Cross Country Skiing: Buying Secondhand Gear to Get Started

We LOVE winter. I mean, really love it. Come September-time, we start day dreaming of snow covered pines, cold temperatures and winter adventures. We met and fell in love and got married in the snow, so that may have something to do with our warm-feelings towards the colder months. But today we want to share one of our new winter activities: cross country skiing!

We got into cross country skiing last winter, as James was looking for something a little different than skiing Michigan slopes (fun, but not quite the mountains he was used to). We also got River, and were looking for a way to exercise him more. Enter cross country skiing! You guys, cross country skiing is such a great workout and a great way to get out and escape cabin fever during the long winter months.

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Cross country skiing is a total body exercise, it’s easy, lift-line free, and essentially cost-free. Let’s break it down.

First you’ll need the gear. Cross country gear is pretty simple and it hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. They are still long, thin, and light. You could spend hundreds of dollars for new equipment, but the technology hasn’t changed much. For general beginner use, second hand skis are great.

James and I went to several local second-hand shops and first looked for boots that fit us. We have found in Michigan that boots are harder to come by, so it’s important to get the boots first so you know what skis will fit your boot. There are two basic kinds of boots, and each fit with a different type or style of binding.

I have the 3-pin boots and bindings. There is a extended toe-like plastic bit, which has three pin holes on the bottom. These fit into 3 pin bindings, which have 3 pins coming from the binding and fit into the boot like a puzzle piece. Then there is a metal clamp that comes down on the boot.

James has the bar toe system, which is exactly what it seems. There is a small bar at the toe of his boot, that snaps into the binding. There’s a button to release it.

So after you find the boots, select your skis. Cross country skis are taller than normal downhill skis. Add about 6-12 inches to your height, and you should be good. Again, we have found the skis are a lot easier to find than the boots, and this isn’t rocket science. We think the best time to shop is in the summer or fall. We recently had a look for a second set of skis, and the pickings were much slimmer.

Note: The length of the skis is slightly deceiving here because the ends of the skis are in the snow a few inches

Finally, you’ll need poles! Poles are also taller than normal downhill poles. Placing the bottom of the ski pole on the ground, and your hand around the top of the pole your elbow should be less than a 90-degree angle. As long as you’re not competing, I don’t think it’s an exact science. Besides, we love the retro bamboo pole look.

James and I went to about 4 different second hand shops one afternoon and collected our two sets of skis, boots, and poles for $30 total! We bought this cross country ski wax to hydrate the bottom of the skis (skis dry out). This way the skis don’t stick to the snow, allowing the skis to glide across.

I love that cross country skiing is so easy. The gear is lightweight, and you can do it anywhere there is snow.  There are so many free trails for cross country skiing, which makes it cheap and convenient. James and I do most of our cross country skiing in Gaylord, Michigan. 

Plus, it’s quick and easy to learn. It’s basically a step and glide, using your poles to balance and lever the gliding. It starts off awkward, but I promise with practice, time and probably some falling it’ll feel more natural!

On the first day that James and I took River cross country skiing with us, he was only about 6-months old. The tiny, he was mighty! He started pulling us on the skis with his leash on! We looked into it, and apparently German shorthaired pointers are one of the top breeds for skijoring (the technical term for a person on skis being pulled by a dog). Like sled dogs, the GSP breed loves to pull and feel that pressure across their chest.

So, we bought River a harness, rigged up a rope with a handle, and now River joins us on most of our cross-country adventures. He pulls us all over the trails and golf courses, and he absolutely loves it! River whines while we snap into our skis, and jumps right into the harness.

Screen shot from our Instagram story

Get out and try something new this winter! Let us know how you go, we’d love to hear about your winter adventures.

Ski On, 

*This post contains affiliate links. That means, I may receive a commission for some of the links in this post- at no cost to you. See our Disclaimer page for details*


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