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Best Overall: Salomon Snowscape 7 at Amazon
"Salomon’s popular Snowscape 7 is one of the most versatile cross-country skis on the market."
Best Budget: Fischer Fibre Crown EF at Amazon
"An affordable pair of skis that will compliment your form as your skills progress over the seasons."
Best for Beginners: Rossignol Evo Glade 59AR at Amazon
"First time cross-country skiers will appreciate the shorter length and wider dimension of these skis."
Best for Kids: Madshus Snowpup Cross-Country Skis at Amazon
"Features an adjustable binding platform to accommodate growth spurts and different sized boots."
Best for Groomed Tracks: Fischer Twin Skin Pro IFP at Amazon
"Speed-ground edges let these cross-country skis glide on groomed tracks like a dream."
Best for the Backcountry: Madshus Fjelltech M50 Intelligrip at Amazon
"Boasts a progressive skin profile to grip and glide in backcountry tracks of any condition."
Best for Racing: Rossignol X-Ium Classic IFP at Amazon
"Built with speed in mind, these skis have a high strength-to-weight ratio for the optimal energy transfer."
Best with Metal Edges: Asnes Amundsen Cross-Country Skis at REI
"These skis are lined with solid steel on the edges for control and support in unpredictable conditions."
Best Skate Ski: Salomon S/Max Carbon X-Stiff at Backcountry
"A thin ply carbon construction provides these skate skis with optimum torsional rigidity."
Unlike its gravity-assisted sibling of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is less about bombing down a snow-covered hill and more a meditative experience of gliding through unfettered snow in the backcountry or pushing across the groomed snow of a dedicated cross-country track. This aerobic sport offers a great cardio workout and a no-impact overall experience that those with sore knees will certainly appreciate—but that’s not to say that the sport still can’t be invigorating. We've rounded up our top picks to help you ski in the backcountry and enjoy the snowy wilderness.
Read on to learn more about the best cross-country skis available.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Salomon Snowscape 7
Capable of confident maneuvering both on and off track, Salomon’s popular Snowscape 7 is one of the most versatile cross-country skis on the market. A shorter-than-average length partners with an S-cut shape to provide serious control in both climbs and quick descents, with a G2 Synchro base to provide a strong grip and smooth glide. The lightweight core is crafted from their proprietary Densolite 1000 foam, with a unidirectional fiber wrap typical to Nordic touring set-ups. Racers or serious backcountry skiers may want different skis to suit their particular needs, but for sport and recreational cross-country skiers, the Snowscape 7 is the perfect ride.
Best Budget: Fischer Fibre Crown EF
An affordable pair of skis suitable to cross-country ski aficionados of all levels, Fischer’s Fibre Crown EF will compliment your form as your skills progress over the seasons. A forward-leaning design provides an easy, forgiving kick action and makes them responsive. Air channels have also been integrated into the fiberglass and wood core to cut weight when compared to models with all-wood centers. To further cut down the ounces on the Fibre Crown EF, volcanic basalt fibers and an extremely thin full-face surface laminite are employed—meaning you move faster and work less. But, thanks to Fischer’s “Vario Crown” technology, you still have complete control, optimal glide, and efficient power transfer.
Best for Beginners: Rossignol Evo Glade 59AR
Rossignol’s Evo Glade 59AR should please first time cross-country skiers because the ski’s design doesn’t limit them to either the track or the backcountry. It’s a versatile ski in both environments, with a shorter ski length and wider dimensions to assure stability. A waxless base provides the perfect mix of glide and grip, and the wood core has integrated air channels to reduce weight. The whole package with bindings come in at only 3 pounds and 5 ounces, and the lacquered side walls have proven to be durable.
Best for Kids: Madshus Snowpup Cross-Country Skis
At first glance, these skis from Madshus look like a pair of downhill skis. But that perception highlights why they’re perfect for kids. Its wide 55-millimeter waist width and its 85-centimeter length provide plenty of surface area for your young ones to get moving on the snow. They also feature a no-wax base, which makes the skis glide easily. Plus, the binding platform is adjustable to accommodate growth spurts and different sized boots. These skis are recommended for groomed trails, but they can be used on backcountry ones as well. And the durable ABS core means these will last for multiple seasons.
Best for Groomed Tracks: Fischer Twin Skin Pro IFP
The featherweight Twin Skin Pro IFP from Fischer will provide hours of reliable service while plying groomed tracks. Each ski features two Twin Skin strips made of 70 percent mohair arranged in offset positions and variable-based depths work to deliver grip on icy or hard-packed snow. They’ve also been coated with Teflon to combat moisture absorption and minimize icing.
The ski’s elasticity provides a very forgiving kick and clean action, regardless of your experience. Air channels have been integrated into the basalt fiber core to make these skis lightweight, along with a thin, high-pressure laminate made of natural fibers and resins. Speed-ground edges let the skis glide on groomed tracks like a dream.
Best for the Backcountry: Madshus Fjelltech M50 Intelligrip
With a 50-millimeter waist, the Fjelltech M50 Intelligrip—the widest ski in Madshus' Fjelltech line—is still at home on the track, but it really shines when you head into the backcountry. It boasts a progressive skin profile with a mix of mohair and nylon to grip and glide in all conditions. Farm-raised paulownia wood sits at the core, a material often found in downhill skis because of its flex, durability, and high weight-to-performance ratio. These cross-country skis also feature lightweight glass and carbon reinforcements that add strength and stiffness for optimal energy transfer and durability. And then Madshus wrapped those materials with interlocking strands of fiberglass and carbon fiber to further amplify responsiveness and maneuverability.
Best for Racing: Rossignol X-Ium Classic IFP
Built with speed in mind and best suited for expert-level skiers, Rossignol’s X-Ium Classic IFP provides a pretty big sweet spot to make its race-proven technology deliver as your skills improve and the podium starts to become a reality. The universal flex and camber were designed to handle all the conditions a racecourse might contain, with an Activ Cap that hits the perfect balance of torsional rigidity and supple flexibility. Rossignol uses their proprietary Nomex Honeycomb construction to build out the X-Ium’s core, which is a sequence of lightweight aramid fibers woven in a honeycomb shape. It provides the maximum strength-to-weight ratio to assure optimal energy transfer and an overall nimble feel for stability and speed.
Best with Metal Edges: Asnes Amundsen Cross-Country Skis
Metal-edged Nordic skis are essential for penetrating the deep snow and unpredictable conditions that live on ungroomed tracks. Asnes’ Amundsen skis are lined with solid steel on the edges and have a stiff camber to help control and support heavy loads. They also feature a durable nylon cap to stand up to the beatings of the wild beyond. A “fish scale” waxless bottom grips with confidence, but glides smoothly when sliding or descending. Lengths vary from 180 to 208 centimeters, so you can get a perfect size, while an overall narrow construction means you can take these workhorses on groomed tracks too. The Amundsen also comes with Asnes’ Skinlock configuration, so you can easily lock one of their short skins (sold separately) onto the skis for easier ascents.
Best Skate Ski: Salomon S/Max Carbon X-Stiff
Think of skate skiing as a combination of cross-country skiing and ice skating. Rather than keeping your skis parallel to your body and the track, you use a V-stride to push off the edge of one ski, and then the other. The result is a faster experience and a more kinetic work-out. And while skate skiing is admittedly hard to master, Salomon’s S/Max Carbo X-Stiff skate skis will be a confident ally.
A thin ply carbon construction woven at a 45-degree angle provides optimum torsional rigidity for reliable energy transfer with each kick, and a balanced camber profile provides stability. The ski’s triangular profile also helps you achieve acceleration quickly. D-Carbon—Salomon’s lightest foam—sits in the core to keep things light and responsive. All skis come pre-waxed and brushed with G5 universal bases.