Please check under “ski programs” & your specific ski program for equipment requirements. Depending on their age and level of competitive skiing, different equipment is required.

Waxable Classic Skis (waxless ok for bunnies or beginner jackrabbits) that are appropriate for your child’s weight and height
Classic boots that fit well
Classic poles that are approx top of the shoulder height
Skate Skis (dependent on program)
Skate Ski boots that fit well
Skate Ski poles (between chin and nose)

3 w’s wicking layer (no cotton), mid layer (such as lycra tights or a turtleneck), windproof layer (our club jacket and a pair of light windproof pants will work)
appropriate ski socks (no cotton)
mitts are warmer than gloves (no cotton)
a toque

Water bottle and holder (the bottle needs to be covered or it will freeze)
Snack for immediately after practice
Headlamp (for evening sessions)

Wax: (for the family)

Basic hard wax starter kit:

  • Swix Blue extra V40   -3C/-10C
  • Swix Red/Silver V60  3C/-1C
  • Swix Green -10C/-20C
  • Universal Klister

Nice to haves:
Ear warmers
Buff (lycra neck tube)
Other waxes not on the above list

CLOTHING (adapted from a handout from University of Calgary Out door Programs)

Dress in Layers using the 3 Ws
Next to your skin – a ‘wicking layer’ to take dampness away from your skin. Eg. Polypropylene long underwear or wool (NO cotton!)

Then a ‘warm layer’ – fleece or wool works well. A vest is a good to keep your core warm. It is better to dress in multiple thin layers, rather than one bulky one. (you can regulate your temperature better)

Then a ‘wind layer’ – an outer shell or pants that will block the wind.

Carry a small fanny pack with a snack and water.
Be warm but avoid sweating – take off layers as needed and make sure your outer layers are breathable. Being damp is what will make you cold (especially if you have to stop moving)

For your hands – mitts are warmer than gloves. You can use the 3 W’s on your hands as well; start with a thin glove or mitt (not cotton), then a warm over mitt, and a windproof over mitt. Instant hand warmers (‘hot shots’) are good if your hands get really cold.

For your feet – again use the 3 Ws; wicking, warm, then your boots are the wind layer. It’s better to have two thin socks than one pair of bulky thick socks. If your feet are prone to getting cold, then get a ‘boot warmer’. (It’s a layer you put over your boots that are designed for ski boots and bindings). For kids- a large wool sock over their boot, (with the appropriate holes cut in it to accommodate bindings) will suffice as a boot warmer.

Ski Equipment -WHAT TO LOOK FOR (by Flora Giesbrecht, XC Bragg Creek ski coach)


  • Getting a good fit is very important. When buying new equipment, I always recommend starting with the boots.
  • If possible, don’t be afraid to walk around in them for 20 minutes before purchasing. They should fit like a running shoe and fit right away. Due to the synthetic fabrics, cross country ski boots don’t ‘pack out’ or stretch anymore.
  • Make sure there is no heel lift. Some boots (Salomon) have a velcro strap above the heel, fiddle around with that, it can make a big difference on whether your heal lifts out or not.
  • Don’t wear a thick sock when you try them on. If you don’t have some already, get a synthetic or wool sock designed for cross country skiing and wear them when you are trying on boots.
  • Also, if you have any inserts or footbeds, bring them when you try on boots.
  • There are several brands of ski boots. Each brand fits differently, (for example, some brands fit narrower than others). Many brands now have gender oriented boots as well,
  • ~but basically there are 3 styles of ski boots; classic, skate, and combi (combi can be used for either technique). They all fit differently. Skate and combi boots are taller, there is more ankle support, and they are stiffer (combi boots tend to be more like a classic boot than a skate boot). A classic ski boot flexes at the toe box (where you toes bend when walking~more like a running shoe). Skate boots are stiffer and not designed for the same types of motion as classic skiing.
  • For the purposes of our Track Attack program, your child only requires one pair of boots (preferably combi, a lot of kids boots are already ‘combi’). For Jackrabbits- just one pair of boots

For the purposes of our Track Attack program- your child requires a good classic ski, it’s ok to have a combi ski, but it’s better to have a good classic ski and then a so-so pair of skate skis. Last year my daughter was 10, she had one pair of skis that were the stiffness of a classic ski, but short enough to skate on (they were her height). This year I plan on getting her another pair, now that she knows what it’s like to do both techniques. This will also be useful for the Alberta Youth Championships we are co-hosting in March in Bragg Creek. In this event, there will be both classic and skate events.

For the Jackrabbits- just one pair of skis, boots and poles are required

  • There are two types of track cross country skis; classic and skate. Classic skiing is when your legs are parallel to each other and you ski in a track and your skis require both grip and glide. With Skate skiing, you do not have a grip zone, the skis are not in a track, they are out to the side. I will discuss what to look for in classic skis.
  • For finding the right classic skis, length is a start (as tall as your outstretched wrist), but camber is far more important.
  •  A good seller of skis will ask for your weight and/or get you stand up on the ski and perform a ‘paper test’ and they may also measure the camber with a special device they have, *these tend to be ineffective for the lightweight skiers (children). Basically, you want the child to be able to flatten out their ski fairly easily, so they can easily get grip and aren’t as likely to ‘flounder’.
  • There are two types of classic track skis (waxable, and waxless (crown skis). Waxable skis tend to be faster and more springy. Waxable skis can be used in a larger variety of snow types but require some work to prepare (you need to kick wax them) Waxless skis tend to be less expensive, wider and good for all trail conditions except icy snow- (they are excellent for Jackrabbit skiers).
  • Skate skis are built differently, they are stiffer, have no wax pocket, have a more rounded tip. Skate skiing is only suitable on wider groomed trails. All skis need to have the glide zones glide waxed regularly (approximately every 50k). (Otherwise they dry out and get slower.) Ski shops can do this for you, or learn how to do it yourself.
  • XCBC hosts ‘waxing seminars’ throughout the season


  • When you are shopping, keep in mind not all bindings are the same. There are 2 main binding systems you can purchase today for track skis, NNN and SNS, and more recently Salomon Pilot (2 bars instead of one). Make sure when you buy, your boots match the bindings (if you buy skis with bindings on them already).

For the purposes of our Track Attack program-It’s better if you buy them two sets of poles. For jackrabbits~only one set is needed. In fact, many Jackrabbits lessons are performed without poles.

Track Attack (and adults) The classic pole will be between armpit and top of shoulder (it’s better to go with top of shoulder as they will grow over the winter). Skate poles are between the chin and nose. It’s fairly easy to find an inexpensive pole at the upcoming ski swaps.

  • When buying ski poles, you don’t need a huge basket, that is only necessary for deep snow skiing that is un-groomed.
  • Track attack skiers- Make sure the poles have adjustable straps. There is a huge range in pole technology and price (generally, the more expensive, the lighter). But lighter poles are not more sturdy. If you fall on them, they can break. So if you are looking to spend a lot of money, spend it on the boots and skis and get a basic pole.
  • They should be between your armpit and the top of your shoulder for height for classic skiing, between you chin and nose for skate skiing.


(403) 270-4501
1110 Gladstone Rd NW (in Kensington)

The Norseman Ski Shop
4655 37 st SW

Trail Sports (Canmore)
2003 Olympic Dr

Mountain Equipment Co-op – make sure you buy from someone who knows about cross country skiing, (for example- not the guy that is normally selling climbing equipment and got called over to the ski department)
830 10 Ave SW
(403) 269-2420

Consignment that carries cross country gear:
Switching Gear (Canmore)
718 10 Street
Canmore, AB T1W 2A6
(403) 678-1992

Don’t forget there are two annual ski swaps mid-late Oct annual ski swap in Canmore (cross country ski specific) 9:30am-noon

Last Sunday in October is usually the ski swap at Lifesport (cross country ski specific)

Last Friday and Saturday in October -The Calgary Ski Club hosts an annual ski swap at the max bell arena, this tends to be more downhill and snowboard ski equipment.

Mid October – XCBC hosts our own club ski swap at Redwood House