Until you have tried cross-country skiing enough to be reasonably sure you will do it again, it is probably best to borrow or rent equipment (skis, boots, poles). See Local XC Ski Rentals.
Once you are determined to buy equipment, there are two choices: Used or new. Sources of used equipment include PATC-STS's Annual Ski Fair gear swap, posting a "Seeking to Buy (STB)" item on our Groups.io, and buying used equipment from the rental sources at the resorts or in town. All of the precautions about buying new equipment (see below) apply to used equipment, as well as assessing whether the level of wear and the price are commensurate to give you good value. You can count on wanting newer, better equipment as your skills grow.
You can get a lot of help from any of the outfitters listed below, but it is important to have an idea of the kind of skiing you want to do with your new equipment. If you anticipate primarily skiing on groomed trails at resorts, you can buy lighter, skinner classical Nordic equipment such as simple NNN bindings, lower-cut boots, and will not need metal edges. If you are young and athletic you may want to look into very light and skinny skate skis, although the grooming for skate skiing is less extensive than the two-track grooming for classical Nordic. If you are likely to go off-track skiing or ski steeper, icier areas, you will want the heavier, wider back country skis with more substantial NNN-BC bindings and ankle-high boots with more support. Check out the following videos:How to Choose Cross-Country Ski Gear
The table below lists some information about local outfitters who sell cross-country ski equipment (i.e., boots, bindings, poles, and skis). Checking out the local sources is good for a first go-round, but also know that there are a ton of online equipment sources, which may give you a greater selection and better prices.
Current as of 2021.