Cross-country skiing: how should you choose your clothing?

Find the right clothing for skating and classic cross-country skiing



There are two main versions of cross-country skiing: classic or skating style. Classic cross-country skiing is practised on two parallel tracks carved out in the snow. The technique is similar to walking and this style is ideal for long hikes on snow where endurance is key. The natural gliding sensation of the classic style provides an easy introduction to cross-country skiing.


The skating technique, on the other hand, is rather different. Just like roller skating or ice skating, it calls for a good understanding of balance and weight transfer. The gliding action requires excellent coordination between the lower and upper limbs and can be very physical when practised at high intensity. The skating style is slightly faster than the classic technique. It is ideal for anyone looking for a cardio workout after just a few minutes.


Whether you prefer classic or skating, cross-country skiing is great fun!



Whatever the discipline and your level of proficiency, the right clothing is essential to fully enjoy your cross-country session without feeling cold or damp. Make sure you don't put on too many clothes that will make you overheat and avoid unsuitable materials such as cotton, which will absorb your perspiration and make you feel uncomfortable and damp. Opt for technical garments designed for classic or skating cross-country skiing rather than multiple layers of clothing.


If you are a newcomer to cross-country skiing, as well as choosing warm and comfortable clothing to ensure your sessions are enjoyable, also look for stretch garments offering freedom of movement. If you are an expert, or even a competitive athlete, the technical features of the products are vital. Choose tailored and aerodynamic clothing!


Choosing garments for the upper body


Are you familiar with the 3-layer system? This involves layering 3 technical garments, in particular around the chest area, to keep you feeling comfortable and warm throughout your session. Each layer meets a specific need (breathability, insulation, protection) and uses different materials.


Make sure you adapt your clothing to the climatic conditions! In warm weather, choose very breathable technical garments and remove your mid-layer or outer layer.



Base layer

A thermal garment that will wick the moisture of your perspiration

Mid layer

An insulating garment that will wick your perspiration while insulating you from the cold

Outer layer

A waterproof and windproof garment to protect you from external elements such as wind, rain or snow.

A few general points to note when choosing your cross-country ski clothing:


Long sleeves

Whatever the layer, we recommend that you always opt for long sleeves. The presence of cuffs on your wrists will help to maintain perfect insulation between your cross-country ski top and your gloves.


High neck

In the event of wind or storms, you’ll be glad that your neck is warm. Make sure the top has a zip opening for ventilation on warmer days.


Reflective strips

For the more daring (or those with less foresight), reflective strips on outer layers will make sure you are seen if a storm comes in and restricts visibility.


Base layer: breathability


Cross-country skiing is an intense activity during which your body will experience changes in temperature. It is essential to choose garments that support rapid wicking of perspiration to keep you dry and comfortable throughout your session.


Forget cotton T-shirts that absorb damp without wicking. You will start to feel cold and uncomfortable after just a few kilometres! Instead, opt for highly breathable and quick-drying synthetic fibres. Steer clear of overly loose clothing too: on contact with the skin, a T-shirt made from a synthetic material will absorb and wick the perspiration secreted by your body more easily. Rossignol’s Performance Nordic Collection uses a certified breathable, resistant and stretchable LYCRA® SPORT fabric: Rossignol’s patented compression technology designed to combine technical features and comfort. These base layer garments help to improve muscle alignment and balance, and to reduce the heart rate, lactic acid in the blood and oxygen consumption, thereby boosting the skier's performance.



Mid-layer: insulation


Insulating garments are designed to keep your body temperature consistent despite perspiration. This layer is worn on top of your base layer and is therefore more tailored. Leaving a little gap for air between these two layers is an excellent way to ensure effective insulation!


The garments in our Poursuite range are ideal mid-layers thanks to micro-perforated panels on the back and under the arms. These optimise temperature regulation by virtue of the fabric's excellent breathability and its ability to conserve the body’s natural heat. In addition, the 37.5® technology wicks moisture away from the body to allow rapid evaporation of perspiration and regulate temperature. The R-Dry fabric keeps you comfortably dry during moderate activities (quick drying). Finally, the insulating and breathable R-Warm fabric keeps you warm in all conditions.


Bonus: our mid-layer garments are recyclable!

Visit to find your nearest collection points.




Outer layer: protection


Moisture, rain, snow, wind... in cross-country skiing, you can be exposed to a wide range of weather conditions. This third and final layer of clothing insulates you from external elements to avoid heat loss and make sure you stay warm and dry. Soft shells are the “must have” garments for cross-country skiing!  The windproof and breathable R-Wind fabric blocks wind and a waterproof and breathable 10,000/10,000 membrane will keep you warm and comfortable whatever the conditions.


You might also prefer active cross-country ski jackets: lightweight, windproof and warm! This is the layer you will put on and take off most often depending on changes in the weather and temperature: we recommend that you choose a jacket with a full-length zip to make it easier to slip on and off. You can use Rossignol's active jackets for cross-country skiing as well as for your running sessions or bike rides.




How should you choose cross-country ski clothing for the lower body?

How should you choose your cross-country ski tights? Should you opt for tights or trousers? While the lower body is less affected by temperature variations or storms, it is still important to choose an appropriate garment for cross-country skiing.  Here are a few features to guide your choice.





Tights are equivalent to a base layer for the bottom half of the body. Look for technical and synthetic fabrics to ensure easy wicking of perspiration and avoid any sensation of cold and therefore discomfort. Forget about cotton and loose clothing. Tights need to be tight! By moulding to the muscles in your legs, they play a role in moisture wicking and help to keep you warm. The 37.5® technology and R-Dry fabric are flagship technologies integrated in Rossignol products to accompany you in your cross-country ski sessions.






For cross-country ski sessions on very cold days and/or in changeable weather, opt for warm and waterproof ski trousers. Designed to be worn above your tights, they will ward off rain, snow and wind while keeping you dry and warm. Thanks to a windproof, waterproof and stretch fabric, they will support all your movements to ensure total comfort.






A few essential accessories


Although your choice of clothing is essential to keep you feeling pleasantly comfortable throughout your cross-country ski session, accessories are equally important! Protecting the extremities of your body will insulate you more effectively from cold or wind and keep your body comfortable and warm.

Protect your head


Headband or hat? The choice is yours, depending on your preference. The important thing is to make sure your ears are covered. Opt for a hat on very cold, windy and wet days. Covering your head can save almost 50% of your body heat, so that's a good incentive to wear a hat! This will make sure you stay warm from your very first tracks right through to the end of your session and avoid chilling.


A headband is ideal for milder temperatures. It will keep your ears warm during descents and when the wind starts to get up. It is also useful for wicking perspiration: it absorbs sweat from the forehead, avoiding droplets that could impair your vision.


Protect your neck


A neck-warmer is a practical and easy-to-carry accessory for your cross-country ski sessions. It is ideal to protect yourself from chilling during descents or if the weather suddenly turns cold. It is a good idea to wear a neck-warmer at the start of your session for the sensation of heat and pleasant comfort. It is small and easily folded, so you can simply stow it in one of your pockets once you have warmed up.


Protect your hands


More than simply accessories, gloves are essential for cross-country skiing. Whatever the weather, you will need them to protect your hands from the cold, as well as from the snow in the event of a fall. Choose stretch models to allow you hold your poles comfortably for long periods of time. Opt for synthetic fabrics to promote wicking of perspiration and moisture. If you want to take selfies or scenic photos during your sessions, the models featuring the I-Tip technology are an ideal choice: their screen-compatible design means you don't need to take them off!