You’ve decided skijor is the sport for you and your team – awesome! You’re going to have a lot of fun.
Maybe you’ve rented some skis already, or used to ski as a kid, and you’ve already decided what kind of skiing you want to do (classic, skate or touring) and now it’s time to buy skis of your very own. If you’re not sure what kind of skiing you want to do, I’ll post another blog post on it.
But, I’m going to suggest classic cross country skiing if you’re just getting started. It’s easy to find equipment and classes, and pretty easy to learn at a basic level. So for the rest of this article we’re going to assume that’s the kind of skiing you’re going to skijor with. If you think you’re going to want to compete (or go faster) you might prefer skate skis.
Classic cross country skiing is usually done on groomed trails, so be sure your dog is welcome on your local trails before you invest in equipment.
Alright, onward to fit!
If you’re totally new (and even if you aren’t) I’d suggest going to an experienced ski shop that can help point you in the right direction. It can get overwhelming to figure out what the right skis and binding system is for you, and an experienced shop can help you navigate all of that.
Luckily, sizing for cross country skis is pretty simple. There are two main things to consider when it comes to sizing:
1. Your Weight: Everyone’s favorite thing to talk about right! Yeah, not so much. This is really the key for determining your ski size. Each manufacturer will have their own sizing chart and recommendations. So, if your local shop doesn’t have good information available in store or on-line, check out the manufacturers site.
You can find an example sizing guide for Salomon skis here:
2. Your Height: Your cross country skis should be taller than you are. You might see reference online (or in store) to how much taller, usually 6”-8” (15-20cm). From my research, this is less true than it used to be. Now, the primary factor is weight, but if you’re looking at the manufacturer sizing and you have a few sizing options (like the Salomon guide above). If you’re shorter you might want to go shorter, taller go longer. Skate skis will be closer to your height.
Those are considerations for cross country skis. But what about Skijor?
- If in doubt go with a shorter length: your dog will be providing some pulling power so if your skis have more “drag” than ideal, they’ll help you overcome that. More importantly, shorter skis will help you maneuver around your dog, decrease the chance of you running into them, and make it easier to get untangled when you get back up after falling.
- Avoid skis with metal edges: most cross country skis do not have metal edges, but if you’re buying touring skis be sure they don’t have them. Metal edges can cut your dog’s paws if you run into them, and they aren’t allowed in racing – so just save yourself the trouble and avoid them.
- Flex / Camber: Generally more advanced skiers use a stiffer camber, so if you’re a beginner I’d suggest going for a softer (more flexible) camber. If you look at the skis lying on a flat surface you’ll see that under the bindings (for your feet) the skis arch off the ground. Camber refers to how easy it is to flatten that arch when you put weight on them while skiing.
- Waxable / Waxless: We’ll tackle this in another blog post, but you’ll also need to decide if you want waxable or waxless skis. Personally, I went waxless – they don’t require annual hot wax servicing, and tend to work better around 0°C…and I’m a fair weather skijorer.
If you’re getting a full kit of skis, binding, boots and pole expect to pay $300+, but there are also good used options. And, don’t be afraid to rent your first few times to try different sizes and brands. We have a few local rental shops and it’s typically under $30/day to rent everything you need. Well worth the cost to test out your options.
Now that you know the skis you need, be sure to check out our free Canicross Equipment cheat sheet to learn the equipment you need to safely hook your dog up to you. Have fun on the trails!
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