How to choose your skis for classic cross-country skiing?

How to choose your skis for classic cross-country skiing?

 How to choose your skis for classic cross-country skiing?

Cross-country skiing is often thought of as walking (or running) on ​​snow instead of skating, which is often thought to be more physically demanding. However, as you progress in classic cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, it becomes more technical. Ask any Scandinavian, and they’ll tell you it’s their way of life! 

Classic cross-country skiing is a historical and traditional technique closely linked to the Scandinavians; however, ski skating attracts the most skiers. The fact that it is accessible, that the equipment is simple and that it is easy to master the basic skate skiing techniques makes it a popular choice. Does this winter sport catch your attention?

Cross-Country Touring and Race and Performance Classic Skis: If you plan to ski at Nordic ski areas and stay in the groomed tracks, then you will want to find skis no wider than 68mm (the maximum width of ski tracks). The sidecut of the skis should be minimal so the skis glide straight and efficiently.

  • NNN: NNN, NNN Nordic Integrated System
  • Boot Sole Type: Compatible Bindings
  • Turnamic: NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic, ProLink

Here are our tips for choosing your skis for classic cross-country skiing.

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Choose the type of kick zone of your skis.

The base of a classic cross-country ski is divided into several zones, with the gliding zone at the tips of the skis and the kick zone (or grip zone) in the middle, under your feet. A skate ski only has one glide zone that runs from tip to tip.

The principle of the classic technique is to press the kick zone and slide forward. It is called an alternate step.

There are three types of kick zones on cross country skis:

  • Scaled (non-waxed) cross country skis are recommended for easy gliding or a beginner.
  • Skin-on (no wax) cross-country skis are easy to use and help you progress quickly.
  • Waxable skis are used above all by expert skiers and in competitions.

Skis with scales have an excellent grip, but this hinders the slide. They are perfect if you are starting in Nordic skiing and using marked slopes for classic skiing.

Skin skis are making a comeback thanks to the new generation of skins developed for off-piste skiing. This type of skis combines grip and glide very well. They are more wear and tear-resistant than waxable skis and can even be used for long-distance runs. The skins can change depending on whether you are looking for more grip or more slip.

With waxable cross-country skis, you can get an excellent glide. The amount of grip can change by applying different types of wax to the kick area. Choosing the suitable kick wax (or grip wax), taking into account the temperature of the snow on the piste, is an art and something you will learn with practice. You will have to perfect it to get the best performance from your skis. Waxable skis are best left to the experts!

Do you want to know more about how to wax your cross country skis? 

How to choose the size of your cross-country skis?

To calculate the length of your classic cross country skis, you have to add between 15 and 20 cm to your height. Your weight and skiing skills should also take into account.

To start, it will be helpful to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations. The weight will affect how many options you have, so you will have to choose between 3 or 4 pairs of skis with different lengths.

Then you must take into account your height, technical skills, and goals.

If you’re trying to decide between two lengths of skis and you’re new to cross-country skiing or maybe not yet familiar with the classic technique, you might want to go for the shorter ones. If you want to improve quickly, we advise you to opt for longer skis.

Several types of competition and premium skis of the same size are used for skiing on different types of snow. These cross-country skis are recommended for more experienced skiers.

The length of classic cross country skis is not the only factor to consider when choosing a model. The length, along with the arch, flex that corresponds to your weight and skill level, will help you decide.

Arch and flex of a classic cross country ski

When you put your skis down, you will notice that only the tips are in contact. The center of the ski will remain arched above the ground, which is what is known as an arch.

We would be generalizing if we said that a higher arch makes the ski more technical, as it is more complicated than that. The arc can vary from one pair of skis to another, depending on the weight of the skier and the type of snow.

Flex refers to the ski’s stiffness and is noticeable when you press down on the kick zone so the ski grips the snow. When you take your weight off the ski, the arch reduces pressure on the kick zone and promotes glide. It has to give a rebound-like feeling. The flex of the classic ski depends on your weight and the type of snow you ski on.

Torsional stiffness (which prevents the ski from bending) is less critical in classic cross-country skiing, as the ski lies flat on the snow. Stiffness is more critical for skating ski techniques because it allows the skier to use the edges of the skis.

Ski Sidecut

Sidecut refers to the width of the ski and is measured at different points: the tip, the waist, and the tail.

When designing skis, manufacturers tailor width and sidecut to each skill level. A beginner’s ski is more comprehensive, making it more stable, while a competition ski is narrower for more effortless gliding.

How to choose the right bindings for classic skiing

Bindings for classic skiing or skating are entirely different. One of the main differences is the stiffness of the flexor, a rubber protector on the front of the binding, which varies between classic and skate styles. Make sure you choose the correct binding for each style of skiing.

There are several standards for bindings and ski boots in Nordic skiing that we explain in detail in this article.

How much do classic cross-country skis cost?

The price range for a pair of classic cross-country skis is between €100 and €550. This variation is due to technical differences in materials and the type of base of the ski.

A pair of bindings can cost between €30 and €70. The more expensive models are made of carbon and include the option to adjust the position of the binding.

To choose the best pair of classic cross country skis:

  • Choose the best type of kick zone to fit your skiing skills: flaked, skinned, or waxable.
  • Consider your weight.
  • Find the right ski lengthbow and flex for your skill level and goals, and don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Before choosing your cross-country skis, it is essential to define the practice conditions strictly. You must know what its use will be and the ambitions you have. The choice of your skis is not only made about your current technical level but also to your physical level, your sports training throughout the year, and your goals for physical or technical progression in the long term.

For example, if you ski regularly, but mainly as a leisure activity, you won’t need to buy skis for a single season. Long-term needs are essential so that your skis adapt to your technical and physical evolution.

Some questions may be helpful before buying a pair of skis; these will help you define your goals:

What technique?: Skating? Classical?

What is my technical level?: Beginner? Veteran? Expert?

What is my physical level?: an hour of sport a week? Five? Have?

What are my goals?: Walk? Out with friends? Fitness? Training? Activity Plugin? (Bike, running) Long-distance races?

What will I enjoy more?: Taking fresh air? Training intensively? Skiing with friends?

Who am I going to ski with?: Beginners? Beginning athletes? Athletes, who want to train in winter? Kids?

And finally, I am going to buy material because I need it? Do I like the material, and does it take pleasure to renew it frequently? Do I need it to complement other skis made for other types of conditions or techniques?

And do I have to renew my material because I have leveled up?

A few simple questions can help you determine your needs. Depending on the techniques, classical or skating, there will be differences, especially about the physical form necessary to do the activity. Although the classical technique is the most difficult at a high level, it is the most natural and straightforward. At basic levels, it reproduces the walking movement but adds glide. In addition, it is easier to walk in classic than in skating, at least initially, because walking in skating requires specific training, it is not possible to walk in skating.

Skiers are obliged to move forward constantly and without stopping because they do not. They have anti-reverse on the skis. If you are starting and want to do it with the skater step (skating), it is helpful to know that it will be physically more difficult than starting in classic, that it will be done more smoothly, so the starts can be longer.

We are aware that it is much more impressive to ski directly in skating: the sensations when sliding will be pronounced on the flat parts or on the way down, but in return, it will require much more violent efforts on the way up. Skating is a technique that pursues efficiency and speed, the classic technique is “slower” when not used in competition, but you can afford to move longer while saving energy, the very essence of cross-country skiing.

Classic technique: The choice of the retention system

In classic style, we currently find five categories of skis linked to practice. The choice of the different systems will often be linked to the level.

skis with scales

It’s a good grip/glide balance for beginner to intermediate skiers who want a reasonably long foot strike first and foremost, so there’s no problem when kicking back. They serve very well for beginners or those who want a lot of comfort of use.

These skis are perfect for long, low-intensity rides since the scales tend to stop slipping. Scale skis are the best-known classic skis in the sector. However, they are beginning to compete with leather skis.

The fur skis

It is an excellent return to leather cross-country skis for four seasons. Their advantage is that they provide a grip/glide ratio as good as scale skis and combine it with shorter contact areas (skins), so they need more robust support on the driving foot so as not to slide backward. Skin skis offer superior comfort in sliding phases and will eliminate flake noise.

Although not a novelty, skin skis are considered the future of classic cross-country skis in countries like France, thanks to the effectiveness of the new seal skins used for cross-country skiing.

skis to wax

Here they are intended for connoisseurs, racers, or purists; however, classic waxing skis are used by anyone in Norway. These skis require a retention wax in the area of ​​the butts, in the areas where scales or skins would usually find.

Waxing is a “science” that takes a little more time and learning. However, when you start to gain more experience, you realize that classic skis can be very different from what we thought. The gliding qualities of wax skis are superior (when you have the suitable wax).

Classic skis with wax are the most select skis in cross-country skiing because they are the most technical to ski and maintain. They are intended for true fans of the classical technique.

The classic: The choices of the range

The choice of the range is straightforward because it will be directly linked to your desires regarding the practice. If you answered the questions in the insurance introduction, you would easily find the correct range.


Skis made above all to help you move with the most extraordinary simplicity do not need suitable technical bases. Classic skis for leisure should allow you to make pleasant and long outings without worrying about technical details; everything is done so that you can evolve with maximum comfort, especially on climbs where your skis should not go backward and leave you time to spend your feet from front to back without requiring any technical effort on your part. The general idea is that you enjoy the pleasures of Nordic skiing in all simplicity, at your own pace and however you feel like it.


It is the most requested category at the moment, bringing together the significant trend of the moment: fitness or running. It is a new era of Nordic skiing, becoming a fitness tool and a way to take care of the body by working as many muscle groups as possible.

Classic sport skis are a bit more technically demanding than full leisure skis, as they allow for a more noticeable glide while accelerating your travel speed at the same time. It could be vulgarly called jogging skiing. This one will need a little more tonic and faster support, so it will allow you to work on your cardio a little more efficiently than leisure skis.

Regarding the technical bases, it is essential to go to the classic style tutorial to appreciate better the movements you will need. However, as the name suggests, I do not see them as difficult skis, simply more sporty. In this category, you will find scale skis and leather skis.

The purely technical differences of these skis compared to leisure skis have to do with the length of the grip area (flakes or skins) and the stiffness of the camber. Indeed, sportier skis will have a higher camber that will require more solid and well-placed supports in the forefoot, as is the case in competitions when we want an effective stride.


It is the most advanced category: you can group scale skis with skins or waxing. It will depend on the height of the cambers and the width of the grip area. This category is aimed at sporty and expert skiers who, in addition to wanting to train physically, are looking for superior glide quality.

This requirement will shorten the grip area of ​​the skis and, therefore, require a higher technical level than the Leisure or Sports categories. The pinnacle of classic expert skiing is the waxed ski that, in addition to being more technical to ski, will require you to know how the classic wax is done. Classic Race/expert skis are experiencing a second youth since the arrival of leather skis. These are less technical in maintenance because it is not necessary to wax the retention area, and they can use good finishes and short skin areas that promote slippage.

Thanks to its new, more accessible, more playful, and pleasant technologies for neophytes, the classic is reborn. The most important aspect of this category is the slip gain; it is also important to worry about waxing the areas provided for this purpose. If you want to use this category of skis, do not hesitate to consult our tutorials on waxing and retention to familiarize yourself with the techniques of use and prepare your skis for the greatest enjoyment.

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The choice of your skis

Once you are clear about your category of skis, you still have to know a couple more things before you find the skis of your dreams. If you already know your needs, level, and desires, it is time to choose the size and brand. It is an equally important decision.

The weight of the skier chooses the size; this is a matter of logic: if we want skis to adhere well on the uphill parts, it is necessary to apply enough pressure so that the retention area (scales, skin, wax ) is in contact with the snow, without this, it will be impossible for you to make an effective push with your legs. However, your skis also need to glide when you are double supported (with both feet parallel and weight equally distributed on both skis). For these reasons, it is helpful to be clear about your weight and level before choosing.

Here is a typical example. Specific skiers often say:

“I’m 175 cm, so I’m going to buy skis that are my height or 180 cm. and it will be enough.” It is a mistake!

Let’s imagine that this same skier is 175 cm tall. And he weighs 95 kg; he will need skis with a higher stiffness than if he weighed 65 kg for a 175 cm skier. And 95 kg., the suitable size of skis would be between 205 and 208 cm.

Imagine a skier of the same size but weighing 70 kg. This one could use a smaller size than the first one, but between 200 and 203 cm without going too low.

Why? Simply because in some classic skis, you have to consider approximately 30-60 cm. The length of the skis is dedicated to grip and not to sliding, so this will have to be compensated with a more critical ski length to have enough sliding areas and ski properly.

There is only one case where you don’t have to check this: with the compact ski range, classic skis are shorter, more comprehensive, more manageable, and have higher cambers. These skis are often included in the Leisure category because they don’t offer gliding guarantees as the slimmer skis found in larger sizes.

Table example for traditional classic skis:

45 to 55 kg.Between 187 and 190 cm.
55 to 65 kg.Between 192 and 198 cm.
65 to 75 kg.Between 200 and 203 cm.
75kg and moreBetween 205 and 208 cm.
skis for classic cross-country

This table should help you find your size, but remember that you have to adapt this to your technical level if, for example, you are in the lower part of a size band. Your technical level requires you to work even a little more, and it will be better for You to choose a smaller ski size from the lower range instead of punishing yourself as soon as you double support.

Discover now our entire range of classic cross-country skis!

All you have to do is put your skis on the marks and get started!

How to choose your skis for classic cross-country skiing?

How to choose your skis for classic cross-country skiing?

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