Looking to get back into XC skiing but not sure where to start
I used to do alot of xc and dh skiing when i was a kid, but when i outgrew my last pair of boots at 16 i gave it up....I used to love hunting XC, had a good skijour dog and might try to get back into that as well eventually....so whats new out there on the market? not looking to spend alot of money at first, but rather "ease" into it as cheaply as I can....I am 5'9" and 190lbs, and wear a size 10 boot........ what size should i look for?
Release Lake Trout
It really depends on what you are trying to do. Do you want to classic or skate ski or both? Do you want to stick to groomed trails mostly or get gear set up for backcountry skiing? My biggest focus is always to make sure you get boots that fit well. A poor fitting ski boot can really ruin the whole outing, not to mention do some significant damage to your feet.A good place to get into some decently cheap gear would be Play it Again Sports, but you would probably be good to stop at a ski shop first to narrow down what you want to target. AMH and Barney's are both good in Anchorage.
How cheap is the real question? Here's my experience...
Went to Beaver Sports so I could talk to someone who actually skied as I did not at the time. Told the guy what type of terrain (backcountry), what type of skiing I had done (almost none), what I wanted to do on my skis (hunt, camp, ski tour)...he then digested all that info and made a suggestion as well as a few cheaper options. I bought the best boots I could that fit and were comfortable, went a bit cheaper on the skis and went cheaper yet on the poles.
I then pulled out cash and negotiated a "cash package price" and walked out one happy camper with a reasonably good deal.
I think Play it Again is a good deal for some things but for putting together a ski package I think the temptation is very strong to just pick up what's available vs. what's best for your situation. I think they're very good for adding to your current set up or adding an additional piece of gear- from scratch? not so much.
Consider the health benefits of skiing regularly in the winter vs. the MSRP of the equipment...they'll save you that much in future doctor's bills in a single visit! LoL!
I went through pretty much the exact same thing last year, though I still had my very old XC (classic) skiis and poles sitting in the shed. They were still in decent shape, but equipped with the old 3-pin bindings. Well, they don't do those 3-pin setups anymore, so I spent hours researching, asking questions, and shopping around to figure out what bindings and boots to get. I actually ended up going with the SNS binding even though it's not the "latest & greatest". The binding and the boots to match were cheaper than the newer NNN stuff. The bindings were actually a direct swap for the old 3-pin with the exact same hole pattern.
Main thing is, do your research. The amount of "stuff" in the XC market has compounded exponentially over the years and compatibility between this thing and that thing just isn't there. It all used to be pretty universal, but not anymore.
Cheap xcountry skis w/ no metal edge = Track Skiing.
Slightly fatter ones w/ metal edge = Track and Woods
Lot fatter ones w/ heavy bindings = Skiing the woods looking for turns.
They get more expensive and heavier as you work your way down the list. If you are doing regular xcountry, forget about the heavy telemark and AT stuff. I like the metal edged skis because they tend to be wider and more stable on uneven snow, at the expense of more weight and being a bit slower.
Check Craigslist and Play It Again. You can still get the 3 pin stuff, but it has changed quite a bit. Unless you find old used boots, it is pretty much geared to big, heavy Tele skis at this point. The boots are hardest to fit, you might consider getting a second hand ski setup, and then buying the boots needed to match it. The old Salomon bindings are pretty much obsolete, so don't buy them with the thought of buying new boots to match them.
Oh, and wax the waxless skis w/ glide wax. It makes a HUGE difference. Especially as it gets closer to thawing.
Start telling people you are looking for old skis, a lot of people have a pair or two sitting in the garage they don't care about. Usually they are cheap enough (like free) that you can pick them up and use them 'til you get something better. Sometimes it is worth picking them just so you can have the bindings or poles later.