Best Crosscountry Skis
When you hit the slopes and get to whip down a mountain quickly, feeling all the freedom cross-country skiing can provide, you’ll know immediately, if you have the best cross-country skis for your adventures. While the sport of skiing hasn’t changed much over the years, the equipment has, and modern cross-country skis have a lot to offer nowadays.
If you’re searching for a pair of the best cross-country skis, you probably already know there are many options on the market today, and you might not know where to start. To save you some time researching the best cross-country skis, we’ve provided a list for you here of some of the best skis you can possibly choose, and we’ll also give you a few pointers about how to make your selection.
- Salomon Snowscape 7
- Wide body
- Great for beginners
- Rossignol Delta
- Increases velocity
- Great for trail skiing
- Fischer S-Bound 98
- Absorb vibrations
- Optical designs for glide
8 Best Cross-country Skis
Salomon Snowscape 7
Salomon’s Snowscape 7 comes not only with a wide body to help stabilize newbies, but also has an easy heel-toe camber to help you climb so you don’t overly stress your legs. Also, the waxless bottom and partial metal edge designed into these skis assists with turns, making the process of learning the slopes a bit simpler.
Salomon’s Snowscape 7 skis are also made to be lightweight so that you can move in them easily and not worry about hurting your hips when you move. Designed into the skis is a strong Densolite material, which helps with durability.
These skis are made to help newer ski lovers learn how to perfect their skills, and help build up confidence on the slope while you’re learning. With the stability and support needed for those at the beginner level, you’ll be able to learn what you need to learn easily so you can enjoy your sport more often.
Great for beginners
- Won’t work well for more experienced skiers
- Don’t come with bindings
Rossignol’s Delta Cross-Country Skis allow you to enhance your racing edge while improving your skills. They are designed to increase your pace and help you move. The core of these skis is honeycombed, which helps make these skis lightweight and boosts their speed.
The honeycombed core of these skis has a design that’s focused on speed. It is important to keep in mind the center area of these skis won’t be as stiff as your typical skate ski, which is usually the type of ski used for beginners. You’ll also need to push a bit harder with the ski to increase your acceleration, but you will get a boost in speed with these skis.
Rossignol’s Delta Cross-Country Skis are made with a wider platform to help those learning how to ski still achieve what they need to improve. Plus, the design, with the focus on speed, will help you increase your velocity easily.
- Flexible skis
- Increase velocity
- Soft Core
- Wider body not great for more experienced skiers
- Wider body can also limit your speed
Fischer S-Bound 98
The design of Fisher’s S-Bound skis do resemble the design of their Orbiter skis, but with the S-Bound you get a wider body to help you handle powdery snow better, and also to increase your balance overall. Plus, these skis have an added benefit—they work very similarly to snowshoes when you climb, which is a nice feature to have when you have to walk uphill.
The full edges on the Fischer S-Bound skis that let you climb up hills easily also help you turn better when you hit the slopes, increasing your potential. If you’ve already developed some basic skills, these skis can help you increase your ski potential and learn more.
Fischer’s S-Bound 98 skis are made to handle difficult terrain and have a fully loaded Backcountry technology system to help boost your control. Their Nordic Rocker Camber, made with open ski tips, will boost your ability to glide and climb.
- Large metal edges
- Great climbing
- Good speed
- Have a bit of a learning curve
- Need to take time to master these skis
Madshus Redline Carbon Skate
The core on the Madshus Redline Carbon Skate Cross-Country Skis are made with carbon around the core area, allowing for a stiff body and less flex, but increased motion while you are on-the-go. Plus, these skis are made to be very responsive to what you need to do as you move, but are really made for skiers who are at the expert level.
The rides you’ll get on the Madshus Redline Carbon Skate Cross-Country Skis are frictionless and smooth, and overall quite impressive. The new P200 Naon Black NM (Nove Mesto) base on these skis makes them glide incredibly well, and you’ll get a lively feeling from these skis each time you use them.
Made for maximum power transfer without forcing you to waste your energy or motivation, you’ll be able to ski well on these even when the weather is very cold. For the more advanced skier looking for a velocity boost, these skis just might be what you need.
- Very fast
- Can feel very stiff
- Hard for beginners to control
G3 Zenoxide Carbon 105
These skis are selling fast, snatch a pair while you still can!
The G3 Zenoxide Carbon 105 Cross-Country Skis are designed with excellent float capability, so they are very easy-to-use on hard-core climbing adventures, bringing you a lot of power and speed once you hit the slopes. Plus, they provide smooth flexibility through the carbon body of the ski design, which helps boost your ability to move and glide efficiently.
Plus, you’ll get a lot of stability from the design of these skis, which are made to help balance out and control the other lightweight features. These skis have large steel edges to help you bite down on very harsh terrain, a feature many hard-core skiers enjoy about these skis.
G3 designed these skis so that they are versatile and can handle just about any terrain you’ll encounter, and they’re excellent for people that like a challenge. These skis can take you through a multi-day mountain adventure and still give you everything you need to boost your speed.
- High float
- Great movement
- Could turn tighter
- Body could be longer
- Wide turning radius
Atomic Motion Skintec
Atomic’s Motion Skintec Cross-Country Skis are made to be used on days where there’s a fresh blanket of powdery snow, and you’re in the mood to hit the thick pine groves and powdery snow off-trail. The modules manufactured into the underfoot area of these skis help you climb and kick better, making it easy for you to get where you want to go.
Atomic designed their Motion Skintec Cross-Country Skis includes mohair construction to help increase climbing capabilities, while at the same time, needed less maintenance than many other skis. So, if you’re a skier that gets tired of constant ski maintenance, you’ll have an easy time keeping up with these low-maintenance skis.
Designed with a straight, skinny shape, these skis can slice through just about any type of snow easily. Plus, these skis include a High Densolite core, which will help you boost your energy and responsiveness as you’re moving.
Atomic’s skis can be used in a variety of different snow conditions and terrains, and are made to be versatile no matter where you find yourself outdoor. With a nice design and several low-maintenance benefits, these are a good pair of skis to have with you on your next adventure.
- Good responsiveness
- Easy climbing
- Could be more durable
- Not much of a velocity boost
Fischer Ultralite Crown EF Ski
Featuring an Air Tech Basalite core with a power layer, these skis are shockingly powerful while remaining lightweight and springy. The stone ground finish on the base ensures a smooth run. We love the sizing options that Fischer offers with these skis. 179cm will give you more control and 204cm will give you more speed.
These unisex skis only weigh two pounds and can be used by any level of skier. We don't imagine that you will have any issues with these skis, but Fischer offers a four-year warranty. As if that weren't enticing enough, Back Country is currently offering these skis at 40% off.
No metal edges
Unreliable weight/length chart
Rossignol Evo OT 65
The Rossignol Evo 65 features a wooden core with an air channel, helping to achieve a trifecta of balance, strength, and flexibility. The waxless Positrak base provides a strong grip with the feeling of dragging. Our favorite feature is the partially metal edges, providing more turning power.
The low weight of 5.84 pounds makes these skis very portable and ideal for both men and women. Available in four different sizes, these skis are mid-length and make sharp turns a breeze. The Rossignol Evos are perfect for singletrack groomed or ungroomed trails.
Only compatible with NNN boots
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
When evaluating the types of cross-country skis that will be best for you, there are a few criteria points you’ll want to check out, including the type of cross-country skis, the length of the skis, ski camber, ski flex, and waxable vs. waxless ski bases. To help you understand a bit about what you’ll want to look for, we’ve broken down the criteria points below.
Cross-Country Ski Type
Most cross-country ski types fit one of three designs: touring skis, race and performance classic skis, or metal-edge touring skis. We’ve covered each in a bit more detail below.
- Touring skis. These types of skis are made for groomed trails and tracks. The design features of most touring skis focus on them being narrow, longer, and lighter in weight. Typically, the combination of this design focus makes touring skis very quick and efficient to use.
- Race and performance classic skis. Like touring skis, race and performance classic skis are usually designed to be used on groomed tracks. Unlike touring skis, these types of skis are made for faster, aggressive types of skiing. With race and performance skis, you usually find that they are designed with a stiffer flex than most touring skis. That means they won’t be easy for beginners to use, and you’ll need to have your technique down if you opt for skis like this.
- Metal-edge touring skis. If you plan on doing off-track skiing or like hitting steeper terrain, then you’ll want to opt for skis like this. Metal-edge touring skis are usually designed to be shorter than touring skis, making them easier to maneuver. Plus, metal-edge touring skis are also usually wider to give you more stability and flotation when you’re hitting difficult snow. Plus, they also have tough metal edges so you get the grip you need when you hit the ice. Metal-edge touring skies also are made with a greater sidecut so that you can turn better on harder terrain. Because metal-edge touring skis have so many features, they are heavier than most touring skis but made to handle terrain that’s off-the-track better than other ski designs.
When trying to determine what type of cross-country ski you’ll need, you need to first consider where you’ll be skiing, and what the conditions will be like. If you prefer more on-track ski, and like using trails, then you can opt for touring skis or race and performance classic skis. If you’re a beginner hitting the ski tracks, you’re probably better off with touring skis, since race and performance classic skis require more advanced skills and better techniques than touring skis.
Of course, if you’re planning on going out off-track and hitting hard terrain, then you’ll need some metal-edge touring skis. Really, the type of ski you purchase will be up to you, but you’ll want to match where you’ll be skiing and what your level of ski experience is up to the skis you decide to purchase since you’ll get optimal performance that way.
Cross-Country Ski Length
To determine what type of ski length you’ll need to get out of your cross-country skis, you’re going to have to factor in your body weight. Body weight is the major item to look at when you’re trying to figure out what type of length you need. However, where you’ll be skiing and how you’ll be skiing are also factors to consider when figuring out the ski length you’ll need.
So, do you need shorter or longer skis? If you’re a recreational skier or like rugged terrain types, shorter skis are usually slower on the trails, but a lot easier to use if you’re new to the game or hitting harsh areas. Also, if you find that you’re between sizes when you’re measuring your body weight for your ski size, it’s almost always better to go with the shorter length if you are still new to the game of skiing. However, if you’re athletic or already at the expert level when you ski, then you can opt for the longer range.
Ski width is usually a three-location measurement with most cross-country ski manufacturers. First, skis are measured at their tip or the widest point at the front part of the ski, then the waist, which is the narrowest part in the ski’s center, and lasts the tail found at the back of the ski. The hourglass shape made by most ski designs is known as the sidecut, and the three-point measurement of skis helps determine how this sidecut will appear.
The middle, narrow point of the ski, or the waist, sometimes has two parts dedicated to it on the ski and features a broad center. Skis made like this are designed to support boots well and also are made to keep them from grabbing onto the snow when you’re trying to make a turn.
If you’re going to be hitting groomed tracks and trails when you ski, then you’ll want the tip of your ski to be no wider than 70mm, which is the maximum width of ski tracks. Also, you’ll want a small sidecut so that your skis can move along on a straight path more easily. If you are considering race and performance skis, remember that they’ll be narrower than touring skis naturally, since they’re made to be lightweight and boost your velocity. Metal-edge touring skis should have a good width and an average sidecut so that you can glide well and turn easily.
If you’re a skier that likes a lot of variety and wants a versatile ski that can cover everything, in-and-out-of-track skiing, then get a touring ski that’s 65 to 70 mm and doesn’t have metal edges. Or, you can get a narrow metal-edge touring ski. Either one of these ski types has a lot of versatility in the design.
Depending on what your body weight and ski levels are, you’ll need to factor both those concepts in when figuring out the length of ski you want. Beginner skiers should go for shorter skis, but intermediate to advanced skiers have some room to move in this category.
Cross-Country Ski Camber
Next, you’ll want to look at the camber, or the bow of the ski, on your cross-country skis. Typically, cross-country skis are manufactured with a Nordic, or double camber that features two different parts.
The first part of the camber helps you when you have equal weight on both skis, like when gliding down a hill. When you do this, the ski’s “grip zone,” or waist area, stays arched upwards off the snow so that you can travel downwards more quickly.
The second part of the camber helps you when you put all of your weight onto one ski, and you flatten your ski against the snow for extra grip and traction before your kick forward. At this point, the ski is focused more on the grip than balance or movement.
Most cross-country ski manufacturers design skis with both types of camber features in them, but some metal-edge touring skis do come with a single camber, making the arch more gradual at the center of the ski. Skis that have a single camber typically help equalize weight better over the whole ski base, making it easier to turn well.
When you’re looking at the camber features on your cross-country skis, you’re likely to find that most cross-country skis feature double cambers, and this usually works just fine for what most skiers want to do. If you do plan on purchasing metal-edge touring skis and want to do more hardcore off-trail skiing, then you might want to consider that single camber. Otherwise, you’re probably fine with a double camber design.
Cross-Country Ski Flex
Other criteria point you’ll want to consider when evaluating your skis is their flex, which dictates how well your skis will turn and how fast they’ll move. Soft-flexing cross-country skis help you grip for better turning capability on softer snow and if you ski at slower speeds. On the other hand, a stiff flex works well when snow is firm and you’re moving at high speeds.
If you know where you’ll be skiing, how quickly, and what the snow will be like, then that can help you determine what type of flex you want in your cross-country skis. However, this isn’t a feature you should primarily base your judgment of your skis on since you don’t need to worry too much about ski flex unless you want to race or move at high speeds. Otherwise, it can help you make your choice in ski, but won’t nece3ssarily make or break your performance outdoors.
Waxable vs. Waxless Cross-Country Ski Bases
When you’re out skiing and you need to climb or walk on flat ground, skis need to be able to grip the snow well (some manufacturers refer to this as their “kick and glide.”) Most cross-country skis are manufactured to grip using one of two strategies; the first way is by using wax, and the second way is by using a texture pattern to help with grip.
So, the thing you’ll have to consider is whether or not you want waxable skis or waxless skis. Let’s break down the features of both.
- Waxless skis. These skis are very popular on the market since they give you grip conveniently and can handle a wide variety of different snow issues. Waxless skis don’t use kick wax to help you with your grip, but instead have a textured pattern in the middle are of the ski that helps you grip into the snow. Even though waxless skis typically state you don’t need to apply glide wax to them, they still perform better on hard terrain when you do.
- Waxable skis. You’ll need to be willing to maintain these skis a bit more, but they can do better than waxless skis as long as you match the kick wax well with the snow you’re dealing with. Waxable skis get grip from using rub-on kick wax that’s placed on the middle area of the ski. You’ll get great glide out of these skis, and excellent grip. However, if you know you’ll be out in cold or crazy temperatures that are around freezing, waxing will be a problem and you’ll want waxless skis at this point.
Depending on the conditions you’ll be doing your skiing in, and how close to freezing the weather is, you’ll be able to determine if waxless or waxable skis will be better for you. A lot of this is a matter of personal preference and depends on the type of cross-country skiing you plan to be doing.
Q: What are some different characteristics in skis that can affect their performance?
A few characteristics of skis will affect their performance, and also can help you determine what types of skis you’ll really need for the cross-country skiing style that fits your approach. First, the width and weight of your skis will matter if you care about your ski velocity range. The base material’s quality on the ski can also affect your speed. However, you’ll also want to consider the camber, or flex of your ski when figuring out how you’ll be skiing, and whether you want a single or double camber.
Probably the most important thing you’ll want to look at is your skill level when you’re looking at characteristics that can affect how your cross-country skis perform. Beginner skiers usually ski with his or her weight in the back while learning the sport, while an expert ski with his or her weight forward.
With that in mind, a beginner skier is going to “kicks” a ski differently than an expert will since an expert will get a lot more kick power with less effort. (Remember that “kick” means pushing against the snow and compressing the camber to spring the ski back into its shape so you can glide more quickly).
Now, recreational skis are typically easier to kick and control, and can work well for beginners, but also limit how and where you’ll be skiing. Also, if you know you’ll be skiing a lot and are likely to improve quickly, you might want something else besides a recreational ski so you don’t have to spend money on yet another pair of skis.
So, you need to consider what level of skier you’re planning to become, how long and how often you’ll be skiing during the winter, and the types of skiing you eventually plan to do. With that in mind, you can determine if you want to purchase a pair of skis just to get started, or something that might be harder to use at first, but can adapt to you as you get better at your sport.
Q: Should I buy skis for my current or goal skill level?
It’s always a good idea to buy your skis at the level you want to achieve—as long as you’re going to be reasonable about that level. You don’t want to buy expert skis when you’ve never skied before and have quite a bit of learning to do. But, you do need some room for growth, and as long as you are realistic about that growth, you should consider purchasing a pair of skis that will help you learn, but also can help you through the intermediate level of growth as well if you are, for instance, just starting out.
If you’re up to the point where you’ve got some skill and can handle yourself well enough to get around, and are somewhere at the intermediate level, you might want to consider racing skis. Racing skis are not that hard to use, and you can put wax on them if you have issues with grip. Plus, they’re the types of skis that will grow with you.
So, buy your skis so that they can grow with you, and help you become better—but again, be realistic about that assessment and approach so you don’t wind up with a pair of skis that’s far too difficult for you to use. Keep your confidence up, and keep growing.
When you’re prepping to select the best cross-country skis for your winter weather fun, you’ll want to consider your ski skill level, the type of cross-country skiing you’ll be doing, the weather conditions, and the trails (or lack of them). Once you’ve got an idea about your skill set and what you’ll need, you’ll be able to start zoning in on the type of ski that sounds right for you.
Remember, try to do a little bit of planning and think about the skill set you want to develop, and can realistically develop, so you can buy skis that can help you improve and grow with you as you become better. Once you’re able to make your selection, you’ll get a lot of winter weather fun.