INTRO TO SKIS: How to Choose the Right Skis

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  • By Brad Hiebert
INTRO TO SKIS: How to Choose the Right Skis

The owners and staff at Trail Sports are cross-country skiers. We pride ourselves on our ability to help our customers make the best possible choices when they are purchasing equipment in our store. We use the most up to date industry knowledge to select equipment from our huge inventory allowing you to try your skis on the trails before you buy.

The owners and staff at Trail Sports are cross-country skiers. We pride ourselves on our ability to help our customers make the best possible choices when they are purchasing equipment in our store. We use the most up to date industry knowledge to select equipment from our huge inventory allowing you to try your skis on the trails before you buy.

Classic Skis: The largest category, lots to choose from with classic skis. Classic equipment offers you the most versatility. You can head out on fresh grooming or after a big snowfall. Many of our local ski areas are groomed for classic technique only. Every classic ski we stock at Trail Sports will fit into the standard trackset. We encourage most new skiers to begin with classic equipment, but every skier should have one pair of classic skis.

Waxable or no-wax skis?

This is the most commonly asked question. Waxable or no-wax skis refers to the way that skis grip the snow. A classic ski requires some sort of gripping surface (wax, klister, pattern or skin) to grab the snow and allow the skier to kick forward.

No-wax skis don't require the application of a grip wax, but can still be treated with wax to enhance their glide. Some people will dismiss no-wax skis as inferior, but these skis can be superior in many situations. They can provide consistent, reliable grip which is ideal for the beginner or the skier who wants to spend their time skiing not prepping skis.

No-wax skis are typically described as not requiring any grip wax. Compared to waxable classic skis, where a grip wax, or klister or sometimes even grip tape, is applied to the wax pocket of the ski allowing a section under the foot to grip the snow. This allows the skier to kick forward. No wax skis have this grip built into their base by using a skin or fabric strip (skin ski) or with an embossed pattern or "fish scale" underfoot (pattern ski)

If you are prepared to spend time applying grip wax, or klister, and ultimately removing it then perhaps waxable skis are a good choice for you. If you prefer to leave even the cleaning process to the cross country ski technicians at the shop it's worth considering the no-wax option.

Current no-wax options fall into two basic categories, pattern ("fish scale") or skin skis. A pattern ski has some type of embossed, or engraved, textured surface to achieve grip. This type of ski offers the most consistent grip in the widest range of snow conditions. There is a reason we use this type of ski as our rental ski. The skin ski has a grip that has been refined over the years. A section of fabric material that has a directional grain is inserted into the ski to provide grip. This system tends to provide excellent grip on a hard or icy track. It also allows for a glide speed that can rival that of a traditional waxed ski. This is the main reason that many skiers purchase skin skis. They want to complement a fleet of skis that includes a waxable ski.

Purchasing a "no-wax" classic ski

Recently, no-wax classic skis have been a best seller. Why? A perfect storm of new technology, warmer winters and new skiers being drawn to the sport for a multitude of reasons has made this one of the most popular choices.

Skin skis

A lot of buzz about this massive new segment of the cross-country ski market. If you ski or know a skier, they are probably telling you that you need to own a pair. This "new" technology has been around many years but refinements have created a no-wax ski that can offer great grip and glide. The skin can provide exceptional grip particularly in a hard-packed or icy track. For this reason, many skiers are adding a skin ski to their fleet of skis to avoid having to use sticky klisters in icy conditions.

Skin skis may also be an excellent choice for those who are looking for an option that maximizes the time spent training and minimizes the time spent prepping. Skin skis come with recommended guidelines for selecting the correct ski for you. These are based on the skiers' body weight and can be quite broad. There are many other factors to consider when choosing the right ski. TrailSports works with our customers to narrow down the possible choices and then have you test the ski on the snow.

Pattern skis

A sometimes maligned no-wax option. The "fish scale" ski was introduced many years ago and some of the early versions left much to be desired. This is unfortunate. Now you can choose high quality, modern pattern skis that provide a great no-wax option. Based on manufacturers' recommendations and our experience, pattern skis may provide the best grip in the widest variety of snow conditions.

Pattern skis can be a great choice for new skiers looking for predictable grip and glide. They are also great for any skier who would like to own one pair of versatile classic skis. Once again bodyweight ranges are indicated on each pair of skis but this is only one part of the selection process. We highly encourage our customers to try their new skis on the snow before they buy.

Why Choose Trail Sports?

One of the best reasons to choose Trail Sports for your skis is that you don't have to rely on someone else's opinion or recommendation. Not ours, your friends or the internet. You can try our skis on the snow! With your input, we select what we think is the most appropriate ski, put a binding on it and send you out to try it. No obligation.