Tahoe Cross-Country Annual Nordic Ski Swap

Tahoe XC Nordic Ski Swap

Join us every 2nd weekend in November for the biggest Nordic ski swap in the West!

  • 2019 Ski Swap: November 9 from 10am-2pm at Tahoe XC
  • $5 suggested donation to enter, includes 1 raffle ticket and free coffee
  • We raffle off a season pass! You are welcome to purchase more raffle tickets at $5 each or 5 for $20.
  • Breakfast and drinks will be available for purchase.
  • Shop for new and used skate, classic, racing and touring skis; backcountry touring gear; snowshoes; dog walking gear; cross-country boots and poles; NNN bindings, SNS bindings and three-pin bindings; athletic clothing; ski accessories; summer and winter footwear; bikes; racks; sleds; assorted summer items; and more!
  • Knowledgeable staff are on hand to help you navigate the gear and make the best choices for your needs.
  • Proceeds from the raffle, food and ski swap support TCCSEA Junior Programs.

How to Shop a Ski Swap

Before you go to this year’s Nordic Ski Swap, read these tips to get the best bang for your buck. Not sure how to find the right gear? Take our advice. Below are pro ski swap tips and a basic Nordic gear guide to get you started.

Know the Basics of XC Skiing

Come prepared to any ski swap by knowing your shoe size (in US and European), height, weight and type of activity you want to pursue. If you are shopping for another person, these details are even more important. Nordic skis are sized by height and weight and ski boots (like any shoes) are difficult to buy without the right feet trying them on. Unlike regular stores, ski swaps are buyers keepers.

What Should I Look for at a Ski Swap?

A beginning cross-country skier sticking to groomed trails wants something different than a competitor. Luckily, Tahoe Cross Country’s annual ski swap offers incredible deals on high quality gear as well as 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 you have to know what you’re looking for. Read our quick guide and pro tips to learn the basics of Nordic skiing:

Nordic Skiing Styles

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.

What's the Difference Between Skate and Classic Skis?

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 – Decide where you want to explore on skis. 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).

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 a ski swap 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.

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.

There are 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 allows greater mobility but offers less support when skiing outside of tracks. Classic boots have a softer sole that allows proper flex at the metatarsal. If you intend to only 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).

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.

Buying 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 - What Should I 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.

Selling Gear at the Ski Swap?

If you plan to sell gear, take our advice:

  • Clean up your items and make them presentable to sell.
  • Decide what price you want to sell your items for. Cross-check their worth online if you’re unsure. Or staff and swap volunteers are available to advise during drop off.
  • Fill out your paperwork clearly during drop off. 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.
  • Items to be sold must be registered at Tahoe XC on Friday, November 9th from 12pm to 6pm.
  • Unsold items must be picked up on Sunday, November 11th by 3pm. Or you may donate them to TCCSEA.
  • TCCSEA commission is currently 15%. All proceeds go to TCCSEA Junior Programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I bring my equipment to sell?

Items to be sold must be registered the Friday before the ski swap from 12pm to 6pm at Tahoe XC.

How much is my gear worth?

Knowledgeable staff and ski swap volunteers are available at the Friday drop off and can help you price your items.

How am I paid for my sold items?

Once the swap has been fully reconciled, your check will be mailed to you. Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association (TCCSEA) keeps 15% commission as a fundraiser for our TCCSEA 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 the Sunday after the swap from 10am-2pm. Or you may choose to donate them to TCCSEA.

Can I bring downhill and snowboard equipment?

No. We focus on human-powered sports gear. You are welcome to bring bikes and other human-powered sport items.

Do you need volunteers?

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