Most people (me included) rent cross-country ski for their first few trips up the mountain.
But if you really start to fall in love with this sport, you might be wondering about buying your own pair.
One of the things I really love about cross-country skiing is the low cost involved. Unlike downhill snowboarding or skiing for that matter, you don’t have to worry about paying for lift tickets with cross-country skiing.
Those savings really add up after a while – especially when you consider inflation and the rising cost of living.
But if you just end up renting your own skis every time, you’re still incurring needless costs.
Make the investment in a pair of cross-country skis, and you’ll experience better performance and lower overall costs.
But if you’re already a seasoned cross-country skier, you’re probably already aware of this.
Fischer Twin Skin Cruiser EF Ski
- Length: 164cm
- Core: Basalt
Best for Fitness Junkies
Rossignol Delta Comp R Skin Ski
- Length: 184cm
- Core: Basalt Fiber
The Most Fun
Salomon 7 Posigrip Cross-Country Skis
- Length: 110cm
- Core: Fiberglass, Stone
Jack of All Trades
Salomon Escape 5 Grip PM Classic Ski
- Length: 174cm
- Core: Densolite
Alpina Control 64 Edge Cross-Country Skis
- Length: 165cm
- Core: Metal edge
Fischer Transnordic 66 Easy Skin Xtralite
- Length: 180cm
- Core: lighter wood
Best Cross-Country Skis – Top 6 Picks
Maybe you’ve started out with a beginner set of cross-country skis, and now you’re ready for something a little more advanced and want to explore cross country skiing.
In my point of view, it doesn’t make sense to settle for anything less than the best – especially if you absolutely love this sport.
So enough delay!
I picked out 6 of the very best cross-country skis on the market today, so you can choose cross-country skis based on my experience. This is what I came up with:
These bad boys are perfect for intermediate to advanced skiers who want solid workouts. You can take them through a wide range of track conditions, and the replaceable skin mohair bases reduce ice buildup during harsh conditions.
I loved the fact that with these skin bases, I didn’t have to constantly scrape ice off my skis. This is something I often have to do with waxable bases.
While these traditional cross-country skis offer plenty of performance and maneuverability, you don’t actually need to be a “complete” expert to get the most out of them.
- Skin mohair bases
- Air channel wood core
- Compact sizing
- Efficient forward construction
- Super lightweight for easy skiing
- Air channel wood core stands the test of time
- Super versatile with skin bases
- Might have to buy bindings separately
- Might be too narrow for some users
Fischer Twin Skin Cruiser EF Ski
The price of “Fischer Twin Skin Cruiser EF Ski ” varies, so check the latest price at
These skis are perfect if you see cross-country skiing as a form of exercise rather than a leisurely activity.
These Rossignols are quite narrow and skinny skis with 44 mm widths – making them ideal for both skating and classic nordic backcountry skiing.
There are no two ways around it:
These skis were built for speed. Even though they might be acceptable for all ability levels, you’re going to get the most out of them if you’re striving for that next level of performance.
The mohair skin bases really performed well for me. After a little practice, I was able to find that “sweet spot” for kicking and gliding – boosting my speed noticeably.
- Skin mohair bases
- Activ Cap
- Nomex Honeycomb core
- Mohair skin bases are extremely versatile
- Activ Cap boosts flex for serious stability
- Nomex Honeycomb gives you plenty of durability without the added weight
- Only for serious skiers
- Too narrow for venturing out-of-track
Rossignol Delta Comp R Skin Ski
The price of “Rossignol Delta Comp R Skin Ski” varies, so check the latest price at
The Salomon cross-country skis are perfect if you’re looking for a more well-rounded ski with plenty of maneuverability.
I fell in love with the camber on these skis, as it gives you plenty of grip during kick.
I also had a lot of fun playing around with these shorter skis, and the lightweight Densolite core made it easy to turn these skis.
One thing you’ll notice right away is that the S-cut shape makes it very easy to up hills.
- Waxless Posigrip bases
- Densolite 1000 cores
- S-cut shape
- Optimized camber
- Solid grip
- These classic cross-country skis are a little wide for skating but too narrow for true out-of-cut skiing, giving them a very specific role on the mountain. Not a whole lot of versatility here.
Salomon Snowscape 7 Posigrip Cross-Country Skis
The price of “Salomon Snowscape 7 Posigrip Cross-Country Skis ” varies, so check the latest price at
If you’re looking for a solid, well-rounded pair of fish scale skis, the Salomon Escape 5 is a solid choice.
You won’t need to spend an arm and a leg just to get some decent skis, and Salomon offers some serious value here.
If you live near the mountains like me, you’ll find that you can even zip around town on these classic skis when there’s heavy snowfall.
But if you take them in the groomed terrain, they’ll still perform at a high level with solid grip.
One thing you should know:
Speed was not the focus with these skis. Instead, Salomon focused on creating a well-rounded “jack of all trades” that provides an excellent feeling as you grip the soft snow – especially when you’re going uphill.
- G2 Plus base
- S-cut shape
- Densolite core
- Heel-toe camber
- Forgiving kick zone
- Solid value
- Great feeling
- Not the fastest
Salomon Escape 5 Grip PM Prolink Access Classic Ski
The price of “ Salomon Escape 5 Grip PM Prolink Access Classic Ski” varies, so check the latest price at
If you’re getting into cross-country skiing for the first time and you want a pair of skis geared towards newbies, the Alpina Control 64 is a decent option.
Not only is the width and shape forgiving for beginner cross-country skiers, but these skis are actually super versatile.
When I tried these out, I was able to do pretty much anything I wanted – whether that was hitting the groomed runs or venturing out of the track.
Grab these beginner skis, and you can find out what you love most about cross-country skiing – and then upgrade to more specialized skis later.
- Wood core
- Cap construction
- Great choice for novices
- Versatile ski
- You might need to upgrade your skis later
Alpina Control 64 Edge Cross-Country Skis
The price of “Alpina Control 64 Edge Cross-Country Skis” varies, so check the latest price at
The Transnordic 66 Easy Skin Xtralite is your go-to skis if you’re ready for advanced performance.
Built for long expeditions into even the most treacherous mountain conditions, these skis are designed to stand up to serious punishment.
Even though they’re lightweight and offer some advanced features, I never felt like they were delicate.
With steel edges, you can skate and zip with ease, and a nordic rocker camber is just the icing on the cake.
- Air Tec Steel Edge
- Sintec base
- Easy Skin technology
- Can take a lot of punishment
- Great combination of grip and glide
- Not the cheapest
Fischer Transnordic 66 Easy Skin Xtralite
The price of “Fischer Transnordic 66 Easy Skin Xtralite” varies, so check the latest price at
What You Need to Consider When Buying Cross-Country Skis
All six of the above options are solid choices… So which one do you choose? Narrowing down your choices can be difficult, and it helps you consider a few basic things when making that final decision:
A Word on Brands
Each ski brand that makes cross-country skis has its own unique personality, and you might be drawn to a specific brand because of its ethos and philosophy when it comes to winter sports.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the major brands that create cross-country skis:
Fischer is an Austrian company that specializes in cross-country skiing equipment. However, the brand is also well-known for creating ice hockey gear.
Founded in 1924 by Josef Fischer Sr., Fischer became the first company to use the “ski press” which sped up production.
By the early 70s, Fischer had become the biggest ski manufacturer in the world, using the first fiber-glass technology for the revolutionary Europa 77.
I personally love how stiff Fischer skis tend to be, which makes them perfect for high levels of performance and even racing with my friends. Fischer skis are also super stable – especially at high speeds.
Many of the experienced cross-country skiers I know personally love Fischer for its quality control. It’s also worth noting that Fischer manufactures many of its skis in Ukraine.
Also known as Ski Rossignol S.A., Rossignol is a French company that creates all kinds of skis – including both Nordic and downhill ski varieties.
They hold the honor of being the first company to create plastic skis – a trend that other brands quickly followed.
Founded in 1907 by a carpenter named Abel Rossignol, this company quickly began to supply Olympic gold medalists with some of the best skis available. The word “Rossignol” means “nightingale” in French.
So what do I think about Rossignol? From my experience, these skis tend to hold up really well in harsh conditions.
If you’re the type who likes to ski headfirst into everything the mountain has to throw at you, you can definitely rely on Rossignol skis to get you through.
These skis are also super stable, making it easier to balance and glide. Many of my friends personally swear by Rossignol skis and will not use any other brands.
Also known as Salomon Group, Salomon is a French brand founded in 1947 by François Salomon.
Since 2019, they have been owned by the Chinese company ANTA Sports.
While François started the company, his son Georges took it to the next level and built it into the brand we recognize today.
Salomon is known for creating a wide range of equipment for all kinds of sports, including climbing, skiing, and snowboarding.
Over the years, I’ve learned that Salomon bases are almost always pretty solid. This is especially true for their waxable bases, as they tend to hold onto wax easier and longer.
Many of the experienced cross-country skiers I know say that Salomon trails behind some of the other brands in some respects – but in other areas, they’re always far ahead.
Salomon has a reputation for trying innovative new designs and experimenting with new technology, which can often lead to some seriously fast skis.
Also known as Alpina Žiri, Alpina is a Slovenian company that primarily specializes in footwear manufacturing. Compared to the three brands we’ve already mentioned, Alpina is something of an underdog.
That said, they make solid skis that I’ve had the pleasure to try on more than one occasion. Known for solid value, many Alpina skis are ideal for learners and experts alike.
Just a heads up – this company is actually better known for its cross-country ski boots rather than its skis, so they’re still well-established in the industry… just not necessarily when it comes to the actual skis.
It’s also worth mentioning that this brand got itself into a bit of a controversy by refusing to pull out of the Russian market amidst sanctions from Western countries.
Location – What Kind of Terrain Will You Be Skiing?
When choosing your cross-country skis, you should also consider what kind of terrain you’ll be skiing. Do you ski groomed trails, or do you venture off the beaten path? Do you like hitting fresh powder, or do you like to stick to trails that have been packed down?
If you’re planning to venture out of the track, consider metal-edged “touring skis.” These classic skis are shorter, more maneuverable, and more stable in deeper snow. They also offer a solid grip in even the iciest of conditions. When you hit steeper terrain, the greater sidecut will really come in handy.
If you’re planning to hit groomed trails to simply enjoy the sights with a simple striding motion, consider touring cross-country skis.
These narrow longer skis are lightweight enough to keep you moving without causing serious exertion. Generally speaking, the long ski length is geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers or those who just want to have some lighthearted fun.
If you’re planning on hitting groomed tracks but you’d rather push yourself to the limit, consider racing skis. These are stiffer than other cross-country skis, making them faster and more aggressive. You should know that these advanced skis are less forgiving and are geared toward more advanced skier daredevils.
If you’re like me, you might be wondering what kind of skis to choose if you want to ski the entire mountain. For ultimate versatility, aim for metal-edged touring skis that are still quite narrow.
If you keep your skis to about 67 mm at their widest point, you should still be able to fit in the groomed tracks and experience a little bit of out-of-track touring as well.
With cross-country skis, traction is achieved in two ways:
You can get traction from your metal edges, your bases, or both.
The best type of traction for you really depends on how you’re skiing. If you’re planning on skate ski, you’re going to rely on your edges for traction. If you’re veering more towards classic skiing, you’ll rely on your bases for traction.
This is definitely something to keep in mind as you choose your cross-country ski.
Waxless Vs Waxable Skis
Bases deliver traction in two ways: You can either choose a waxable base or a waxless base:
Waxless Bases: Modern waxless bases are actually quite advanced, and they require less maintenance. Instead of wax, they use a grip zone with a textured pattern – usually in the shape of fish scales.You can also get skis with “skin” layers that help when climbing. There’s nothing wrong with waxless bases – especially in the modern era. Just remember that you will still need to apply wax to the tips and tails (confusing, I know).
Waxable Bases: Waxable bases are still very popular among advanced Nordic skiers, and they can provide higher levels of performance. That being said, waxing your skis takes more work, and the amount of added performance might not be worth it – especially if you’re skiing in areas with variable temperatures.You also need to know that waxing your skis isn’t easy – and you need to do it effectively if you want to enjoy these benefits.
So which one should you choose? It really depends on how you feel about waxing your skis on a regular basis. Does this seem like something that might add to the hobby, making it more enjoyable and stimulating? Or does this seem like a needless step that will add a barrier to having fun?
You also need to consider the fact that if you choose waxable bases, you’ll need to purchase more tools and equipment – adding to your overall costs.
It’s really up to you, although personally I like the versatility and the convenience of waxless bases.
Width and Sidecut
When choosing cross-country skis, pay close attention to the width. Width is measured in three places: Tail, waist, and tip. The combination of all three and the overall hourglass shape of the ski is called the “sidecut.”
If you plan to stay in the groomed trails 100% of the time, you don’t want skis any wider than 68 mm. You’re also looking for a minimal sidecut.
If you want to race and achieve high levels of performance, you might want to look at skis that are as narrow as 60 mm at their widest point. Some racing skis are even narrower.
If you want to head off the track and do some touring, you’ll want to consider skis that are much wider – anywhere from 60 mm to 100 mm or more.
If you’re looking for a versatile, metal-edged ski that can handle pretty much anything, you should aim for skis that are between 65 and 68 mm.
Skate skiing is a completely different ballgame. If you’re looking for a pair of skate skis, you’ll want to aim for widths of around 40 to 45 mm. Yeah – they’re seriously narrow.
As you can see, ski width varies tremendously depending on what you want to do on the mountain. This is why it’s so important to choose the right width for your personal goals.
Last but certainly not least, you should think about camber as you shop for cross-country ski.
If you place the ski down on a flat surface and then look at it sideways, you’ll see the camber. Most skis have a “bow” shape, which means that the middle of the ski actually floats off the ground slightly.
There are two main different cambers:
Single Camber: Single camber skis have less of an arch, creating more stability and allowing you to push off your edges easily. This makes single-camber skis ideal for skate skiing.
Double Camber: Double camber skis require a little more skill and precision. You need to know exactly how much weight to press on the skis to “activate” both camber and achieve the necessary performance.Once I learned how to master these skis, gliding was a total breeze. But they might not be the best choice for first-timers.
How Does SKI Magazine Test and Rank Skis?
SKI magazine assesses skis based on a range of highly technical criteria. For those who don’t understand this lingo, it can be difficult to understand what this actually means in plain English.
What Length Cross-Country Skis Should I Use?
There is no easy answer to this question. A while back, there was a “rule of thumb” that told you exactly what length to choose based on your height.
But nowadays, this rule has been largely discredited. Why? Because there are many other factors to consider, such as your weight, the stiffness of the skis, the level of maneuverability you want to achieve, and so on.
You might want to contact the manufacturer and get their advice for best results.
What Are the Different Styles of Cross-Country Skis?
There are many different styles of classic cross-country skis, including:
- Skate skis
- Racing skis
- Backcountry cross-country skis
- Metal-edges skis
- Waxed cross-country skis
- Waxless cross-country skis
- Skin skis
- Fishscale skis
Is Cross-Country Skiing Hard?
One of things I really like about classic cross-country skiing is that you can challenge yourself as much or as little as you like.
If you simply want to take a leisurely glide through the mountains, you can move nice and slow with a striding motion. If you want something more challenging, you can opt for racing skis, skate skis, or backcountry skis.
There are also a number of ways you can improve your cross-country skiing skills over time.
One of the easiest ways to improve your skiing skills is simply by practicing, but you can also improve your endurance and strength with a number of exercises. These include:
- Single leg jumps
- Skate jumps
- Squat variations
- Lunge variations
Take That Next Step with Nordic Skiing
If you’re ready to reach that next level as a skate or classic cross-country skier, you need the right skis.
Take it from me:
Having the best equipment under your feet can make a world of difference – creating a more enjoyable, challenging, and stimulating experience.
Take that next step today!