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Having the right gear is the first step to gliding your way into endorphin-induced bliss this season. (Photo: Ola Matsson)

5 Skate Ski Essentials

Lightweight, breathable apparel that'll turn you into a Nordic ski champ

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If you’ve ever wondered what cyclists and runners do to stay in shape during the winter, it involves skating across groomed trails. Cross-country skiing, and specifically skate skiing, now has more than six million annual participants.

That could have something to do with the fact it costs a tenth the price of a typical resort day, and you often have the trail and surrounding mountains all to yourself. And while skate skiing gets a bad rep for being exceptionally difficult to learn, having the right gear is the first step to gliding your way into endorphin-induced bliss.

Skins A200 Thermal Long Tights ($125)


Underneath every favorite winter activity is a favorite base layer. When it comes to skate skiing, you most likely won’t need an outer layer for your legs save for the snowiest conditions. Designed for use by athletes, Skins thermal compression tights hug in all the right places. Just like any other compression pant, they’re designed to improve circulation, but what sets them apart is a sleek waistline and material that doesn’t wear or pill after long weekends and repeated washings.

Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Funnel Zip T ($115)


With so many options for long-sleeve base layers, the choice can be overwhelming. Smartwool fills the necessary checklist and then some. With chafe-free seams and an impressively high neck to shield you from drafts, the Mid 250 is toasty and designed with action in mind. There are no pockets or thumbholes, but you won’t need them when adding a windbreaker.

Arc’teryx Gaea Jacket ($179)


It only takes a day or two of working up a sweat in a nonbreathable windbreaker before you swear to never make the same mistake. This Arc’teryx Gaea jacket was specifically designed for heart-thumping activity in cold conditions. With a breathable section that spans nearly the entire back and underarms, generously long sleeves, and cushy thumbholes, this is the ultimate thermoregulation piece for pushing off your poles all day long.

Swix Split Mitts ($39)


The main difference between winter running gear and cross-country skiing gear is that your hands and feet need extra attention. These split mitts from Swix are up to the challenge, with a ripstop outer shell and high knit cuff. The interior features SWIX-Dry lining for when things heat up, and the palm and thumb are reinforced. The best part? The fuzzy top side of the thumb, where you’ll inevitably wipe your nose.

Skida Nordic Hat ($30)


Nordic skiing is, after all, Nordic skiing. Embrace the roots of the sport with a skullcap by Skida, a company launched by 23-year-old Corinne Prevot of Vermont. These headbands and caps for both men and women are produced locally and will keep your noggin from catching cold.

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Lead Photo: Ola Matsson