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Cross country skis

Types of cross-country skis

The first step in learning how to choose cross-country skis is deciding what kind of skiing you want to do.

Classic cross-country skiing involves gliding in set tracks, usually at Nordic ski areas. Classic skis have a grippy section on their bases for traction. Waxable bases use rub-on grip wax, while waxless bases have a textured “fish scale” section or a fuzzy strip called a skin.

Skate skiing is a more aerobic activity where you use the edges of your skis to propel yourself quickly down a groomed trail. Skate skis have smooth, waxable bases to fly swiftly over snow.

Touring involves off-track exploring through fresh powder and more challenging terrain. Touring skis are typically wider than other types of cross-country skis and have metal edges to bite into snow on steep climbs and descents.

What to wear cross-country skiing

No matter what kind of cross-country skiing you do, you’ll likely warm up quickly. The key is to create a layering system. Start with a quick-drying base layer, then add a fleece or synthetic mid-layer to trap body heat. Top it off with a windproof outer layer. Many cross-country ski jackets have breathable panels on the back to help vent heat.