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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First Aid

The farther from the beaten path you venture, the more prepared you should be for a medical emergency. Always carry a first-aid kit designed for the type of trek and the number of people in your group.

A variety of first-aid kits are available for day hikes, family camping trips or backpacking treks. Kits should be tailored to your trekking terrain, weather, the ages of hikers and your group's special medical needs.

It is important to know how to use everything in your first-aid kit beforehand. You won't have time in the middle of an emergency to read an instruction manual.

Before you go, learn about any possible hazards at your destination, such as poisonous plants, snakes and insects. Ask local officials or park rangers if you need any special gear or clothing. Locate the road and public phone closest to your campsite or trail, so you know where to summon help if it is needed.

Some organizations offer wilderness first-aid courses targeted to outdoors enthusiasts. Be sure to practice what you learn and share it with others in your party.

Good first-aid kits are available in a wide range of prices, and specialty kits are available for mountain bikers, canoeists and others.

The following items should be considered when outfitting a basic first-aid kit:

  1. 1 elastic-roll bandage
  2. Aspirin or ibuprofen
  3. Adhesive tape
  4. Alcohol swabs
  5. Antacid
  6. Antihistamine
  7. Antiseptic ointment
  8. Adhesive bandages, assorted sizes
  9. Bulb irrigating syringe
  10. Butterfly bandages
  11. Chemical heat and cold packs
  12. Dry-wash pads or wipes
  13. Diarrhea medicine
  14. Gauze pads
  15. Hydrocortisone cream (soothes allergic skin)
  16. Insect repellent
  17. Mirror, small and unbreakable
  18. Moleskin, 1 or 2 packets
  19. Cotton swab, sterile, packaged in pairs
  20. Safety pins
  21. Scissors (Swiss Army Pen Knife has scissors, small blade and nail file)
  22. Sunscreen
  23. Triangular bandage
  24. Tweezers

Inspect the contents before every trip and make sure the tools are clean and supplies in good condition. Replace expired medicines and add items you wished you had brought on the last trip. Make sure the container is durable and waterproof, and stow it in an accessible compartment of your backpack.

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