Classic, Skate and Backcountry
The Best Nordic Skiing Gear of 2015
Like any sport, Nordic skiing has its own set of highly specialized gear, especially as you drill down into its more arcane disciplines, like skate, classic or backcountry touring. And as with other endurance sports, skiers have become obsessed with faster, stiffer, lighter, more breathable and water-resistant equipment and clothing. Gone are the days of woolen knickers, a pom-pom cap and hickory planks, replaced by Gore-Tex, merino and carbon fiber.
Winter is only half over; you might as well enjoy the rest of it. Here’s the gear to get you out the door and on the trail.
MORE WINTER BUYING GUIDES: Winter Tires | Winter Running Gloves | Driving Gear
Helly Hansen LIFA Dry Stripe Crew
Helly Hansen hails from Norway and has been making clothes to keep its country’s sailors and adventurers warm and dry for over a century. Its LIFA line, with the trademark striped sleeves, was one of the first technical base layers available back in the 1970s and after 40 years of fine tuning, it’s still one of the best around. The HH Dry fabric of the Dry Stripe Crew ($40) pulls sweat away from your skin quickly to ward off chill when you slow down or turn into the wind.
Craft PXC High Function Jacket
Craft is another Scandinavian brand that makes high-performance clothes for cyclists and skiers. The PXC High Function jacket ($160) is an ultra-light softshell that breaks wind and light precipitation (i.e., snow) while fitting close to the body for unrestricted arm swings and no rustle. When the snow melts, this jacket makes a great spring cycling jacket.
Icebreaker Nova Hat
With your head exposed and pouring sweat as you put in the kilometers, merino wool is the best choice for staying warm when wet. The Nova Hat ($35), which blends soft, warm merino with 50 percent acrylic, pulls down tight and keeps its shape. It also won’t stink up the car if you leave it in the backseat when you get home.
Pants: Ibex Breakaway II Pant
Don’t be deceived: these may look like your weekend sweatpants but they’re far from it. Made from Climawool, a blend of merino wool, Cordura nylon and Lycra, the Breakaway II ($250) will be your go-to adventuring pants from October till April. Warm, windproof and stretchy, they may not be the sleekest ski pants around, but you won’t care when you’re skiing laps after a fresh dump, dry and warm. They also are a hell of a lot more acceptable than tights in the coffee shop afterwards.
Outdoor Research Stormtracker Gloves
Gripping poles on a raw, windy day makes for cold hands. If they get wet, you might as well pack it in. The problem with most warm gloves, though, is that they’re too bulky to fit in the hand straps. The Outdoor Research Stormtrackers ($68+) are low profile, with Windstopper softshells to keep wind and water from penetrating, and the soft tricot lining is toasty to well below freezing. Goat leather palms give good grip on poles even when damp.
Even on a cloudy day, the reflection off of snow can be blinding and even dangerous, so sunglasses are a must. But when you’re in and out of trees in variable light, it’s hard to choose the right tinted lenses. The Julbo Dust’s ($82) photochromic Zebra lenses adapt to changing light quickly, lightening up as you move into the trees and darkening when the sun comes out. They also are well vented so they’re less likely to fog up when you’re slogging up that long hill.