This is part 2 of probably... 5 in the "nordic skiing for bike dorks" skiers. Part 1 is here.
A few years of practice and you'll look like this guy, "obviously flawed but moving pretty well." Excited yet??
Equipment, Part 1b: So you're gonna ignore me, and get some used stuffAlright, I did my best. If you're hell-bent on getting some used gear that only kinda fits you, maybe I can help. Just a bit. Still though, used boots? Really?
Where are you gonna get used gear? You have a few choices. #1 is probably your local craigslist, where you can find other cyclists giving up on the gear they bought last year. #2? Ebay is always good for a few "used the skis 3 times, moved to a warm climate" deals as well. If you're in a location that still has stuff like a "ski swap" (aka "not Boston"), that's always an exciting crapshoot. And of course, choice #4 is "borrowing/buying from some dude I know."
BootsTwo things to know: Your boots should fit. You spend the whole sport on your feet. There's no saddle to put weight on. Boots that don't fit lead to blisters. And blisters lead to not using anything you bought, which leads to reselling your equipment to some other cyclist and getting fat next winter.
Second order of business: Boots need to match the bindings. It's not like cycling where you change the cleat. If you have Salomon bindings you need Salomon boots. If you have Salomon Pilot bindings, you need a Pilot-compatible boot, not just Salomon boot. And NNN bindings need NNN boots. It's not rocket science, but if you're cobbling stuff together from mixed sources, you need to check this.
SkisSkate skis are going to vary in length from about 170cm to 195cm depending on your height. More important than their length is their stiffness; a very rough rule of thumb for checking this is the "two hand test" -- hold the skis base-to-base and grab them in the center (at the bindings). If you can make the bases touch with one hand, they're too soft. If you can't make them touch with two hands, too stiff. If you can make them touch with exactly two hands... look out for the three bears.
For length, stand with the ski next to you and put your arm straight up. The tip should fall roughly at your elbow. If you're an experienced skier, it will probably be a few inches above, if you're a total noob you can go a bit shorter than that