Nordic Touring Skis

Nordic Touring Skis

Nordic touring is the most efficient way to travel through undulating terrain in the winter and is the ski discipline that has stayed closest to to the origins of skiing. 
It’s also a great way to keep fit, since it uses all the body’s muscle groups and requires plenty of oxygen. Whether you’ll be touring in your local park, in the hills for the weekend or heading off to traverse Greenland, the gear remains light and simple.
Nordic touring skis share many features with classic track cross-country skis, having a nordic camber for efficient glide on the flat and being long enough to give a stable platform in all conditions. Compared to the track skis, nordic touring skis are wider to allow them to stay on the surface in off piste conditions.


Traditionally nordic touring ski had a smooth waxing base. Grip wax was applied to the central "kick zone" and waxing skis still offer the most efficient combination of grip and glide - when the correct wax is used and the temperature does not change. Waxing skis work well in Canada and Scandanavia, where the temperatures can be stable for several days, but in the lower 48 and mainland Europe the daily temperature variations make waxing problematic. As a result many modern nordic touring skis use a waxless base with a "fishscale" pattern cut into the grip zone. This works well on fresh and soft snow, less well on ice, but the great advantage is that no waxing is needed, saving time and being a lot cleaner !!
For steeper climbs or icy conditions you'll need climbing skins. These are usually straight, (not cut to shape like those for AT skis), reflecting the shape of nordic touring skis. Some brands have made special skins that cover only the kick zone of the skis, the idea being that these give sufficient grip while letting the tips and tails glide smoothly. These work well on moderate slopes; when it gets steeper you'll find full length skins more useful. The Easy Skin skis from Fischer come supplied with a notch at the front of the kickzone and the Easy Skins clip into this. This system works well and is very popular -  Asnes have a similar system.


Traditional nordic touring skis were long and narrow, with a stiff nordic camber. This design is still the most efficient for travelling long distances over moderate terrain. Low weight is all important if long distances are your priority, so these skis are narrow. The classic model here is the Fischer Transnordic 66 with a 66-54-61 mm sidecut. 
Over the last 40 years nordic touring has become much more popular and skiers are skiing ever steepr terrain with lightweight nordic gear. 
Skiers skiing steeper terrain wanted skis that turn easier, and this has lead to new designs that are wider and shorter, with a softer more forgiving nordic camber. The Madshus Panoramic skis, the Rossignol BC Positrack and the Fischer S-Bound 98 are examples of this type of ski, and they are a good choice for skiers looking to enjoy the downhill rather then cover long distances.


Nordic touring skis are designed for use with nordic touring bindings. There are now three different nordic toueing binding systems, all invented by Rottefella. Take a look at our Nordic Touring Bindings page for more info.
Some skiers want to use these waxless skis with alpine touring boots and bindings. This is possible for the softer wider flexing models, but not for the more traditional skis such as the Fischer Transnordic series where the pronounced nordic flex makes precise length adjustment of alpine touring bindings for the correct boot length difficult.


How long should your skis be? You'll probably have seen by now that in many ways Nordic Touring has two sub-disciplines, skiers going for distance and those for downhill.

Going for distance? Then you'll need skis that are long enough to give a good glide (all other factors being equal, the longer the ski, the better the glide) combined with the correct flex to give a good "kick" with each stride. This is easily measured as follows - you'll need someone to help you here. Find a clean flat smooth floor you can safely put the skis on - tiles or lino is best. Place the two skis side by side with a sheet of paper under the kickzone. Now stand on the skis with your weight shared between the two skis. The skis should have enough flex to allow the paper to slide out from under the skis. If the paper is trapped, then the flex is too soft and the wax/fishscales will be dragging on the snow all the time, reducing glide. Now lift up one foot so your weight is all on one foot. The ski flex should now be flattened, trapping the paper. If not, then the flex is too strong for your weight. The correct flex ski will keep some camber when your weight is shared between the skis, but flatten when weight is on one ski. If you'll be carrying a heavy pack then take this into account when choosing skis, but remember to also take the terrain you'll be skiing into account so as to avoid having too long skis.

Going for downhill? Then things are different. You'll need shorter skis that let you turn easier. The camber will be flattened most of the time so the above test does not apply. Choose a ski length that will let you enjoy the downhill taking into account snow conditions where you live. Deeper snow requires longer skis for stability; steeper slopes are easier with shorter skis. Skiing downhill on freeheel gear requires good balance and having alpine and telemark skills makes things a lot easier and enjoyable.

We stock a wide range of nordic touring gear and accessories. Should you like any help selecting the best gear for your needs then please get in touch - we’re here to help.

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