Which x-country skis would keep a 250-pound skier from sinking into the pow?

I enjoy cross-country skiing and snow camping in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. I would like to buy my own skis as opposed to renting. I over 250 pounds and find that many of the skis I've used have had little or no glide. It ends up feeling like I walking on plywood boards. Do I need a stiff ski? Or a wide ski? I would also be using a Berwin binding with this ski. Tim Appleton, Wisconsin


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It’s all a matter of simple physics, Tim. Forgive my indelicacy, but you weigh a fair amount—maybe 300 pounds by the time you don boots, cold-weather clothing, maybe a pack with 15 to 20 pounds of snacks, water, and extra clothes. If you and I wore the same skis, your skis would be asked to bear nearly twice the pounds per square inch as mine. Inevitably, that will result in the skis sinking into the snow. And hence, no glide. Instead, sort of a lurching motion, I expect.

Orion Orion

The solution is this: You need as big of a ski as you possibly can find, yet still maneuver on it. Something in a wide-ski style, for instance, such as the Karhu Orion ($239; www.karhu.com). It’s a waxless, steel-edged ski with moderate sidecut but with a wider profile than most cross-country skis. In the 190-centimeter length, it should offer about as much flotation as any ski around. And it will take Berwin bindings, which as you know are bindings that allow softer, warmer boots to be worn.

Check out the Snow Report 2005 from the November ’04 issue of Outside for the season’s best planks and boards, terrain parks, lodges, parties, and more.

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