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Nordic Ski Boots, Bindings, & Poles

Once you've picked out some Nordic skis, you'll have to outfit yourself with a means of propulsion: nordic ski boots, bindings, and poles.

Boots

Choose boots for classic, skating, or backcountry skiing with the same care you would for alpine ski boots or an expensive pair of hiking boots. Try them on with the socks you plan to wear while skiing and avoid buying boots that are tight – your toes should not touch the end.

  • Classic ski boots can be cut low like a running shoe. They should be flexible enough to allow your foot to bend through the kick and glide motion, but with enough lateral support to give you a stable glide.
  • Skating boots are usually higher, stiffer, and reinforced around the heel and ankle. The increased stiffness is designed to support the lateral push-off of the skating stride.

Bindings

Bindings connect the tip of the ski boot to the ski. Your binding must be matched to your boot, as common systems are not interchangeable. MEC stores offer professional ski services and will mount your bindings for free if you buy any two of the big three ski items (skis, boots, or bindings) at MEC.

  • NNN (New Nordic Norm) A bar in the toe of the shoe hooks into a catch in the binding. Two ridges on the binding plate fit into corresponding slots on the boot soles. The NNN system can be used for both classic and skating styles. Newer variations of NNN bindings (such as the current, NNN 3 and R3 systems) are compatible with older NNN boot soles. The backcountry variation (NNN BC) is wider, more rugged, and is designed to fit only NNN BC boots.
  • SNS Profil (Salomon Nordic System) Has a slightly narrower bar and catch system, and uses a single rail design on the binding plate and boot sole. Skate and Classic versions of the Profil system can use the same boots. SNS Pilot bindings feature dual rails on the binding plate. Designed for skating, Pilot boots can also be used with SNS Profil skate bindings.
  • 3-pin (75mm) This traditional binding is used for backcountry and light touring skis. Three holes in the front of the boot fit into three pins on the plate of the binding and a bail locks the toe down.

Poles

There is a big selection of Nordic poles available. As a rule, more expensive poles are lighter, stiffer, and built with better grips and strap systems.

  • Classic poles should be roughly 80 to 85% of your height (somewhere near shoulder height).
  • Skating poles should be approximately 90% of your height (about the height of your nose or chin).
  • Backcountry touring poles have larger baskets and are often adjustable, so they can be adapted for ascending, descending, or traversing.

It is important to consider the quality of the grip and wrist strap. If you are a high-performance trainer or an enthusiastic recreational skier, the quality and fit of the wrist strap system will make a marked difference in you poling power, reducing hand, wrist, and arm fatigue.

Get more Nordic know-how, read Nordic Skis