Boots and Bindings
Control in cross country skiing is mostly achieved by motions of the foot and
ankle that must translate to the ski through the boot and binding. So if your boot is too
soft or too big, or if the binding does not firmly hold your boot to the ski, efficiency is
wasted and you will not have good control.
Twenty some years ago, when I bought my first pair of skis, the binding was a
little toe clip and the boots were low and soft as slippers. I had such problems with
control I was afraid of going down even a little hill, and couldn’t turn at all. Many a day,
I wanted to just give up.
Today most skiers who ski on groomed trails or easy backcountry chose Salomon
(also called SNS) or NNN bindings. These are similar in design and have proven their
effectiveness. Both clamp onto a bar built into the boot about a half inch in back of the
front of the boot, and also have a supporting ridge which gives control along the length of
When choosing boots, be sure that your boots and bindings mate. The ideal
X/C ski boot is first of all comfortable, comes up around your ankle for support, and has
a rigid sole, again to translate the motion of your feet to the ski. You can test the sole by
holding your boot in 2 hands and try twisting the heel in one direction and the toe in the
opposite direction. There should be little or no torque. Another test easily done is while
wearing the boot and with the boot attached to the bindings and on the ski, have someone
firmly hold the ski (maybe by standing on it) and try to move your heel from side to side.
The binding should hold the boot firmly so that there is very little sideways motion.
Do not choose a skating boot if you ski with classic technique. The rigidity of the
ankle support in the skating boot will inhibit your motion. If you want to buy equipment
that will allow you to do both techniques, there are “combi” skis, boots and bindings.
You really should have your bindings mounted by a professional. You can do the
job yourself but unless you have had instruction from a professional and you happen to
have all the right tools handy--it can develop into a disaster in a hurry.