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Skis, boots, binding, poles, clothing – in this article we explain what equipment you need for cross-country skiing and what is important when buying or renting.

The most important thing: the right ski

Classic or skating? Which technique you want to use is crucial for choosing the right ski model. In this article we will show you the differences between several types of skis, explain what is important when buying them and how to take care of your ski properly.

Boots and binding

Cross-country boots are made of soft material and are half to about ankle high. The sole is stable (it has to be hooked into the binding) – but also flexible enough to allow the foot to unroll during classic cross-country skiing.

In contrast to alpine skiing, cross-country boots are only attached to the front of the binding. This is necessary so that the heel can come up when you push off.

There are several types of bindings that are not compatible with each other (NN – Nordic Norm, SNS – Salomon Nordic System, NNN – New Nordic Norm, SNS Pilot). Therefore, when buying or renting shoes, you must make sure that your shoes and binding are compatible.

Fotografie: CC0,


Cross-country poles are made of aluminium or carbon. They are significantly longer than alpine ski poles but narrower and have smaller plates. With regard to pole length, a distinction is made between the classic and the skating technique. When skating, the poles should be approximately at chin height, when classic cross-country skiing at shoulder height. Cross-country skiing poles are also offered in a size-adjustable version.


If you want to be more precise, you can calculate the ideal pole length using these formulas:

  • Classic: body height (in cm) x 0,84
  • Skating: body height (in cm) x 0,89


Clothing used for cross-country skiing should prevent unnecessary freezing or sweating and allow sufficient freedom of movement. Long functional underwear, special leggings and a water-repellent and breathable jacket are suitable for this purpose. Depending on the temperature, a sweater can supplement the equipment. In addition, close-fitting gloves are recommended, which allow a firm grip and optimal pole guidance. 
Fotografie: Bäck, Touristinfo Grainau

Rent it or buy it? How much do I have to invest?

If you want to do your first training session on cross-country skis, you can rent skis, poles and boots in a set. Here you should make sure that you get comprehensive advice – the equipment has to be tailored exactly to your body so that you can really enjoy cross-country skiing.

If you prefer to buy your own equipment, beginners have to invest about 200 €. Ambitious sportsmen pay 5 times as much for professional equipment. A good tip are sports stores that sell used equipment. There you can get professional advice, but pay much less for a set that may not be brand new, but is still in top condition.

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