The optimal length of ski for you depends on your weight, height and skill level.
Weight: This is the first and most important thing when sizing or fitting a cross country ski, because skis have different stiffness. The stiffness of a ski will determine how the ski behaves under the skier.
Height: Longer skis are naturally stiff because of the amount of material used in their construction. So often the skiers weight will dictate the length of the ski, but if given the choice of two lengths the skiers ability should be considered.
Ability Level: Longer skis are generally faster, but can be difficult to control or maneuver for beginning skiers.
SKATE & CLASSIC SKIS
For Classic skiing on groomed track: Skier Height plus 15-20 cm
For Classic cruising on open terrain: Skier Height
For Skating: Skier Height plus 5-10 cm
Body weight is also a factor in cross-country ski selection since the glide phase is so important.
Heavier skiers should add 5 cm to the recommendation above.
Lighter skiers should subtract 5 cm from the recommendation above.
TOURING & BACKCOUNTRY SKIS
These skis both cover any and all terrain in a wide variety of conditions, but they would require different lengths if the same skier were to buy a pair of each.
Touring skis should be 5-15cm less than the skier’s height. Skilled skiers might easily use a ski that is the same as their height.
Touring ski length is a balance between lightweight maneuverability on the way up and stability on the way down.
Freeride skis should be at least the skier’s height and can easily be 5-15 cm longer for skilled skiers. Longer skis here mean better buoyancy in powder. For backcountry skiing take your height and +/- 5 to 15 cm depending on your specific use and the skis you are considering.
KIDS NORDIC SKIS
The following rule of thumb is recommended for kids:
Skating: For beginners take the body size and subtract 5 to 10 cm. For advanced kids take the body size and add 5 cm to 10 cm.
Classic: For beginners take the body size and add +10 cm, for advanced kids take the body size and add 10 cm - 20 cm.
Cross country ski boots are going to fit very close to the same size as your standard athletic shoe size. You can size down for a tighter, more athletic fit, but we don’t suggest sizing up - having too much extra room can cause issues with warmth and blisters. Nordic boots typically use Euro sizing.
There are two main types of Nordic binding:
NNN (New Nordic Norm) and
SNS (Salomon Nordic System).
Both binding systems work well, however you MUST use an NNN boot with an NNN binding and an SNS boot with an SNS binding. You CANNOT mix bindings and boots.
Other Things To Consider
Where do you plan on skiing?
Are you planning on skiing on frozen lakes, snow covered golf courses, or in the woods through fresh ungroomed snow?
Are you planning on skiing on machined groomed trails at a ski area or local park?
What style of skiing do you plan to do?
Skating: The skis are pointed outward and the skier alternately pushes off one and glides on the other in a motion similar to ice skating. Skate Skiing must be done on machined groomed trails.
Classic: The skis are alternately pushed forward parallel to each other in a motion similar to walking or running. Classic skiing can be done on both groomed and ungroomed snow, but different types of skis will performed better in each condition. A racing classic ski, which is long and narrow will be faster in machined groomed "tracks" but may sink under fresh snow and be slow and difficult. A touring classic ski is wider and shorter and will be more efficient in fresh ungroomed snow. However, it may be slow and cumbersome in machined groomed tracks.
Classic and touring skis are fit at a different stiffness than skate skis because a classic or touring ski needs to both glide and kick.
Wax or Waxless?
Waxable Classic Skis can be used in all types of snow conditions and when waxed properly will be the fastest and most efficient option. Waxable Classic skis use kick or "grip" wax on the base of the ski under and in front of the skiers foot (kick zone) and glide wax on the tips and tails. Most Nordic ski racers prefer to use waxable skis because it gives when the ability to make adjustment based on snow condition and temperature.
Waxless Classic Skis are a popular options because they do not require a lot of maintenance to perform efficiently. A waxless classic ski may use a fish scale or crown pattern or skin material in the "kick zone" which allows the skier to grip the snow and glide the other ski forward. Waxless classic skis provide grip in a variety of snow conditions, making them the best option for skier who wants to "grab and go" and not worry about waxing. Note: You can still wax the glide zones of your waxless classic ski with glide wax, which will allow the ski glide faster and further.