Bellingham-based cross-country ski instructor Steve Hindman offers several tips for choosing equipment in his new book, 'Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness.'
• Don’t be oversold. Skis between 50 and 70 millimeters wide at the tip, a system boot and binding will keep everything light and flexible so you can ski instead of plod. Avoid metal edges and adjustable poles.
• Choose ski widths in the middle of the 50- to 70-millimeter spectrum for maximum versatility. If you expect to ski mostly at groomed areas, go narrower. If mostly you’ll be knocking around wherever you find snow, go wider.
• Avoid buying backcountry system boots and bindings, because they add unneeded weight.
• Find a boot that fits, then buy a binding to match.
• Pick comfortable ski poles with big baskets for more snow and small baskets for less snow.
• Go with a lightweight track ski or citizen-racing ski. These are less-expensive, are easier to ski on and glide almost as well as high-end skis.
• Opt for system boots and bindings rather than three-pin boots and bindings.
• For high-performance skiing, select low-cut boots with unrestricted forward flex.
• Don’t feel obligated to buy expensive boots.
• Avoid soft, squishy boots because they are heavy and lack control on the trail.
• Go for light, stiff poles. A light shaft is more important than fancy handles and straps.
• Avoid skis made for both skating and classic skiing.
• Choose combi boots for extra support while classic skiing.
• Buy combi bindings if you want classic bindings that are more resistant to forward flex.
• Go with full metal edges if you make turns on icy slopes. Choose partial metal edges if you want extra security touring in icy conditions but will not be seeking slopes to make turns on.
• Match the boot to the ski. A wider ski requires a higher, stiffer boot.
• Select boots that are at least ankle-high, but don’t overdo it. The heaviest boots are needed only for traveling in extreme terrain and carrying heavy loads.
• Choose backcountry system bindings for backcountry tasks short of ski mountaineering and steep telemark descents.
• Opt for plastic telemark boots and cable bindings for extreme terrain and ski mountaineering.