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The Best Multipurpose Cross Country Skis

author image Max Roman Dilthey
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at
The Best Multipurpose Cross Country Skis
Cross-country skis are the narrowest type, but a bit more width can make them more versatile. Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Cross-country skis are thin and narrow, designed for downhill runs and speedy alpine pursuits. These skis can be designed with metal edges for slicing through icy snow, and come sized based on your height and weight. Unlike alpine or skating skis, your heel is kept free in the binding of a cross-country ski. The best multipurpose skis will be legal at cross-country ski tracks and wide enough for backcountry powder, usually falling between 65 and 70 millimeters wide without a metal edge.

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Crossing the Countryside

Cross-country skis are appropriate for a wide range of skiing activities, from plowing through deep backcountry snow to flying down groomed ski runs. Since these skis are longer and narrower, they give you a bit more speed than other ski styles like alpine skis, which are wider and shorter. Base the camber, length, width and flex of your new cross-country skis off of your height, weight and skiing ability at a dedicated ski shop; a professional can guide you towards a purchase that is best suited for you.

Groomed for Groomers

The best multipurpose cross-country skis will be wide enough for backcountry use, without a metal edge. Look for a width close to 70 millimeters, which is the maximum width allowed on most ski tracks, while still being wide enough to provide better flotation in the backcountry. Most cross-country ski tracks ban metal edges, so check with your local center to see if you can opt for edges. If you expect to skip the ski tracks and head straight off-trail, a wider ski with a metal edge will give you greater maneuverability and flotation.

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