2020 Nordic & Backcountry Ski Swap

COVID-19 Notice

We are currently brainstorming how to safely and responsibly host our annual ski swap. At this time, we do intend to host. We will announce details and safety precautions soon. The following details are all tentative. Stay informed by signing up for our newsletter.

Always the 2nd weekend in November in Tahoe City, CA.

Date: Saturday, November 14, 2020
Time: 10:00am-2:00pm
Location: Tahoe Cross-Country Lodge - directions
Cost: $5 suggested donation (includes 1 raffle ticket and free coffee)

Grand Prize: Tahoe XC 2020-21 Adult Season Pass
Raffle Tickets: $5 each or 5 for $20
Proceeds support Tahoe XC Youth Programs

  • Doors open at 10:00am.
  • Food truck will be there with tasty treats available for purchase.
  • Knowledgeable staff on hand to help you navigate the gear and make the best choices for your need.
  • Grand Prize for raffle is a Tahoe XC 2020-21 Adult Season Pass.
  • Bring last year’s Tahoe XC Season Pass and get in for free!

We Accept New & Used Gear

  • Skate, classic, racing & touring skis
  • Cross-country boots & poles
  • NNN, SNS & three-pin bindings
  • Backcountry touring skis (this includes AT & telemark)
  • AT boots, poles & skins
  • Snowshoes
  • Roller skis
  • Dog gear
  • Athletic clothing
  • Ski accessories
  • Summer & winter footwear
  • Bikes & bike accessories
  • Gear racks
  • Sleds (human-powered only)
  • Assorted summer items

Equipment Sales & Drop Off

If you plan to sell your equipment at the 2020 Ski Swap, please follow these guidelines:

Drop-Off Date: TBA
Drop-Off Time: TBA
Drop-Off Location: Tahoe Cross-Country Lodge directions

Selling Your Items

  • Pre-register your items on Dates & Times TBA.
  • Unfortunately, we cannot take items outside of these hours.
  • Fill out your paperwork very clearly during drop-off.

Getting Paid For Your Sold Items

  • We take 20% commission on all sold items.
  • Proceeds support our Tahoe XC Junior Programs.
  • Once the swap has been fully reconciled, we will mail you a check as long as we have a valid, legible name and mailing address.

Take our advice

  • Review the above list of items we accept.
  • We do not accept downhill gear or snowboards.
  • Clean up your items and make them as presentable as possible.
  • Decide what price you want to sell your items for before drop-off.

Gear Pick-Up

All items must be picked up by Dates and Times TBA or they will be donated to Tahoe XC.

Pick-Up Date: TBA
Pick-Up Time: TBA
Pick-Up Location: Tahoe Cross-Country Lodge directions

All unclaimed items will be donated to Tahoe XC.

How to Shop a Ski Swap

If you want to find the right gear, then take our advice. Read our pro tips and general Nordic gear guide to start on the right track.

Know the Basics

Nordic skis are sized by height and weight. Ski boots may be difficult to buy without the right feet trying them on, so if you’re shopping for another person, these details are important to ascertain beforehand. Unlike regular stores, ski swaps are buyers keepers. Come prepared knowing your:

  • shoe size (in US and European)
  • height
  • weight
  • type of activity you want to pursue

What to Look for at a Ski Swap

Expect to find great deals on new quality gear all the way through used, I-don’t-care-if-I-break-these ski packages. It’s possible to find a decent starting-level package (skis, boots and poles) for $100 at a ski swap. But it helps if you know what you’re looking for.

There are two main types of Nordic skiing:

Classic skiing is when both skis kick-and-glide parallel to each other in groomed tracks or on moderate terrain. The motion is akin to walking and/or running.

Skate skiing uses a herring-bone technique with the ski tips angling away from each other, like ice-skating. Skating is done on groomed trails or, if you’re very lucky, a freshly frozen field.

The Difference Between Skate and Classic Skis

There are many different styles of cross-country skiing. Here’s the run down:

Classic skis are long, narrow, typically lack metal edges and perform best in groomed tracks. The base may be waxless (fish scales or skins) or waxable (skier adds hard wax or klister). The old way of measuring classic skis was to raise an arm and measure to the wrist. Now classic skis are measured by the skier’s weight and height, using a flex number (see below for more about flex).

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – Where you want to explore? If you’re looking for a workout at the Nordic center, opt for a newer, more expensive pair. If you want to walk your dog in the woods, go old school. Be aware: all skis need good base waxing for proper striding. Finding boots and bindings that are compatible is extremely important (more on compatibility below).

Wax, zeros or fishscales?

Skate skis are narrow, lightweight and designed for speed. They are stiffer and shorter than classic skis and length is important: Too long and you won’t be able to lift the tips and tails might click between strides. Too short and there may not be enough camber (arch under foot) to propel you forward. Skate skis are measured by the skier’s weight and height, using a flex number (see below for more about flex).

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – Hold skate skis base to base. If you can squeeze the bases together until they touch (truly touch or very close), the ski has lost its flex. Look for a different pair.

Touring skis are wide with metal edges and fish scales. Flex is softer than classic and skate skis (but not flimsy). You must weight enough to compress the fish scales to the snow with each stride to gain traction. Narrower touring skis may fit into groomed tracks while wider touring skis are primarily used for off-track exploration.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – If you plan to tour through meadows with few ups and downs, opt for a narrower touring ski. These offer better forward tracking and are often paired with a SNS-BC or NNN-BC (BC=backcountry) bar binding for easier boot flex. If you plan to mainly ski ups and downs, look for a wider touring ski with three-pin bindings for better downhill control (but stiffer boot flex on the flats).

Telemark skis are the widest and heaviest style of cross-country skis. These days they look a lot like downhill skis and offer access to nearly every ounce of winter terrain. Around-the-heel bindings and plastic boots add stability in steeper, deeper backcountry skiing. Telemark is the original Nordic style, so we still claim it as our own.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – If you’re reading this and just got so incredibly stoked, you may be a downhill skier. Just remember, there’s no better winter cardio training than Nordic skiing! Go back three paragraphs.

What Nordic Bindings Should I Buy?

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip - Make sure your cross-country boots and bindings are compatible! If you have part of your set up already, bring that ski, binding or boot (mark with tape that it’s already yours) and test it against any gear you want to buy. Ask ski swap staff or a volunteer if the system you have and the system you’re interested in are compatible.

SNS - Salomon Nordic System

For years Salomon has stood strong behind its namesake SNS system. Salomon Nordic boots often have a universally comfortable fit, which pigeon-holes Salomon boot-buyers into the SNS binding system. In 2017, Salomon introduced their well-loved boot design with the Prolink binding system, which is now compatible with the NNN system that most other cross-country ski companies have been using for years.

SNS Profil bindings have one center ridge and accept one bar at the toe. This is the most prevalent of Salomon’s bindings. Only compatible with SNS Profil boots.

SNS Pilot bindings have one ridge down the middle and accept two bars, one at the toe and the other under the midsole. This system is preferred by more competitive Nordic skiers for the tail control of the ski. Only compatible with SNS Pilot boots.

SNS BC-X Adventure bindings (BC stands for backcountry) are wider, more robust and best paired with a classic touring ski package. Only compatible with SNS BC-X Adventure boots.

SNS Pilot Bindings

SNS Pilot Bindings

NNN – New Nordic Norm

New Nordic Norm (NNN) bindings have been used by the majority of Nordic companies like Fischer, Rossignol, Madshus, Alpina and others for years. With the recent addition of Prolink soles, some Salomon boots, which previously were only been compatible with SNS bindings, are now compatible with NNN bindings. This opens up a whole new world for Nordic ski quivers.

NNN bindings have two raised ridges running the length of the binding and accept one metal bar at the toe piece. Only compatible with NNN boots.

NNN-BC bindings (BC stands for backcountry) have two raised ridges down their length; accept a wider, thicker toe bar for more stability; and are best paired with a classic touring ski package. Only compatible with NNN-BC boots.

Nordic Integrated System (NIS) and IFP bindings are a newer technology that allow skiers to adjust their bindings to a forward or backward mount right at the trailhead. They are super lightweight and require a special mounting plate on skis. They are compatible with NNN boots.

Nordic Norm or 75mm or 3-Pin bindings have three pins on a metal plate that correspond to three holes under the toe of a duck-billed or three-pin boot. A metal bar clamps overtop the duck-bill boot to secure the mid-sole to the skis. Only compatible with 3-pin boots.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip - Follow your feet. Choose a comfortable boot and then choose the bindings. Comfort is more important than binding type and until you’re a competative Nordic skier, you may not notice the differences in binding performance.

3-pin or 75mm Bindings

3-pin or 75mm Bindings

3 Types of Nordic Ski Boots

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – Wear ski socks to the ski swap. Always try on both boots before you buy them. Flex your toes, do lunges, mimic the motions of skiing. Secure all lacing snugly, connect all Velcro straps and clips before assessing if your heal lifts (you want no more than 1/8” of movement). Toes should be close to the end but never touching. Nordic boots should fit snug yet comfortably, like a good pair of hiking boots.

Classic boots are typically lower cut, stopping at your ankle bone. This allowsgreater mobility but o ers less support when skiing outside of tracks. Classicboots have a softer sole that allows proper ex at the metatarsal. If you intend toonly ski in groomed Nordic tracks, classic only boots are a good choice. 

Skate boots have hard, durable ankle cuffs that meet the lower calf. This cuff provides lateral support and is a critical component to skate boots. Skate boots have a hard bottom plate that assist in power transfer during each stride. If you plan on only skating, purchasing a supportive, comfortable skate-specific boot will greatly enhance your experience (and your skill level).

SNS Skate Boots

Combi boots, or combination boots, are an excellent choice for beginner to advanced skiers who aren’t sure which type of Nordic skiing they’ll like best or who don’t want to invest in 2 sets of Nordic boots. Combi boots are classic and skate ski boots all in one. They feature an over-the-ankle cuff that is stiff enough to provide lateral ankle support but not too stiff that it restricts forward flex, as well as a stiff yet flexible sole. Combi boots do both types of skiing well, but they do not excel at either.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip - Most boot companies write the words combi, skate or classic on the side of the boot, so you know what you’re looking at.

SNS Combi Boots

Buy Nordic Ski Poles

Poles are the easiest part of the Nordic puzzle.

Buying the right length can make a great difference in your enjoyment and performance. Nordic ski poles run the gamut from aluminum, which are heavier and more durable (when you fall on these, they bend but likely won’t break) that retail for as low as $30 a pair, to glass fiber or carbon fiber poles, which are lighter and high performance (but fall on these and snap!) that retail for up to $300 and beyond.

There are many composite pole options (a mix of aluminum and carbon) that perform extremely well. The difference between skate and classic poles is not in the quality of the shaft but rather the length, basket size and grip type. Ski swaps are great places to find decent Nordic ski poles.

Classic ski poles should measure tightly under your armpit.

Skate ski poles should measure to just above your upper lip.

Touring/Snowshoeing poles should support your elbow at a 90-degree angle when holding the grip. The powder basket is often larger than skate and classic poles but not as large as downhill ski pole baskets.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip – Grip and straps are Nordic ski pole game changers. Single-loop straps are good for easily taking poles on and off. Velcro, zip or snap wrap-around straps typically offer better fit, better performance and are optimal for skiers seeking a workout.

Nordic Ski Specs You Should Care About

Camber is the underfoot arch that lifts the center of the ski off the snow. When weight is applied, the camber compresses and acts like a spring to provide forward momentum. Over time, skis wear out and the camber softens (see skate skis pro tip above).

Flex is the length and stiffness of the camber. Classic and skate skis differ greatly in their length and stiffness of flex depending on the skier’s weight, height and ability. Most companies offer guidance charts and/or print the flex number for that individual pair of skis on the ski itself.

  • Pro Ski Swap Tip - Before going to a ski swap, research your flex number using an online flex chart or ask a knowledgeable staff member or volunteer to help determine your flex number at the ski swap. Note that flex numbers come in ranges and may differ between ski companies.

Sidecut is the width difference between the tip, waist and tail of a ski. Nordic skis have minimal sidecut because they are not designed to carve downhill turns. If you are shopping for telemark and backcountry touring skis, the more visible the sidecut, the easier downhill turning will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I drop off my gear to sell?

Bring your gear to Tahoe Cross-Country Lodge on Dates and Times TBA.

  • Unfortunately we cannot accept gear outside of those hours.
  • For a list of gear items we accept, please see the top of this page.
How much is my gear worth?

We recommend you consider the price of your gear before bringing it to the Equipment Drop-Off. If you truly cannot decide, knowledgeable staff and ski swap volunteers are available at the Friday drop-off and can help you price your items.

How do I get paid for my sold items?

Once the swap has been fully reconciled, we will mail a check to you. Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Education Association keeps 20% commission as a fundraiser for our Tahoe XC Junior Programs. Please provide your valid, legible name and mailing address when dropping off your equipment.

What about my unsold items?

Sellers are responsible for picking up any unsold items on Dates and Times TBA. Any items left over after this time will be donated to Tahoe XC.

Can I bring downhill and snowboard equipment?

No. We focus on human-powered sports gear. Backcountry skis and splitboards are acceptible. See the top of this page for a list of gear we do accept.

Do you need volunteers?

Yes, we’d love your help! Please contact us for more information about how to become a ski swap volunteer.