What Size Cross Country Skis Do I Need?

Unravel the complexities of selecting the perfect cross country ski size, taking into account your body type and skiing preferences.

Embarking on a cross-country skiing adventure is an exhilarating prospect, but the first and most crucial step is figuring out the right ski size for you. Choosing the correct size of cross-country skis is not only essential for your enjoyment but also for your overall performance on the trails. If you're new to the world of cross-country skiing or simply in need of a refresher on how to determine the ideal ski size, you've come to the right place.

In this guide, we'll unravel the complexities of selecting the perfect ski length, taking into account your body type and skiing preferences. So, before you hit the snowy trails, join us as we explore the fundamental question: "What size cross country skis do I need?"

Different styles of cross country skiing

There are 3 main styles of cross country skiing and each has its own type of ski that is best suited for the activity. It's important to consider the style of skiing you wish to do prior to selecting your ski size.

Classic cross country skiing

This style uses a forward and back striding motion that resembles how you walk or run. The familiarity of the motion makes it a logical starting point for new cross-country skiers—many beginners, including families, can enjoy shuffling along on trails even if they’ve never had skis on before.

Classic cross country skis are designed for skiing on groomed trails with a forward and back striding motion similar to how you walk or run. The skis are generally long, narrow and lightweight for fast and efficient skiing in groomed tracks. Some cross-country touring skis have a shorter design that makes them a bit easier to turn and control, making them a popular choice among beginners. Cross-country touring skis are a great option for people who want to have a fun time and get some exercise but aren’t in it to get a major workout or set a course record.

Cross country skiing

Skate skiing

This cross country skiing technique resembles that of a speed skater on ice. As you push your skis out to the side, you use the edges of your skis to propel yourself forward. It’s a fun and fast activity that many people can learn to enjoy, but it’s not usually where beginners start.

The skis are light, skinny and stiff, and they are generally about 10cm shorter than skis for classic skiing. It’s worth pointing out that skate skis are not designed for striding as you do while classic skiing.

These skis will typically be used for similar trails as the Classic Skis, however their design allows for faster and more athletic motions while skiing.

Backcountry XC skiing

If you’re looking for real freedom on skis you might be a candidate for backcountry cross-country skiing. The backcountry ski is a perfect companion for skiing off the tracks, for longer day trips with a small backpack or even cabin trips. The skis in the backcountry range are made for accessing a lot of different terrains, built light and with metal edges. Even when crossing lower mountain ranges or fields you’ll feel agile and safe – in all kind of snow conditions.

The character of the movement in backcountry XC skiing is almost identical to classic skiing, with a kick and glide phase, while keeping your skis parallel. The difference is,  backcountry skis feel most comfortable in deep and fresh snow conditions, rather than in parallel tracks. This is the most original form of Nordic Skiing and it’s especially popular in Scandinavia. The “real cross-country skiing”: simply stepping out your door, crossing fields, valleys, and woods!

These skis, equipped with a smaller profile, wider base and metal edges, allow you to go almost anywhere off the beaten path, or on it! These are the most versatile of the cross-country ski options, but they are a little harder to control and won’t be as efficient as the other two varieties.

What size cross country skis do I need?

After you've identified the type of cross country skiing you wish to do, the most important thing to pay attention to when choosing the right ski size is weight. We’ve included a size chart below which indicates what size of cross country ski you should choose depending on your weight and the style of cross country skiing you plan to do.

Skier Weight (LB)

Ski Length (CM) - Classic XC Skiing

Ski Length (CM) - Skate Skiing

Ski Length (CM) - Backcountry XC

100 - 110

180 - 190

170 - 180

160 - 166

110 - 120

182 - 192

172 - 182

160 - 166

120 - 130

185 - 195

175 - 185


130 - 140

187 - 200

177 - 190

170 - 176

140 - 150

190 - 205

180 - 195

170 - 176

150 - 160

195 - 210

185 - 195


160 - 180

200 - 210

190 - 195

180 - 186


205 - 210

190 - 195

180 - 186

In conclusion, getting the right size of cross country skis is a crucial step towards a successful and enjoyable skiing experience. Remember, your body type and activity preferences play a significant role in determining the perfect fit. Before you rush out to buy your own pair, consider exploring the GeerGarage community, where you can rent top quality cross country skis tailored to your specific needs. Renting not only saves you money but also allows you to test different sizes and styles of cross country skis to find what suits you best. So, why not give it a try and make your next cross-country skiing adventure a breeze? Happy skiing!