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  1. #1
    Registered User Pickleodeon's Avatar
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    Default any cross county ski-ers out there?

    Hey, since a lot of us are into hiking and outdoor fun, does anyone know anything about cross country skiing?

    I live in Pa, and it's supposed to be a snowy year, I'd like to get some cross country skis. I found some good deals online, but I'm not sure what all I would need. Boots, skis, and bindings, is that pretty much the basic gear I'd need? I've done it twice, with a friend's old family hand-me-down skis. Any recommendations on where to go, REI? ski shop? to get some good advice and good deals without breaking the bank. I don't need anything super high end, I just want to play around skiing in my yard and at the park.

  2. #2
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    REI, or LLBean on oenline offer good ski packages at reasonable prices. A local ski swap would be cheaper, but requires some knowledege on your part. A good local shop would be best for help with selection for your area.

    I like basic touring skis, rather than racing or heavy back country skis, unless you plan to follow those paths.

    Have a great winter.

    FB
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
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    I initially got the touring package at REI. After skiing a couple of years upgraded to the back country package. Carrying a backpack or pulling a sled required heavier boots, bindings and metal edged skis. As mentioned in the previous post you need to consider your type of activities in order not to buy duplicate gear.

    If you do opt for the touring package I would spend an extra $10 and upgrade the bindings. They put the absolute cheapest they have in the package. REI will let you change components of a package for the difference in price (or they did me anyway). The bindings are the key to the function of any ski package and if it breaks - "you're gonna have a bad day (or actually night)".

  4. #4
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I am heavily into backcountry Nordic ski touring (The backcountry cousin of x-country skiing)

    I guess, the main question is: What kind of skiing do you plan on doing?

    Mainly flat areas in Nordic centers?

    Rolling terrain in wooded areas?


    Based on your response, you are probably planing on mainly rolling terrain?

    TO SUM THIS UP: Get skis with full metal edges and for backcountry touring. Buy the boots to match. If you get traditional x-country skis, you'll be regulated to flat areas and Nordic centers only (unless you ski really well! ) This is a versatile combo for all facets of the large umbrella of "cross country skiing".

    THE BORING DETAILS:

    The skis for that type of skiing are very good for not only for rolling terrain, but you can use them in Nordic centers and/or flat terrain as well fairly easily.

    Anyway, the skis you want are backcountry touring skis. Unlike traditional x-country skis, they have a full metal edge, a bit of a shape for basic turns and are little wider for floatation in snow. They are NOT as wide as modern telemark skis..which is good.

    For a beginner, you'll want backcountry skis with fishscales. Fishscales allow basic climbing without the need for skins or futzing with climbing wax. Plus fishscales work in a variety of terrain. Probably better for the more humid conditions of PA than say the mainly dry areas of CO (Where wax works well).

    This link will give an idea of the skis I am mentioning:
    http://home.comcast.net/~pinnah/DirtbagPinner/bc-skis.html#TRAD

    For boots, you'll want light touring boots. Very similar to ankle high hiking boots..but with insulation. There are a few binding types (3-pin, NNN-BC) and corresponding boots, but they are functionally the same for touring.

    When you buy the skis, they are probably going to have NNN-BC and you'll need the boots to go with it.

    (As an aside, these boots work well for day-use snowshoeing too)

    I realized I probably threw out a bunch of terms you are not familiar with, so this page and book may help.

    http://home.comcast.net/~pinnah/DirtbagPinner/dirtbag.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Really-Backcou.../dp/1575400766

    Finally, you can usually get a basic touring package relatively inexpensive at EMS, REI, ski shops etc. If you are lucky, these places will sometimes sell last year's rentals for a good price. It is how I bought my first touring package back in the day.

    WARNING: I did not realize how many different types of skiing there actually are. I now have THREE pairs of skis/boots I use (and some of my friends have more!). It can be addictive. I have the light touring skis I first bought, full telemark skis w/ the "Darth Vader boots" and my "heavy touring/light tele skis" I use most of the time.
    Last edited by Mags; 11-07-2009 at 16:21.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Nice to see Dave.M's site mentioned here.
    I agree with pretty much everything Mags says (as if I am someone to trust.....)
    I am a waxing pinhead who moved from Western NY to PA about a decade ago and after a couple of years, bit the bullet and bought waxless ski's as I was tired of the changeability of conditions. Even going from the shady side of a field to the sunny side for half an hour was problematic.

    If, for sure, you aren't doing much more than tooling around the flat areas around schools local parks and your home, then a low end combo package is really all you need (Automatic NNN-BC bindings/boots and some waxless ski's w/out metal edges) such as the ones that Bean or REI in Conshohocken carry.

    If you think you will like this sport and will be heading to the NE to get weekends in, then spend once and spend smart. Don't bother with Bean or any local REI stores - They won't have anything as there is no demand. this calls for a road trip - Cascade XC Ski center Between Keene Valley and Lake Placid NY is a great place. Also, New England Backpacker Store in Worcester, MA is a great place - Both places offer various set-ups for rentals. You can also go to places like Windblown XC Ski Center in VT and rent backcountry skiis for a day and see what you like. You are probably going to want to move to a 75MM 3-pin binding -Something like the Voile offers an optional cable for added control (goes around your heel) with good skis, you can later even add televators for and skins for ease of climbing long uphills (Y'know.... earn your turns).

    Some swear by Karhu's (like the XCd-Grand Tour) and others swear by fisher (such a the E-99). I thinkk if you get a waxless ski, the karhu patterns which extrude from the kick zone ski base, offer a bit better climbing, but a bit more drag, versus the fishers, which have the waxless base cut into the kick zone - better climbing skills/form needed, but faster descents.

    So sum it up -
    Backyard -
    Waxless, non metal edge, NNN-BC boots & bindings $300.

    More intense experience/exploration/winter trips to the NE -
    Waxable or waxless, Metal Edge (3/4 or full), 75 MM 3-pin binding w/cable option and beefier boots.
    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

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    Some places will rent toward purchase. Couple of lessons would help you decide what you are most likely to enjoy.

    I have already seen guys out training with the wheeled doodad thingys on the carriage paths here.

  7. #7
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    I need to get back into that. I have pretty old skiis though (doubt the boots fit anymore). We go to West Va to ski.







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  8. #8
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    I agree with pretty much everything Mags says (as if I am someone to trust.....)
    I think the reverse applies to me....even more so.


    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    then spend once and spend smart.
    Agreed. That's why I think the OP should go for backcountry touring skis. More versatile overall.

    I'll just add that don't be afraid to bargain shop. Craig's list often has ski touring gear for sale if you don't mind buying used gear. I'll just say buy the best fitting boots you can as well. As a beginners, skis aren't as crucial...yet.


    Do a a search of ski areas of Craig's List or E-Bay (there used to be a universal search for Craig's List..too lazy too look it up. )

    As for Dave M's page..yeah, good stuff.

    BTW..here's my preferred setup:
    http://home.comcast.net/~pinnah/DirtbagPinner/bc-skis.html#OLD%20SCHOOL

    Use wax and 50mm skins at times for all but the steepest and biggest bowls. If I was a better technical skier, I may even be able to carve turns. But I ain't..so I don't.
    Last edited by Mags; 11-07-2009 at 21:43.
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  9. #9

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    I've only X-Country skiied twice but want to do more. Last winter I skiied in Western Maryland's Herrington Manor State Park where ski rentals aer quite reasonable. I'd recommend it for less-experienced skiiers (like me).

  10. #10
    Garlic
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    I did all the above, started with a cheap track ski package and gradually upgraded to touring and backcountry gear. I went through several pairs of boots and types of bindings and more pairs of skis and poles to get what worked best for my style of travel.

    The posts about waxless skis are probably correct, but for me, I really didn't get good at skiing until I started waxing. When you get the wax right, there's nothing like the performance of waxed skis. But it takes years to get good at it. Just something to keep in mind for the future, maybe for your next pair of skis. Talk to other skiers you see in your area, see what they recommend.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  11. #11
    Registered User Pickleodeon's Avatar
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    Basically, I'm planning to just ski around my neighborhood and the park. I don't plan to go out on the AT and ski anywhere.

    I did see a mention of craig's List, but could I get something decent and well fitting from there? I don't have the money right now to spend on a package like the $300 dollar ones from REI, etc. but at some point I'd like to get some decent ones.

    Thanks for the advice so far everyone.

  12. #12
    Garlic
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    $300 sounds high. Don't spend that much. REI means "Really Expensive Inside", after all. I spent less than $100 for a complete beginner track ski package at Denver's Gart Brothers' Sniagrab (Bargains spelled backwards!) annual sale, but that was a long time ago. Since then, I've never spent more than $50 for a used pair of skis. Maybe one of the big box outdoor stores in your area has a similar sale this season.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    $300 sounds high. Don't spend that much. REI means "Really Expensive Inside", after all. I spent less than $100 for a complete beginner track ski package at Denver's Gart Brothers' Sniagrab (Bargains spelled backwards!) annual sale, but that was a long time ago. Since then, I've never spent more than $50 for a used pair of skis. Maybe one of the big box outdoor stores in your area has a similar sale this season.
    I checked out a few sites, and $300 seems to be the going rate. The solution is, of course, used gear. Start looking now and you (the OP) are ready when the snow falls.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  14. #14
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    All my ski gear has been used. Then again, I am blessed to live in an area with well, lots of skiers.

    I'd trust used gear and have had good luck with it personally.
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  15. #15
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    If you do have a ski swap here are some strategies to get the best stuff:

    1. Volunteer to work it. They will probably let you get the pick of the gear the night before - and there will surely be someone there to give you advice.

    2. Get a couple of friends and go stand in line early. Head to the cross country ski area - easy to find because no one will be there. Have one friend get poles and the other interesting skis while you look at boots - then go off into a corner and make your choices. If you go by yourself and say look at boots - everything neat may be gone after you find your fit. Put the stuff you don't want back for a lucky over-sleeper. Is this fair? Everybody getting the best gear was doing it this way.

    Watch out for wax-able skis. REI generally donates some of last year's stock and these are left over. Nothing beats hitting your wax - missing it is a pain. Harder wax does not go over softer wax and you will have to remove, reapply and cork out wax on a cold ski. I bought wax-able to see how it worked - now I know and won't get them again.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    ... bit the bullet and bought waxless ski's as I was tired of the changeability of conditions. Even going from the shady side of a field to the sunny side for half an hour was problematic.
    ...
    For a beginner, I agree on waxless. For consistently cold conditions like Northern NY or NE, wax is great. [Insider jargon you don't need to know yet: When I lived in upstate NY, the choice was green or extra-green.]


    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    ... Also, New England Backpacker Store in Worcester, MA is a great place - Both places offer various set-ups for rentals. You can also go to places like Windblown XC Ski Center in VT and rent backcountry skiis for a day and see what you like. ...
    NE Backpacker is very good, knowledgeable people, but not cheap. It's where I bought my skis.

    Windblown XC center is great, but was destroyed by the ice storm last December. It will be open this winter, then it's future is uncertain; the owners are probably selling out. They will have less rental stuff this year. There are places with way better snow much closer to Leesport, PA. Go up I81 till you reach snow. About 4.5 hours from you there's the Tug Hill Plateau. A couple years ago they got almost 12' (FEET) in one storm and didn't break the record http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17094120/ One XC area there is http://www.uxcski.com/

    Metal edges -- I don't agree that you need metal edges. Sometimes they're nice to have, but non metal edges are fine most of the time for a beginner in the northeast. Skis that are a bit wider are better if you're not at groomed XC ski areas. Look also in thrift shops, Salvation Army, Goodwill, yard sales; just make sure that the boots fit and the boots mounted on the binding aren't loose.

    We've had a skiable amount of snow here once this winter [for a really smooth surface]. Golf courses are good once the ground is frozen and you get a couple inches; avoid the greens.

  17. #17
    Registered User BlazeWalker's Avatar
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    I plan on hitting Blue Mtn Ski Area this season for some downhill. Maybe I'll look into the cross country thing too...

  18. #18
    Registered User sixhusbands's Avatar
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    I used to do a lot of skiing at Chrystal Lake ,just north of Picture Rocks when i lived in Pa a few years back. Now I live in upstate New York and you get to ski 6 months out of the year somewhere!
    I would suggest that you go to a ski center and try different types. groomed trails are nice for most skiis but if you want to explore ,you need a good set of back country skiis and boots. Until you are really good at turning( this takes practice and a lot of crashes into trees) I wouldn't worry about metal edges. My buddy who skiied for the US national team once told me " if you're not falling ..you're not trying to improve". This was good advice and just like downhill skiing , cross country is all in the control!

  19. #19

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    Cross-country skiing is part of the Nordic skiing sport family, which also includes ski jumping, and a combination sport of cross-country skiing and ski jumping called Nordic combined. Free-technique cross-country skiing is also the method of locomotion in the combination sport of Biathlon, which adds rifle marksmanship to skiing

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudhead View Post
    Some places will rent toward purchase. Couple of lessons would help you decide what you are most likely to enjoy.

    I have already seen guys out training with the wheeled doodad thingys on the carriage paths here.
    I was going to make the same suggestion, at least the rental part. You can usually find pretty inexpensive rental deals and that would allow you to try it out before you end up with a $300 ski package that you sell for $20 next summer at a yard sale.

    I have not done any x-country skiing in many years, but I really enjoyed it back in the day. If not for all my basketball commitments in the winter, I'd take it up again.

    As for places to ski, you don't need to go to a place with groomed x-country trails. golf courses are ideal for beginners. Many state parks have x-country trails, too, which are free and while not groomed, they also offer a lot of solitude similar to hiking.

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