Top 9 Cross Country Skiing 

Top 9 Cross Country Skiing 

Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to traverse snowy terrain quickly – and a great workout to boot!

To make the most of your next cross-country skiing adventure, it’s important to choose the best cross-country skis according to your skill level, preferred style of cross-country skiing, as well as the expected terrain and conditions.

We’ve gone through the best cross-country skis available in 2021 to find the perfect fit for you. Our reviews focus on weight, performance, durability, ease of use, and special features.

Here are the best cross-country skis for 2021.

Top cross-country ski comparison chart

Best Cross Country Skis Reviews

Here are our picks for the 9 best cross-country skis for 2021:

1. Salomon Senoscope 7

Salomon Snowscape 7 is
the best cross-country skis for beginners.

Wide-body skates provide plenty
of traction, stability and buoyancy for newcomers, especially when learning
basic maneuvers such as turning. Partial metal rim assists with spinning
, climbing, and more.

Salomon cross-country skis not only perform well, but are durable and lightweight on take off.

What we like:

Snowscape 7 is ideal
for beginners thanks to their spacious, stable design that provides plenty of traction
and flotation on both prepared and unprepared trails.

What we don’t like:

Designed with beginners in mind, Salomon cross-country skis are very essential for advanced and even most intermediate skiers.

2. Rossignol Evo OT 65 Positrack

For a versatile pair of all-
around skis across the country, look no further than the Rossignol Evo OT 65.

Not only are they
extremely durable and easy to use, but these high-end skis perform as well
on groomed trails as they do on the outback. Much of this performance is due
to the wide dimensions, part metal edges, and wax-free bases.

Rossignol cross-country skis
also feature a lightweight construction that not only increases
performance but also helps ensure that you can ski for longer without feeling tired.

What we like:

The Evo OT 65 is ideal
for intermediate recreational skiers who find themselves tackling a variety of
terrain types, including groomed trails, maintained trails, and
cross-country snow.

What we don’t like:

Built with the most advanced skiers in mind, Rossignol cross-country skis can probably be a bit pricey for most beginners. Its spacious design also limits its speed somewhat.

3. Madshus Epoch 68

The Madshus Epoch 68
is one of the best country touring skis for ascents, descents
and flat terrain.

Full-length metal
edging and a progressive profile make it easy to traverse unprepared countryside terrain and take
controlled turns in deep snow. The skis are wide for increased flotation
and boast a single camber for improved performance, especially on steeper uplands.

The Epoch 68 is a true jackpot
for all professions in cross-country skiing. Their unique design enables them to
climb uphill with ease but bump into fast and fun carvings and lines on the way back down.

What we like:

Madshus cross-country skis are
versatile and perform well for both cross-country
skiing and basic downhill skiing. It was created specifically for the conditions of remote areas and handles
excellently with deep snow, ice and steep terrain.

What we don’t like:

Although Epoch 68 is a jack of all trades, it also doesn’t master anything. It’s a very versatile ski but doesn’t quite excel in any one area. This is most evident on prepared tracks and trails where the relative lack of slip (compared to other top-tier cross-country skis) is most evident.

4. Fisher Spider 62 crown

The Fischer Spider 62 Crown is an excellent choice for experienced skaters who need

The skate works well both on
and off the tracks. Their lightweight design, relatively narrow body and
non-waxed bottoms with progressive depth make for excellent gliding speed on
groomed tracks. However, the double camber keeps the ski tips over deep snow without
diminishing traction and thrust with every kick.

It is also noted
overall stability and ease of maneuverability. Metal rims provide traction and bite,
no matter the terrain, without being overpowering.

What we like:

Low-maintenance Fischer ‘s popular cross-country skiing
is nearly as versatile as it gets, whether you’re
cruising across trails on a groomed trail without trails or cruising in
fresh snow.

What we don’t like:

Despite its metal rims, the Spider 62 Crown offers a slightly less “bite”, especially on steep hills, compared to other metal-rimmed skates in its class.

5. Madshus CT 140 Intelligrip

The Madshus CT 140 Intelligrip is a
top-notch recreational skate for beginners and those who only venture
out a few times a season.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about
these skis is their strong and durable construction. They will be with you for years to
the end. It has remarkable stiffness while still being lightweight.

The non-waxed bases, using Madshus’s
Intelligrip leather, provide excellent grip on all terrains. The kicks are safe and
stable no matter the conditions. Although the CT 140 Intelligrip is narrower than previous model years,
it’s still fairly wide for plenty of stability during
a quick descent.   

What we like:

These Madshus skates really shine
in terms of stability, kick and glide. They are tight enough for all
geared trails and provide plenty of speed here. However, it also excels on steep slopes and settles a lot
on fast slopes.

What we don’t like:

Like many of the best cross-country skis on this list, the CT 140 Intelligrip is more than just an all-around ski, rather than being built to excel in a specific area. While this is not a problem for recreational beginner skiers, it will likely be a setback for intermediate to advanced skiers who prefer a certain type of activity.

6. Essence Ingstad

Not only is the Asnes Ingstad one
of the best cross-country skis on the market, it’s also among the most

Designed specifically for the country, these skates
feature a traditional double hump but have
seriously swaying ends. This helps the slender skis (only 62mm) at the waist to
stay above deep snow. The wide tail (74 mm) and tip (84 mm) help provide

Asnes Ski provides
an excellent combination of stability and cornering in the backcountry and on
prepared trails. It is a good choice for long trips in deep snow
, steep terrain and challenging conditions.

What we like:

There is a lot to love about
Asnes Ingstad. In addition to a unique design that performs extremely well for its
intended purposes (remote marking and cross country skiing), the Ingstad
is remarkably robust. Like all Asnes skates, this pair will last for many years to come.

What we don’t like:

Asnes Ingstad is very expensive. It also has a unique, specialized design that makes it suitable only for the most advanced skiers.

7. Fisher Fiber Crown EF Tower

Perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers alike, the Fischer Fiber Crown EF Tour is one of the best cross-country skis for navigating curated trails without breaking the budget.

These Fischer skates were built from
the ground up with the beginner in mind. It is intuitive and easy to use. Efficient design means
you don’t have to be very experienced to successfully use them
(and have a great day) on groomed trails.

The skates spin quickly and easily.
It is stable and provides an effective kick. Sturdy construction throughout,
especially on the nose and tail, ensures durability.

What we like:

The Fiber Crown EF Tour excels on well-groomed trails and fresh snow. It is beginner friendly enough that anyone can use it. Additionally, its reasonable price makes it a great choice for those who are completely new to cross-country skiing.

What we don’t like:

The things that make using Fischer long-distance sleds so easy, namely increased stability and excellent control of turns, have one downside: a lack of speed. Although this can be a problem for some intermediate skiers, most beginners shouldn’t shy away.

8. Salomon RS Skate

For well-equipped snowboarding
, you have a few better options than the Salomon RS Skate.

These roller skates are
perfect for the trails set up at your local Nordic club. The skates are responsive
thanks to their single convex design. The wax bases provide the
perfect combination of grip and glide.

The skates themselves
are incredibly high-performance. They are lightweight and more than responsive enough
for racing. Rapid acceleration and high sliding speeds are possible. All this without sacrificing
anything for the sake of stability.

What we like:

Lightness and speed are the two things we love most
about the Salomon RS Skate. It’s responsive
and perfect for both workouts and racing at your local Nordic club.

What we don’t like:

Like many high-quality cross-country skis, Salomon skis are expensive and specialized. They can only really be used on prepared paths. They aren’t cross-country skiing.

9. Black Diamond GlideLite 147 Snow Trekker

The Black Diamond GlideLite 147 Snow Trekkers are among the best cross-country adventure sleds available right now.

Its unique design makes it
ideal for exploring in remote areas on relatively flat or moderately rolling terrain.
They don’t perform well on steep or difficult terrain, but they do quickly on
deep snow and even ice.

However, these sleds are not
exactly cross-country sleds in the traditional sense. Instead, it
‘s a mix between cross-country skis, alpine skiing, and even snowboarding. In fact,
its functionality somewhat mirrors that of snowshoes, and interestingly

What we like:

These purpose-built skates are
very easy to use. They offer one of the funniest and easiest ways to traverse
remote terrain.

What we don’t like:

The fact that they were built for this purpose severely limits the functionality of these skates. It only works well in very specific conditions: soft terrain with fine snow. Anything that’s too steep, too deep, or too rough to make skiing becomes difficult.

Buyer’s Guide to Cross Country Skis

A little knowledge about the different components and features of cross country skis will help you choose the best pair for you. Here are the most important factors to


There are three main types of cross-country skis to choose
from. The type that works for you depends on your intended cross-country skiing style and skill level.

  • Touring –
    These fast, efficient skates are designed across the country for use on
    trails and trails.
  • Racing – These
    high-performance cross-country skates are built with speed in mind to race on
    tracks and groomed tracks.
  • Backcountry
    These metal-edge cross-country skis are usually shorter and wider than
    other types for increased buoyancy in deep snow. Metal edges gnaw the ice
    for added traction. It is best used in remote areas, including
    steep slopes.

Know that there are many subspecies of cross-country skis.
However, most cross-country skiers will do well with one of these
three main types. Beginners, for example, almost always do their best with
basic recreational cross-country skis.

Ski length

Your height and weight are the two main factors regarding the
length of cross-country skis that are right for you.

The taller and/or heavier you are, the longer the skates should be. Most manufacturers offer a sizing guide that will recommend a suggested ski length based on your height/weight.

Although you should use your height and weight
as a guideline when purchasing cross country skis, it is also important to consider
your skill level, expected terrain, and ski style.

Shorter skis are usually easier to control than
longer skis. This means that beginners should choose a set of skis on the shorter end
of the spectrum. More experienced people may prefer longer skis
because they allow you to move more quickly and efficiently.

For terrain, shorter skis are best for
very rough terrain, especially in remote areas. For skiing only on geared trails,
you’ll probably be happier with a slightly longer pair.

Width and Sidecut

The width (and sides) of cross-country skis directly
influence which activities they are best suited for.

Narrow skis are generally better for skiing on groomed trails, while
wider skis are better for off-track skiing. Something in the middle (about 65mm to
70mm at the tip) is best for general use skis that work with both
groomed trails and country terrain. For those who skate only on tracks prepared for them,
skating with a tip no more than about 70 mm wide is ideal. 

However, cross-country skates have an hourglass shape known
as ‘side pieces’. This means that the sleigh is actually different offerings
throughout. The actual shape of the profile can also be important to consider,
especially if you’re buying a set of high-performance skis, such as
cross-country skis. 


Cross-country skis curve up in the middle. This is the
hump of the board. For example, if you place the sled on a flat surface,
you will notice that the middle is sitting off the ground while the tip and tail rest
on the ground.

Cambers can affect skate performance. The majority of
cross-country skis have what’s known as a double camber (sometimes called a
northern hump). The bow is larger in a double-camber ski making it ideal for well-
maintained terrain.

Although single camber is somewhat uncommon on
cross-country skis, some rim cruise models have a single cam for more
rugged, steeper terrain, such as in the Outback.

Ski Flex

Flexible skating is related to the camber. In general, double camber skis
are significantly stiffer than single cams.

Flexibility affects not only speed and ease of use, but also
turning ability. Softer flexure is generally better on soft snow while
firmer flexure is better on firmer packs.

Fortunately, flexible skiing isn’t a big concern unless you’re
into a cross-country ski race. Most recreational and touring models
have subtle differences in elasticity that you likely won’t notice unless you’re
fully experienced.

Wax or wax bases

Country skis hold the snow in one of two ways:
with a waxable bottom or with a built-in tight pattern.

Waxable bases are less common but
have higher performance. You should regularly apply scrub wax to your skis to maintain
traction. In addition to the time it takes to perform this maintenance, waxable
skates lack performance in extremely cold temperatures.

On the other hand, non-waxed bases have
a textured pattern. This textured texture provides traction without the need for wax.
Not only does this reduce maintenance, these skis also perform well in
all weather conditions.

Note, however, that skates without wax still actually require you to apply wax to the tips and tail (not just in the middle like waxable skates) for maximum performance.

Recommended cross country ski accessories

The best cross country skates are just one piece of the
puzzle. At a minimum, you also need laces, boots, ski poles,
and appropriate clothing. Here are the top cross-country ski accessories to add
to your gear checklist:

Cross country ski links

Cross country ski ties are what keep your shoes attached to your
skis while in use.

There are several different types of
cross-country ski links, although the differences are relatively minor. The most important thing
is to choose a pair of shoes and laces that work well together.

Some cross-country skis come with ties pre-installed.
Others come with embedded but not compound links. Still others require
you to purchase your own links separately.

Various types of links are available, although
NNN (New Nordic Norm) and NIS (North Integrated System) links are
the most common.

cross-country ski boots

As mentioned above, be sure to choose a pair of
cross-country ski boots that go with both your ties and cross-country skiing

It is also important to purchase shoes that are appropriate for the type
of cross-country skiing you prefer. Touring, racing, and backcountry usage models are
very different from each other.

Of course, rest is also essential. A well-sized pair of
shoes will make or break your enjoyment of cross-country skiing. We always recommend
buying cross-country ski boots in person so you can try on several pairs
to find the most comfortable model.

Cross country ski poles

All the different ski pole models may look the same but they are
actually quite different in use.

Models are available with specific uses in mind, such as
trekking, racing, and backcountry. Look for cross-country ski poles to match
the activities you tend to use them for.

For example, tourist ski poles are usually lightweight
while backcountry ski poles are usually heavyweight.

Cross country ski clothing

The right clothing will help keep you warm and fit while
cross-country skiing, no matter the conditions.

Although well-insulated waterproof clothing is often
necessary, especially in very cold or snowy weather, ventilation
is also important.

Cross-country skiing is often an intense aerobic activity.
You will likely sweat a lot. It is essential that your clothes allow sweat to
evaporate in a short time.

Like most winter outdoor activities, your best bet is to layer. Start with lightweight, moisture-wicking base layers and add additional layers as necessary. The outer layer must be a waterproof case.

Frequently asked questions about cross-country skiing

Here are answers to some
of the most frequently asked questions about cross-country skiing:

Q: What size
cross country skis do I need?

A: The best length of cross-country skis depends on
your height, weight, and preferred type of ski. Most manufacturers include suggested skate lengths
(based on skate height) for each model. 

Q: Is
cross-country skiing difficult?

A: There is a bit of a learning curve (more than snowshoeing) but most
beginners will learn cross-country skiing in no time at all.

Q: How much snow
is needed for cross-country skiing?

A: Only a few inches of snow is needed
for cross-country skiing, especially if you’re skiing on a flat surface like grass. Skiing on
a trail with roots, rocks, and uneven ground requires more snow, usually at least
6 inches or more.

Q: Is
cross-country skiing easier than snowshoeing?

A: Because snowshoeing is just like walking, it
‘s easier to learn than cross-country skiing. However, most beginners will begin
to feel comfortable on cross-country skis after the first few hours.

Q: Is
cross-country skiing easier than downhill skiing?

A: Learning to cross-country ski is much easier than learning to ski because you usually start on flat ground rather than a slope.

last thoughts

Take your time and do your research to find the best
cross country skis for you.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier, whether you ski
only a few times a season or all winter, whether you’re
on a budget or no budget at all, choosing the best cross-country skis depends on
finding the pair that best suits your needs.

Still not sure which model is best for you? Feel free to contact us with your questions!

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