Winter Sports Tips

Cross-Country Skiing Tips

  1. Your body works hard in cold weather and it's important to drink plenty of water and have a supply of snacks. Pack water, snacks, fruit or candy bars, extra socks, base preparation and a scraper and wax for waxable skis in your fanny pack. If you are going out for extended periods, keep your water bottle insulated from the cold so it does not freeze.
  2. Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable by adding or taking off clothing, depending on your activity level and the weather. Remember to shed your parka or jacket before you overheat. Dressing for the Outdoors
  3. Never wear cotton underwear, clothing or socks for skiing. You perspire when you cross-country ski and cotton holds the moisture next to your skin, which is uncomfortable, making you cold.
  4. Cross-country silver medalist Bill Koch advises: "If you are just beginning, take a lesson or ski with an experienced person. You learn the right techniques for stopping, climbing up hills, traveling downhill and even falling the right way, which makes your early ski experience more enjoyable."
  5. Teaching children to ski can be a fun family outing. Have your child ski without poles until they are comfortable with walking and gliding on their skis. Many cross-country areas offer instruction for kids as well as adults. Classes are a great opportunity for everyone in the family to brush up on their technique.
  6. Old wax on the sides and top of the ski can slow you down and make the ski heavier. Keep your skis clean by removing built-up wax. Many skiers prefer using a citrus-based wax remover, which is effective and environmentally friendly.
  7. Your skis may be waxless, but their base still needs treatment to improve glide. Add a glide wax to skis' tips and tails or wipe on a liquid or paste-base preparation along the entire length of the ski to enhance your glide and prevent snow from building up on the center of your ski, called the "kick zone."
  8. Although you can ski just about anywhere -- including your backyard, along power lines, at golf courses and parks -- we recommend going to a ski-touring center. Many offer amenities for all ability levels and have groomed trails, warming huts, professional instruction and even day-care centers. If you'd like to make a weekend of it, many also offer overnight accommodations.
  9. Transport your skis in a ski bag. Road salt, grit and other roadside debris will damage your ski base, slowing you down and shortening your skis' life span.
  10. Give waxable skis a try. They allow you to "adjust" your skis' performance to accommodate snow conditions and changing temperatures, resulting in a more efficient kick and glide. Waxing does not need to be difficult. Some manufacturers make a two-wax system- one for wet snow, one for dry snow. This simple system makes a great "first waxing kit."
  11. If you are purchasing skis for the first time, buy them as a package. Your skis, poles, boots and bindings all match and will cost less than if purchased separately.
  12. Snowmobile trails make for great skiing, because the trail has already been packed down for you. However, snowmobile trails mean motorized traffic. If you hear a snowmobile approaching, sidestep off the trail and let them pass. It's a nice gesture to those who are "packing the trail for you."

If you have questions about cross-country skiing equipment, call our Product Information Team at 1-800-975-4552, any day between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST.

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Dressing for the Outdoors

Outdoor enthusiasts have long recognized that multiple layers of clothing keep them warm in winter and from overheating in summer. Adding or removing garments is a practical way to adapt quickly to different activity levels and temperature changes during your time outside.

Many winter campers wear a system of underwear, a midlayer of polyester fleece (pants and top), followed by a windproof, water-resistant outer layer (windpants with full zips down the side for easy on/off and a high-performance wind shell with zippers under the arms for ventilation during active sports).


While cotton was once the mainstay of long underwear and cold-weather clothing, it is no longer recommended for strenuous winter activities because it soaks up moisture. Damp clothes are heavier and, if next to your skin, can pose a chilling hazard.

Modern performance underwear, made from polyester or polypropylene, is most effective in moving moisture away from your skin and into outer layers of clothing where it can evaporate.

In addition to traditional shirts and "long johns," many other garments, including short-sleeve tops, bras, boxer shorts and briefs, are now made with polyester fabrics to wick away chilling perspiration.


If you are performing an active sport such as skiing, or hiking in spring or fall, a polyester fabric, such as fleece, is an ideal second layer over your long underwear. It continues to trap your body warmth while wicking away moisture. Even in warmer seasons, a midlayer is useful to have handy in your pack for those times you begin to chill (particularly during rest stops.)


Depending on weather conditions, you may want to wear wind-resistant, water-resistant pants and an anorak over your other clothes. How many layers you need depends on your level of exertion, personal preference and weather conditions.


Be prepared for severe weather. Carry a waterproof rain jacket and pants or a poncho with you, even if the forecast is for sunshine.


Up to 50% of your body heat can be lost through your neck and head. Carry a hat with you for added warmth or protection from the sun.

For overnight trips, carry a lightweight polypropylene hat. It stores compactly in your pack pocket and doubles nicely as a comfortable sleeping hat in cool weather.

Winter campers often carry a hat system consisting of a lightweight polypropylene liner and a nylon shell to adjust to changing winter temperatures.


For maximum comfort and blister prevention, many hikers wear two layers of socks, a thin polyester sock liner with a thicker outer sock. On overnight or extended trips, be sure to carry enough socks to be able to change into a fresh set each day.

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