




Depending on which REI you go to they can have decent stuff, but I think newfy and I were speaking more of renting at the pro shop that is located wherever they have groomed tracks, because  both the gear and the wax is going to be correct for the terrain and the snow.

 

 

I live in Albuquerque, NM now - I don't think there's a pro shop or groomed tracks within 50 miles of here (but there are good XC trails in the Sandias, just not maintained ones).  REI is the only game in town for this type of thing...  Wish me luck!


 

post #9 of 23

Speaking of REI-I picked up some on sale Atomic Aleas and Salomon boots last year. Boots, bindings and skis were less than $200 and they were new, just closeouts from the previous season. I got some roller skis recently that actually cost more than my XC set-up. My gear works great-I just looked at some online reviews and product descriptions and stuck with Atomic because my alpine skis are Atomic. I'm sticking with classic style for now. My roller skis are combi. If I like skate style, I may switch...

post #10 of 23

Even in July. More will show up as winter nears

 

http://albuquerque.craigslist.org/spo/1772411736.html

post #11 of 23

Definitely go waxless and get a ski that can be used for tracks as well as light backcountry touring, so you can venture off into the deeper stuff.  Most of the trails around this part of NM are not groomed, so it would be nice to have the option of going off the beaten path. If the skis have a metal edge, then they are better for off-trail use, but they will be a little heavier than skis with no metal.  A NNN step-in binding is the easiest way to go and offers great performance and control.  With used stuff, as said earlier, do be careful because boots/bindings can be older and incompatible with newer stuff.  

 

I've been a fan of Karhu's waxless skis for years.  I have a pair of 10th Mountains that are 15 years old and still good, and a pair of Karhu combi skis that are also 15 years old and in great shape.  My skate skis are 12 years old and I have no plans to replace them, so cross-country gear can last a long time.  Each ski manufacturer has its own sizing chart, so check that online to determine your correct size.  Cross-country lengths run much longer than alpine ski lengths.  As far as widths, you shouldn't really need anything wider than about 62mm.  Anything wider and its more of a tele ski and will not have as much camber, so will be slower for touring.

 

The Karhu XCD Pinnacle is a pretty sweet, versatile ski.

 

Yeah, I don't think there's any gear shops other than REI around, but there's plenty of places to go ski!

post #12 of 23

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twintip View Post

Yeah, I don't think there's any gear shops other than REI around, but there's plenty of places to go ski!


In winter you can buy x-c equipment at New Mexico Bike N Sport in Santa Fe:

http://nmbikensport.com/

 

hth

post #13 of 23

I also had essentially the same question about setup although with a somewhat different twist. I am a downhill skier (40+ days a winter). I live in the east and last year with all of the snow I actually was often unable to get to ski because of the 100 mile drive in 20 inches of snow. I also enjoyed the Olympic XC event on TV. So I am looking for an XC setup to use primarily around my home and nearby parks, it is a hilly area. I would be breaking trails, and because of the hills, might want a ski with an edge. I was considering some type of touring set up but would appreciate advice from someone who might actually have some practical knowledge. A secondary use would be to go to a center and try trails so I would not want to get too wide.

post #14 of 23

Karhu XCD Pinnacle or Fischer E89 or E99 Crown.  All are versatile, have an edge, can be used for backcountry touring, but also will work in groomed touring centers.

post #15 of 23

 

Skis less than 65mm wide will work in touring center tracks, skis that are slightly wider than that may still fit but will probably rub against the sides of the set track.  Much over 68-70 mm: forget about it.

 

As I said in the other thread, finding skis is /easy/, finding boots is not.      Find a good boot, ankle height +, that fits your foot and that gives you the amount of ankle support and edging power you think you'd be comfortable with.    The boot you get will tell you which binding to use.

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twintip View Post

Karhu XCD Pinnacle or Fischer E89 or E99 Crown.  All are versatile, have an edge, can be used for backcountry touring, but also will work in groomed touring centers.

 

"Karhu" skis go away this year.    It's all Madshus now.

 

 

Others:

Alpina Tracker + Discovery

Fischer Silent Spider +  Outbound Crown

Rossi BC65 +  BC70
 


Edited by comprex - 10/13/10 at 5:19pm
post #17 of 23

Thanks very much for the ski advice here and the boot advice in the other thread.

post #18 of 23

 

Where are you based?

post #19 of 23

Pennsylvania

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

Pennsylvania



http://www.paccsa.org/GearResale.htm

post #21 of 23

I shopped this weekend and the only BC boot that I could find to try on that had any (minimal) substance was the Alpina 1550. It did not seem as substantial as those that had been recommended but most of them do not come in a women's lasts the Alpina 1550L. It has a regular NNN BC binding and is softer than what I think is the Tele Lite. Any thoughts?  Also I am guessing that a XC boot should fit like a shoe rather than like a DH ski boot, ie., some room at the front but your heel does not lift up. Is it better to be tighter or looser?  I don't know if there will be more models available or if I will have to wait for my next trip to VT to get set up.

post #22 of 23


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vsirin View Post

I shopped this weekend and the only BC boot that I could find to try on that had any (minimal) substance was the Alpina 1550. It did not seem as substantial as those that had been recommended but most of them do not come in a women's lasts the Alpina 1550L. It has a regular NNN BC binding and is softer than what I think is the Tele Lite. Any thoughts?

 

IMO, you are absolutely correct on both counts.   The 1550 _is_  far less supportive than the boots I posted.  However, IMO it is perfectly adequate for controlling a metal-edge ski on sidehills and on downhill tracks, and it will let you snowplow down some steep sections in good control.   It is also a relatively fast boot, meaning you'll be able to get quite a nice bit of kick and glide uphill and on flattish sections.    

 

If you don't plan on skiing anything that's both ungroomed and steeper than  a highway overpass, that boot should be perfectly fine.


  Also I am guessing that a XC boot should fit like a shoe rather than like a DH ski boot, ie., some room at the front but your heel does not lift up

 

That's fair for a boot with a flexible sole, not really true for a NNN-BC or other system boot with a rigid sole.  Those fit as close as alpine boots. Remember:  the looser the fit at the front, the better your lateral balance has to be on downhills.  (A loose heel means you're in trouble.)

 

 I don't know if there will be more models available or if I will have to wait for my next trip to VT to get set up.

 

I would not restrict the shopping to womens' last boots only; keep trying stuff.   Try BC boots, try combi boots, try skate boots; try everything you can get your hands on.  

 

EDIT:  my thinking on this is "having something is better than having nothing when you get a dump outside your door", so it doesn't _have_ to be perfect the first time.


Edited by comprex - 10/25/10 at 2:14pm
post #23 of 23

Thanks. The hills right around my house are like pretty good cruiser blues or more at a DH resort. Out my front, about a 20 degree grade. It only last about 200 feet and then moves to 10 to 15%. The back is steeper. I've skied it in dh gear when there was a big dump. But I know you are right that something is better than nothing. However, I plan on skiing ungroomed 95% of the time as I have DH races almost every weekend. I found a very well fitting pair of Alpina TR 50s (a touring boot) at a good price($65) but I was concerned they were not at all beefy. In terms of the men's boots, I'll give then a try but in normal shoes I can't even wear a women's medium as I have a AA forefoot and a AAA heel.

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