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Re: Cross country skis and bindings

My wife and I have been cross country skiing for several years.  Our skis are Rossignol Advantage with SNS Profil bindings.  I  ordered new boots after the old ones wore out.

My mistake was to think there were only two types of cross country ski bindings: 75 mm and SNS Profil.  So I picked out some boots with the bar on the toe and figured I was good to go.

When our boots arrived I discovered my wife's ski boots are NNN, Turnamic and mine are NNN, BC.  Our boots aren't compatible with our skis or with each other's boots!  After trying to educate myself on the internet I have several questions:

  1. Is it possible to purchase SNS Profil ski boots?  Have they become obsolete?
  2. I ordered NNN, BC bindings from REI.  However, the binding are slightly wider than the skis.  Is this desirable?  Do the NNN, BC bindings require wider skis?
  3. Are all the cross country skis at REI skate skis?  Skate skis appear to be more of a workout than the classic skis we're used to.  Do skate skis also work with the classic style?
  4. What's the best way out of this pickle?  New skis with bindings?  Hope to find some SNS Profile boots that will fit on ebay? 

This is more complicated than I imagined!

Thanks for your help.

Glen Flint

10 Replies

@GlenFlint XC ski bindings can get really confusing. SNS profil isn't compatible with SNS pilot and NNN isn't compatible with NNN BC. The chart on this page is really nice to see the compatibility of different boots with binding systems:

1) For the most part SNS (Salomon nordic system) is on its way out. That means you can probably pick up a used pair for pretty cheap on craigslist. 

2) NNN BC (backcountry) skis are typically wider and have metal edges. You don't want to mount NNN BC bindings on non-BC skis. 

3) Classic XC skis have a kick zone (area under your foot often with a fishscale pattern) and a glide zone (tips and tails). The skate skis have just a glide zone from the tip to the tail. All your traction comes from the V skating stride. Skate skis don't work with the diagonal stride of classic skis. REI sells all types of XC skis. If you look under the technical specs there is a section for Ski Design: Classic or Skate. 

4) I'd take a quick look on craigslist for SNS profil boots, but make sure your bindings are profil and not pilot! 

Hope this helps!



Thanks for the helpful information.

It appears that the back country cross country skis are quite wide, almost like downhills skis.  For example,

Are they waxless?  Would they be heavier and harder to use than the classic, narrow cross country skis I've been using?



@GlenFlint the dynafit skis you linked to are more of a backcountry touring ski. They lack any traction pattern in the kick zone underfoot, so if you were to use them for XC you'd have to apply a kick wax. For a waxless XC ski, REI carries the rossignol bc 100. These are wide (80mm) underfoot but completely manageable with NNN BC bindings.

If you want something that is slightly smaller underfoot the Alpina Discovery 68 or Salomon Escape 68 are great options.  



Thanks Patrick.  The 68mm back country skis look a little more manageable. Looks like I'm a little late in the season for trying to order new skis.  I'll keep this in mind for the fall.



Thanks for reaching out and for the follow up questions!

We'll try our best to answer your questions, however, we encourage you to take a look at a couple of our Expert Advice articles: Cross-Country Skiing Glossary and Beginner's Guide to Cross-Country Skiing. Even if you have experience cross-country skiing you can always pick up some new details when reading through articles like those. @PatrickB has provided some excellent information as well.

Generally speaking, there are two types of cross-country skiing: 'Classic', the more traditional 'diagonal' cross-country skiing motion where your skis are parallel to each other at all times, and 'skate', where the skier propels themselves forward with a skating motion similar to ice skating. In skate skiing there is no part of the base of your ski designed to 'grip' the snow. You are propelled by using the inside edge of the ski to push in the skating motion. In classic skiing, the tip and the tail are waxed with a glide wax and and the center third of the ski, underfoot, is either waxed with a kick wax (that grips the snow to propel you forward) or with a texture permanently put in the base (often called 'scales' because the texture often resembles fish scales). Skate skis, classic skis, and their bindings are designed specifically for their style of skiing and, therefore, cannot be used interchangeably. There are some kinds of cross-country boots that are called 'combi' boots that can work for both skate and classic styles, but the other systems for cross-country skiing are only used for their specific style.

Modern classic cross-country ski bindings and boots come in three main styles: NNN, Turnamic, and SNS Prolink. As @PatrickB stated, boots that are compatible with Salomon Profil bindings are phasing out and can be challenging to find.

Within the classic style of cross-country skiing there is also a category referred to as 'backcountry', often denoted by a 'BC' in the boots or bindings made for that style (such as NNN BC). Backcountry cross-country skis, bindings, and boots are designed to hold up to the rigors of skiing through deep, untracked snow on varying slopes and conditions. As the skis are generally wider to accommodate more flotation on softer snow, the bindings and boots are also wider (which is why you noticed your bindings were hanging over the edges of your skis). Backcountry cross-country skis are typically too wide to fit in the classic cross-country ski tracks (parallel tracks put in by a groomer) at cross-country ski areas. As such, they are not generally used in cross-country ski areas as you would have to ski outside of those classic tracks and would likely not be able to keep up with someone on (non-BC) classic cross-country skis. The skis you linked in your response above are downhill style 'Alpine Touring' skis, which are also referred to as 'Backcountry' skis. Those are designed for touring uphill and skiing steeper downhill runs. They do not have scales, nor do they have the kind of camber that is ideal for a grip wax, rather, they rely on removable 'climbing skins' for moving uphill.

Unfortunately, at this time, we are out of stock online of almost all cross-country skis. You will likely find that most retailers and ski shops are facing a similar situation with their cross-country ski stock. In order to use some of the system you have compiled, you have a few options:

  1.  Look online to find SNS Profil boots that are in your size and will work with your ski/binding combination. Be sure to check your bindings and the boots you may purchase to confirm they are SNS Profil and not SNS Prolink.
  2. Purchase new skis and bindings that will be compatible with your boots. @PatrickB just gave you some good suggestions in their most recent post.

You are also welcome to bring your skis, boots, and bindings in to your local REI ski shop to talk with one of our ski techs to determine what your other options may be.

Hopefully this helps, don't hesitate to reach out with any other questions. Thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks John, I'll keep an eye open for some SNS Profil boots on Craig's list.  My closest REI is in Des Moines Iowa.  I'll have to look them up next time I'm out that way.


HI @PatrickB 

The skis that you mention (Dynafit Speedfit 84) are touring skis, and more specifically, are designed for ski mountaneering missions and be coupled with TLT style bindings, which can switch between "cross-country" and real downhill mode by locking the heel. This stuff is very expensive, and not compatible with any XC bindings. Touring skis don't have traction pattern with the exception of some Voile models. These skis are not waxless in the XC sense, they are designed to be used with the climbing skins that are attached to the bases on the way up and horizontal approach. 

Addressing the questions you asked and some responses above.

1. SNS boots are rarity compared to NNN line. If you really need them, some XC ski resorts may sell used boots, as for some reason they seem to prefer SNS over NNN system.

2. Mounting NNN BC to a regular racing, or recreational resort XC skis could be an overkill. However, it is not uncommon that NNN BC bindings are slightly wider than the ski under the foot. I have (among other things) a pair of Madshus Eon with NNN BC Magnum bindings mounted on them. The base plate of Magnums is I believe, 68 mm and Eon is 62 mm underfoot, and I love this setup, as it fits into the machine-made ski track on the resort (well, after the track gets a bit of the use) and is generally sufficient to ski on up to a foot of the fresh snow. Note that Eon is not the narrowest XC/BC skis on the market, and generally, the skis with the metal edge want to be paired with the NNN BC.

3. I believe that skate skis are pretty narrow and don't have sidecut, which may require a different approach for skiing classic style. 

4. I'd probably switch to NNN system. If plan on venturing outside groomed trails, I'd get something in 62-68 mm underfoot (e.g., Madshus Eon, Madshus Epoch and comparable Fischer models) with NNN BC bindings, preferably manual. They will do just as well on the resort, but will give you an extra capabilities outside. If you already have skis that you like and don't want to invest in a new setup, and the skis you have are narrower than 50-55 mm, I'd probably stick with the regular NNN (they are cheaper and easier to find). Note that NNN BC and NNN are not cross-compatible either way.


@Dmitry  I am pretty sure you are replying to @GlenFlint and not me. 



Hi @PatrickB 

Sorry, my mistake.