Our 3,500 mile ski across the country required some specialized gear. Below is a review of the equipment we used the most on our trek and how it stood up to the cross country challenge.
The V2 150 Aeros, equipped with break and speed reducers have been the Ski Across America roller skis of choice. They provided superb performance regardless of what terrain we hit. They rolled over all the gravel that often times jams wheels, even when the entire road would turn to packed gravel. The speed reducers and brakes were also essential. Without them, there is absolutely no way we could have roller skied some of the descents safely (some were up to 14% downhill grades with 180 degree turns!) The combination of large pneumatic wheels and breaks also aided us in safely riding into the shoulder to get out of the way of logging trucks and other vehicles in questionable situations. In addition, we had ratcheting wheals for the Aero’s . These were very helpful on the long mountain climbs when we encountered a small shoulder and traffic. The ratcheting wheels allowed us to switch from skating to striding in order to take up less room on the road.
All things stated, we believe the V2 150 Aeros are the most versatile ski on the market and when combined with the speed reducers and breaks, they are also the safest.
These roller skis performed remarkably well on smooth and mildly rough pavement. The days I decided to do speed work, these were the skis of choice. The carbon composite shaft makes for a very smooth ride. By being lower and having harder wheels than the Aero’s, these skis are more stable than and allow for more aggressive push-offs than the Aeros.
Short and sweet, these roller-skis make for a wonderful experience. Their smoothness and tracking while striding is unparalleled by any other classic ski I’ve ever used.
These roller skis are tanks!! These skis were my first pick when I wanted to double pole and stride on rougher roads, especially when there was gravel lying around. The larger wheels just barreled through the gravel that would normally jam smaller wheels. Thee carbon composite shafts also absorbed much of the vibration. These skis are a bit heavier than the 930’s, but I quickly became accustomed to them and forgot about it.
We consider V2 ferrules to be hands down the best ferrules on the market. Over the entire duration of the trip, we only broke one tip. The only reason it broke is because I ran straight into it with the roller-ski while it was planted in the ground. We have yet to find another brand of ferrule that matches up to V2’s.
We continue to find solid performance by Salomon’s boot and binding combination. There is something to be said about the longevity of the product. The boots S-Lab Carbon Pro boots I wore on the trip have easily gotten over 8,000 miles of skiing and roller skiing over the past three years and they are still holding up strong! (That says a lot considering how quickly the gear I use usually breaks down!
Salomon S-Lab Carbon Poles and Grips
I am very excited about the performance of these poles. With approximately 3,500 miles of roller skiing we had no elbow or wrist problems. Coming off of 10 days of rest and diving straight into 25-45 hours a week of roller-skiing with high-end, stiff poles would usually result in several joint overuse injuries. However, neither Carolyn nor I have had any. I believe this can be attributed to Salomon’s unparalleled grip. The grip has a thumb hold much like the old Yoko/Toko grips. However, it is more comfortable than the old grips because it is covered in a rubber material and is slightly angled for a natural hand grip position. The thumb grip helps align the wrist when poling into a position that takes force off of the elbow and wrist joints. The other benefit is that the straps hold up longer than other brands. Using grips without the thumb shelf creates much more friction/rubbing between the strap and handle, resulting in strap and cork wear. Additionally, there is solid plastic underneath the cork in Salomon’s grips, making the cork above more durable. This also allows the hot glue to hold the grip tighter, helping prevent the grip from coming off too easily. Huge fan of these poles. So much so, that we will probably be racing on them next winter.
We received the 800/1900 MHz signal booster from Wilson Electronics. It was a very handy tool when we got out in spotty cell coverage zones. When we didn’t have enough signal for clear calling, we simply plugged the booster into the cigarette lighter and the call would clear up. This is a great tool for anyone spending time on the road. (Wilson Electronics also makes cellular phone boosters for home use).
Suunto Quest heart rate monitor
An awesome training tool. We used the monitor in the simplest way, just using it to check our heart rate. However, this tool is packed with features including running speed and distance. Check it out at Suunto.com. In my opinion, this heart rate monitor’s greatest feature is it’s durability. Most people that know me well, know that very few things are “Santi proof”. This may be one of the few electronic devises that is. In a high speed crash, I supermaned onto the gravel shoulder with the chest monitor taking the majority of the blow. Besides the jaguar-like claw marks from the gravel on the outer casing, the monitor continues to work like a charm.
Specialized SL Jacket (Available at New Moon Bike and Ski)
This proved to be a very handy piece of clothing when the weather got rough. It’s a bright, lightweight, and very packable. It is just enough to fend off the wind and light rain that we encountered on the mountain passes. It also has large vents in the back reducing sweat vapor, helping diminish the “plastic bag” effect that some wind breakers create.
Nathan Reflective Vest (Available at New Moon Bike and Ski)
This was a must have for the trip. We used two different models of the vest (Streak and Cycling) and found them both to work equally well. The vests made us highly visible on the roads, especially in ominous weather and as dusk approached.