Clothing & Equipment

Clothing and equipment have a significant impact on an athlete’s experience, development and learning. This doesn’t mean that an athlete needs all the newest, trendiest, or most expensive gear on the market - it’s actually the opposite in most cases: learning to simplify the kit makes it easier to prepare for workouts and races and also easier to keep track of, maintain and care for the “tools of the trade.”

Before jumping into the details, there are some high-level points to keep in mind:

  • Safety first. Consider how an item will perform. Does it improve athlete visibility? Does it provide protection in case of a fall? Does it provide protection against external risks such as heat or cold, rain or sun, or swinging pole tips? Is it likely to get caught on something or obstruct movement or vision and cause a fall?

  • Label everything! Although each athlete is unique, their gear often isn’t. Keep a sharpie in your bag so you can label anything you forgot to label at home!

  • Maintain your equipment. This is particularly critical for rollerski workouts - loose screws, bolts and ratchets can lead to trouble. A comprehensive list of items to maintain is too long to include here, but common sense and experience will help you arrive at training sessions ready to go.

  • Plan when to buy. Some items are best bought out of season when they’re on sale, others are best bought close to the season when a growing athlete’s height/weight is more of a known quantity. It is seldom ideal to buy at the last minute when inventories have been depleted by other clubs, colleges, and masters skiers!

  • Think about where to buy. There is a lot of gear in circulation on the team and there is an effort underway to find new athletes for outgrown gear. When new gear is needed, there are often discounts available locally as well as through NENSA and US Ski & Snowboard (more inline and below).


Clothing protects athletes from the environment, helps regulate body temperature and impacts performance. Briefly on each of these items:

  • Cross country skiers often think of cold environments where multiple layers (baselayer, insulation, and shell) all work together to protect them from the environment. The majority of training hours, however, are in summer/fall months when clothing provides protection from sun, rain, wind and paved roads (i.e., rollerski tumbles).

  • Layering helps athletes regulate body temperature in winter when many factors affect body temperature (e.g., level of effort, ambient temperature, wind chill, time of day, terrain/exposure, fatigue). On hot and humid summer days, well-ventilated or wicking clothing can make the difference between successfully executing a training session or calling it short (summer clothing also helps with sun exposure).

  • Even though it is redundant to say, clothing designed for movement allows athletes to move. And yes, clothing can look cool and make an athlete feel fast.

Some general recommendations for clothing are below. This list is intended to share insights & ideas rather than to be a comprehensive “shopping list.” Also, as you think about how many items you might want in your drawers, keep in mind your family “laundry rhythms” and how many days you think you can manage at camps or race weekends.

Winter Baselayers:

  • Lightweight baselayer tops and bottoms designed for aerobic sports made from a wicking fabric such as polypropylene or wool/polypropylene blend.

  • Wind-briefs for male athletes (remember, extremities freeze first)

  • Lightweight synthetic or wool/synthetic blend socks. Boot covers or toe warmers add warmth without inhibiting circulation or compromising “feel” underfoot.

  • Short-sleeve baselayer tops or synthetic t-shirts for warmer evenings at the ski track.

Extremity Protection (winter):

  • Lightweight buffs (on extremely cold days, buffs can be doubled/overlapped for extra coverage).

  • Lined buff for before/after training or for extreme cold (athlete preference).

  • Headband for ear protection (when a hat is too much)

  • A few different weight hats for different conditions.

  • Lightweight, midweight and heavy weight gloves (e.g., mitts or lobster claws) - extremities are hard to keep warm on the coldest days, so a variety of gloves can come in handy.

  • Boot covers provide superior insulation for race boots and can be a good option for athletes who tend to get cold toes on long sub-zero days at MSA or Lake Placid.

  • Winter boots (or something warmer and taller than running shoes) keep feet warm and dry when navigating parking lots and while waiting at race venues for course tours and cheering for teammates.


Most training sessions will happen with a baselayer and a vest and/or training shell. On the coldest days, mid-weight or heavy-weight baselayers can be used as insulation, but even on these days, a lightweight layer combined with a vest and jacket can be sufficient if the athlete keeps their head and extremities warm and minimizes exposure while getting on and off the snow. True insulation layers (i.e., down or fleece) are primarily used before or after training and races.

  • A warm, hooded puffy coat is ideal for cold training days or long days at race venues.

  • A lighter-weight puffy or fleece can be a good jacket to have on-hand for before or after training at Weston.

Winter Training/Racing Items:

  • Warm-up/training jacket

  • Warm-up/training vest

  • Warm-up wind pants with zippered sides so they can be removed over boots (full-zip allow removal while on skis)

  • Lycra tights & top

Dryland Clothing:

Many of the items used in winter will carry over to summer (e.g., same socks for rollerskiing, warm-up jacket and vest, lycra tights). Summer specific items include:

  • Shorts and shirts for running and rollerskiing.

  • Running shoes (although the team runs on trails when possible, a solid road shoe is often better on local trails than a sturdy trail shoe).

General tips:

  • Always bring a dry top to training and races to put on after workouts. A soaked baselayer will inhibit cooling in the summer and quickly strip warmth in the winter.

  • A pair of inexpensive, insulated, non-ski gloves can be cozy after coming off snow. An extra pair of ski gloves does the trick as well, but can get wet/worn hauling gear to from the car and around race venues.

  • Cotton is not a good material for training (but it can be quite comfortable to wear after a rollerski).

  • Team jackets and uniforms are optional. One benefit of EMXC tights or an EMXC top is they make it easier for coaches and athletes to spot teammates on course.