Nordic Step Ski Boot Harness Review

The Nordic Step is a plastic harness with a rigid base and binding mount. It allows you to to use a pair of cross-country (nordic) skis with your own winter or hiking boots. The boot straps into the harness, and the harness mounts to the binding of the skis.

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Nordic Step Binding Options

Nordic Step makes three different binding options: NNN (which is the industry standard, if you don’t know what kinds of skis you have they are likely NNN), NNN-BC (backcountry, the pin on these is wider than normal NNN and they are not compatible), and 3-pin.

Nordic Step does not have an option for SNS bindings, which is the other relatively common binding you may find on your skis.

Image of Nordic Ski boot harnesses shown from the side with winter hiking boots and white and blue classic nordic skis, on a snowy winter trail.
Nordic Step NNN model in use

Who is the Nordic Step Boot Harness For?

Nordic Step lists the following categories as good fits for their product:

  • Winter vacation homes and rentals
  • Sharing with friends and family
  • Growing children and skiers with large shoe size
  • Cross-country ski rental companies
  • Casual classic cross country skiing
  • Back country skiing for snow trekkers and hunters

Air B&Bs / Rentals

These would be wonderful for an AirB&B or rental to have on hand. You can’t possibly provide ski boots for every potential guest, but if you are operating in a snowy location you could get two pairs of skis and two pairs of Nordic Steps and be set for most adult users!

Sharing with Friends and Family

The main thing that drew me to these was sharing with friends and family. My kids ski a lot, and I have several pairs of nordic skis. Their dad doesn’t have skis of his own, but with a pair of Nordic Steps, he could take them out by borrowing a pair of my skis.

With Nordic Step I could take my parents skiing when they come visit. Or introduce a friend to the sport. There have been numerous times in the past that I’ve said “I wish I had a pair of boots that would fit you!”, and Nordic Step eliminates this need.

It’s always best to have the right skis for your weight, but a beginner is not going to notice a lot of difference.

Children

The Nordic Step surprised me by working quite well for my oldest child, but I don’t think these would work great for children under around 10. The boot harness is made of a rigid plastic, and since it’s designed to accommodate large adult boots it really felt a bit big even with my size 9.5 women’s boots.

A pair of Nordic Step attached to winter snowboots, snow in background.
Baffin Snogoose size 4 and the Nordic Step

I tested out the fit with my kids size 4 Baffin Snogoose (a very beefy boot), and they did work and my son was even able to skate ski a bit in them (which I don’t recommend as you really do not have the support you need to do this).

A boy wearing all black skate skiing off away from the camera, snowy background with sun.

He said they felt bulky and a little unbalanced, but he zoomed around our loop driveway several times on them. He thinks a friend who didn’t have skis would be able to use them for an outing to see how they like the sport.

If your children are planning on skiing more than once or twice a season, buy them some ski boots (find a rental program or buy them second hand), these really won’t be a great option for buying one pair and letting them use them each season.

Other Uses for Nordic Step

These are nice to have on hand for very cold weather. For family skiing, it wouldn’t really help unless everyone had a pair, but they’d be useful for going out for a ski at -20 in your beefiest winter boot. Nordic boots are notorious for not having much insulation, and this could help stop the dreaded cold toes!

Who are the Nordic Step Not For?

The Nordic Step will not replace your own ski boots, nor are they designed to do so. If you’re looking to get into skiing and just found a pair of skis, this isn’t a great option to outfit yourself for the trails.

If you’ve just enrolled your children in a local Junior Nordics program and you and your partner want to ski with them occasionally, and are similar weights, you could potentially find one pair of skis that fit you both and share the Nordic Step, but it’s going to be better in the long run to find your own properly fitting ski boots as the cost of the Nordic Step is going to be around or more than the cost of one pair of entry-level classic ski boots new, and you could likely get two pairs used for the same price.

How Well Do They Work?

Ease of Use

The harness is extremely easy to use. there are two plastic straps on the foot and one webbing strap behind the heel. The adjustments work awesome on the plastic straps, it’s easy to tighten and release the mechanisms.

The Nordic Step pictured attached to a black and white snowboot with a background of snow

Even tightened all the way, I didn’t feel like I got the most snug fit with any of my boots. There was pretty significant gaps on both sides because the bottom is a rigid material. It would be nice if if molded a bit better, but during use I found that this didn’t really seem to matter so much.

Image from above of skis and Nordic Steps attached to winter hiking boots, skis are moving fast and the background is blurred.
Gliding downhill with the Nordic Steps. Notice the gap on the sides of the boots, but they felt great.

The strap in the back of the harness is a bit long because it accommodates so many different sizes. I wish there was a better way to tuck the excess, I ended up just wrapping it around a few times.

How it Feels to Wear the Nordic Step

It’s hard to forget you’re wearing something that you’re consciously trying to review, but on a few of the downhills I really just concentrated on the “wheeee” and didn’t feel differently going down than I do in my regular boots.

On the uphills I did notice them a bit more, but they weren’t bothersome. I wore them for an hour with my kids during their Junior Nordics practice, and several people noticed them and said “wow, cool, what are those?!”.

How Could the Nordic Step Be Improved?

I’d love to see these in a slightly less rigid plastic, maybe a silicone? The rigid plastic doesn’t seem to give you any support, and if the base underfoot remained rigid but the top was able to form to different boots better I think it would fit more snugly.

The cost is going to be an issue here for most users. B&Bs are going to find the value worth it, but with the price of entry level Nordic ski boots around $100, this will put many people off trying these. Possibly a cheaper model with the rigid base and stretchier materials up top might help make the price more accessible.

Tips for the Best Nordic Step Experience

Type of Boot

The first time I tried to wear Nordic Steps, I tried them with what I had with me, my Steger mukluks. They did not feel good with mukluks. I regularly snowshoe in my mukluks so thought they would work fine, but they didn’t have enough support to feel stable on skis even though I lace them up pretty snug around the high ankle.

Picture of the Nordic Step attached to a pair of white and brown Mukluks.
Nordic Step over Steger Mukluks

The second time I tried the Nordic Step, I used some Keen winter hiking boots. I laced them up the way I normally would which I have always considered snug, but about ten minutes into the ski I realized they just felt way too loose and there was too much play in them back and forth.

The Keens were my most rigid boot, but they are still very soft in the ankle. When I adjusted them to make them as tight as I could and wrapped the laces around the back of the ankle and then tied off in front, they felt worlds better!

Stock image from Nordic Step showing three different pairs / sizes of boots in the Nordic Step.

Nordic Steps will work well with your most rigid winter boot, or even a hiking boot. Don’t plan to use them with UGGs, or any other soft-sided boot, you’ll want something that laces up. If you have very strong ankles this may not be a problem, but I wanted the support.

You’ll want a boot that fits snug in the ankle, and also something that you don’t have a lot of heel slip in. Because of the tightness of the rigid plastic, the harness grips your boot very snugly and is going to move on your heel if it’s too roomy there. Wearing good thick socks can help with heel slip also.

Type of Ski

You’ll want to use these with classic nordic skis. They are not going to have the support you’d need for skate skiing. Most users will want them for classic anyways as these are geared towards entry level or lower use activities. They work well with fishscale classic skis (waxless) or kick-waxed combi skis.

The Bottom Line

The Nordic Step ski boot harness is a wonderful product that has a lot of uses. It won’t replace your day to day boot, but it’s a good addition to any gear closet and would be wonderful in a rental unit in a ski area.

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Nordic Step Ski Boot Harness Review

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  • Kristin grew up in Western Massachusetts but moved north to Alaska in 2008 in search of more snow and bigger mountains. She homeschools her three children and tries to spend as much time as possible learning outside. Kristin loves hiking, camping, puddle stomping, laughing, igloo building, reading, science, baking, photography, and watching the sun go down from on top of a mountain; and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for the natural world and her knowledge of the gear that can get you out there in every kind of weather. She works part-time from home as an Environmental Scientist and technical editor.

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