More on Cross-Country Skiing Equipment

Readers provide feedback on the cross-country skiing article in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 31, including tips and advice on used cross country skiing equipment.

| November/December 1975

  • Cross-country skiing equipment
    An alternative — a far better heavy touring ski — can sometimes be found in military surplus stores: U.S. Army issue, mostly hickory to judge from the weight, and darn near indestructible.

  • Cross-country skiing equipment

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wayne P. Merry started and ran for five years the biggest Nordic ski school on the West Coast (Yosemite Mountaineering). He's made cross-country skiing trips as much as 300 miles long and is one of the directors of the National Hiking and Ski Touring Association. 

More on Cross-Country Skiing Equipment

Wayne P. Merry: 

It was great to see Paul Stanton's article in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 31 on getting into cross-country skiing, or Nordic skiing cheaply. Like the cost of everything else, the price of equipment for this sport has been going up like the dickens. It may not be long before Nordic gear costs what downhill used to. A cycle repeated?

I started the same way Paul did: by cutting the metal edges off an old pair of wooden downhill jobs (that looked as if they'd been hand-carved by a Viking), modifying a set of old bear-trap bindings that weighed about 2 pounds each, sizzling in some pine tar with a plumber's blowtorch, and setting off to see the Alaskan woods.

Well, it's a great way to begin. Try it. Once you discover what's out there, you'll be hooked. Quite often, though, that converted used outdoor sports equipment won't even last through your gyrations as a learner. For instance, those hand-me-down poles, if very old, usually have rotten leather in the baskets. Which means that — sooner or later — when you put a bit of weight on one of the supports to regain your balance, the basket will remain in the snow and you'll find yourself trying to pole your way home with a lance!

In five years of teaching cross-country, I've seen a lot of folks start out with improvised gear . . . and at least they started, which is the main thing. Eventually, though, such beginners want equipment which will perform. Even if everything holds together, you'll find after a while that you want to go lighter and farther and faster and learn that pretty stretched-out stride you see in the books (and can't do with your old outfit).

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