Insulated drink belt (for winter and summer)
For skiing/roller-skiing, integrated drink belts are generally preferred over water-bottle holder belts and hydration packs for multiple reasons:
Hydration vests (for hiking and trail runs)
Optional – a drink belt works just fine. That said, some older athletes who may have quite long trail workouts in the summer opt for hydration vests because they can conveniently carry higher quantities of drinks, snacks, and extra clothing.
Eye protection (aka “sunglasses”)
Sunglasses are important year-round for protection from pole tips while roller-skiing or skiing on snow and for protection from the sun. When selecting sunglasses, there are a few things to consider:
While performance is more important than style, athletes will more readily wear sunglasses they like.
Faces get hot and sweaty in the summer. Try to select sunglasses with good airflow (a function of the shape of the lens - some lenses also have ventilation slots) and that fit the face/nose well so they don’t slip.
Interchangeable lenses allow athletes to use ventilated lenses in the summer, clear lenses at night at the ski track, and full protection lenses on cold/sunny days.
Helmet (mandatory for rollerskiing)
Road-cycling helmets are typically lighter weight and better ventilated than mountain bike helmets.
Mountain bike helmets provide better coverage on the back of the head than road helmets.
Athletes typically prefer road helmets, but both types are suitable for rollerskiing.
Hi-Vis tops or a reflective vest (mandatory for rollerskiing)
Yellow hi-vis is the preferred option. Many colors marketed as “hi-vis” are not actually “hi-vis” when an athlete rolls through a shady spot on a bright sunny day.
Hi-vis must be worn on the torso. Hi-vis helmets, shorts, and socks are nice-to-have but are not acceptable substitutes for a hi-vis top or vest.
Blinky light to attach to helmet or drink-belt (mandatory for fall afternoon rollerskiing)
Cycling/rollerski gloves (optional)
Reduce the chance for blisters and provide hand protection in case of a fall.
While some companies sell rollerski-specific gloves, fingerless road cycling gloves work well in the summer and full-finger mountain bike gloves or lightweight/uninsulated ski gloves work well in the early spring/fall.
Knee pads - soft volleyball type (optional)
While most athletes ski without pads, some athletes feel more confident and learn more quickly with the extra protection of knee pads, especially as they adjust to longer rollerski sessions and longer hills associated with the juniors program.
Hard-shell rollerblade knee and elbow pads offer more protection and are sometimes used by new athletes but tend to reduce mobility and are quickly set aside - the best pads for an athlete wanting some protection are the pads they will wear.
Sunscreen (yes, this is safety equipment)
If you have a sunburn, your immune system has to split its work between repairing your skin and recovering from your workout. Effective recovery is part of training - don’t waste your energy!
Make sure they fit when we start running again in the spring! After a season on skis, legs and lungs have the strength to run but they aren’t well-adapted to long outings. Old or poor fitting shoes can add to the load on the body during the transition between training modalities.
It is typically best to select a road shoe that is suitable for trail running rather than a trail shoe.
An old pair of poles that is 10-15cm shorter than your classic poles, ideally with rollerski ferrules. Snow baskets work too, as long as you have another pair to use for snow this winter!
Boots: classic and skate
Separate classic and skate boots provide the best simulation of on-snow skiing and compared to combi boots provide athletes more control when skating on open roads. Combi boots that fit well and provide good ankle support are still suitable for fast-growing athletes.
These can be the same boots you use in the winter, particularly if you are still growing.
Rollerski-specific boots are cooler and are available from some manufacturers but not very common even at the highest levels of the sport.
Some athletes designate a pair of older boots for rollerskiing after they stop growing because rollerskiing tends to put more wear and tear on boots due to road grime in wet conditions and the extra sweat associated with summer training.
Rollerskis: classic and skate
Grass skis are used for dryland raining, by “skiing” uphill on grass. These can be the same as your rock skis, or any old pair of skis. They DO NOT need to “fit” the way your normal skis do. They don’t even really need to be a matched pair.
Grass skis should always have a layer of wax on them, as this protects the base. No need to scrape this off.
Poles: classic and skate with rollerski ferrules
These can be the same poles as used on snow, however, it is not uncommon to see poles break when they are hit by a teammates ski or when they are “planted” in sewer grates (hint: don’t plant your pole in a sewer grate)
Using rollerski poles with a swing-weight comparable to an athlete’s winter poles helps athletes maintain timing and simulate on-snow skiing.
While some shops recommend poles with more flex to absorb road-shock and reduce elbow injuries, gradual transition to rollerskiing and stiff poles with sharp ferrules provide more secure pole-plants and have been shown to reduce injury.
Diamond file (for sharpening rollerski ferrules)
Sharpen ferrules regularly! It is easy to keep ferrules sharp but very difficult to bring them back to life.
Sharp ferrules make for secure pole-plants, reduce elbow injuries, and increase athlete confidence.
Boots: classic and skate
Separate classic and skate boots perform better than combi boots, provide athletes more control, and enable technique improvements.
There are many different price points for boots. While a professional-level boot will be the lightest (and most expensive), a race-level boot will perform well enough to win races. Sport-level boots sometimes feel more comfortable (on the foot and the wallet) but can compromise an athlete’s “feel” for the snow and their skis..
Boot fit is important! Different brands fit differently - it is well worth trying different brands if possible.
Some professional athletes choose skiathlon boots instead of classic boots for classic races in poor conditions. We focus on developing the ability and technique to ski well in all conditions and do not recommend skiathlon boots.
Skis: classic and skate
Waxable training skis. These can be old skis that don’t fit perfectly, or a teammate’s old skis that you buy inexpensively. Training skis don’t need to be top-of-the-line, but they should be close (within 10cm) of the length of your race skis. While some might enjoy using skin-skis for classic, these are not appropriate for day-to-day training. Combi skis are not recommended.
1 pair race skis.
“Rock” skis. These are old skis that can be used on truly awful days. Many athletes use their training skis as “rock” skis, but if your training skis are on the nicer side, this is a good use for really old skis, combi skis, or non-waxable skis.
Poles: Classic & Skate
These can be the same poles you use for rollerskiing, but you’ll want to put snow baskets on the tips!
Per FIS, the governing body of international skiing, classic poles can be no more than 83% of skier’s height in boots. This is measured from the tip of the pole to the bottom of the insertion point of the pole grip.
Sports watch or heart rate monitor
Training sessions are time-based. Athletes need to be able to monitor time themselves to execute their workouts effectively.
Heart rate monitors are useful for learning training zones (athletes should learn zones by “feel” and HRMs can accelerate this learning) and for tracking workouts and cumulative load.
The team periodically coordinates a discounted purchase, typically around the start of the training season.
If you have any questions about HRMs, speak with a coach.
Using the same bag to take gear to/from workouts and races can help athletes remember to bring all their gear, notice when something is missing, and save time in prep.
- Ski bags are essential for travel (and prevent klister from getting onto car seats and other gear).
Soft bags that can hold 3-4 pairs of skis and poles are best for local training.
Padded roller bags can hold larger ski-fleets and are useful for flights and bus trips to championship events. They are not practical for local training and are optional for most athletes.
Pole tubes can be made from perforated PVC pipe and are a good idea to protect high-end race poles, particularly on trips.
Ski-specific gear bags are available and have separate boot compartments. These can be useful but are not required. More important is that athletes develop a repeatable packing process that is efficient.
Boot dryer (optional)
Great for drying boots after wet workouts!
Larger models are good for home use, whereas portable models are good for training camps and race weekends.
Upper body training device (optional)
Training devices can provide supplemental training opportunities for athletes pursuing top-level goals.
There are multiple options at varying price-points. At the top-end of the pricing are the Ercolina and Concept 2 SkiErgs. Lower cost alternatives include a homemade erg or stretch cords. If you have any questions about whether or not you should buy a ski-erg or which one to buy, speak with a coach.
If you plan to do any strength workouts at home, invest in a light (yellow or green) exercise bands, a yoga ball, a medicine ball, and a pull-up bar. These will serve you well in the years to come!