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What kind of XC/BC ski gear should I get?


New member
Dec 29, 2020
All I got for Christmas was a bathroom scale and an umbrella. As such, I feel entitled to buy some gear. I'm a pretty good telemark skier, but I want to get some skis that are XC-oriented, so I can ski some more rolling terrain without having to put skins on and off. I was kind of thinking of like the Bue Hills in the recent storm as one example, on down to the golf-course near my house. I'd also hope to someday do some touring and put some miles on my skis, which would just seem uncomfortable in my current heavy telemark boots, and impractical with skins.

So, what should I get? My biggest question is should I go with an NNN binding, or a 3-pin telemark binding. I kind of like the idea of these, rottefella-super-tele-bindings but would that work well on gentler terrain (e.g., the golf course?) But, all the boots (at least on the REI page ) that are compatible look pretty burly, and I wonder if they'd be cumbersome on gentler terrain.

Alternatively, if I went with NNN bindings, like this, https://www.rei.com/product/892162/rottefella-nnn-bc-magnum-backcountry-ski-bindings would I be able to do a telemark turn if Ullr should grace the Blue Hills with enough snow?

For skis I was thinking of something like this: https://www.rei.com/product/177877/salomon-escape-68-outback-cross-country-skis fish scales on the base and full-metal edges.

For boots I definitely want something flexible that I could spend all day hiking/skiing in, but that choice seems driven by the bindings.



Well-known member
Mar 2, 2008
Lower Hudson Valley
For touring on untracked snow, forget about NNN. Even assuming you're talking NNN BC (which is burlier than standard NNN), it's really not burly enough to make telemark turn on. Unless, of course, you're really good at finessing your turns.

3 pins are the way to go for touring in untrack snow, even in rolling terrain.

I'd suggest you get 2 separate setups. One really light setup for the golf course, which you can have for very little expense. (I have a setup like the one in your REI link. It's good enough for flatish terrain, or slightly hilly when snow is still fresh and soft. But fair warning, once the snow settles, or worse, refreeze, you'll be in a world of hurt)

And a separate setup for proper BC touring in rolling terrain, where you may encounter snow of varying condition, including icy or refrozen snow.

The ultimate skis for BC touring is the Volie one that has fish scale bottom. I forgot the modal name, but you can easily find it on their web site, It's basically a combination of standard telemark ski and xc touring skis. You don't need to deal with skins until it gets too steep for the fish scale to grip.
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Dec 16, 2004
southern NJ
So I'll wade in with my dos centavos. The easiest response may be to just let you know what I have and how I use it.

For casual kickin’ an glidin’ in set track or light snow, I have an OLD pair of waxless Rossi skis now mounted with standard NNN bindings. These used to have 3 pin, but with the general lack of quantity and quality of light duty 3 pin boots I went to NNN.

For longer treks I have a not quite so old but still old pair of Karhus mounted with NNN-BC. IMO there is a better selection in terms of quantity and quality for these boots. But you’re not gonna really manage a good tele-turn in them, in any kind of terrain.

For deeper snow, untracked snow, and generally more demanding terrain and conditions I have 2 pairs of somewhat old Karhu XCD’s (before they were bought out by Madshus - who knows what they are now). Great skis for how I use them. One pair was my fathers, mounted with a 3-pin binding like you pictured. My original pair is mounted with Targa g3’s. This is the setup I absolutely love. Yes it is slower than my other skis, but more than makes up for it in challenging conditions. The g3 is way better than the rotte 3-pins, but I don’t know if you can still get the g3 binding what with all the rush to NTN – it seems the meadowskipping niche has been abandoned to NNN.

IMO the bottom line will be to get the binding that best matches the boot you will end up with. I have an old and now cracked pair of Garmont Liberos that fit and feel like a good glove. Unfortunately they are no longer available, and all the low-end, light duty 3 pin boots I have come across are REALLY crappy. Most NNN boots, BC or otherwise, tend to be all over the place in quality.


Active member
Mar 25, 2004
Boston, MA
Couple of thoughts about XC skiing in Blue Hills - in a word, don't bother. Unless you're one of the first ones to get the goods after a good snowfall, just about all the trails will get stomped upon by bare boots in no time. So, lots of holes which of course ruins the xc experience. The Blue Hills has always been a heavily used outdoor resource and now, with this COVID thing it's just mobbed.
The place is my primary outdoor playground since I live nearby so I know where to go to avoid the biggest crowds, but I gave up doing XC here long time ago.

However, the Ponkapoag Golf course which is adjacent to the Blue Hills is great for xc even with as little as 2-3 inches of decent snowfall.
I use my "regular" xc track skis with NNN bindings so even when I set my own tracks the set up works fine. My skis are just a bit wider that the standard XC skis for running on preset tracks (I'm much better at kick'n'glide than skating) and have taller, up-turned tips so it makes it easy to go through deeper, untracked snow. I'm not sure these kind of skis ar available anymore. The XC ski equipment got more specialized. So my set up which can be classified as just classic XC works fine at XC ski area type of preset track and golf course rolling terrain. For something a bit more demanding in terms of snow depth and steepness you'll probably will need to go with something like that link to Salomon Escape.

Oh, one last thing: the waxless skis are nice but there is no substitute for a well waxed xc ski. It can be a PITA choosing/putting on the right wax but the experience of getting a solid kick and superior glide is just awesome.