Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

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Young Satchel

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Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby Young Satchel » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:08 pm

Well, after spending several weeks lurking TT pretty hard, I've decided to come out of the woodwork and join-up in the hopes that I might receive some helpful advice specific to my situation from the more knowledgeable members here. I noticed at least a handful of you (or more) live and ski in the Northeastern US or nearby parts of Canada which will be excellent as some of my questions have answers which--I imagine--are regionally specific to some degree. It looks a bit quiet judging from recent activity given its summer, but maybe a few of you check in from time-to-time? At least that is my hope!

But first, A bit about me: I'm a 33YO father of 2 boys (2+4 yrs) born in New York City and currently making my home in The Mid-Hudson Valley on the West side of the river near the foot of the Catskill Mountains. For a city kid, I've always had a very high level of engagement with the outdoors thanks in large part To my father who is a California boy and grew up climbing & mountaineering in Yosemite and the High-Sierra in the late 60s and 1970s. From a young age, I was super active in just about every board sport I could be (snow, skate, surf, etc) as well as an avid hiker and backpacker, cyclist (road,Fixed Gear, Mountain), and occasional rock climber. I live to be outside and the call of both the concrete jungle and the mountain wilderness has always been strong.

My first experience with Nordic Skiing was as a 13 or 14 year-old kid in Maine. At the time, I was a snot-nosed former casual-skier turned zealous snowboarder with little-to-no interest in what I deemed as a "sport for senior citizens" . But I have to say, though I was dragged to the XC center near Sunday River in Maine basically kicking & Screaming, I stumbled onto a black diamond on my first day, and left grinning ear-to-ear, suitably impressed by both the difficulty and sheer excitement of Nordic Skiing. I think I even managed to hit some "jumps"
Along the trail side

OK, now let's Fast forward about 17 years.. We've left NYC, are established in the Hudson valley and I discover trail running and fall in love. I run for about a year and a half no issues, and then a series of stupid & unfortunate mistakes leads me to an overuse injury that has me sidelined for 5 months over the course of last winter. I've completed PT, but continue to battle With nagging issues, and have embraced a strength and flexibility regimen along with training as I attempt to ready myself for my first 15K trail race early this fall.

"So when the hell is this guy going to ask us about skiiing?!" You say? . . .

NOW. :-)

The approach I am taking to dipping my toes in the Nordic waters is three-pronged. First, I'd like to use this as a way to cross-train, work related muscle groups, and maintain fitness throughout the winter. I have run & snowshoe hiked through the past two winters, but I find that I spend a lot of time and effort post-holing about and miss some of the exhilaration of gliding along the trail as I do while running in the warmer months. I'm ALSO keenly interested in expanding my regular winter day-hiking into winter backpacking and overnights and I can't really think of a better, more fun way to do that than on Nordic skis! Beyond that, I'm genuinely interested in Nordic for its own sake. I find the sheer passionate enthusiasm of the XC crowd an exciting breath of fresh air, and there is a sense of calm and connection to the woods that I have come to really value as a runner that I think I might extend year-round on skis.

But my god if the whole endeavor of CHOOSING the damn ski set-up doesn't seem like the most confusing choice on earth! I love gear of all sorts, I own quite a bit of it for a wide variety of purposes and make use of it well. But for some reason when it comes to this Nordic thing I am questioning all of my instincts, and indeed feel almost as if it's the gear choice I am least qualified to make. It doesn't help that nearly every review I've read of a newly acquired ski on this forum ends with the OP deciding they will
Probably need to buy 2 or 3 more skis within the course of the thread

There are a few "use-cases" for the set of skis i plan to purchase and I will outline them below. I am fully aware that the REAL answer to my question is going to be "get multiple skis". This is how it always goes. BUT, what I'm hoping is that ya'll can at least offer a friendly "focus-check" of sorts (aka help me refine my priorities) and some guidance on where best to start given my objectives.

CASE 1: lowland nature conservation areas - these are essentially my regular training grounds as a trail runner for 3 seasons out of the year, and sometimes more depending on weather. I have two kids (one of whom is blind, autistic, and has a rare genetic disorder) and two jobs and am always quite busy so these places which are less remote (and plentiful in number near me; I count over 15 within 30 minutes of home) offer the most convenient way to get out and enjoy the woods and run. They are a mix of single track and carriage width grass paths, often rolling in nature, with nice loops between 2-5 miles. Some are mellow underfoot, while others are quite technical with roots and rocks a-plenty. Even though they are lowland so there is negligible elevation gain, many contain numerous short ascents and descents that can be quite steep and narrow. As a runner, I live for this sort of technical terrain, but I admittedly have no idea how some of this stuff skis, or to what extent the topography gets smoothed out/buried enough to not matter. They are ungroomed all winter long but continue to receive regular XC,snowshoe, and foot traffic throughout the season. Snow conditions are HIGHLY variable. This will be the most common usage scenario simply because the demands placed on me as breadwinner and father keep me more occupied and closer to home than I'd like these days.

CASE 2: Backcountry Nordic winter Camping - I have been an avid 3-season overlander and backpacker for a while, and have been slowly building a winter kit over the past couple years as money allows. I'd love to get out into the Catskills for some light touring overnights once I feel that my ski skills allow it. I am fully aware that that may not be this winter, but I tend to pick things up with relative ease, so it's possible I might feel ready to get out there by late winter in early 2018. The terrain i would be exploring is in Trail character somewhat similar to case 1, albeit mostly single track through dense forests, and with more elevation gain, potentially less broken trail, more climbing, and added "challenges" such as logs across the trail, stream crossings, etc. Again, snow types will be super variable. I tend to feel like we never get "true powder" in the Northeastern areas i frequent compared to the west and parts of Canada, but that may just be my perception. It always seems like it's heavier grainy stuff, or crusty unless I catch fresh tracks on a good day. Amongst the mountainous single-track i will also find several state forests full of Fire/logging roads, snowmobile trails, and other wider and flatter means of passage designed for motorized vehicles. What I don't think I will find (unless I head up to the 'Daks) are wider, open spaces to really let it rip on the downhill and cut turns etc.

Case 3: Groomed XC Ski Centers - their are at least 4 or 5 of these within an hour of home and even though my primary purpose for this set of skis is backcountry touring, it would be NICE, if I could also enjoy myself and find some sort of satisfying kick & Glide action in these cases. I have friends who come up from the city with their families and rent for the day and these are the sorts of places they like to go. This is arguably the LEAST important scenario to me performance-wise, but passible flat track/groomed performance is still desirable. It's worth noting that I do have access to some older Nordic skis at my parents place that would be decently suited to this purpose with a little bit of rehab, so that might be a way to widen the quiver and keep this purchase totally BC-foucused as well!

For a variety of reasons, I have concluded that my first Ski should probably be waxless. I imagine this is the last thing some purists want to hear, and am happy to hear why it SHOULDN'T be the case as well. The main reason is I need to minimize impediments to use. In many cases I will have 1 hour to Ski between dropping kids at school and work. From where I stand now, wax choice and application seem like impediments.

I am 6'3" and 162lbs. With gear I'm probably around 175-185 depending on a variety of factors; mostly how far I'm going. I imagine I'll want a length somewhere between 190-205 but I'm very curious to hear other's thoughts on this given all of the above info. The skis that have caught my interest while I've researched based on my diverse needs to are as follows:

- Madshus Glittertind MGV+
- Fischer S-Bound Series (there are no more 88s it seems? Maybe a 98?)
- Madshus Eon
- Rossi BC90
- Fischer E99

There seem to be a couple other really interesting options (Asnes,etc) that
Are a bit more scarce stateside, more costly, and probably not a great idea for a first timer in general.

As for bindings, I remain highly indecisive. I can't figure out if a 3-pin or a NNNBC system makes more sense for my needs. It almost seems like it doesn't matter? So likely:

- Voile 3-Pin Cable OR
- Rottefella NNNBC

Boots I've seen that I like include:

- Crispi Antarctic
- Crispi Mountain
- Alpina Alaska
- Alpina BC 1550

Seems like the Alpina Alaska is well liked, and would suit my needs but does suffer from durability issues, at least in the ducktail configuration (???). The crispis have a pretty stellar rep, but are older tech, costly, and tougher to find. Though Telemarkdown in NH has them on Closeout right now.

Budget-wise, I tend to be the type to buy the best gear I can afford, that allows me some room to "grow into" it if I'm picking up a new discipline and am unsure how fanatical I'll become . That said, I'd say I'm looking at around 500-700 dollars all-in for skis/bindings/boots. if I can manage less, all the better!

So that's about where I'm at! I'm hoping to put together a versatile package that meets (most of) my needs and can get me out there having fun this winter. For reasons I can't quite articulate, the Fischer S-Bound Series has the most initial "draw" to me. If I'm being brutally honest, I think that it may have to do with the fact that they are marketed in a way that feels a little less "traditional" and a bit more young and exciting. I do lot of off-road vehicle overlanding, and the Fischer series almost seems like the 4x4 of the BC Nordic ski world in a ways that is quite appealing. I know that sounds terrible, but as someone who works as a creative professional,I'm very aware of why and how products create consumer appeal in myself as well as others. I like that they seem to climb really well, and have integrated skins, and they look pretty damn fun to shred on some of the downhill bridle paths and logging roads I often explore in my lifted Volvo XC70 station wagon clad in all-terrain tires in the Catskills, and schoharie valley. But if they completely drag-ass on the flats, that won't be great fun.

I'm happy to supply any more information that would be useful to any of ya'll kind enough to lend me a hand, so don't hesitate to ask. I'm looking forward to your responses and to becoming an active part of the community as winter approaches if I can make this purchase happen.

Thanks in advance for your help!




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lilcliffy

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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:19 pm

First of all- welcome Young Satchel!

We will see if I can help you- hopefully not add too much the complication and complexity of your decisions!

I am a lifelong Nordic skier- at 43- my particular passion is Nordic touring- the more mountainous the terrain, and the more off-the-beaten-track the better!

I can relate to your story and your situation- I too have a young family- 4 children- including one with special needs. I too have to squeeze in mini-backcountry experiences in between my daily responsibilities. I am very fortunate to have endless backcountry hills right out my backdoor- and, the snow conditions here in central New Brunswick are typically superb!

I am further north than you are- and live in a snowbelt- although the local terrain sounds similar- forested hilly/rolling terrain, 100-300m verticals, steeply cut stream valleys- the snow conditions up here would be very different. The only backcountry carving I can do locally is in steep open fields and open hardwood glades.

So- other than the terrain you describe- can I assume that the snow you have is most typically either warm moisture-rich; icy and refrozen; with a possible crust?

Although I can replace the typical warm wet snow (I have this in early winter and spring only) with cold soft snow- one reality that I think all backcountry skiers must be prepared for in this evolving climate is icy refrozen snow!

ICY REFROZEN SNOW-I will keep coming back to this.

Traction is a big f'in deal man. Without effective traction- not only can you not climb a damn thing- you cannot effectively xcountry ski either.

Unlike "alpine touring" (I don't just mean AT here)- where traction is primarily about climbing up mountains- Nordic touring requires the performance of traction underfoot, that can be released so that you can glide forwards (i.e. "kick and glide").

Without enough grip, Nordic touring is a frustrating and exhausting slip and slide- without enough glide, it is a disappointing shuffle.

On moisture-rich, warm snow, waxless scales work great- especially if the flex of the ski is soft enough that you can easily engage the traction zone underfoot (waxless scales also work decently on deep, cold fluffy snow- as long as the ski is fat and soft enough- but that is another story- for a completely different skiing context than you have). BUT, on icy refrozen snow- waxless scales suck! (In all fairness so does grip wax- you need klister). In my opinion the Nordic touring answer for icy refrozen snow is kicker skins.

The integrated kicker skins from Fischer and Asnes rock- but any kicker skin will do!

From a Nordic touring perspective, kicker skins work best with enough camber and stiffness underfoot to release them when you glide forwards.

Camber.

Double camber is going to give you the best XC performance. There are many truly double-cambered skis- designed for backcountry snow (not a groomed track)- that are reasonably manageable on the downhill. But- IMHO- truly double-cambered waxless-scaled skis have a VERY limited use-unless you have an abundance of warm wet snow- and almost exclusively gentle terrain- waxless-scaled truly double-cambered skis have very limited grip unless the terrain is gentle, and the snow is warm and wet. However- a kicker skin greatly extends the effectiveness of scaled double-cambered ski.

If you want a Nordic touring ski that is going to be more manageable in hilly/mountainous terrain, then a ski with a low profile second camber (i.e. "camber-and-a-half"), or a single camber might be a better choice (the S-Bounds you are attracted to have these camber profiles).

Young Satchel wrote:CASE 1:

A truly double-cambered backcountry ski will offer the most effective XC performance here- IMO. Again- kicker skins will take care of the difficult snow.

Camber-and-a-half will be more manageable in a downhill turn- but less XC glide.

Single-cambered skis will be a slow slogging shuffle here.


with roots and rocks aplenty.

You need metal edges.

Even though they are lowland so there is negligible elevation gain, many contain numerous short ascents and descents that can be quite steep and narrow. As a runner, I live for this sort of technical terrain

Although double-cambered backcountry skis are manageable on this kind of terrain- with some skill- you might be more comfortable on a softer camber-and-a-half ski on the steep and narrow bits (LOADS of avid skiers are- hence the wide popularity of skis like the Madshus Eon)

Snow conditions are HIGHLY variable.
Kicker skins.

CASE 2:

More climbing and more vertical- the camber-and-a-half ski will offer the best balance. (Single-cambered skis can also excel here- but, only when the snow is truly deep and soft.)

Case 3:

Definitely want a double-cambered ski- with a true XC length- for this one. And although a narrow backcountry double-cambered ski willl fit in a groomed track- it won't have a stiff enough flex to effectively use that firm groomed surface. And you won't need metal edges for this one. You should be able to find a suitable light, stiff double-cambred touring ski for super cheap- get one- you won't regret it! Although my passion is for backcountry snow, terrain and scenery- I do love to fly on a groomed track when I am stuck in town during the workday.

For a variety of reasons, I have concluded that my first Ski should probably be waxless. I imagine this is the last thing some purists want to hear,

I think you will find that this is more determined by climate and snow, then it is ideology. IF your fresh snow is typically warm and moisture-rich, then waxless scales are definitely more effective than grip wax (unless you want to use klister). But- in a much colder more stable winter climate, kick wax offers better performance, and is just as convenient (I go for weeks on end with the same kick wax).

- Madshus Glittertind MGV+

VERY stiff (for a BC ski) double camber under underfoot- very soft tip- VERY slippery on steep slopes and icy refrozen snow. Very limited without a kicker skin- IMO.
- Fischer S-Bound Series (there are no more 88s it seems? Maybe a 98?)

The 88 is now the "Excursion 88". These are all skis with single camber underfoot- though stiffer than Madshus' Epoch and Annum. The 78 is now the "Traverse 78" with camber-and-a-half underfoot.
- Madshus Eon

A legend in its own time- camber-and-a-half, with a soft flex- much more distance-oriented than the Epoch and the Annum- but too soft for my liking as a XC ski (but I weigh 185lbs, and am a demanding skier- many tourers absolutely love this ski).
- Rossi BC90

Stiffer than the Eon- haven't tested the current model- not sure how it compares to the Fischer 78...
- Fischer E99

Wonderful double-camber that is finely tuned for backcountry snow- much more versatile than the Glitt (IMO)- will blow away the softer single and 1.5-cambered skis on the flats, yet still manageable on moderate downhills. E99 Crown is very limited without a kicker skin.

As for bindings, I remain highly indecisive. I can't figure out if a 3-pin or a NNNBC system makes more sense for my needs. It almost seems like it doesn't matter?

On the light XC end of the spectrum, "the boot means more than the binding". BUT- once you move into "Telemark" territory 75mm boots and bindings offer way more stability and leverage.

- Voile 3-Pin Cable OR
- Rottefella NNNBC

These are VERY different bindings. The 3PC will take a MUCH more powerful boot.

For reasons I can't quite articulate, the Fischer S-Bound Series has the most initial "draw" to me.

I would seriously look at the Traverse 78 with the Easy-Skin. Hopefully Fischer adds the easy-skin to the E-99 Crown...

But if they completely drag-ass on the flats, that won't be great fun.
Soft single-cambered skis definitely drag-ass on the flats- UNLESS you are in bottomless powder...

I hope that I am helping you!
Last edited by lilcliffy on Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Young Satchel

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Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby Young Satchel » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:14 am

lilcliffy wrote:First of all- welcome Young Satchel!


Thanks lilcliffy! I appreciate you taking the time to author your absurdly detailed response to my post.

lilcliffy wrote:So- other than the terrain you describe- can I assume that the snow you have is most typically either warm moisture-rich; icy and refrozen; with a possible crust?


I think that by and large, that's definitely a safe assumption. I mean, temperatures within the season vary significantly these days, and I think that what you describe is often the result. Trails definitely get grainy, choppy, and refrozen pretty quickly.

lilcliffy wrote:Traction is a big f'in deal man. Without effective traction- not only can you not climb a damn thing- you cannot effectively xcountry ski either.

Unlike "alpine touring" (I don't just mean AT here)- where traction is primarily about climbing up mountains- Nordic touring requires the performance of traction underfoot, that can be released so that you can glide forwards (i.e. "kick and glide").

Without enough grip, Nordic touring is a frustrating and exhausting slip and slide- without enough glide, it is a disappointing shuffle.


Thanks for driving this point home for me. I definitely don't think my novice mind has been considering it consciously enough. Skins will be a must to have along with me, huh?

lilcliffy wrote:Camber.


'Nuff said :-)

Seriously though, this whole camber breakdown was super helpful. I think that it's beginning to sound like what you're calling "camber and a half" may prove to be the sweet spot that I am looking for. Sounds like the wider single-camber S-bounds are out, but....

lilcliffy wrote:The 88 is now the "Excursion 88". These are all skis with single camber underfoot- though stiffer than Madshus' Epoch and Annum. The 78 is now the "Traverse 78" with camber-and-a-half underfoot.


These 78 you mention sound like a fantastic specimen! Pending further research of course. I think that you've helped me narrow things down quite a bit actually. The Eons seem great too for the same reasons ...

lilcliffy wrote:I would seriously look at the Traverse 78 with the Easy-Skin.


I just did and they seem to be a really well-liked BC tourer. They also are a really handsome Ski too and the 2018 graphics look pretty tasteful. Some don't give a toss, but I like nice looking kit. That perfect union of form and function blah blah blah

lilcliffy wrote:I hope that I am helping you!


This has been MORE than helpful. I actually almost feel like I could walk out of here with a decent idea of how to move forward based simply on your detailed and generous response. Something like:

- Fischer Traverse 78
- NNNBC binding
- Alpina Alaska backcountry boot

OR

- Madshus Eon
- Voile 3-Pin
- Crispi Antarctics

I'll have to give it some more thought and do some more research here on the forum and elsewhere.

Edit: when you get back to this, talk to me a bit about length in the above combos for my use if you could? I'm built tall and slender, but it's hard for me to say whether something like a 179 would be good based on my weight, or whether I'd be better in the 189/190 range--or even longer!

I appreciate you taking the time to lend a hand man!



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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:43 am

You are most welcome!

Young Satchel wrote:Seriously though, this whole camber breakdown was super helpful. I think that it's beginning to sound like what you're calling "camber and a half" may prove to be the sweet spot that I am looking for.

They are for me for the most part- for my typical conditions and terrain. I currently have the Eon, the E-109, and the Combat Nato/Ingstad- on both waxless and waxable bases. All three of these skis are excellent examples of XC-oriented XCD skis with camber-and-a-half underfoot. I don't own the Fischer 78- though I have tested the older model many times- and have not tested the current model- I would already own it if they made it in a longer XC length. The more cambered- but equally BC-worthy- skis like the E99/Gamme 54/Glitt offer even better XC performance, but they can be a bit of a downhill challenge for skiers without Nordic-downhill skills.

Sounds like the wider single-camber S-bounds are out, but....

You could start a thread on the S-Bounds specifically- there's a ton of experience with these skis on this site. And- Woodserson has every ski in the current SB lineup- and skis on a very wide range of terrain and conditions...

- Fischer Traverse 78
- NNNBC binding
- Alpina Alaska backcountry boot

OR

- Madshus Eon
- Voile 3-Pin
- Crispi Antarctics

Either of these boot-binding setups would perfectly suit either of these skis- in the conditions you plan on skiing in. IMHO- the downhill stability, leverage and control is very similar at this end of the spectrum (some are even firm that NNNBC is a better downhill technology at this end)- regardless, at this end- "the boot means more than the binding".

The 75mm binding will allow you to mount a more powerful boot if you want. If you go with 3-pin, I would strongly recommend upgrading to the 3-pin-cable.

The NNNBC binding will give you a very wide range of affordable boots to try. You could also snap a NNNBC binding on your track touring ski (CASE 3 above) and use the same boot.

The leather 3pin boots are much more flexible and forgiving for those with large and especially very wide feet.

Regardless- I would recommend choosing the boot first- then the binding. You could start a specific thread on choosing a boot.

A note on the Eon- the waxless Omnitrack scales on it were designed for XC skiing in ideal snow conditions. Fischer's "Offtrack Crown" insert on the 78 is a serious upgrade in traction- especially going uphill. Also- you will need an aftermarket kicker skin with the Eon.

Edit: when you get back to this, talk to me a bit about length in the above combos for my use if you could? I'm built tall and slender, but it's hard for me to say whether something like a 179 would be good based on my weight, or whether I'd be better in the 189/190 range--or even longer!

You will need to go in and stand on these skis and test your weight on them.

Short curvy skis are all the rage in current Nordic backcountry ski marketing and design.

Short skis are definitely easier to manouver in tight conditions.

When I use the phrase "Nordic touring" I mean it in a traditional utilitarian context. When I say "Nordic touring" I mean that there is a desire and an intent to cover distance. In order to cover distance efficiently, you need a balance of grip and glide.

Let's ignore XC skiing on bottomless powder for the time being- this is not your context.

If the snow will support your weight and the downward ("kick") force you apply to the ski to get traction- then ideally the ski has enough camber and stiffness for the traction zone to release when you glide forwards. (The ultimate efficiency is a prepared track with a very stiff double-cambered ski). On soft, ungroomed snow, a double cambered ski can be so stiff that it becomes VERY difficult to effectively engage the traction zone. (In fact as the snow gets progressively deeper and softer, double-cambered skis become useless- you end up simply driving the tip/tail into the abyss, without engaging the traction zone underfoot).

(In your CASE 3 scenario on the groomed track, the classic "paper test" in a ski shop is the best thing to do.)

"Length" when it comes to backcountry Nordic touring is a complicated, complex and personal thing. (you could start a thread on this as well :? )

In genera (and again- I am speaking about distance-oriented Nordic touring):

When the base is dense and consolidated, I personally want a ski with enough camber and stiffness to allow a truly effective Nordic kick and glide. This means at least camber-and-a-half and at my weight, typically at least 200cm length.

As the snow gets deeper and softer- I want a softer, less cambered ski- but still in a 200+cm length.

("Touring for turns" is a very different context- where skiers often sacrifice XC efficiency for downhill turning performance).

What I simply DO NOT understand is ski shops pushing short, curvy skis on new skiers that are actually planning to go xcountry skiing. Shuffling along on short curvy skis on the flats is simply nuts as far as I'm concerned.

Personally- I like to fly.
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Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby Young Satchel » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:02 am

Thanks again man!

I'll have to see if I can find a shop local to me that stocks either of these desired skis. That may prove tough since the Catskills region is very resort/downhill focused. I'm sure I can find more traditional double-camber XC skiis as well, but these mid-range BC Nordic/XCD specimens may prove a taller order.

It seems to me that something like the Fischer Traverse 78 we've discussed would likely suit in a 189 length based simply on my lighter weight, and decidedly novice skill set. This leaves room for a longer "true" double-camber XC Ski purchase down the road if my interest is sustained. See look! You're already converting me to a True enthusiast.

As for boots, I like much of what I've read about the comfort and usefulness of the Alpinas I mentioned above which are available in both binding configurations at a readable price point. Durability seems somewhat iffy on a case by case basis though.

I think NNNBC is the way to go for this purchase. IIRC, the quiver of random, Nordic skis at my folks' place is mostly NNNBC, but I'll have to check.

While I could certainly start three new threads to discuss particulars of boots, bindings, S-Bound Series, etc, I think I'd rather not spread my requests for help too thin at this stage :-) I'll just dive into the treasure trove of existing threads on these items and divine what I can. That's what I've been doing thus far and it's been great in spite of feeling a little overwhelming...


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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:59 am

Young Satchel wrote:I'll have to see if I can find a shop local to me that stocks either of these desired skis. That may prove tough since the Catskills region is very resort/downhill focused. I'm sure I can find more traditional double-camber XC skiis as well, but these mid-range BC Nordic/XCD specimens may prove a taller order.

Yeah- I can relate here- I have had to order too many Nordic backcountry skis sight unseen. This can be particularly frustrating with traditional wood-cored skis. Traditionally, Nordic touring skis are solid-wood-cored, and as such inevitably have a fair bit of variability from pair to pair- in terms of flex and camber. This has traditionally been seen as an opportunity (as opposed to a challenge) in that one could go to a shop and pick a specific pair based on the complex of desired length, flex and camber.

My experience is- and I could well be wrong here- I have found a fair bit of variability in flex-camber in the Madshus wood-cored XCD line (Eon/Epoch/Annum). I have found much more uniformity in both Fischer and Rossi Nordic BC skis. I cannot speak personally to variability in Asnes- as I only have tried the one pair I have- but both the manufacturer and the dealers I have spoken to, speak to a fair degree of variability in flex-camber in their wood-cored "fjellskis".

It seems to me that something like the Fischer Traverse 78 we've discussed would likely suit in a 189 length based simply on my lighter weight, and decidedly novice skill set.

The 189cm is probably a better choice for Nordic touring at your height. 179cm is a VERY short XC ski for a 6'3" skier! Unfortunately, Fischer discontinued the 199cm 78- I guess no one was buying it- I am convinced this has a lot to do with both dealers and reps pushing short curvy skis...

As a comparison- all of my Nordic touring, camber-and-a-half skis are 205-210cm. I am 5'10", 185lbs.

My E-99 Tours (stiffer and more cambered than the Traverse 78) are 210cm- I love them.

In my neck of the woods, most backcountry skiers are Nordic tourers covering significant distance- even in the hills- and the snow stays stable and cold for weeks on end. I would hazard a guess that the E99 Tour (waxable base) is locally the most popular backcountry ski- and people ski it on a XC length. There's a few fantatics that want optimum performance in truly deep snow- and/or are "touring for turns". (I say "few" based on how long it takes my local shop to sell fat, curvy, soft flexing Nordic skis...)

On another note- length really can be decided by limiting factors. The most obvious one being steep mountainous terrain. If you are going to go Nordic touring in steep mountainous terrain, then being able to safely and effectively (=FUN) ski downhill becomes the limiting factor.

Starting at 189cm will allow you to develop skills on a short ski that will be easy to manouver on some of those steep descents. If you get a stiff, more cambered ski, in a XC length for the track (CASE 3), you will also develop effective K&G technique. This may cause you to eventually want a longer BC touring ski (e.g. E99)- or not, if you want to tour on steep terrain.

As for boots, I like much of what I've read about the comfort and usefulness of the Alpinas I mentioned above which are available in both binding configurations at a readable price point. Durability seems somewhat iffy on a case by case basis though.

The 75mm Alaskas are disaster prone as far as I am concerned- there is too much torque on that weakly glued duckbill sole...

I have only tested my one pair (and I guess also my wife's pair) of Alaska NNNBC- I am blown away with their durability...

Sounds like you have a kit:
-189cm Traverse 78
-NNNBC-manual binding (don't go near the "auto", especially in refrozen snow territory!)
-NNNBC boot (loads of options here)

This is still a good time of year to be looking- still left-over deals out there!
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

Young Satchel

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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby Young Satchel » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:09 pm

lilcliffy wrote:
Sounds like you have a kit:
-189cm Traverse 78
-NNNBC-manual binding (don't go near the "auto", especially in refrozen snow territory!)
-NNNBC boot (loads of options here)

This is still a good time of year to be looking- still left-over deals out there!


Sounds like I do, thanks--in no small part--to you!

I feel pretty damn good about this setup and am grateful you told me about these particular Fischer Skis. While not perfect for all 3 use-case scenarios, I've pretty much gathered that there is NO one Ski that is! I think this will work nicely for getting me out he door and on my feet this coming winter in a variety of local terrain.

I was hoping I might be able to score some deals, but on this particular Ski it seems that many of last years have now sold out as they have likely been on sale for several months, and new deliveries arrive shortly. But I'll dig a bit deeper and see what I can find. Hopefully I can take advantage of some boot and binding discounts at least!

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lilcliffy

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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:41 pm

The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

Young Satchel

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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby Young Satchel » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:04 pm

Thanks for the links! I actually did see most of those. Funny, but since that ($299.99) was the price I saw them for everywhere, I didn't realize that was the sale price.

If only I was looking for a 179 I could snag a slightly better deal AND go try them on/ pick them up at my local Eastern Mountain Sports!

http://www.ems.com/fischer-traverse-78- ... gKO9PD_BwE

Oh well, 299 it will be then. Probably jump on it next paycheck and eagerly await the snow that is still months away


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lilcliffy

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Re: Help A Northeastern Trail Runner & Backpacker Build His First Nordic Backcountry Set-Up!

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:49 pm

Yeah- Fischer skis are pricey- don't get me wrong- they are worth it- but when you have a family to gear up- they are usually too much for us.

I must admit that I haven't bought any skis at full price in almost 20 years! Just takes some patience...

The Madshus backcountry line is significantly cheaper than Fischer or Asnes- of course, they are made in China...

Over the years, I have bought a small fleet of Eons and Epochs for my growing 4 children.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


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