Boots and Bindings

Quick Facts About Cross Country Boots and Bindings

At the cutting edge: all carbon boots.
At the cutting edge: all carbon boots.
  • The most important thing to consider when buying ski boots is comfort.
  • Skate boots should fit a little snugger than classic boots, but both should feel comfortable when you walk around the store.
  • Skate boots have a high ankle cuff. Classic boots are cut lower.
  • You can safely save money with a “combi” boot, especially when you are first getting into the sport. Later you’ll want to invest in proper classic and skate boots.
  • There are 2 systems of boots and bindings: NNN and SNS. Neither is better than the other in terms of performance, but your boot and binding systems must match. Boots and bindings from with different systems won’t attach together.
  • Boots, bindings and skis must also match in terms of intended purpose. So for example, you shouldn’t use a heavy backcountry boot on a lightweight race ski.
  • Manual bindings are superior to automatic bindings and well worth the extra, nominal cost. They are much easier to attach and detach, and also less likely to ice up.
  • If your feet get cold, do not buy oversized boots to accommodate a second pair of socks and do not buy a boot with an extra lining, at least not at the expense of comfort. Do this instead…

Guaranteed Method to Keep Your Toes Warm

I hate to brag, but I don’t know anyone whose suffers from the cold more than I do.

I always ski with hand warmers in my mittens, but toes warmers never worked for me. That is, until I discovered this system:

I bought a pair of bootie covers made of a windproof outer layer and lined with fleece. Used alone they don’t really keep my feet warm, but then I discovered I could put a handwarmer in the airspace between my boot and the bootie cover.

I had tried toe warmers inside my ski boots many times, but they never worked. I’m not sure why but my theory is there’s not enough O2 inside a ski boot.

With the bootie cover I can put the hand warmer on top of my boot, and the bootie cover holds it in place. This solution is really warm. Here’s a photo of how it works:

Warm Toes XC Ski

Instead of the baggy-style bootie cover I use, you could try the neoprene covers. They definitely look more pro. I haven’t tried them, so I can’t say whether they’d work as well or not.

What I like about the baggy covers is that I can use them over both my classic and skate boots. I also suspect the airspace is important for keeping my feet so warm.

The system’s not perfect. It looks a little goofy and the bootie covers make it difficult to attach my boot to my ski. This is even more of a problem when there’s fresh snow.

Also, I’m not very happy about how quickly the webbing on the underside of the bootie cover is wearing out. I try to walk on them as little as possible, but even after one season, they are almost worn through.

The final problem is that the hand warmer is discolouring my ski boot with a black stain.

Despite the problems, I’m still excited about this solution. My feet were toasty warm all last winter, even at minus 25 degrees Celcius.

Hope this helps you too.

10 thoughts on “Boots and Bindings”

  1. “There are 2 systems of boots and bindings: NNN and SNS. Neither is better than the other in terms of performance, but your boot and binding systems must match. Boots and bindings from different systems won’t attach together.”

    Now there are 3 systems, but the third system, called Prolink, is actually a copy of NNN. It is the company Salomon, the inventor of SNS (Salomon Nordic System) that has come up with the Prolink system to complement its SNS. Therefore, Salomon (and Atomic) Prolink ski boots fit NNN bindings, and NNN ski boots like Alpina and Fischer fit Salomon (and Atomic) Prolink bindings.


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