10 Best Cross Country Skis Reviewed and Compared
Snow bunnies don’t need to sit it out on the couch when it comes to exploring outdoors after a storm hits. All that is needed is the best pair of cross-country skis to be able to enjoy the wintry weather.
Cross-country skiing is a great form of exercise since the activity calls for the body to use its own strength to trek across the snow. It is a full body workout because the athlete is both pulling and pushing with all the major muscle groups, which means lots of calories burned. It is a great stress reliever while taking in nature, improving endurance and cardiovascular health.
Every skier starts out by renting their equipment, especially those who enjoy alpine skiing. But consumers should invest in their own pair if they have a real passion for ski touring. Cost-effective, this also allows the athlete to get familiar with the skis over time.
Knowing the skis helps to increase performance so that the skier can glide easily side-to-side across the terrain as efficiently as possible, whether on groomed or ungroomed trails.
- Rossignol EVO Glade 59
- Easy to get in & out of
- Salomon Snowscape 8
- Flex Control Tech
- Fischer Desire My Style
- Great for beginners
10 Best Cross Country Skis
Rossignol EVO Glade 59
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.
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.
- 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
- Compatible with NNN boots only
- Bindings not pre-mounted
Salomon Snowscape 8
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.
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.
- Great for beginners to advanced skiers
- SNS and NNN compatible
- Great grip
- Flex control tech provides extra stability
- Mid-range price
- Performs better on groomed trails than the backcountry
Fischer Desire My Style
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.
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.
- Very affordable
- Great for beginners
- Wide middle for added stability
- Only available for women
Rossignol EVO OT 65
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.
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.
- Nice flex at the tip and tail
- Impressive grip
- Sturdy, yet lightweight
- Versatile, but best ones on ungroomed terrain
- Partial metal edges might be too much for the speed skier
Fischer Orbiter NIS
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.
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.
- 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
- Not best for beginners
- Less aggressive front and rear
- Not best for beginners
- More expensive than other options
Alpina Control 64 W NIS
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.
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.
- Great for intermediate skiers
- Versatile for all snow conditions
- NIS binding included
- Made for females only
- Only compatible with NNN boots
Madshus Cadence 90
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.
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.
- Versatile, well-rounded option
- Turns well and has right mix of traction and glide
- Super affordable
- Might be lacking in glide for more seasoned skiers
Salomon Aero 9 Skin Extra Stiff Classic
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.
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.
- Fast skis for more seasoned skiers
- Extra stiff flex adjusts for each specific skier
- Best suited for advanced skiers
Atomic Motion Skintec
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.
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.
- Glides well in all snow conditions
- Impressive sticky grip with Mohair grip zones
- Extra stiff option available
- Mid-Range price
- Can be too fast for beginners on groomed trails
Madshus Epoch 68
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.
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.
- Great for backcountry skiing
- Wide skis
- Glides efficiently
The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation
The best cross-country skis vary depending on skill level and features, as well as the type of Nordic skiing taken place. This includes classic, skate and touring or backcountry skiing. And each style has different needs when it comes to the skis.
But no matter the kind of cross-country skiing taken place, the skis should be comfortable for the athlete. This means allowing the user to have enough control and stability, while also gliding well.
We made picking the right pair of cross-country skis a downhill battle by doing all the heavy research for consumers. The criteria we used is detailed below.
Length and Width: A general rule is that skis shorter in length are easier for beginners because these are slower. Shorter skis are also ideal for those on ungroomed trails for better grip and control on the rough terrain. Skiers need to look at the width of the tip, waist, and tail for the skis. Touring skis are generally less narrow than race skis.
Glide: How smooth and fast do these skis ride? Some skis are waxless and others have a wax base to enhance how well they glide. Using wax allows the consumer to go faster, while also providing more control. Waxless options require less maintenance and upkeep.
Grip: When the skier pushes their foot down on the ski, the middle or waist of the ski touches the ground. It’s this middle section (specifically underneath) of cross-country skis that provides grip. Does this ski provide good traction? Is the grip too aggressive, or is it lacking? Waxless skis generally have a better grip to prevent slipping backward.
Performance: Taking into account the ski type the product is designed for, how well does it perform? Are these skis fast? Easy to use? Do they turn easily, provide ample stability?
Versatility: Are these skis designed better for groomed or ungroomed terrain, or are they an option for both?
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.
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.
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.
Q: How long should my cross-country skis be?
A: Classic skis should be taller than the consumer. A general rule is to add 25 to the height in centimeters. For example, a person who is 5’8” should have a ski length anywhere from 160-180 cm.
Q: What are the best cross-country skis for beginners?
A: Beginners should look for an all-purpose option that is ideal for groomed and ungroomed terrain that is soft with lots of traction and control.
Q: Is cross-country skiing hard on the knees?
A: Poor technique and tightening up the muscles too much can cause cross-country skiing to cause slight discomfort and knee pain afterward.
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 do I store my cross-country skis?
A: Store your skis in a ski bag when not in use. When putting away for the season, it’s best to apply a soft cleaning wax, clean the skis with a scraper or brass and store in a bag.
Q: Where can I cross-country ski?
A: There are plenty of resorts and trails available across the U.S. and Canada. Those who live in a snowy state just need to look in their backyard.
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