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How to Buy Used Cross Country Ski Equipment: Complete Guide cover
November 12, 2021

How to Buy Used Cross Country Ski Equipment: Complete Guide

Congratulations! You've made the excellent choice of becoming a cross country skier. No matter if you're a beginner trying the sport out for the first time or a wily veteran looking to upgrade your setup, just by clicking on this article you've demonstrated that you have more intelligence, grace and are better looking than the average human. With your new membership in the cross country skiers guild, you'll get amazing benefits like avoiding long lift lines, having better cardio than most of your friends, saving a ton of cash on not buying a ski pass, and best of all not breaking your face or tearing your ACL on that double black diamond you swear you were ready for. So what are we waiting for? Let's dive into it!

What is the Difference Between Classic Cross Country Skiing and Skate Cross Country Skiing?

Classic XC skiing is the original style of skiing. This style of skiing is usually done in groomed tracks but can be done on non-groomed snow in the backcountry. The technique for classic looks similar to running and is called diagonal stride. The skier puts weight on one ski pushes off, glides, and then does the same on the other side. 

Skate Skiing is also done on groomed trails but is done outside of the track. The motion of skate skiing is similar to the motion of rollerblading or ice skating. Who would have thought? Skate skiing is done on hard-packed and icy snow, which makes powder days a little less fun. 

What Cross Country Ski Equipment is the Best for Me?

Classic Cross Country Touring Skis 

Classic skis are best if you want to stick to groomed trails with mostly hard-packed snow. You can find trails like this at your local ski resort, park, or golf course. The tracks are usually a maximum width of 68mm so all classic XC skis will have a width less than 68mm.

Metal-Edged Cross Country Touring Skis

These skis are best if you want to break out of the tracks and hit the backcountry. The metal edges on these skis help with grip in icy conditions. Metal-edged skis are usually wider than standard cross country skis. Their increased width helps you float on top of deeper snow and give you more stability.  Metal-edged ski widths can range from 60-100mm. So if you’re interested in skiing both the backcountry and your local groomed track you can find a ski with a width less than 68mm to do the job. 

Race and Performance Skis

Racing skis are similar to classic touring skis but are built for fast aggressive skiing. The stiffer flex of racing skis makes them less forgiving and requires skiers who use them to have better technique.  If you want to go fast and are confident in your technique these are the skies for you. Racing skis are usually no wider than 60mm and some are much skinnier.

Skate Skis

Cross country skate skis are a completely different beast from the other skis mentioned in this
section. Skate skis have a completely different style and technique, which means they are designed completely differently. Skate skiing is done on groomed hard-packed and icy snow outside of the tracks that classic skis use. Skate skis are lighter, skinnier, and stiffer than
classic XC skis and their widths range from 41-45mm. If this style of skiing appeals to you then these skies are the right tool for the job. 

How To Choose Cross Country Skis

The Basics of How Classic Cross Country Skis Work

In order to properly evaluate cross country skis, you need to know the basics of how cross country skis work. All skis including both downhill and cross-country have a camber. The camber is an upward curve built into the middle of the ski. When you place a ski on the ground you’ll notice that the front and back touch but the middle does not.  The camber helps with stability, handling and makes your turns more responsive when you’re carving. That is why both downhill and cross country skis have camber.

One big difference between downhill and cross country skis is that downhills skis are single camber and cross country skis are double camber. The arch on cross country skis is much more pronounced than the arch on downhill skis. The reason for this is that the middle of the cross country ski has a kick zone and two glide zones. The glide zones are on the front and back of the base of the ski and are smooth. The kick zone is in the middle of the ski and is responsible for creating traction and propelling the skier forward. You don’t want the kick zone to be in contact with the snow when you’re gliding because it will create unnecessary friction. The double camber allows the kick zone to come into contact with the snow when you’re pushing off, but not when you’re gliding. 

Choosing the Correct Ski for Your Height and Weight

Ski sizing is not standardized between brands and differs for different models of skis within the same brand. The main reason is that the stiffness of the ski differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and even differs between models of the same manufacturer. This can make choosing the right ski difficult. The best-case scenario is that you find the sizing guide for your specific ski model. If you aren’t that lucky then we have some tips on how to make sure you get a ski that will work for you.

A good general rule of thumb is to add 15 to 20cm to your height and that will be the length of your ski. If you are heavier than average you should add 5 cm to the length of your ski and if you are lighter than average you should take 5cm off the length of your ski. 

Once you have the skis on hand you can use the paper test to make sure that they work properly. The test works like this. Stand on top of both skis and weigh them evenly. While you are doing this you should be able to easily slide a piece of paper along the kick zone. Next weight one ski. The piece of paper should be stuck or very hard to move. If you read the section about how cross country skis work. It should be very obvious why this test works and if you passed. This is a great use of the  Rerouted return policy. Test out your skis and if they aren’t right for you then you won’t get stuck with a pair of useless skis as long as you return them within the return window.

You should also take into account your skill level when choosing the length of your ski. Shorter skis are better for beginners. Shorter skis give you extra control and maneuverability. Longer skis are better for more advanced skiers as the additional length will allow you to go faster.

How to Check the Quality of Cross Country Skis

The first thing that you should check is the base of the ski. Some wear and tear is normal. You should make sure that there aren’t and deep gouges. If the damage goes all the way to the core of the ski, that is called a core shot and you should definitely pass on the. You should also pass on any waxless skis where the kick zone is scraped up enough to where you have reasonable suspicions that it is functionally compromised.

If you are buying metal-edged touring skis keep a lookout for excessive rust. A little bit of rust is fine and can usually be taken care of when re-edging the skis.  A significant amount of rust indicates that these skis may not have been taken care of properly. 

The rest comes down to common sense. If the gear looks like it’s in good condition then it probably is. If the equipment looks abused then it’s probably a good idea to stay away. If you buy used cross country ski equipment on Rerouted you can always return the gear if the gear doesn’t match the seller’s description.

What is the Difference between Waxless and Waxable Cross Country Ski Bases?

Waxless skis are designed so that the kick zone of the base grabs the snow when you weigh the ski and then slides when you want to glide. This grip can be created in several different ways based on the type of waxless ski. The important thing is that the grip is not created by wax, but instead the design of the ski. 

Waxable cross country ski bases use different types of waxes for the slide zone and the kick zone of the ski base. Kick wax grips the snow better than glide wax and gives you the ability to push off. Waxable skis require that the skier has better technique and a considerable about of proficiency in applying wax and evaluating ski conditions. Having impeccable technique and the know-how to correctly apply kick wax can take years to master. For most of us, waxless skis are the best choice with the least amount of hassle. For expert cross country skiers waxable skies can provide many benefits compared to waxless skis including fine-tuning your skis to be perfect for conditions allowing you to move faster and more effortlessly due to
decreased drag.

Types of Waxless Skis

Fish scales are the most common waxless design since they perform well in a wider range of
conditions compared to skins and zero waxless skis. The fish scales are the same material as the base of the ski and the pattern is what gives them their grip. Fish scales can either be positive or negative. Positive designs are when the scales protrude from the base and negative fish scales are cut into the base.

Skins are a design that uses a surface that is different from the base of the ski. These surfaces are fabrics such as mohair or nylon that are angled so that they grip the snow in one direction and slide across it the other direction. This makes the kick zone of these skis look hairy or like it’s covered in velcro. If skins aren’t properly maintained they can become waterlogged in warmer temperatures creating some serious drag and making for a sad day of skiing.

Zero skis get their grip from being roughed up with sandpaper. They get their name because they are ideally used at 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Some people swear by zeros but due to the limited conditions they work in, most people opt for skis with the fish scale design.

How to Choose the Right Cross Country Ski Poles

Choosing the Correct Length Poles

Classic Touring Ski Poles and Racing Poles

Properly sized skiing poles for classic cross country and XC racing should reach from the ground to your armpits. Slightly longer is better than slightly shorter so if you have to error on the side of adding a few cm. On average this means that your poles are 30cm shorter than your height

Poles for Use with Metal Edge Touring Skis

The type of poles you need for cross country skiing in the backcountry and in powder should be based on the terrain and type of snow you are going to tackle. If you are going to be skiing gently rolling terrain then you should size them like touring poles. If you’re going to be doing anything super epic in rugged terrain then you are probably going to need shorter poles for those steep climbs and gnarly downhills. A good rule of thumb is the poles should be the height of the skier minus 35cm. This makes telescoping poles valuable. You can adjust their length to tackle the specific terrain you’re in and get the best of both worlds. 

Skate Skiing Poles

For skate skiing you need the longest possible thrust which makes skate skiing poles much longer than touring poles. Your skate skiing poles should be somewhere between your chin and lips. Another way to measure this for the average human is to subtract 20cm from your height to get the height of your poles.

Which Ski Pole Material is Right for Me?

Aluminum poles are good entry-level poles because they are usually the least expensive option. Aluminum poles are more robust than other materials which makes them sturdier, but heavier than other options.

Fiberglass is lighter and more flexible than aluminum although it has a worse strength to weight ratio than carbon fiber.  These poles are a great option for both beginners and experienced skies.

Composite poles are made of carbon fiber and a mixture of other materials which makes them a good mid-range option since they are more lightweight than aluminum poles and less expensive than pure carbon fiber poles. 

Carbon Fiber is best for racing and performance. Carbon fiber poles are very lightweight but are still very strong. This makes carbon fiber more expensive on average. This is a bit overkill if you aren’t planning on entering any competitions.

What Type of Ski Pole Basket Should I Choose?

Small semi-circle baskets work best on packed snow. This makes them great options if you are going to stay on groomed tracks. If you are a classic cross country skier or a skate skier these are the baskets you want. Bigger baskets are best for deep powder. If you want to pop out of the tracks and head to the backcountry then you want a basket that can handle deeper snow. Poles with bigger baskets are good to pair with metal-edge touring skis.

How to Choose Cross Country Ski Boots

Make Sure Your Cross Country Ski Boots Fit Properly

Most of the time cross country ski boots are going to be the same size that you wear in standard athletic shoes. We recommend that you wear warm socks when you try boots on to
mimic real-world conditions. You will have more problems if your boots are too big than if they are too small. Having too much extra room will cause blisters. Also, looser-fitting boots will allow more air to escape making them colder and no one wants cold toes when they are skiing.

How to Pick the Right Type of Boots

Cross Country Touring Boots - If you are going to stay in the tracks on groomed trials then you probably want a low-cut boot. Low-cut boots provide a wider range of motion, are lighter, more comfortable, and easier to put on. Unless you are planning on racing you can choose the most comfortable pair that is compatible with your setup. Racing boots are usually lightweight with less insulation and are designed for performance which makes them a bit more uncomfortable.

Metal-Edged Touring Ski Boots

If you’ve picked up some metal-edged touring skis because you plan on venturing out into the powder then you need to pick a stiffer pair of boots that will provide more stability and for turning. These boots usually have a higher cuff, a thick more ridged sole, and a stronger connection to the binding. Even though these boots are stiffer they still have sufficient flexibility to give you the proper range of movement.

Skate Skiing Boots

Since skate skiing employs a side-to-side motion it requires more ankle support and stiffer soles to deal with the additional twisting forces of the skating technique. Classic cross country boots are much too flexible to be of any use in skate skiing. 

Combi Boots 

These boots are made for both classic skiing and skate skiing. If you want to do both skate skiing and classic cross country skiing then these boots are a great way to save a little money and avoid swapping out your boots when you’re changing your skis. Combi boots do a pretty good job of accommodating both sports but they won’t have the same level of performance as boots for your specific discipline.

Make Sure Your Boots Match the Bindings

New Nordic Norm (NNN) Versus Saloman Nordic System (SNS)

The two major categories of bindings for cross country skiing are New Nordic Norm (NNN) and Saloman Nordic System (SNS). The main difference between these setups is that NNN has one ridge and SNS has 2 ridges. SNS came before NNN, but there’s still a good chance that you’ll still see it out there. You can’t mix and match bindings. SNS bindings are only compatible with SNS boots. NNN bindings are only compatible with NNN boots. You may also see the terms Tunamic, NIS and ProLink. For our purposes, you can just consider them the same as NNN. All of these systems are compatible with the New Nordic Norm (NNN).

Metal Edge Touring Ski Bindings

You’ll see two distinct versions of bindings for metal-edged touring skis the New Nordic Norm Back Country (NNN BC) and 75mm 3 pin bindings. It’s very easy to post 3 pin boots and
3 pin bindings because they look completely different than the rest of the field. 

The most likely place you’ll run into trouble is with NNN BC because they look similar to NNN setups but are not compatible. NNN BC boots have the same configuration as NNN, but
have a thicker bar and NNN BC bindings have wider and deeper channels to accommodate that thicker bar.

Can I Put New Bindings on Old Cross Country Skis?

Yes, you can definitely put new bindings on an old pair of skis. It’s easier if the drill pattern of the old skis and new skis match. If the skis bindings have been replaced in the past then drilling too many times can compromise the skis. Don’t remount more than 3 times and holes should be 8mm away from each other. 

The Most Important Piece of Equipment for both Waxable and Waxless Skis

WAX!!!! The term waxless might mislead you into thinking that you don’t need any glide wax at all. Both waxless and waxable skis need gliding wax. Only waxable skis require kick wax. Glide wax is crucial for preventing the buildup of ice and snow on your skis. On warm days the snow will build up on your skis preventing you from sliding, which turns your skis into silly-looking
snow shoes. For waxless skis, you need to apply glide wax to the entire ski including the kick zone, which most commonly looks like fish scales.  

Keeping the kick zone free of snow is as important as keeping your glide zone free of snow. Build up of snow on the kick zone will inhibit the ability of your skis to work properly. If your kick zone ices over then you won’t be able to grip the snow. If your kick zone accumulates a lot of snow build up it could prevent you from sliding. The exact conditions of the day will dictate which problem you face, but either way without glide wax you’ll end up having a bad

Where Can I Buy Used Cross Country Ski Equipment?

The best place to buy used cross country ski equipment is on Rerouted. We donate 1% to the planet which means that for every sale 1% of the proceeds are donated to an environmental charity. Another great reason to buy on Rerouted is that we specialize in buying and selling used adventure gear. At Rerouted we are consistently researching new technologies to make the buying and selling process easier so you can spend less time online and more time outside. 

If you can’t find exactly what you want on our website then you can always swing by your local used sporting goods consignment store. If there’s not a used sporting goods store in your town you can always contact your local ski club. Most of the time clubs like these have athletes that upgrade their gear every season and need to get rid of high-quality gear at a great price.  

What do I do with my Old Cross Country Skis?

You can sell your cross country ski equipment right here on Rerouted! One of the benefits of selling on Rerouted is that sellers don’t pay for shipping. We’ll send you a shipping label which can be really useful with bulky items such as cross country skis.