Proper ski size is essential to a great experience.

Ski length is determined partly by a skier’s weight. Rossignol provides the following guidance for recommended ski lengths:

Weight Skate Skis Classic Skis
20-27 kg (45-60 lbs.) 133 cm 136 cm
25-32 kg (55-70 lbs.) 133 cm 146 cm
29-36 kg (65-80 lbs.) 143 cm 156 cm
34-41 kg (75-90 lbs.) 153 cm 166 cm
38-45 kg (85-100 lbs.) 163 cm 176 cm
43-46 kg (95-100 lbs.) 173 cm 186 cm

For Combi skis, you might consider a ski between the skate and classic sizes. Different manufacturers have different lengths and stiffness of skis and there is no substitute for expert guidance from a ski shop like Bikeway Source or the Weston Ski Track. Within the weight range, taller/stronger/more experienced skiers could use longer skis.

Bindings: the SNS versus the NNN system.

There are two similar binding systems which are NOT compatible: SNS made by Salomon and NNN by everyone else. Families often choose one system for all gear so that boots and skis can be passed on as children grow. The senior coaches have a slight preference for the NNN system which they feel has an edge over SNS on classic skis for advanced skiers. NNN bindings that have the new NIS plate which attaches to the ski are easier to fit, can be adjusted, and can be transferred to other skis. However the differences are overall very small and you may find more SNS gear in the used equipment swaps. Weston Ski Track rental equipment is SNS.

Combi Boots: flexibility for classic and support for skate.

You can use the same combi boots for skating and classic technique, so make sure the bindings are compatible on all skis. Avoid touring boots which do not have the stiffness needed for skate skiing. Also do not get boots for 3-pin type bindings as they cannot be used for proper skate technique. Boot sizes run differently brand to brand so be sure to have your skier try them on.

Poles are as important as skis.

Even if you chose combi skis, your skier will need two pairs of poles as skate poles are longer than classic poles. It is essential for your skier to have poles with racing-style baskets, which extend behind not in front of the pole. Without them, it is impossible to have good angled pole plants in either classic or skating technique. Do NOT get “round basket” or “touring sized poles”. Also, an advanced strap system, with a velcro fastener to secure the strap to the wrist, makes a big difference especially in skating.

Skier’s height Skate Poles Classic Poles
106 cm (3’6″) 95 cm 85 cm
114 cm (3’9″) 100 cm 90 cm
122 cm (4’0″) 105 cm 95 cm
130 cm (4’3″) 110 cm 100 cm
137 cm (4’6″) 115 cm 105 cm
140 cm (4’7″) 120 cm 120 cm
142 cm (4’8″) 125 cm 115 cm
145 cm (4’9″) 125 cm 115 cm
147 cm (4’10”) 130 cm 120 cm
150 cm (4’11”) 130 cm 120 cm
152 cm (5’0″) 135 cm 125 cm

Kids’ rental equipment at cross-country centers almost always falls into the “what not to get” category. The Weston Ski Track lease package is an exception. It has been designed for Bill Koch ski clubs and is perfectly fine for novices and intermediates. Buying used kids’ rental equipment from end-of-year sales at cross-country centers is not recommended.