10 Best Cross Country Skis Reviewed and Compared

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Do you find yourself still searching for a reason to go outside regardless of the cold weather? If winter weather doesn’t kill your inclination for outdoor activities then we have a suggestion for you. Cross-country skiing can be a fun slow burn sport for those who wish to relish the great outdoors.

Cross-country skiing can be as challenging as it is fun as a form of exercise. Not only are you working many different parts of your body at the same time but you are also able to examine nature at its quietest and it’s most serene. This also why cross-country skiing is a great option for trail runners since they would feel right at home on the ski trails.

Many fans of skiing choose to rent and this is smart while you are starting off. But buying is the better option once you have learned what you are doing. Owning your own equipment gives you the opportunity to become more familiar and more adept with your specific skis.

Below are our picks for the highest quality cross-country skis. We have prioritized and listed them accordingly and believe that there is a choice on this list for anyone interested in hitting the trails.

Last Updated: August 1, 2018
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By Mark Smith:

We take great pride in making sure our lists our up to date and we did a bit of rearranging for this first update to best reflect the reception of these skis. We also went through and elaborate on both our criteria and the FAQ so that the information our readers are using is up to date and as clear as possible.

Rossignol EVO Glade 59
  • Rossignol EVO Glade 59
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy to get in & out of
  • Price: See Here
Salomon Snowscape 8
  • Salomon Snowscape 8
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flex Control Tech
  • Price: See Here
Fischer Desire My Style
  • Fischer Desire My Style
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Great for beginners
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Cross Country Skis

 

Rossignol EVO Glade 59

Made by one of the best ski brands, the EVO Glade 59 is perfect for both beginners and more seasoned athletes. Novice skiers have enough support and stability with these since they are a tad shorter in length. Its length helps to make them more manageable and controllable for newbies. Intermediate skiers also can enjoy the nice control and agility with this pair, without sacrificing on speed. It has a has a waxless base and includes NIS T4 auto bindings that make it user-friendly. Speed skiers will really like how well these skis slide in all snow conditions— having the right amount grip and predictability needed to cruise and descend.
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Specs

Constructed with a classic design, the EVO Galde 59s have a wood and air core that makes it sturdy and lightweight. It has a double camber with lots of flex in the tips. These are shorter than traditional skis in length, allowing for the needed control and maneuverability for climbing and casually trekking the trails. It has a 62mm tip, 55mm waist, and 60mm tail. It has a double camber and a waxless base. These skis also include NIS T4 bindings, which makes it super easy (and hands-free) to click in and out of the skis. This feature further makes these attractive for newbies to the sport.

Style

The Evo Glades are ideal for those of all ski experience levels. That’s because it has the right combination of features and performance that make it easy to control for beginners and a reliable option for more advanced athletes. These skis work well on both groomed and unformed trails, so take these to the ski resort or when exploring the backcountry after a good snow storm.

Grip and Glide

These skies have a waxless AR Plus base with a stone finish. This makes them glide smoothly and effortlessly. It has a cut in kick that enhances the glide, while also proving the right among of grip needed for all snow conditions.
Pros
  • Ideal for all cross-country skiers
  • Easy to get in and out of
  • Effortless glide
  • Great for groomed and ungroomed trails
  • Nice grip for ample control
Cons
  • Compatible with NNN boots only
  • Bindings not pre-mounted

Salomon Snowscape 8

The Snowscape 8 cross-country skis have all the main features users are looking for in pair. This includes a lightweight Desolite2000 core that is durable and sturdy, a wider platform for lots of maneuverability for easy ups and downs and an aggressive grip with no maintenance. This is a versatile option, for both on and off-track skiing, for sport and recreational skiers from beginner to advanced skill levels.
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Specs

These skis have an S-Cut Sidecut that allows for a wider waist. This design means the front of the foot has ample room, with the slight cut behind allows for better control. It has no metal edges, making it lightweight and also for a slick glide. It has an optimized camber Desolite2000 that makes the skies light, yet durable for all kinds of snow. It has Digital Dynamic Flex Control tex that provides added stability. It has flat, pre-drilled bindings that are compatible with SNS or NN boots. All that's needed to a screwdriver and some glue to mount.

Style

The Snowscape 8s features a little bit of everything feature wise that makes it suitable for skiers at all skills levels. This includes great control for beginners, and a smooth glide for more advanced skiers when on groomed trails. These perform extremely well on groomed tails because they are narrow for lots of speed and mobility.

Grip and Glide

These skis have the company’s G2 Synchro Grip technology that includes zones of grips that provides good handling when skating, yet won’t hold the athlete back when it comes to speed. These skis are waxless, but still perform well speed wise without needing any maintenance.
Pros
  • Great for beginners to advanced skiers
  • SNS and NNN compatible
  • Great grip
  • Flex control tech provides extra stability
  • Mid-range price
Cons
  • Performs better on groomed trails than the backcountry

Fischer Desire My Style

These are one of the best options for both beginners and intermediate skiers looking for a pair that is comfortable and durable. These provide a great amount of control with lots of stability and grip. Ideal for both on and off of track terrain, these are pre-mounted, making it easy to get in and out of. Best of all is these skis are extremely affordable.
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Specs

The Desire My Style skiers have a classic design with an air and wood core that reduces its weight and provides weight distributions when flexed. These are wider than other options at the was it for increased stability and a better grip. It has a less-aggressive double camber in the middle for an impressive kick. These are designed to be fast, constructed with graphite and its bases turn in. The best part is the pre-mounting NNN bindings so that getting in and out of the skiers are simple.

Style

These skis are designed for female skiers. Because they are pre-mounted, they are a great option for beginners. It has a good combination of life and grip for beginners a well, best used on groomed trails. However, it also performs well for off-track skiing.

Grip and Glide

This option has sintered bases with graphite that makes gliding silky smooth against the snow. Its design makes it perform well on all types of snow. It has a pretty decent kick and tough grip for skating.
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Great for beginners
  • Wide middle for added stability
Cons
  • Only available for women

Rossignol EVO OT 65

Rossignol EVO OT 65
Best suited for backcountry skiing, this option from Rossignol has the perfect balance of stability and weightlessness. These skis have a waxless Positrack base with partial metal edges. They are easy to use and offer the user lots of control. These are wider than other skis, ideal for exploring the woodlands across various terrains like thick snow or a frozen lake.
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Specs

With its classic design, the EVO OT 65 skis have a thinner Wood Air core that is lightweight and very user-friendly. This makes them great for those new to the sport. It has a smaller size as well, providing better control and maneuverability. This is in part because of the partial metal edges that make it easier to trek uphill and safer to go downhill. Bindings are also included.

Style

These skis are very versatile, being that happy medium between off-trail and backcountry skiing. These aren’t the fastest pair but have lots of control and predictability. This makes them more geared towards the leisurely skier.

Grip and Glide

The EVO OT skis have a waxless Porsitrack base that allows it to have a nice kick. Its maxim grip combined with its partial metal edges makes downhill climbs great. These skis also glide well off-trail.
Pros
  • Nice flex at the tip and tail
  • Impressive grip
  • Sturdy, yet lightweight
  • Versatile, but best ones on ungroomed terrain
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Partial metal edges might be too much for the speed skier

Madshus Epoch 68

Madshus Epoch 68
These are one of the most versatile skis on this list, made to cover more ground. Great for the backcountry, take a day trip or ski all weekend on these skis that include a waxless base and full-length metal edges with a durable wood core.
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Specs

These skis are available from 165-195 cm, with a sidecut of 99-68-84mm. These are extremely wide skis, pretty much as wide as it gets for Nordic skis. This allows the athlete to perform all in deep snow, both on and off groomed trails with great handling. It has a multicore wood core that adds durability to the bow.

Style

These skis are best used for backcountry skiing. Its features make them great for both ascending and descending.

Grip and Glide

These skis have a waxless base that glides smoothly like the athlete is floating across the snow. This allows them to perform the best uphill. Its Omnitrak waxless base has five transitions zones increase efficiency while providing a good grip.
Pros
  • Great for backcountry skiing
  • Wide skis
  • Glides efficiently
Cons
  • Pricey

Fischer Orbiter NIS

Fischer Orbiter NIS
These skis are all about the glide, with its narrow tips and tails that allows the skiers to cruise downhill while also providing stability. It has a wood core, making it lightweight with binding included, and is IFP compatible. It has a wider body that also maximizes glide, with no metal edges to increase speed. These are geared for more advanced skiers but perform well for those with experience.
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Specs

With its reversed Sidecut, these skis have a much wider waist than other options on this list. It has an Air Core Basalite construction that keeps the skis light but has enough stability needed to thick snow. There are no metal edges, and it has a NIS plate attached.

Style

Because of its wide body, these skis are ideal for intermediate and more advanced skiers who want that extra support and stability and speed for cross-country adventures. Its cut makes it the best for skating style on groomed trails for its mobility and speed.

Grip and Glide

This option has Vario Crown Technology that makes these glide effortlessly with still enough traction needed for turns and downhill climbs. There are a powerful kick and high performance on the glide. Think of these as an option for cruising along the trails, its waxless design great for climbing.
Pros
  • Super lightweight because of basalt fibers used
  • Very wide for more stability when cruising
  • Ideal for skating style
  • Moveable bindings (that are sold separately) for its NIS plates
Cons
  • Not best for beginners
  • Less aggressive front and rear
  • Not best for beginners
  • More expensive than other options

Alpina Control 64 W NIS

Alpina Control 64 W NIS
These Nordic skis have an offtrack non-wax base and a Light Tube Tech core. This means its lightweight, yet rigid, able to perform well both groomed and ungroomed terrain. This pair is better suited for female skiers with an intermediate to advanced skill level. It has a wide tip and tail and no metal edges. It also has with NIS attached plate, so is only compatible with NNN boots.
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Specs

With its sidecut shape, the Alpina Control 64 skis have a Light Tube Tec Core that is lightweight but sturdy enough to withstand treks in heavy, thick, and newly fallen snow. It has a Nordic Rocker Camber for enhanced floatation with no metal edges and an OffTrack non-wax base.

Style

This option is recommended for women with an intermediate to advanced skill level with the sport. It’s great for both groomed terrain at the resort as well as ungroomed trails in the backyard.

Grip and Glide

With its non-wax base, these skiers aren’t are fast as other options for more advanced skiers. However, it does provides a smooth and free glide that does have a bit more power than beginner skis. The grip isn’t as sticky as other beginners options as well.
Pros
  • Great for intermediate skiers
  • Versatile for all snow conditions
  • NIS binding included
Cons
  • Made for females only
  • Only compatible with NNN boots

Madshus Cadence 90

Madshus Cadence 90
Great for hills and trails, these skis are durable and strong with an air-channeled wood core that also makes it lightweight. Shorter in length than other cross-country options, these are another good buy for beginners because of its maneuverability. These are a versatile option for trails in the backcountry or just having fun the backyard snow.
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Specs

These skis have 68mm tips, 62mm tails, and a 55mm waist. Keep in mind that these are shorter than traditional Nordic skis for maximum maneuverability across terrains. Expect to glide well, while still having lots of control with this option. That’s because it has a lightweight air-channeled wood core that is also durable. It has a double camber, no metal edges, and a waxless base. There are no bindings included.

Style

The Cadence 90 skis are all about stability, making them ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers. These perform the best on groomed trails, as well as fresh tracks after a snowfall.

Grip and Glide

This option has a multigrain base that includes scales in the kick zones that provide enough traction for security without being too sticky for gliding freely. This means the skiers don’t have to worry about waxing. These also turn really well, making them a great option for beginners.
Pros
  • Versatile, well-rounded option
  • Turns well and has right mix of traction and glide
  • Super affordable
Cons
  • Might be lacking in glide for more seasoned skiers

Salomon Aero 9 Skin Extra Stiff Classic

Salomon Aero 9 Skin Extra Stiff Classic
These are one of the best skis for expert skiers. The Aero 9 Extra Stiff is powerful and fast when on groomed terrain. It has a side cut shape with a waxless base, and Desolate 3000 core that is all about acceleration. It features Dynamic Flex Control tech that flexes specifically to the weight and size of the skiers. It also has great traction without sacrificing on its glide.
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Specs

This classic skiing option has an S-Cut shape that provides lots of control and handling, which comes in handy since it has a smooth glide that advanced skiers can appreciate. It has a flat binding for boots that is required. No meal edges make this option light, and overall these are durable and strong. It has Digital Dynamic Flex Control that flexes to the temperature and weight of the user.

Style

Its wide tips and tails make this options ideal for backcountry skiing on both groomed and ungroomed trails. However, it’s best used on groomed trails because of its amount of speed and mobility. This makes it great for those looking to race.

Grip and Glide

The Aero 9 skiers have Salomon’s Skin Grip tech as well as a skin that has the right combination of glide and grip that provides ample traction without slowing the skiers down. Expect to go fast with these skiers, an option all about acceleration and speed.
Pros
  • Fast skis for more seasoned skiers
  • Extra stiff flex adjusts for each specific skier
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Best suited for advanced skiers

Atomic Motion Skintec

Atomic Motion Skintec
These skis are ideal for those who also plan to do a bit of climbing on their treks. It has an aggressive, sticky grip—and the grip zone can be replaced after heavy wear. Although it has a great grip, these skis also glide well with its waxless Skintec technology.
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Specs

Constructed with Touring 3D, with a BI 3000 base and high desolate core, these skis have a tip width of 48mm, waist width of 46mm and tail width of 51 mm. They come in four different sizes, so there is an option for every height and weight skiers. This includes a 204 cm extra stiff version for heavier skiers.

Style

These cross-country skis perform exceedingly well for off-trail adventures because of its grip and glide. These work well in fresh and deep snow, allowing the athlete to ski quietly and take in all of nature’s beauty.

Grip and Glide

These Atomic skis are all about handling with its Skintec technology. It features Mohair grip zones, and as a result, causes these skis to glide smoothly and fast. These also act like climbing skins when going uphill or kicking to prevent slipping. The grip zones can be replaced after heavy wear.
Pros
  • Glides well in all snow conditions
  • Impressive sticky grip with Mohair grip zones
  • Extra stiff option available
  • Mid-Range price
Cons
  • Can be too fast for beginners on groomed trails

The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation

Our criteria had to be universal when it came to all the varieties of cross-country skis. That isn’t to say that we didn’t factor in our knowledge of how the different types of skis can operate into our assessment. Differences in assessments aside, we know there is a bottom line for how all cross-country skis should perform. A good pair of skis should give you mobility and stability while gliding across the storm.

The following is a breakdown of our exact criteria so our readers know what went into each and every choice.

Length and Width

A skis length and width are tied to what you are looking to use them for. Shorter skis are better for skiers who favor ungroomed trails and rough terrain. Longer skis are better for people who want to go faster. This also makes shorter skis better for beginners since they are slower and have more grip. Wider skis are also better situated for touring and a slower pace. Skis that are narrower tend to be better race skis.

Glide

A lot of the assessment of the ski’s ability to glide comes down to whether they have a wax or waxless base. Wax bases have more glide potential and will allow their wearers to go faster and have more control. Waxless skis will have less glide but require less maintenance. We considered all these factors with our list choices.

Grip

We have to consider the skis ability to stop as well as stay in motion. A skis grip is based around the design of its middle section as pressure there is what allows the ski to grip the ground and come to a stop. If the grip is lacking or is even too aggressive then that ski doesn’t belong on this list.

Performance

The ease and quality of the performance of a pair of skis are, of course, an essential criterion of this list. Skis have to exceed standard performance to be eligible, though, as only the very best skis make the cut.

Versatility

Will these skis be able to meet a large variety of needs? It’s another important question. Skis are an investment and we want our readers to know exactly what they should expect for their money. We need to know if these skis are suited for multiple types of cross-country skiing. We also need to know if the skis handle well on different types of terrain. We only recommend skis when we understand their abilities and limitations and find them acceptable.

Other Important Factors to Consider

Purchasing a pair of skis is an investment. However, it is more cost-effective opposed to renting. With that said, it’s important to know that the skis aren’t the only gear that needs to be purchased.

Other Gear Needed

Skiers also need boots. And the type of boots needed varies based on the type of binding that the skis are compatible with.  New Nordic Norm (NNN) bindings include two thin ridges that fit into the grooves found in the soles of the boots. Another option is the Nordic Integrated System (NIS), which binds only to NIS compatible boots. SNS bindings, or Salomon Nordic System ones, feature a ride ridge with one matching groove at the sole.

Skiers also need poles, whether they are touring or racing. The types of poles vary depending on ski style. Other gear needed includes insulated clothing, outer shell jackets, goggles, and gloves.

Types of Cross-Country Skis

Keep in mind that cross-country skis are aboard term that consists of different styles of the activity. The types of cross-country skis include classic, skate, and touring/backcountry.

Classic skis: These are the “standard” cross-country option, ideal for hard snow on groomed trails.

Skate skis: These are shorter in length, stiffer and have less grip. The movement here mirror ice skating for these are all about the glide. These are best used on groomed trails or on the ice.

Touring/Backcountry skis: Shorter in length and wider, these provide more flotation. They typically have metal edges for better handling and come either wax or waxless. These are best for ungroomed trails, and steeper climbs.

Size Matters

The length of the skis varies based on the type of skiing. It also depends on the consumer’s body weight. If the consumer is too heavy for that size skis, they will have too much traction and not enough glide. Always look for the weight range on the skis before buying.

Waxless vs. Wax Bases

The base of the skis either are waxless or feature wax. Waxless generally is the most popular. The waxless options provide more than enough traction because it uses the textured middle section underneath the middle of the skis to grip the snow. Users don’t have to worry about maintenance with this option.

Waxed skis used rubbed on wax that is applied to the middle of the ski for its traction. These are generally faster in terms of glide, especially on ice. Wax can also be applied to the tip and the tails, making these great for skating.

FAQ

Q: How long should my cross-country skis be?

A: Your skis should be around 25 centimeters taller than you are. So if you want the perfect height then convert your own height into centimeters then add 25. Now you know the approximate length of the skis you should use.

Q: What are the best cross-country skis for beginners?

A: Control is essential to beginner skiers. You don’t have a full understanding of how to maneuver your skis so compensating with a pair that gives you more control is recommended. A shorter pair with a lot of grip is advisable. You also will probably want to go waxless for your first pair so you don’t have too much potential for speed.

Q: Is cross-country skiing hard on the knees?

A: Being a form of athletics you control with your legs, cross-country skiing can be challenging on your knees. Developing your technique and avoiding tightening or locking up should help reduce knee pain.

Q: What are cross-country ski skins?

A: Skins are a long piece of fabric that has a glue on one slide that attaches to the tips and tails of the skis for uphill climbing.

Q: How should I store my cross-country skis?

A: A ski bag or similar safe place is the best choice for storage to reduce excessive wear or possible damage. We also recommend a thorough cleaning, with a cleaning wax if possible, before storing them long term.

Q: Where can I cross-country ski?

A: If you live in a snowy area then finding trails should be easy. Local enthusiasts will be able to point you in the right direction. If you are traveling then finding resorts are a better option for finding spots. You can cross-country ski most places that have snow on the ground but we advise caution with areas you aren’t familiar with since the cold wilderness can prove quite hazardous.

Sources

  1. Olympics, Cross-country Skiing Equipment and History, Official Sports Website,
  2. Tom Scheve , How Cross-country Skiing Works, Informational Website,
  3. Snow Genius , Rent or buy skis and boots? , Ski Blog,
  4. Health Fitness Revolution , Top 10 Health Benefits of Cross-Country Skiing, Health Website, Apr 09, 2015
  5. Rei, How to Choose Cross-Country Ski Gear, Outdoor Gear Website,
  6. Backcountry, Cross Country Ski Guide, Outdoor Gear Website,
  7. Julie Boehlke, Cross-Country Skiing Tips for Beginners, Informational Health Website, Sep 11, 2017
  8. Skis, Buying Guide for Cross Country Skis, Ski Website,
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