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Cross-Country Skiing - Gear for the Slopes
Types of Cross-Country Skis and Equipment
Getting up close and personal with your poles
Cross-country skiing is an all-around adventure sport and aerobic workout program rolled into one. But just like you wouldn't dream of wearing scuba gear for a marathon, cross-country skiing without the right equipment makes no sense. As with most sports, it pays to try before you buy . If you've never skied at all before, try a couple different forms of the sport to find the perfect fit. Once you discover that cross-country skiing is for you, invest time in discovering what kinds of equipment best suit your needs and budget. Then get out there and make the most of your adventures.
Not sure how to start shopping for skis? These suggestions should get you started.
- Traditional cross-country skis - Longer, usually eight inches (20 cm) above your head and thinner than backcountry skis, these skis are best for purists who believe the only way to ski remains the good old-fashioned way.
- Ski skating skis - Glide bindings secure your boots in place when performing side-to-side movements and allow more freedom of movement. Find a pair that extends only four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) above your height - shorter skis facilitate turning and give you better control.
- Backcountry skis - Short and wide under the foot, these skis are built to withstand the bumpy terrain of seldom-used trails. They provide better stability and perform best on powder snow.
Your poles are your lifelines as you cut through the wintry landscape, and finding the right ones will make all the difference in the world. Stick to lightweight aluminum or fiberglass. Select a sturdy pole that won't break the first time you fall. Expect to spend less than $100 for a new pair, but you can easily get away with buying secondhand poles.
To find the right pole for you, stand straight with your arms bent at a 90 degree angle. Your pole should fit comfortably in your hand with your forearm parallel to the ground.
Only purchase quality waterproof cross-country ski garments that protect against the cold and wick perspiration from the body. Remember, cross-country skiing warms the body quickly - dress in layers.
- Look for thermal underwear designed to wick sweat away from your skin. New synthetic fibers, such as Capilene polyester, or natural wool will keep that perspiration moving without any itching.
- Wear thick, warm socks that allow your feet to move easily without bunching up in your boots.
- Pull a pair of waterproof ski pants over your long underwear - large enough at the cuff to fit over your boots and keep the snow out.
- Warm mittens or gloves are a must, as is a hat or other form of head and ear protection.
- Get a good shell or top jacket coated in a waterproofing treatment such as Gortex and enhanced by taped seams. A jacket with an inner lining allows you to remove the lining on warmer days.
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