PURCHASING SKI & SNOWSHOE EQUIPMENT
PURCHASING NORDIC SKI EQUIPMENT
There are no full-service Nordic ski shops in Ogden or Salt Lake City. Some equipment is sold at REI (in Farmington and in SLC), at White Pine Touring and Soldier Hollow in Park City. The advantages of these stores is that you will be able to try on the boots before buying. At White Pine Touring and Soldier Hollow it is possible to tryout demonstration or rental gear before purchasing the equipment.
There are several online purchasing options, which may give a better deal, including:
Gear West and Ski Rack have very knowledgeable sales staff and are happy to help over the phone. Both websites have excellent sizing charts. They will also do all of the binding mounting and base prep for a very reasonable fee.
The type of skiing technique used will determine the type of equipment required. There are two techniques for Nordic Skiing, Classic (diagonal stride) and Skate. For a good description (and videos) of both check this website. https://www.salomon.com/en-us/nordic/nordic-advice/cross-country-skiing-classic-vs-skating
Classic skis come in wax or waxless models. Wax skis require specialized waxing that can get pretty involved and is dependent on many factors, including type of snow, temperatures, etc. The waxing prevents slippage, yet allows for glide. Waxing skis is an art, and when the ideal wax is applied, provides the best grip and optimal glide. If you want to just get out without having to do the waxing, waxless classic skis are another option. These skis have a pattern on the bottom of the skis under the foot. The pattern is often called ‘fishscales’ or similar. This provides a good grip, although the glide is a bit slower. There are also skis that have a ‘skin’ under the foot that provides for a good grip and facilitates a better glide. The waxless skis still require a glide wax to optimize the glide.
Classic skis also come in a variety of widths. Wider skis are good for off trail (deeper snow, touring of the groomed trails). These skis also may have metal edges. Racing skis are skinnier.
For classic skis Ogden Nordic Ski School highly recommend the skin ski bases for the most reliable kick & glide experience. Skis should be 44mm to 50mm in width and no wider than 60mm for groomed trails. The wider touring skis do not work well in the classic groomed tracks.
If you have rented at Ogden Nordic previously, those classic skis were most likely 46-48 cm in width.
Skate skis are usually shorter and skinnier than classic skis and have no edges. There is no grip on the bottom, and they require glide waxing to function properly.
Boots for classic skiing are softer and flex at the toes to facilitate the diagonal strid whereas skate boots are much stiffer, supporting the ankle. There are some boots sold that can be used for both classic and skating.
Classic technique uses poles that are about armpit length, whereas skate ski pole lengths are about 10 cm longer than what is used in classic skiing.
Bindings for classic and skate skis are different. The boots and bindings must be compatible, and often in the past, different brands used different bindings and it was not possible to ‘mix/match’ them. However, now, the most common boot-binding combinations (NNN, Turamic and Pro-Link) are all compatible. Older Salomon SNS or SNS Pilot systems are no longer produced and are not compatible with NNN , Turnamic or Pro-Link Systems.
Where will you be using them?
Bigger snowshoes with a large surface area are needed for trudging through deep snow… the larger surface area keeps you from sinking in the deep snow. Smaller snowshoes are best for groomed trails such as those at Ogden Nordic. If you go off the trails, you may want to go with a larger pair. In either situation, your weight will be a factor in determining the proper size.
Bindings are key!
Go with the type of binding that's easy to get into and adjust as you'll be putting on your snowshoes in the cold and, perhaps, with gloves on your hands. The easiest bindings are the "snowboard" type that have a ratcheting clasp that tightens them.
Crampons: On the bottom of the snowshoes allowing you to grip into ice or hard-packed snow.
Terrain: If you think you'll be hiking steep terrain, consider getting a pair that have "steps."
Poles: This depends on your balance and where you'll be hiking. They're not really necessary on the groomed trails in North Fork Park, but you might want to have a pair (or even one) just to feel a little more secure. Poles that ‘telescope’ are convenient to have so they can be shortened and strapped on your pack if you don’t need them.