Advice on skis for mixed use

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Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by ttonelli » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:39 pm


I've been reading this forum for a couple of years, but only now am doing my first post!

I live in southern Ontario, where snow is rare and often followed by thaws that turn it into ice. I've been cross-country skiing for a few years, sometimes on groomed trails (I have good skis for those), but lately on hiking trails, farms and parks. I am using my "rock skis" on those, but I wanted to get more proper XCD gear. Also, sometimes the only "snow" we have around here is accumulated/fabricated on small downhill "resorts", where hills are so short that it's not super fun to do downhill. So I thought I could use some XCD skis to learn telemark on those hills.

Initially I thought I could get a pair of skis that would be good enough both for skiing in hiking trails (icy, narrow, steep) and for learning telemark in downhill ski resorts. I thought maybe the Hoks or OAC XCDs would fit the bill (they are short and relatively narrow). But some reviews here point that the Hoks are too wide for gliding longer distances (like in hiking trails) and bad on icy surfaces, and the OAC XCDs have yet to be properly reviewed.

That made me think that I may need 2 pairs of skis. Something like the eon or E99 for trails, and something else for the downhills (not sure what). But even in this case, I'd love to be able to use the same binding system and boots for both, probably NNN BC with Alpina Alaska.

Any opinion/advice?


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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by martin2007 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:59 pm

I empathize. Southern Ontario is where I'm from, and I long ago lost patience with the frequent winter thaws and the futility of getting hyped only to face yet another rain shower and endless brown fields.

Yes, more than one pair of skis ends up becoming likely. Personally, I have a hard time renouncing old wooden skis that can be purchased for a song at yard sales and thrift shops. They can be beautiful to ski on, and suit much of the terrain in southern Ontario: along fields, woodlots, and groomed x-country centres. I've used them often in shield country as well. I sometimes use them in the Rockies when I know what to expect from the trail. People buy x-country ski equipment, use it a few times, then store it in their basements for a decade or two. Then they get rid of it. Lots of good skis out there. Experimenting is half the fun. And contrary to popular belief and marketing propaganda, "old school" can be as good and sometimes better, than "new". Metal edges on x-country skis: lots to do with marketing, less to do with necessity. X-country centres rent them because they're reassuring to novices because of perceived improvements in control. Where there are groomed trails, or very narrow twisting trails in the forest, metal edges aren't much help with getting down the hills. They do make the ski heavier, however, and perhaps make the ski more robust when bushwacking and grinding against stones. I use metal-edged skis when I expect a rough ride or more extreme conditions. The other fun area is learning about waxing vs. scales. Lots has been written here, and many opinions expressed. Waxing when beginning to ski is not rocket science. It can be super-simple. Bindings and boots: overchoice! Tons of wonderfully incompatible systems out there. Good news: most systems work sufficiently well to allow for good skiing. If you want systems that allow for a variety of backcountry, un-groomed trails with some downhill mixed in, 75 MM 3-pin is what I recommend, with one caveat: I really dislike wire bails and light-duty 3-pin bindings that are often mounted on "old school" skis for sale in bargain sales. The bails intrude dangerously into the walls of old crusty ski tracks, and rarely accept the toe of a beefy-soled leather backcountry boot. Where I ski most of the time now, Colorado, 3-pin is alive and well on backcountry trails everywhere.

If it's groomed and track-set trails you prefer, in general, the skinnier and lighter the better. Definitely not 3-pin.

If I wanted to spoil myself with a new ski purchase to handle un-groomed BC trails in Ontario, I'd consider something like a Fischer S-Bound 78 (yes, they're waxless) mounted with Voile HD Mountaineer (3-pins). But many other ski shapes and systems will perform for you.

Hope these meanders are more help than hindrance: experiment, but most importantly, remember getting out often in variable conditions is much more important to your sense of well-being than is having "the right gear".

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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by t-$ » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:04 pm


i'm no expert. just kinda got into this "true" xcd thing myself. this season started using nnn bc and alaskas. i ski a fair amount. honestly, a standard bc xc ski works well in the conditions you describe, which sound very similar to mine. the are good to learn on and if they are waxless then great. the asnes usgi, been a good ski for me so far. but really heavy. the eons, still haven't really put them thru their paces fully, but the few times i have skied them they have been awesome. so, take that for what it's worth. honestly, to get the usgi's from colemans for so friggin cheap, it's almost worth it to have some on hand for bug out skis or something. with cheap bindings, even nnnbc, you are talking $100 or less.

but this three ski quiver has been great. and cheap, for the most part

i dunno, there are so many skis out there!!!

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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by ttonelli » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:49 pm

Thanks for your impressions!

Indeed, I may be overthinking. But heck, what is this forum for if not to over-discuss ;-)?

I like the idea of going to garage sales to get cheap skis to experiment. That way I can save money to go on a ski vacation once a year, perhaps to Colorado, or maybe even closer, to Quebec or Vermont.

The USGIs are interesting, it's a shame they don't ship to Canada.

I guess all I can do while the snow does not come back is dream and research about XCD ;-)

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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by t-$ » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:08 am

ahh, yeah, sorry, i forgot i read somewhere before they don't ship to canada. well, good luck...there are so many skis out there...

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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by lilcliffy » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:05 pm


Sorry man- meant to respond to your OP a while ago- desperately busy of late!

Well- sounds like you are looking at a lot of refrozen snow. And unless the "Chinese Hoax" is in fact a hoax- I think that it is safe to say that extreme weather changes are becoming the norm. So- learning to deal with icy refrozen snow is something all Nordic touring BC-XCD/Telemark skiers have to deal with.

The essence of Nordic Touring is the balance between grip and glide. Grip wax and klister being the best performance with respect to grip and glide- kicker skins coming in, in second place- I rate waxless scales in third place.

Scales work great on warm wet snow. So if your fresh snow is moisture rich and not very cold- waxless scales would work great- but, what about when the snow melts, then refreezes- icy refrozen snow?

Klister is amazing on icy refrozen snow- but not a good addition to scales.

Kicker skins work great on icy snow- and both Asnes' and Fischer's integrated kicker skin systems are the bomb.

From a Nordic touring perspective- kicker skins work best on a ski with a XC flex/camber profile- where there is an effective wax pocket underfoot- so either true double camber or camber-and-a-half.

If you want to be able to make consistent, linked downhill turns with the ski, camber-and-a-half is better than full-on double camber. Double-cambered skis are more efficient when XC skiing- but, a double-cambered ski, in a true XC length can be a bit of a handfull (or rather foot-ful) on the downhill (I personally love downhill skiing on my long double-cambered skis, but I don't pretend that they are downhill skis...)

The Hok is a bushwacking ski and performs best in deep fresh snow.

I don't what to think of the OAC XCD ski yet...not ready to write a review yet...not impressed much- though they are ridiculously easy to turn- even with XC boots- though very unstable at speed...They seem to be a bit of "toy" to me...My 13-year old likes them...

If you just bite the bullet and tell yourself your going to wax your skis- and your going to use klister- you really can get away with just one ski, without any skins. In your local context you could probably just use klister- and nothing else.

The alternative is a ski with a kicker skin (avoiding klister), and perhaps in your context waxless scales would be better than a klister plus kicker skin.

I doubt very much that you will be able to use grip wax that often in your local skiing- so klister would be it.

My kicker skins don't mind hard grip wax- they DO NOT LIKE klister. I have to remove klister before applying a kicker skin.

So if it is waxless plus kicker skin:
1) You can buy an aftermarket kicker skin and use it with any ski
2) Fischer Traverse 78 + Easy-Skin
3) Fischer Excursion 88 + Easy-Skin

If cash flow is limiting, a cheap, used ski with an aftermarket kicker skin.

If the snow is rarely deep in your local context- the 78 will outperform the 88.
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Re: Advice on skis for mixed use

Post by fisheater » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:38 pm

TT, could be Tele Tonelli. I live in SE Michigan. I know where you are coming from in regards to snow. My local trails are awesome mountain bike trails, lots of short steep ups and downs, sharp banked turns from over 20 years of mountain bikes. I have grown to enjoy these trails every bit as much on skis. I enjoy my waxable USGI so much that I have given up purchasing a waxless ski for trail skiing. What I have learned about wax is that my quickly packed out trails always require me to use a softer wax than the temp guide, despite the fact I tend to extend the wax far front of the wax pocket. I have recently learned from Lowangle Al that the more you cork the wax you can increase glide and decrease grip. That may account for some of my need to go warmer with the wax. I spent over 20 years pouring and finishing concrete, I tend to make that wax shine like a Home Depot floor. I don't plan on seeing a huge difference. Heavy use deforms the snow crystals, I have recently acquired klister. I was quite disappointed to find a slight gap in temp between the red and blue klister. I have not had a chance to use them as the snow has been disappearing for the weekend. One thing that does work good for me when it's warm is red/silver wax. It is gooey, but if it becomes a mess, GooGone handles it well.
I come from a downhill background. I went with 3- pin gear, but while it works for me, I see the advantages of NNN. If I every buy an E-99 it will be waxable and NNN. I see the benefits of a 2 ski quiver. I really enjoy wax, and an E-99 would be awesome in the right conditions. The USGI is pretty versatile, I am close enough to Port Huron (Sarnia) or Detroit (Windsor), you could ship them to me if you wanted to meet in either of those US cities. They are a nice trail ski, and that would allow to spend more on an Eon or a Traverse 78. Both are camber and a half skis suitable for both trail (backcountry) and so low angle resort skiing. Your other option would be to go the Eon / T 78 route, but buy an inexpensive Alico Ski March boot. It is a fairly stiff soled, just above the ankle, leather Telemark boot. It tours, has decent kick and glide ability, but is heavy. However you could pair that boot with an older alpine ski and a 3 pin cable for the resort.
Best of luck, and don't be down on the fact your snow disappears too quickly. Enjoy you live in a land of snow, where you can expect to get some skiing in. It is a glorious life to live in lands of snow.

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