Finding the Right Size Cross Country Skis: What You Need to Know

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If you’re looking to get outside and enjoy the thrill of extreme sports, cross-country skiing is a great way to do it. But before you can hit the slopes, one important question remains: what size cross-country skis do I need?

The answer isn’t always straightforward, as several factors go into choosing ski length.

So let’s dive in.

Types of Cross-Country Skis

Cross-country skiing is a great way to get outside and enjoy the winter weather. There are three main types of cross-country skis: classic, skate, and backcountry. Each type has its own unique characteristics that make it suitable for different conditions and terrain.

Classic Skis

Classic skis are the most traditional type of cross-country ski. They have a waxless base with metal edges that provide grip on hard surfaces like ice or packed snow.

The bindings are designed to keep your feet in place while you’re skiing, but they also allow you to easily move your feet from side to side when turning corners or navigating tight spaces.

Classic skis are best suited for groomed trails where there isn’t much variation in terrain or snow conditions.

Skate Skis

Skate skis look similar to classic skis but have shorter lengths and wider tips which makes them better suited for skating rather than gliding over the snow like classic skiers do.

The bases of skate skis are usually waxable so they can be adjusted depending on the temperature and condition of the snow, allowing you more control over how fast you go as well as providing better grip when cornering at high speeds.

Skate skiing is popular among those who want an intense workout as it requires a lot of energy and agility due to its quick turns and movements across flat surfaces such as frozen lakes or groomed trails with minimal hills or obstacles in their path.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ski Length

When it comes to choosing the right size ski, several factors should be taken into account. Height and weight play a major role in determining the length of your skis.

Generally speaking, taller and heavier individuals will need longer skis while shorter and lighter individuals will require shorter skis. It is important to note that this is just a general guideline; each individual’s ability level should also be considered when selecting ski length.

Height and Weight

When it comes to height and weight, you want to make sure you have enough surface area on your skis for stability without having too much surface area which can cause them to feel sluggish or heavy on turns.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are between 5’3″ – 6’0″, then a classic ski length of 180-210 cm is recommended; for skate skiing, 170-200 cm; for backcountry skiing 190-220 cm would work best depending on the terrain type. If you are outside these ranges then adjust accordingly based on your personal preference as well as other factors such as ability level and terrain type.

Your ability level plays an important role in determining what size ski works best for you since more experienced cross-country skiers may prefer longer lengths than beginners due to their increased control over their movements.

Longer skis provide better stability at higher speeds or steeper inclines/declines in terrain types such as backcountry skiing where agility can be key when navigating difficult trails or obstacles along the way.

Beginners may find shorter lengths easier to manage but they won’t provide quite the same amount of control, so it is important to consider both experience levels before making any decisions about what size ski might work best for you personally.

When choosing ski length, it’s important to consider factors such as height and weight, ability level, and terrain type. With this information in hand, you can move on to measuring for the right size ski.

How to Measure for the Right Size Ski

Classic Ski Lengths

Classic skiing is the traditional style of cross-country skiing. When measuring for classic skis, it’s important to consider your height and weight.

Generally speaking, a taller person will need longer skis than a shorter person with the same weight.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are between 5’0″ and 5’5″, you should look for skis that range from 180 cm to 190 cm in length; if you are between 5’6″ and 6’0″, you should look for skis that range from 195 cm to 205 cm in length; and if you are over 6’1″, then 210 cm or longer is recommended.

Skate Ski Lengths

Skate skiing is an advanced form of cross-country skiing where the ski moves side-to-side instead of forward like classic skiing does. The skate ski length depends on your ability level as well as your height and weight.

For beginner skate skiers, it’s best to start with a slightly shorter ski than what would be recommended for classic skiing (e.g., 175cm – 185cm). Intermediate-level skate skiers should look at lengths ranging from 185cm – 195cm while more advanced levels can go up to 200cm or even 210cm depending on their size/weight ratio.

Backcountry skiing involves traveling through ungroomed terrains such as forests or mountainside trails which require special equipment including wider backcountry-specific skis designed specifically for this type of terrain.

When choosing backcountry ski lengths, it is important to consider both your ability level and the type of terrain you plan on exploring since different terrains may require different types/lengths of backcountry-specific skis (e.g., downhill vs touring).

Beginner backcountry enthusiasts typically use 170 – 180 cm long downhill-oriented boards while intermediate users often opt for 190 – 200 cm long touring boards which offer better maneuverability when navigating tight turns in steeper terrain conditions.


Choosing the right size cross-country skis is an important step in ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. By understanding the different types of skis available, considering factors such as your height and weight, and measuring for the right size ski, you can find the perfect pair of cross-country skis to fit your needs.

With this knowledge in hand, you are now ready to hit the trails with confidence knowing that you have chosen a ski size that will provide maximum enjoyment while keeping safety top of mind.

Are you looking to get out and explore the great outdoors while pushing your limits? Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to do just that! However, it can be difficult to know what size cross-country skis are right for you.

Don’t let this stop you from taking on a new adventure – there are solutions available that will help determine which ski length is best suited for your individual needs. Let us help make sure that all of your outdoor activities are as safe and enjoyable as possible by providing resources so you have the proper equipment every time!