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Cross Country Ski Boot Sizing - What you need to know


Cross Country Ski Boot

Construction of a Cross Country Ski Boot


A proper Cross Country Ski Boot fit is an important part to your enjoyment of the sport. Cross Country Ski boots are much easier to fit compared to alpine ski boots. The exterior shell of a cross country boot is typically constructed from soft leather or synthetic material rather than a hard plastic, providing the give and stretch needed to allow wider feet more comfort. The soles of a cross country ski boot are hard and rigid to transfer energy towards the skis and are specific to the type of binding that you use. Some cross country ski boots have an external frame which is a plastic shell that adds extra energy transmission. Many different cross country ski boots come with a neoprene membrane that allows you to zip up and cover the laces. This is a very nice option that prevents water from finding its way inside the boot. Typically boots without covered laces are starting price points. Covered laces are not a must have, but they can help prevent your socks from getting wet in certain snow conditions, most often when you are skiing in wet, heavy snow. Some cross country ski boots have a zipper and membrane that covers the laces to prevent any water or snow from finding its way inside the boot. This is a very nice option to help keep your socks dry.


XC Ski Boot Sizing

Cross country ski boots are measured in European sizing that does not always have the exact conversions into US shoe sizing. European sizing includes fractions in their sizes that do not correlate into typical XC boot sizes. If you do fall into one of those sizes you can round up to the next whole number for the appropriate size. For example if you wear a US mens 10.5, that converts to a European size 44.5, you should round up to a size 45 cross country ski boot. You can access our cross country boot size chart here, or from each individual XC boot page on


XC Boots - The Fit

Cross Country Ski Boots should fit the widest part of your foot snugly, but not overly tight. If the boot is too large for you, your foot will be moving around and not offer you any control. Depending on the thickness of your socks the tips of your toes may or may not touch the front of the boot, either one is acceptable and depends on the type of fit that you prefer. A snug fit will give you a long lasting performance oriented fit, while a slightly looser, recreational fit will be more comfortable. A snug fit is what you want right out of the box. With each use the liner of the boot will stretch out and break in. It is important that once the liner starts to break in that it does not become too big resulting in a loss of performance or blisters. Once your boots start to break in you may want to consider a thicker pair of cross country specific socks.


The most important part of a Cross Country Ski Boot Fit is in the heel. Your heel must stay securely locked down inside the boot when you are kicking and gliding. If your heel rises up inside of your boot there will be a significant loss of propulsion as you ski in the classic cross country style, and with each kick you can start to develop a blister on your heel. Blisters on the heel can be very painful and if they do not have a chance to heal properly, they may keep your outings short or end your season all together.


Ski Flex Video


XC Boot Liner Technology

Some cross country ski boots are equipped with a thermoformable liner that allows them to be heated and molded to accelerate the breaking in process. Boots with this technology can be taken to a ski shop that has a special convection oven or heat stacks that warm the liner without damaging it. Once the liner is heated, it can be placed on your foot for a few minutes for a more dialed in fit.


Types of Cross Country Ski Boots

What kind of cross country ski boots do I need?


There are two main factors to consider when selecting a cross country ski boot.


1. What type of terrain will you be skiing.


If you are going to be skiing exclusively on the groomed tracks you will want a boot designed for that terrain. These boots are typically lighter and shorter in the cuff that makes them easy to push and glide in. These are the most popular type of cross country ski boot for the novice, recreational and some performance oriented skiers.


If you are going to be spending the majority of your time breaking your own trail you are going to want a cross country ski boot with a taller cuff, thicker sole and beefier connection to the binding. These traits add more stability and control when skiing through more challenging conditions rather than a smooth track.


There are other cross country ski boots that are designed to work for both gliding on the groomed tracks and light off-trail skiing. These typically have covered laces and an external frame to keep you dry when you are in deeper snow while allowing you to glide on the tracks.



2. Consider what type of binding system you will be using.


Each type of binding only accepts the matching boots. The four main types of cross country ski bindings are NNN, SNS, NNN BC and 75mm.


NNN boots and bindings are the most popular. They use a toe bar and two grooves that run lengthwise down the boot that allows the boot to sit flush on the binding. NNN boots are used for the groomed trails and light off trail skiing. NNN boots sit lower on the binding and add extra glide and propulsion with each kick. NNN cross country ski boots are only compatible with NNN cross country bindings.


SNS cross country boots are best used for the groomed tracks. SNS boots have a toe bar that is very similar to that of NNN boots and a larger single groove on the sole of the boot. SNS boots and bindings sit a little bit higher than NNN boots that give you extra leverage when it comes time to round a corner on a groomed track. SNS boots are only compatible with SNS cross country bindings.


NNN BC cross country ski boots are designed to spend your time on the ungroomed terrain. The beefier stronger connection to the bindings by having a bigger toe bar and two grooves on the sole of the boot is what will help improve your control and stability as you travel through varying terrain and snow conditions. Since the NNN BC boots are taller and heavier they do not offer you the easiest gliding when on the groomed tracks, but are acceptable to use for shot jaunts. NNN BC boots are only compatible with NNN BC Cross Country Bindings.


75mm cross country ski boots are sometimes called 3-Pin boots. These offer you the least amount of control since the only connection to the binding is on the toe block. This is a fairly old system that new models are becoming increasingly difficult to find or replace. 75mm boots are only compatible with 75mm cross country bindings and are used exclusively on the groomed tracks.



Here at we offer you a wide selection of cross country ski equipment with all of the sizing guides, sizing charts and buying guides to help you find the perfect xc ski gear to fit your needs.


To browse all our cross country ski equipment click here.

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