Our two favorite skate and classic setups.
One Way Diamond 9 Max Premio poles
They’re as light and stiff as any top-end racing pole—a huge endurance advantage—but the Premio ($170) is also insider cool: One Way is an innovative brand that sponsors the U.S. Ski Team.
Rossignol X-ium Skating skis
Although the World Cup version is pictured, we were just as impressed with the much more affordable X-ium model ($575). It’s not quite as light as the WC ski, but it made short work of a grueling climb on our test circuit. And like any top ski these days, the X-ium is stable as you shift your weight from ski to ski, and it whips through corners, thanks to just the right amount of sidecut.
Salomon Carbon Skate Lab boots
At one pound, the Skate Lab ($900) is inconceivably lightweight on the foot. But it offers more push-off power than a hockey skate. You have to be really, really into nordic skiing to justify the price, but expect the technology to trickle down to more affordable boots soon.
CW-X Insulator Endurance Pro tights
Supportive bands deliver targeted muscle support. A bit of light insulation helps keep your hams warm. Wear them under soft-shell pants in extreme conditions or alone when temps near 40 degrees. $135, cw-x.com
Atomic Sport Skintec skis
Instead of a wax zone or a fickle fish-scale base, the Skintec ($449) features a seamlessly integrated, replaceable mohair racing skin. It worked efficiently enough for a solid workout in most snow types—bring Globstopper if it’s exceedingly warm—and in most snow conditions it was flat-out fast.
Madshus Hyper RPC boots
A few years ago, the Hyper RPC ($220) would have served as a high-end race shoe. The last is a little wider to suit newer skiers (especially in cold weather). And the soft-shell material over the laces made it both weatherproof and more breathable than most nordic boots—your feet don’t come out clammy.
Swix Team TBS Premium Carbon Composite poles
Poles are expensive and options are good: the interchangeable basket system on the stiff and durable TBS ($300) allows you to skate-ski on firm days and kick-and-glide on soft snow.
Outdoor Research Afterburner gloves
Hands get hot quickly, which is why you want an airy glove like the Afterburner ($59), which is lightly insulated and dextrous.
REI Winterflyte 1/2 Zip midlayer
Thanks to thumb loops and a snap-up collar, the stretchy Winterflyte ($80) can double as an outer layer on the warmest days.