There are two styles of cross-country skiing: classic and skating. So before you venture out on the trail, the question is which running technique you want to practice. With classic skis you run on a groomed track. With skating skis, you push off as you would when skiing or skating. The skating technique is considered more athletic and also more strenuous.
Classic cross-country skis differ from skating skis in their length and construction. Both affect the tension and glide. They are longer than skating skis and have a softer pretension. Classic skis are further divided into wax or nowax skis. With a wax ski, you have to prepare your cross-country ski with a wax that suits the conditions. If the track is wet, icy or freshly snowed, you need the right wax for it. With a Nowax ski this procedure is not necessary, but you have to decide from the beginning which technology you want to use. For grip in the climbing zone, there are models with fur, scales or roughening zone.
Skating skis are shorter than classic skis. Skating skis differ in the base and in the hardness of the preload. There are cold, wet or universal bases for the corresponding snow conditions. The preload, which can be softer or harder, should be adjusted to the height, body weight and sporting ambitions of the cross-country skier.