Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?
Display Avatars Sort By:
David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/23/2010 20:06:05 MDT Print View

Are these the right kind of skis for carrying a pack? Mostly (entirely?) on forest service roads.


Madshus Suprasonic Skate 190 cm

Salomon RS9 Boots

Salomon PIlot Skate Bindings

I'm 6'-0" and 160 lbs.

Are these a good deal for $100.00?

Thanks!

Edited by davidlutz on 09/23/2010 20:06:41 MDT.

Chris Wood
(crwood)

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
No sir. on 09/23/2010 20:10:30 MDT Print View

If you are touring/classic skiing on ungroomed forest service roads, no sir, wrong skis and boots. If you are hitting the local groomed ski trails, or spring crust in the AM, they will be great for skate skiing.

-Chris

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/23/2010 20:10:48 MDT Print View

Good deal - yeah. Good for skiing with a pack - no. Skate skis are for skating - which looks rather like speed skating but with skis instead of ice skates. Not at all good for touring with a pack.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/23/2010 20:21:44 MDT Print View

You stated forest service roads. I assume this means not a set track.

It would be possible to make this arrangement function, but it is not anywhere optimum.

SNS bindings are very narrow, and those skating skis are narrow. That is OK if you are a nordic racer on a set track, but I don't think that you are.

If I ski on forest service roads, I assume that I will have no tracks at all, and that I am going to have to break trail. I think you would want something more like what we call a backcountry ski. It is wider and probably has a 3-pin traditional binding. Probably ski boots that are over the ankle high. Further, I will take a wild guess that you want much longer skis. In a conventional backcountry ski, you would want about a 205 or 210 cm length, and this assumes that you do not have a heavy backpack. If you do carry a heavy backpack, then add on 5 cm of length. The rule of thumb for cross country ski length is to set the ski on the floor and hold your hand up high next to it. If the tip of the ski hits the palm of your hand, that is about right. If you ski on steeper slopes, then you might shorten it one notch.

As skiers go, I don't skate.

--B.G.--

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/23/2010 20:21:56 MDT Print View

Ah, thanks.........

Next obvious question - what kind of ski, boot and binding do I want for backroad travel with a pack?

Thanks in advance......

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/23/2010 20:26:25 MDT Print View

David, I walked into the REI Berkeley store back in 1978 and told them that I wanted some cross country skis. The ski sales guy kind of looked me over, then asked me where I wanted to go with them. I described where I intended to go, and he immediately said that I needed some light backcountry skis, mid- boots, with pin bindings.

If you want a more rugged ski, then get something with light metal edges, probably "cracked" metal edges.

--B.G.--

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: "Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/23/2010 22:11:00 MDT Print View

If you are sticking to snow-covered roads, but are carrying a pack, I'd suggest the lighter end of the backcountry ski spectrum. Sometimes also referred to as "touring" skis. That will mean either the lightest metal-edge skis you can find - like this rascal here:
http://www.e-omc.com/catalog/products/6557/Atomic-Sierra-Backcountry-Touring-Ski.html

or a non-metal edge ski of similar dimensions. Bindings - either NNN-BC, SNS-BC, or 3-pins.


Boots - something like this: http://www.e-omc.com/catalog/products/6341/Alpina-BC-1675-75mm-Ski-Touring-Boot-size-42.html

Or this: http://www.e-omc.com/catalog/products/6235/Alpina-BC-1650-Ski-Touring-Boot-Men.html

You want warm. dry, pretty supportive boots that have enough stiffness to give you some control of the skis.

Usually it's a good idea to find boots that fit first, then get the bindings that the boots are compatible with. If you are buying used, you may have to take what you can get.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/23/2010 23:03:20 MDT Print View

That sounds like a great deal on skate skis. The problem is, you may not want to skate ski. I do know folks who skate ski on groomed, back country trails, here in the Northwest. Essentially, they ski on trails groomed for snowmobiles. This means they ski for miles and miles on groomed trails. Generally speaking, though, they don't carry a pack (I've wondered about the wisdom of being say, 15 miles from the car, in the winter, without carrying a pack, but whatever...).

Anyway, most folks who skate ski, do so on groomed tracks, that are close to the road or ski resort. Some resorts have nice trails that go for miles (even though they are close, as the crow flies, to the lodge). This is fun, but generally speaking, not my cup of tea (nor yours, is my guess).

I, like most of the folks who have already posted, like the backwoods. We like to our skiing to mimic our hiking. We like to "get away from it all". I have skied a lot, in the last twenty years. I would say that about 10% was on groomed, 80% on logging roads, and 10% back country (no road, nor trail).

I have two pairs of boots, and six pairs of skis. My brother has several pairs of boots and a lot more skis. I'm not sure exactly what he has, but I know that his lightest, flimsiest set of equipment match my heaviest. He does a lot more back country than me (and can do a pretty telemark turn). I've managed to do my back country on both my heaviest gear, and some of the lighter gear. Either way, when I hit the back country, I often (if not always) have the lightest gear on the hill. My brother has coined the term "Freak Nordic" to describe my skiing on the flimsiest gear imaginable (for the conditions). If I was younger and a better skier, I'm sure I might be able to start a revolution in skiing (similar to ultralight hiking) but I'm not, so consider these the rambling of someone who likes lightweight gear.

As far as I can tell, the boots are fine. I have Solomon boots, and like them. The thing is, boots are boots. If they fit your feet well, then they will be good. If not, they are worthless. Since the skis are only good for skating, and the bindings are already installed on the skis, then they are worthless unless you decide to pick up skating. Skaters go really fast, so I can respect that, but I've never felt compelled to go that route. If the boots are really comfortable, and you think you might do a bit of skating now and then, you could get yourself a classic ski to go with the boot, and have some options. I'm not sure if the skis are right for your weight. The height doesn't matter with modern skis, only the weight. You should be able to find out what the right length is for that ski and your weight. If you decide that you don't want the skis, then the boots, by themselves, aren't such a great deal.

As to what I would recommend, it depends. In the Northwest, we have a lot of slush. So, for folks around here, I definitely recommend waxless skis. For your neck of the woods, it might make sense to get plain waxable skis. It requires a bit more work, but you might be happier with the results. On the other hand, if you just want to ski and not worry about it, then get waxless. If you get more obsessed with the sport, then, at worst, this becomes your "rock skis".

I recommend skis with a decent sidecut. About 10 millimeters is good, for general purpose touring, on logging roads. Unless you expect to run across a lot of ice, I wouldn't get skis with metal edges. If the snow is soft, you don't need them. The extra weight becomes a burden. As for specifics, I have both Rossignol Evo Tour and Fisher Outbound Crown skis. I like them both (they both have 10 cm of sidecut).

To go along with this lightweight setup, I recommend a good pair of standard SNS or NNN boots. Just make sure to match the boots with the bindings. Make sure the boots are comfortable, and don't have any pinch points. I own a pair of Solomon boots and like them a lot (I forget the model).

If you decide to go a bit heavier, then go ahead and get "Back Country" gear. This means boots of a "NNN BC" or "SNS BC" style (with bindings to match). There are a lot of good skis to go along with this setup, but I would recommend Atomic Rainier's as a good compromise. These hold their own on the flats, but do well in the back country. They have metal edges (if you are going with heavier boots, you might as well have heavier skis).

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
See this XC site... on 09/23/2010 23:53:35 MDT Print View

Go to "Dave's Nordic Backcountry Skiing Page" for a COMPLETE rundown on shapes and sizes of ALL backcountry touring skis.

Lots of info there and you will learn all you need to know.

Remember:
> Longer, narrower skis W/ less "sidecut" glide faster and straighter. They are for touring.

> Shorter, wider skis with W/ more "sidecut" turn better on downhills but don't travel as fast on the flats & rolling terrain and don't want to go as straight on the flats. They are for downhill turning.

"All around" skis are somewhere between skinny XC racing skis and fat telemark skis. I recommend metal edges for backcountry skis. Many have them, even the narrower models of Backcountry skis.

Edited by Danepacker on 09/23/2010 23:57:38 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/24/2010 15:52:06 MDT Print View

One thing I would emphasize, is to start with the boots. You might get a great deal on a package, but if the boots aren't comfortable, they are worthless (to you). I would start with regular NNN or SNS boots. These are lighter, but provide less support than the BC types. But most of the people I know who ski on logging roads use this type of boot (as opposed to BC). The nice thing is that you have a lot more choices in boots, if you choose that style.

If you want more control and think you'll have heavier skis, then go with BC boots. There is no point in having heavy skis with really light boots. Just about any ski with a metal edge would be what I would call "heavy".

I'm an ultralight guy, so I like light gear. That being said, you will be in the mainstream if you use regular NNN or SNS boots, along with skis containing no metal edges or if you use BC boots with skis containing metal edges. For example, REI lists their gear as "Touring" and "Metal Edge Touring" with just those combinations.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/24/2010 16:00:33 MDT Print View

Interesting advice, Ross. I'm sure that it must suit the snow of the Cascades.

However, for Sierra Nevada snow, NNN and SNS and all those types are suitable for a track system. For backcountry use, the vast majority use 3-pin bindings. If you go to a typical Sierra Nevada backcountry ski hut and make a survey of the skis stacked up at the door, and you will see somewhere between 90% and 100% will be 3-pin.

--B.G.--

Ryan Stoughton
(TxTengu) - F

Locale: Seattle
Rossignol BC 65s on 09/24/2010 17:26:49 MDT Print View

Last year I picked up a pair of Rossignol BC 65s. (I live\ski in the PNW) These are a metal edged ski that are narrow enough to fit in the track but wide enough to give a bit of floation too for the fun ungroomed stuff. I really love the setup (using the Rosi BC Auto bindings and the BC X7 boots) It's great for ungroomed terrain and still functions well in the track. (Though a skinnier classic touring ski will be a bit "quicker" in the track.)

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/24/2010 17:35:00 MDT Print View

Thanks to everyone for their posts......very helpful.

I hoped to buy something used to try out this year, but it might be hard to find the right gear. Might have to just get lucky, I guess.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
used skis on 09/24/2010 17:41:36 MDT Print View

Buy new boots, but used skis. Ski swap season will soon be upon us, and is a great place for deals if you do research beforehand so you know what to look for.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/24/2010 19:04:40 MDT Print View

I'm not sure why Sierra snow would be harder to ski in than Cascade snow. The snow in the Northwest is just about as bad as it gets (typically). It is wet, slushy stuff. We do tend to get a lot of it, though. Of course, that doesn't mean that we don't have times where metal edges aren't nice. If we get a few days of sunshine in the winter (it is rare, but it happens) then it turns to ice and you need the metal edge. Maybe that's typical for the Sierra's. A huge dump, followed by several days of sunshine. Then the snow gets crusty. That surprises me -- I figured the snow would be better there.

It's possible that the terrain is steeper, or that folks attempt to do steeper stuff. In that case, what you said makes sense. I think it's also possible that people get the gear that matches the most difficult stuff that they do. It's sort of like some backpackers who have one backpack -- it can handle a week long trip, even though they usually take it on a weekender.

Another theory is that folks who tour are often old school. The new kids are much more into back country trips that involve much steeper terrain. They are out there trying to find the great run, not just roam the hills. Try and find a magazine dedicated to touring for example (the other extremes get a lot more coverage). Three pin has been around a long time -- it's a good system, but not favored as much by manufacturers anymore. I'm old school with regards to what I like to ski, but I like the newer boots (and lighter skis). A quick glance at the pictures inside the Libkind books, for example, make me think I'm more old school than a lot of people (I doubt most of those skis in the pictures have metal edges). It is also possible that a lot of the skis you mentioned are used with 3 pin, but don't have metal edges. Unlike BC and non BC boots, I think 3 pin have a pretty wide range (from soft and light to stiff and heavy). I'm curious now -- do you remember if most of those skis have metal edges?

It's also possible that most people have metal edged skis for the same reason most have people have really stiff, heavy hiking boots (OK, not most people on this site, but most people in general). They haven't tried a different option, and they assume that you need the heavy gear. I haven't skied in the Sierras, so I can't speak to the typical conditions, nor the typical run, but hope to someday. I bought all four of the Libkind books (just California dreaming, right now). For most of the trips mentioned in there, I figured I would use my SNS boots, with skis that don't have metal edges (light and fast). I know it isn't too steep for me, but the snow might be too crusty for that (in which case, I would switch to SNS BC, along with metal edged skis).

For what it's worth, Marmot Mountain Works has a section for "touring" on their website (for both boots and skis) and it fits my style (SNS/NNN boots with metal edgeless skis). They have a store in the Bay area, and I would recommend them over REI (at least, that is the case in Seattle, so I imagine it is the case down there). If the store down there is anything like the one here, they will give you good advice. This means, they very well may tell you that for the type of skiing you plan on doing, a "back country" setup makes more sense. There may be other ski stores that are comparable (if not better), so I'll let you locals comment on that.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: used skis on 09/24/2010 19:07:08 MDT Print View

>> Buy new boots, but used skis.

I totally agree with that. Regardless of what you decide to buy. That is more important than any of my ramblings.

One warning, though: Make sure you get the right ski for your weight. For each ski, there is a proper weight range for a particular size. If you buy from a shop (some shops sell used gear) then it should be no problem. But if you buy from Craigslist, then you'll have to do a bit of homework.

Oh, and sometimes Marmot Mountain Works sells used gear, including their old rentals. In that case, you might get a good deal on both boots and skis.

Edited by rossbleakney on 09/24/2010 19:19:52 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Advice wanted on X-Country Skis? on 09/24/2010 19:12:43 MDT Print View

There is a Marmot store that is probably close to where David lives. Marmot tends to be much better for backcountry equipment and for gnarly trip stuff. REI tends to have some equipment that is a bit more mundane. It just depends on whether David wants to dip his toe in the water, or whether he wants to dive in.

--B.G.--

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/24/2010 21:42:11 MDT Print View

I'm gonna hit Marmot Mountain Works in Berkeley tomorrow.

Thanks again!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/24/2010 21:53:02 MDT Print View

If you intend to purchase a whole rig, you better take a big piece of plastic.

--B.G.--

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: "Advice wanted on X-Country Skis?" on 09/24/2010 21:57:34 MDT Print View

David - I'm in the bay area, and have some skis I don't use any more that would probably work fine for what you have in mind, and would be the appropriate size, as we are about the same weight. I'd sell them cheap. You'd have to find boots (3-pins) and poles - the skis have bindings on them. Just a possibility.