Best Crosscountry Skis – 2021 List
In the guide, we have provided a list of some of our favorite crosscountry skis to help you get the most out of the snowy season.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When trying to determine what type of skiing you want to practice and what skis you’ll need, you need to consider where you’ll be skiing, and what the conditions will be like. Depending on this, the material of the ski is important.
If you prefer more on-track ski then you can opt for touring skis or race and performance classic skis. If you’re a beginner hitting the ski tracks, you’re probably better off with touring skis, since race and performance classic skis require more advanced skills and better technique.
If you’re planning on going out off-track and hitting hard terrain, then you’ll need some metal-edge touring skis.
Cross-Country Ski Camber
You’ll want to look at the camber, or the bow of the ski on your cross-country skis. Typically, cross-country skis are manufactured with a Nordic or double camber that features two different parts.
The first part of the camber helps you when you have equal weight on both skis when gliding down a hill. When you do this, the ski’s “grip zone,” or waist area stays arched upwards off the snow so that you can travel downwards more quickly.
The second part of the camber helps you when you put all of your weight onto one ski, and you flatten your ski against the snow for extra grip and traction before your kick forward. At this point, the ski is focused more on the grip than balance or movement.
Most crosscountry ski manufacturers design skis with both types of camber features, but some metal-edge touring skis do come with a single camber, making the arch more gradual at the center of the ski. Skis that have a single camber help equalize weight better over the whole ski base, making it easier to turn well.
When you’re looking at the camber features on your crosscountry skis, you’re likely to find that options feature double cambers, and this usually works just fine for what most skiers want to do. If you do plan on purchasing metal-edge touring skis and want to do more hardcore off-trail skiing, then you might want to consider that single camber.
Cross-Country Ski Flex
Another criteria point you’ll want to consider when evaluating your skis is their flex, which dictates how well your skis will turn and how fast they’ll move. Soft-flexing cross-country skis help you grip for better turning capability on softer snow and if you ski at slower speeds. On the other hand, a stiff flex works well when snow is firm and you’re moving at high speeds.
If you know where you’ll be skiing, how quickly, and what the snow will be like, then that can help you determine what type of flex you want in your crosscountry skis.
All components come together to create a smooth ride - shape, length, and materials. One thing that stands out on a smooth ride is how well waxed the skis are.
These skis are very popular on the market since they give you grip. Waxless skis don’t use kick wax to help you with your grip, but instead, have a textured pattern in the middle are of the ski. Even though waxless skis typically state you don’t need to apply glide wax, they still perform better on hard terrain when you do.
Waxable skis get grip from using rub-on kick wax that’s placed on the middle area of the ski. You’ll get great glide out of these skis and excellent grip.
Top 10 Picks
1. Rossignol BC 80
This updated design from Rossignol is an excellent choice for intermediate users that are just starting to get the hang of things. Smart design choices make this set perfect for fresh snow and more challenging terrains. Many basic designs demand that the snow is just right in order to pick up speed or navigate through hills. The BC 80 Positrack Backcountry, however, is built for all types of winter terrain.Read more
The full-length metal edges are a great accent that allows you to effortlessly cut through deep and fresh snow while maintaining control. The Positrack base offers users just the right amount of grip to the snow that allows them to make quick turns as needed while maintaining a good level of control.
If you find that you have little endurance to keep up with longer trails, this design is worth checking out. The Active Cap Construction constantly pushes the user forward and prevents sliding back. This results in easier movements without as much push from the user, meaning you can stay out there longer without becoming completely exhausted.
If you are in the market for something that is a little more advanced for difficult terrains, this design from Rossignol is an excellent choice. As far as price is concerned, it lies about in the middle of the pack. It isn’t the more expensive design that we have seen, but it isn’t the most affordable either.
2. Atomic Redster C7 Skintec
This design is a great option for beginners to intermediate users. We love that it has a lightweight feel that is easy to use all day long, and it also boasts smart features that are ideal for difficult terrains. Plus, it comes in at a reasonable price point that won’t break the bank.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it provides users with an SDS camber construction which gives you an excellent glide on fresh tracks. This means that you will continuously propel forward without sliding. You will need to exert minimal effort to push yourself forward on flat surfaces so you won’t exhaust yourself as quickly.
We also like that this design doesn’t require the use of wax. The base of this unit offers Skintec performance that is composed of 100 percent moleskin hair. This design really grips the snow under your feet which allows the users to gain more control, and it makes turning a little bit easier. If you are an advanced skier, however, you may want to opt for a waxable design for more difficult trails.
If you are in the market for something that is great for beginners and intermediate users that won’t break the bank, this design is worth checking out. Smart features built right into the planks provide users with unmatched control and require minimal effort so you can be out there on the trails longer without becoming overly exhausted!
3. Madshus Propulsion Plus
If your snowy adventures take you through hilly and winding terrain, this design from Madshus is a great choice. While it may provide a little too advanced for beginners, it is a great choice for users looking for a challenge. It comes in at a pretty steep price point, but it is perfect for the winter adventurer that likes to travel off of the beaten path.Read more
The edges of this design are coated in full-length metal, which will make it easier for you to navigate through deep snow to forge your own path. These metal edges also make it quite easier for the user to pick up speed on inclines, make quick turns, and pick up speed while maintaining control on declines.
The style, weight, and cut of this design not only works well on fresh snow but also in icy conditions as well. If you love to navigate through the hillsides and not just open fields. It’s important to note that the bindings for this design are not included with the purchase.
The design of this option from Madshus is designed specifically for deep snow and challenging terrains. The choice in this design, however, means that it is not ideal for simple terrains. The base of this design doesn’t quite have the same level of glide on flat surfaces as some of the other designs that we have seen.
4. Alpina Frontier Skin NIS
If the distance is your number one goal. This design from Alpina is a great choice. It is constructed from materials that hold up well in all types of wintery conditions and allows the user to travel farther without becoming overly exhausted. This newer model has a few key changes that allow for easier movements for a wide variety of trails.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is more narrow than some of the options that we have seen out there on the market. The narrow design provides for easier movements that feel more natural than wider designs. It also allows for tighter turns as well.
The tips measure to be 50 mm wide, which means that they are also able to pick up speed pretty quickly. We also love that the bindings are included with this package. Even beginners found that this design is super easy to clip on and hit the trails! This super-versatile design is great for beginners and intermediate users as well.
If you are in the market for something that is snappy that is also built for long distances, you can’t go wrong with the Alpina Frontier. We love that this set includes binding that snaps on easily, and it is built for speed as well as distance.
5. Fischer Twin Skin Pro IFP
What we liked most about the Twin Ski Pro IFP is that it is designed for both beginner and intermediate users. This is a set that is able to grow with you as your skills start to advance. It is composed of quality materials that allow for excellent control in a wide variety of snowy conditions. It may not be the most affordable design out there on the market, but it is a perfect fit for dedicated skiers!Read more
What makes this design from Fischer stand out from the pack is the offset twin skin strips that run along the base of the unit. These strips allow for more balance and even control which is ideal for icy conditions. Users also love that these planks also provide a little bit of bend to them, giving you added control and movement on the trails.
As with any Fisher product, it is composed of multiple layers of premium materials that work together to give you better control and stability. Inside, it boasts an air-channel construction that makes this unit lightweight and easier to push yourself forward with ease. The construction of this unit also prevents sliding back which is ideal for flat tracks.
If you are in the market for something that is built with beginners in mind, this design from Fischer is a great choice. It provides users with excellent traction in icy conditions that give you more control of your movements, and it is incredibly easy to steer. While it cost a little bit more than some of the other budget-friendly designs that we have seen, we feel that it is worth every penny!
6. Rossignol Delta
For those that want skis designed to help them move faster, the Rossignol Delta offer a racing edge without emptying your pockets. While racing skis can be very expensive, these skis come with a fast edge while still providing extra learning benefits to help boost your skills.Read more
These feature an Activ’Cap construction and a honeycomb core. The honeycombed core has a design that’s focused on speed. It is important to keep in mind the center area of these skis won’t be as stiff as your typical skate ski, the type of ski used for beginners. You’ll also need to push a bit harder with the ski to increase your acceleration.
These are designed to increase your pace and help you move. The core of these skis is honeycombed, which helps make these skis lightweight and boosts their speed.
This option is made with a wider platform to help those learning how to ski achieve what they need to improve. Plus, the design, with the focus on speed, will help you increase your velocity easily.
7. Fischer Orbiter EF
These have been designed to be easy to use, easy to control, and consistently flexible. With all of these features, the skis allow you to focus more on the sport of skiing itself, and less on what's happening with your skis.Read more
Perhaps one of the most head-turning features of these skis is the fact that they are not made from fiberglass. Instead, they have been manufactured with volcanic basalt fibers. The lightweight air core is made from wooden basalite and the waxless bottom and double camber provide you with a great ride.
The Orbiter skis feature a reversed sidecut, providing you with a wider body. The wider body brings you better grip and stability. The volcanic materials used in the skis give you consistent flexibility in all temperatures. If speed is what you’re after, you will appreciate the narrow body of these skis as well.
Made for beginners and intermediate level skiers, this pair is lightweight and responsive. The stone ground base provides a smooth ride and great glide. They are very easy to control and pack a powerful kick.
8. Madshus Intrasonic
Looking for something that is a little more affordable? If you are just getting started and need something that won’t break the bank, this design from Madshus is a great option. This set comes from a trusted brand, but it lacks some of the advanced features found in their intermediate sets. The best part is that it cost a little less than a good pair of running shoes!Read more
While it boasts an affordable price tag, this set is still great for beginners. It utilizes P-Tex 2000 Electra bases that hold on to wax really well. This allows users to control the amount of wax held on the base to adjust the level of glide. Are you a little wobbly? By simply limiting the wax on the base, you are able to gain more control while on the snow.
The wood cores on this design are ai-channeled, which provides users with a lighter unit that is easier to control and takes corners with ease. Unlike some of the other designs that we have seen, this set has a little bit of flex to them which creates a smoother and easier ride which is great for those just starting out.
If you are reluctant to spend the big bucks for one of the higher-end sets, this design from Madshus is a perfect option for newbies. While it comes in at a super affordable price point, it is packed with features that help beginners get a feel for the motion without feeling too heavy and cumbersome.
9. Fischer Affinity EF Crown
The Fischer Affinity EF Crown is a great choice for newbies for a few reasons. First of all, it comes in at a super affordable price point that won’t break the band. Secondly, it has a few design features that help you glide along the path without as much effort on your part.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack is the inclusion of Efficient Forward Technology. The basic design of the frame gives riders a little boost through the snow that makes it easier to pick up speed without exhausting their upper body. This design allows you to stay out on the trails for longer without feeling completely exhausted.
We also like that it utilizes a vario crown pattern on the base of the unit that allows you to keep your traction and control on super slick snow. While this may slightly affect your speed, it allows beginners to regain better control in a wide variety of trails. These patterns are specially placed in points of the ski for increased traction.
If you are in the market for something that is packed with smart features that make it a little bit easier on the user, this design from Fischer is a great option. Users love that it is a perfect starting point for newbies, and can transition easily to intermediate users as well.
10. Salomon Snowscape 9
Salomon Snowscape 9 offer an excellent product. Salomon Snowscape are designed with a wide body, which will help your stability and keep you upright so you don’t have to worry about sinking down into the snow when you’re learning how to ski crosscountry.Read more
Salomon’s Snowscape 9 come not only with a wide body to help stabilize newbies, but have an easy heel-toe camber to help you climb so you don’t overly stress your legs. Also, the waxless bottom and partial metal edge assist with turns.
Salomon’s Snowscape 9 skis are made to be lightweight. Designed into the skis is a strong Densolite material, which helps with durability.
These skis are made to help beginners.