How to choose your classic cross-country skis: sizing and tips

Trying to determine which cross-country skis are the right fit for you among the various models on the market? Look no further - we've compiled a list of criteria to consider that will help guide your search and find the perfect pair of cross-country skis.

ski de fond skating

What are the best cross-country skis? What are the two different types?

If you're considering buying cross-country skiing equipment, it's essential to take into account various factors to ensure you make the right choice. These include your physical condition, skill level, the type of anti-recoil system, compatibility of binding standards with your boots, and your weight. Taking these factors into consideration will help you select the most suitable equipment for an optimal skiing experience.

Determine your skill level? Beginner, intermediate and expert levels

You can practice three different skill levels of cross-country skiing according to your objectives, your physical fitness and your technique: LEISURE, SPORT or PERFORMANCE.

It is important to consider these criteria in order to find the equipment that will best suit your needs.


    Leisure - Beginner

    You are new to cross-country skiing, or you only practice the sport occasionally and for distances under 10 km.
    Opt for stable skis with a low camber (arch) and a good grip to avoid slipping backwards on the ascents.

    These skis will allow you to glide easily on groomed trails.


    Sport - Intermediate

    You are athletic and you cross-country ski regularly and/or at medium-intensity for distances of approximately 20 km.
    Go for manoeuvrable skis with a medium camber that will give you a reasonable grip/glide ratio. 

    These skis are more technical and allow for a faster glide and overall speed.


    Performance - Expert 

    You practice the sport often and/or at a high-intensity for distances of more than 20 km.
    Choose skis that are light and dynamic with a significant camber to optimize your grip and glide.

    These skis are very technical, and will help you reach your most ambitious objectives.

Which anti-slip system should you choose? Fish scale cross-country skis, skins, or waxable skis?

The base of classic cross-country skis has a 2/3 glide zone (at the front and back) and 1/3 kick zone (in the middle) for grip and propulsion.

There are 3 types of kick zones available. Check out the following kick zones below:

  • Semelle ski de fond classique a écailles

    Fish scale

    If you're a beginner, this type of ski is for you. Fish scale skis offer a good grip, even if it restricts the glide slightly. There are two glide zones: both in front of, and behind, the fish scales.

    The fish scales help you achieve a good grip in all types of snow, especially when working on the ascents.
    Fish scale skis do not require wax.

  • semelle ski de fond classique à peaux


    Relatively new to the market, this type of classic cross-country ski has completely changed the industry and may be of interest if you're an intermediate skier looking for a bit more glide.

    With a synthetic skin on the base, these skis offer an excellent balance of grip and glide.
    Skin skis do not require wax.

  • semelle ski de fond classique a farter


    You'll get an excellent glide and optimal grip with these waxable skis thanks to the liquid or solid wax applied to the base of the waxable skis.

    The type of wax you use will depend on the snow conditions and weather. It's important to understand the different wax types and the ways they react to various weather and snow conditions.
    Waxable skis are good for experienced skiers, and are generally the type used for competitions regardless of the snow conditions.

Check the compatibility and type of bindings

You want to choose the classic bindings for the type of skiing you'll be doing. Each brand offers different options: adjustment with or without tools/with, with ski boots or without ski boots. Go for the option that best suits your needs.

An important factor to consider is the compatibility between your ski and ski boots.

There are three types of standard bindings to choose from.

These different standards will not always be compatible with your skis and ski boots.

  • Sns profil®

    This is the oldest type of cross-country ski bindings. Developed by Salomon, these bindings may actually be discontinued soon. Some Salomon skis, such as One Way and Atomic (skate skis), have this type of binding.

    Only compatible with SNS Profil ski boots.

  • Sns pilot®

    Also developed by Salomon, this type of binding is compatible with some Salomon ski models, such as One Way and Atomic (skate skis).

    Only compatible with SNS Pilot ski boots.

  • Nnn®

    Developed by the brand Rottefella, this is the most common type of binding. Inovik, Fischer, Madshus, Peltonent and Rossignol skis all work well with this binding.

    Only compatible with NNN, PROLINK and TURNAMIC boots.

  • Prolink®

    Developed by Salomon, this type of binding is compatible with all boot brands (except Salomon SNS Pilots).

    Compatible with NNN, PROLINK and TURNAMIC boots.

  • Turnamic®

    This is a newer type of binding, which is actually compatible with older NNN systems.

    Only compatible with NNN, PROLINK and TURNAMIC boots.

Consider your body weight

The length of skis you choose will depend on your body weight and your stature.

  • ski skating

    What size do you need? What length skis? How to know what size to buy

    Refer to suppliers’ recommendations to find the ski size that is right for your weight.
    If you fall between sizes, you can also consider your level of ability and your objectives for the sport:

    - A smaller ski is more accessible and easier for beginners.
    - A larger ski is more technical and preferable for those looking to improve their performance.


    The right camber or gear in Canada

    The camber (arch) of a ski determines the height between the ski and the snow when the ski lies flat on the snow without the weight of your body and/or the bindings on top of it.
    The more pronounced the camber is, the more energy it takes to make contact between the ski and the snow.
    Refer to suppliers’ recommendations to find the right camber for your weight/height and level of ability.
    - A low camber: for people with a lighter body weight, beginners, intermediate skiers or people who are looking to glide on soft snow.

    - A medium camber: for intermediate skiers with a smaller weight/height ratio.

    - A high camber: for experienced skiers, people with a heavier body weight and/or people looking to glide on hard snow.


Here is a chart and guide to help you choose the right size of class cross-country skis:


Now you know the basic criteria to consider when choosing the right classic cross-country skis for your body type, level of ability and performance objectives.

Remember, having the right gear will make your ski experience that much better! To fully enjoy your cross-country skiing experience, it's important to have appropriate clothing that matches your skill level. Along with comfortable and warm jackets and pants, don't forget to invest in hats, gloves, and neck warmers to keep you cozy during your outdoor adventure.

Choisir ses bâtons de ski de fond

How to choose your cross-country ski poles: What size do you need?

Before choosing your cross-country ski poles, there are a few key factors to consider – your physical fitness and level of skiing, the type of wrist strap and grip you need, the required stiffness of the shaft and your height.

woman and man cross-country skiing

The benefits of cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Discover how this winter sport can benefit your physical and mental health!

woman doing yoga

Why yoga and cross-country skiing are a great match

Did you know your yoga practice can actually help you improve your cross-country skiing? The two activities have some skill and strength requirements in common that make them an ideal pair.

man ready for a cross-country ski race

Nutrition strategies for cross-country skiers

Your race day performance will be impacted by what you eat before and during the race. Post-race nutrition is also an important part of your body's recovery. Follow our nutritionist's tips for optimal results.