Equipment needed for various Jr Nordic ability groups:
Polar Cubs, White Beginner - Waxless, posi-traction, fish-scale skis or traditional classic skis, a Junior (kid sizes) boots, but no poles. Poles are not used during ski sessions but poles are great (kids love poles) for family outings where not so crowded and thus not dangerous.
Orange, White Zoomer - Waxless, posi-traction skis, or classic skis, or combi skis, a Junior or combi boot, and poles will be used after the first few sessions
Blue Beginner, Blue Extra, Purple, Comp - Combi or skate ski, combi or skate boot, longer size poles
***PLEASE NOTE*** There are several binding styles for cross country gear. All of our club rentals are NNN format. This is the most common format, but you will find other styles particularly in used equipment. If you buy used boots for use with our rentals be certain you are buying NNN compatible boots.
If your child is going to be participating in Junior Nordic for the first time, they will need basic ski gear including ski poles, skis, and ski boots. They will also need adequate clothing to be warm and comfortable for outside skiing for at least 60 minutes; weather conditions will determine what gear is most appropriate. The secret is flexible layers; pants over pants over long underwear, or jackets over jackets over shirts over shirts. One thick enough standing-still jacket, or bulky snow pants will be too stiff and too warm for rolling around fun and skiing.
The Chugiak-Eagle River Nordic Ski Club (CERNSC) has approximately 100 pairs of skis and poles available for rent to Junior Nordic participants. If your child is new to skiing, we can help get them set up with adequate gear for them to have fun and learn to ski. Most of our rental skis are combi Junior skis. They can be used either for classic skiing and skate skiing, depending on how they are waxed. They are called combi skis because they work for both kinds of skiing although not optimal for either,. Combi are the best kind of skis for beginners. Essentially all kids skis at REI (junior sizes) are combi skis although they are not labeled as such. As a skier's ability improves, they will learn to better use specialized gear for classic skiing and for skate skiing. By about age 13-14, competitive skiers on Middle School teams will want their own skis, not rental kids skis. (Most of the Middle School teams have some skis available.) Also, after they pass 5 feet (60 inches) in height, they are too tall for our rental Junior skis (kids from 36 to 60 inches, ski size ranging 90 to 160 cm). They will need stronger skis (longer and/or stiffer, and more expensive) to continue to improve their ski technique.
Beginner skiers often start by using posi-traction, waxless or fish scale skis if they are classic skiing.
Many of our shorter skis for younger kids are waxless. These skis need little attention before heading out to ski. They have a small fish scale like pattern on the base. Also some skis have strips of narrow “skins” that help the skier go up hills and get grip when needed. Without these scales or skins, skiers will just slip both forwards and backwards. A layer of sticky wax, kick wax, is applied to the area under the binding and in front of the toe. Waxing takes some knowledge about what wax sticks enough, but not too much, for different snow and temperature conditions. Kick wax is color coded. Basically use red for warm, blue for medium, and green for cold. If your child is on waxable skis, coaches usually carry the appropriate "kick wax" and can help the kids and you wax for the conditions.
For skate skiing, a waxless (fish-scale) ski will not work because you get way too much drag and friction. For skating, the ski is waxed with glide wax along the entire base of the ski. With combi skis, you must scrape off any kick wax before you attempt to change your technique from classic to skate skiing.
The length of Combi skis should be just above the head by 2 to 4 inches. Poles should be about arm pit to shoulder height, about 6 to 10 inches less than skiers height. Skate skiing needs longer poles, about chin to mouth high. Combi boots are best to start with because your child won’t need two sets of skis and poles and boots. Essentially all junior boots are Combi boots. They have some flexibility in the sole of the boot needed for classic skiing but are stiff enough on the sides to give some ankle support when learning to skate ski. Once your child masters both techniques, you will probably want to invest in good classic boots, and stiffer skate ski boots that help improve ski performance.
If you are unable to rent skis and poles from CERNSC, or you prefer to buy a complete set of ski gear fit for your child, there are many options for getting equipment. COVID has made it a little harder, but there are still a few ski swaps where you can obtain gear at a cheaper rate. This is a good option for parents who have growing children that outgrow their gear on a regular basis. Another option is to go to some of the local outdoor shops that can get your child equipped. Some of the best places to obtain gear include AMH Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, Barney’s Sports Chalet, and REI, all in mid-town Anchorage. The staff at these stores are good at explaining what is best in terms of the gear needed and will help get your child outfitted. Of course, new equipment is more expensive. At REI, Junior skis are approximately $150, boots $90, and poles $25. Other good options for used gear is to go to Play It Again Sports. There is a shop in Anchorage and in Wasilla. Get your gear as quickly as possible because the gear gets sold out pretty quickly!! Many parents also shop on Facebook Marketplace for used ski boots, poles, and skis.
For more complete information about ski gear, go to the following links. These sites have photos of skate and classic boots and skis so that you can look at the differences and understand more clearly what kind of equipment is best for your family.