Nov 30, 2006 at 7:56 pm #1220494
Has anyone used a Karhu Karver ski/snowshoe hybrid?
I’d like to know:
1) How does it climb relative to a real tele ski with, say, an Ascension skin, or even a real snowshoe for that matter?
2) How is the floatation?
3) Can you carve turns with it on the steep stuff, or is it limited to shuffling on rolling terrain?
4) Any durability problems with the unique binding?
-MikeDec 1, 2006 at 9:54 am #1369012
1. its lighter than a teleski but probably has less grip that fatties with skins
2. probably not as good as realy fat boards but probably bettertahn snow shoes
3. unless you have a very very different definition of steeps, you are freaking insane if you want steep descents with these skis located anywhere besides on your pack with a real board or skis on your feet.
those are approach skis. snowboarders love them as an alternative to splitboards or snowshoesDec 1, 2006 at 9:40 pm #1369091
Thanks for the reply!
>> 3. unless you have a very very different definition of steeps, you are freaking insane if you want steep descents with these skis located anywhere besides on your pack with a real board or skis on your feet.
Aye, there’s the rub. Steep is a lot different for a grey bearded XC skier vs. a 24 year old on 240mm wide fatties with 5 buckle boots. I’m pretty much old and slow, so steep for me is 25-30 degrees. Will the Karvers get me up and down a 25 degee slope?
-MikeDec 2, 2006 at 9:30 am #1369111
You have me about pegged :)
I should add that I don’t tele. I am an ATer everything from foam UL with dynafits to 12lbs wood core fats with DIN 13 AT bindings. I have snowshoes too.
I don’t tele.
I will say that around here it is hard to go up much steeper than 30deg with fatties and ascensions, especially in an icy track.
Then again it isn’t easy to go up 30deg in showshoes unless it is hard snow and you are using the crampons. Postholing up 30deg stinks in shoes.
Then again, I’d rather be hitting some switchbacks past sustained 20deg and then you’d probably be fine. I’d wager than the approach skis hold their own on anything but the most aggro skin track.
Going down something 30deg… I have to say I’d be wary of the approach ski bindings failing and the drag effects of the skins. If you are taking it easy and aren’t in no-fall or high consquence terrain, it might be a totally different story.
I’m sorry I can’t give you a really solid answer on their reliability for descent. TelemarkTips.com forums might be able to give a little better answer. I can tell you that they are much easier and more efficient for travel than shoes.Dec 2, 2006 at 11:58 am #1369122
I have Karhu Metas, which are like Karvers but with less cut. I haven’t used them much yet, though.
> 1) How does it climb relative to a real tele ski with, say, an Ascension skin, or even a real snowshoe for that matter?
They climb nearly as well as a ski with Ascensions. The only time I lost traction was on corn snow over ice, and I worked around that by switchbacking so the entire skin area was in contact and I could use the edges as well. The skin area on the Karhus is over half the area of my AT skins, and 20% more area than my BD 60mm kickers. They climb better than most snowshoes I’ve used.
> 2) How is the floatation?
Slightly better than my 30-inch snowshoes. I think they’re a little more floaty than you might suspect because they’re wider than skis so unconsolidated snow is less able to be displaced to the sides.
> 3) Can you carve turns with it on the steep stuff, or is it limited to shuffling on rolling terrain?
I’d second Summit CO’s comments. I tried to tele in them on a 20* slope using sloppy non-technical pac boots, and it worked fairly well (esp. considering I don’t know how to tele). I did crash a few times, but that was more my fault than the skis, I think. I also used them to parallel and was more successful (I’m an AT skier). I wouldn’t wear them in you-fall-you-die terrain, and on real steeps I’m going to bring my AT gear for fun, but I would take these anywhere I’d take my BC skis. The Karvers should perform better than my Metas for carving turns.
> 4) Any durability problems with the unique binding?
Not so far. They seem pretty robust. Mine were demos, and one of the heel landing pads (glued on) had popped off and was lost. I replaced it with sticky-backed vinyl and that has held.Dec 2, 2006 at 2:06 pm #1369133
I think I know what I want for Christmas now… :-)
-MikeDec 2, 2006 at 3:50 pm #1369147
> I have Karhu Metas, which are like Karvers but with less cut. I haven’t used them much yet, though.
So I decided to head out for a little r&r this afternoon. Packed snow +8F. I was hoping that the bindings would fit my Scarpa Alphas (size 13: 5#11.8oz), but the rear strap was about 2 inches short. Bummer, because that would really be a killer approach combo and I wouldn’t have to carry any extra weight. (I’m going to try to mod the binding strap.) The bindings did fit my LLBean Baxter State boots (size 12: 4#11.1oz), which have a power strap and a bit more shaft strength than the boots I used previously.
An obvious point worth making is that the Karhu skins are not removable (they are glued into a recess on the bottom of the ski). On the snow today I got almost no glide, and even going downhill I had to push along. I consider the Karhus to be snowshoe replacements for skiers, not ski replacements.Dec 2, 2006 at 5:06 pm #1369150
> I tried to tele in them on a 20* slope using sloppy non-technical pac boots, and it worked fairly well (esp. considering I don’t know how to tele).
Douglas, do I understand your post correctly? Are you saying that you can use regular boots with these skis?
I’ve been looking at these skis, they look and sound like fun, but I don’t ski. The concept sounds fun, hike up and ski down without changing foot wear. Since I don’t ski I don’t have ski boots. I was wondering if the bindings would accept climbing boots such as La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX?
If so I would gladly leave my snowshoes at home for a nice change of pace.Dec 2, 2006 at 7:17 pm #1369162
yes, they will accept mountaineering bootsDec 2, 2006 at 9:40 pm #1369171
>Are you saying that you can use regular boots with these skis?
After looking at my Karhu bindings closely after noting they didn’t fit my Alphas, it appears you must use ‘regular’ boots for them to work well. Here is a photo of the binding system.
The bindings have a rigid back support (it can bend forward but not back beyond vertical) with power strap, a ratcheting strap that pulls back on the middle of the boot to secure the boot heel into the binding, and a ratcheting strap that holds the front of the boot against the ski. Note that the binding hinge is not at the toe or in front of the boot as in other free-heel bindings, but is located where the boot breaks at the base of the toes.
There is no weight in the boot in the picture so the toe isn’t as flat against the ski as it should be, but you can see that the hinge must break the boot behind the toes for the heel to rise fully. That means you can use pretty much any B1 or B2 boot (running shoes with overboots, pac boots, XC and most BC ski boots, snowboard boots, old leather tele boots, etc.). However, a B3 boot (AT ski boots, plastic boots with non-bending soles, boots compatible with C3 rigid crampons) will only let the heel rise as much as there is rocker built into the boot; my Alphas allow the boot heel to rise only 2 inches. La Sportiva’s web site has almost no useful information about their products, so I’m not sure if your boot’s soles can bend a little or not.
> The concept sounds fun, hike up and ski down without changing foot wear. Since I don’t ski I don’t have ski boots.
Ski boots wouldn’t do you any good with these bindings, even if they would fit. It’s not so much about not changing footwear (I don’t change footwear with my AT or BC rigs), but that you can use these skis like snowshoes yet still ski down a slope (if it’s steep and slick enough to overcome the skin friction). The Karhu Meta is designed for beginners (120cm; cut 135/110/120) and really doesn’t require any ski instruction to get everything from them. Just tromp around in them and slide downhill when you can. The Karhu Karver is designed to appeal more to skiers (130cm, cut 120/100/115).
> If so I would gladly leave my snowshoes at home for a nice change of pace.
That’s what I’m using them for. I hate it when I find myself standing at the top of a beautiful hill wearing snowshoes.
BTW, if you’re going to buy Karhus, better sooner than later. They were bought by K2 this year and as far as I can find out aren’t shipping anything, let alone these BC trekking skis. They may not be available much longer.
An alternative is the Yupi ski-shoe, a 70cm aluminum no-cut full-skin snowshoe replacement. These are even less akin to skis than the Karhus.Dec 2, 2006 at 11:28 pm #1369176
This seems to be just what I was looking for. Hike up, slide down. To answer your question about the Trangos, the sole is stiff but flexable. Just one last question, how comfortable is the top strap on your leg if you use a boot that has a low rise top such as a Trango? Or do you think that the top strap on the ski is low enough to remain on the boot? (I guess that’s two questions)
Thanks in advance for the show and tell, Douglas.Dec 3, 2006 at 8:25 am #1369194
> how comfortable is the top strap on your leg if you use a boot that has a low rise top such as a Trango?
If it comes to that, it’s fairly comfortable. It’s a ‘power strap’, so you only need to tighten it down for skiing to improve edge control. It’s not very important when hiking.
> Or do you think that the top strap on the ski is low enough to remain on the boot?
Yes. The top of the strap hits about 6″ from the bottom of the boot, so it should remain on anything except running shoes.Dec 4, 2006 at 7:48 pm #1369468
> They may not be available much longer.
Aaaaaargh–that put myself over the edge. There has been one pair of Karvers and one pair of Metas sitting at a local mountaineering store, being used as demos and marked down cheap. Nobody bought them, poor things. So I was in there this morning and decided I neeeeeeded the Karvers. After all, I’m a skier so if I’m going to use Karhus on a trip, it should be the Karvers. (I have deluded myself into thinking I can pay for them by eBaying my Metas.) The bonus was that the bindings had already been modified to fit bigger snowboard boots, so I can use my Alphas with them.
I tried them out on the carpet, and I doubt the Alphas are going to work even though they now fit the binding. As I suspected, the heels only rise a few inches, which on a full stride pushes the tips of the skis down against the ground. That might work on hardpack but they’re just going to dive in powder. The change in gait necessary to keep the tips up will probably become quite uncomfortable. I’ll try the Karver/Alpha combo on snow soon, but I’m bringing a pair of pac boots just in case.Dec 5, 2006 at 8:47 pm #1369614
> I’ll try the Karver/Alpha combo on snow soon, but I’m bringing a pair of pac boots just in case.
I took the Karvers out for a tour using my LLBean Baxter State boots this afternoon. There doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the Karver and the Meta, but I didn’t do much downhill skiing. Either will do fine to replace snowshoes (there is only a 4″ difference in length).
I switched to my Scarpa Alpha boots, and as I suspected the limited heel rise was noticeable. When hiking in powder it wasn’t a big deal, since you still need to pick up your feet somewhat as you do with snowshoes. In medium-firm snow I could tell that the tip was trying to dive, resulting in the inside edge catching a bit, however the ski was able to slice back through the snow and get up to the surface; not too bad. On firm snow, the edge definitely caught and the ski wanted to fly out at each step; the result was that I took much shorter steps, more like snowshoe steps than glide steps. It’s almost impossible to do a good tele turn because you can’t get your knee down; instead, the back ski tip is digging in and trying to go off somewhere instead of following. This is not a problem when doing a parallel turn or even a snowplow, because you don’t want your heels to come up anyway. So it is possible to use stiff boots with the Karhus (assuming you can get them to fit in the bindings) but it could be a bit awkward, depending on your turn technique. However, awkward might be worth it to save carrying an extra pair of boots.
To be clear: these skis work fine with any footwear that can bend at the base of the toes, the sort of footwear you would normally use for snowshoeing. The above info is for those who are using the Karhus for approach or mixed terrain where you are already bringing B3 (rigid sole) boots.
A belated thought: if you’re bringing plastic double boots, what about wearing just the liners inside overboots? I pulled the liners out of my Alphas and put them in OR Brooks Ranger Low Overboots (size XL: 20.4 oz). There is plenty of room to add extra 3/8″ closed-cell foam insulation which should make them at least as warm as the shells, and the liner/overboot combination fit in the unmodified Karhu bindings. I tested them in the skis on carpet and they work fine, of course; the ‘boots’ are fairly sturdy yet bend nicely. This seems to be a solution that will yield full motion in the Karhu bindings, but weight much less than a pair of winter boots.Dec 6, 2006 at 2:09 am #1369630
Douglas, how would you rate how the skis glide? Was it like sandpaper on wood, or grease on glass, or maybe some where in between? How steep of hills did you go on (5 degree, 10 degree, 80 degree down hill)? About how fast on the hills?
I really appreciate all of the great info. I can’t tell you how much this helps me, being a non-skier and wanting to purchase these skis.
Lastly, if you had to choose one or the other (as I need to do) which one would you choose? Or more importantly, is there really a differance?
My novice impression is to get the Karver as I will quickly out grow the Meta’s and want something a little faster.Dec 6, 2006 at 9:25 am #1369683
> Douglas, how would you rate how the skis glide?
Well, they don’t glide much, since they have big skins on the bottom. They move through the snow and go downhill like regular skis with skins (i.e., not like skis without skins).
On heavily packed snow (a XC skate path) I glided about six inches but soon realized it took less energy to just walk them than to push them into a glide at each step. They did glide a bit on late spring snow (corn over ice), but that’s about it. They don’t glide at all on anything that you can sink into. To be fair, regular skis with skins don’t glide well either. (Skins are for climbing, not gliding.)
Hmmm–it’s also possible you have a different definition of ‘glide.’ The above is in reference to a XC classic glide on a flat surface, i.e., one ski kicks back and then you glide forward while weighting the forward ski. If you are asking how much resistance there is when bringing the back ski forward (the ‘glide’ part of a step) then there is no noticeable resistance at all. If you mean ‘slide,’ as when normal friction is released and they are moving steadily in parallel without being pushed, see below.
>How steep of hills did you go on (5 degree, 10 degree, 80 degree down hill)? About how fast on the hills?
I’ve used them on slopes to about 20 degrees. (I haven’t had them out much yet.) The speed depends a lot on the snow. In powder, it takes a fair slope and a good kick to get them to break free. On a 10 degree packed slope (a bunny slope equivalent) I was able to ski them with occasional kicks. On a 20 degree semi-icy slope the skins offered little resistance and were only slightly slower than regular skis. (Again, this is the same experience you would get using skinned skis.)
>I really appreciate all of the great info. I can’t tell you how much this helps me, being a non-skier and wanting to purchase these skis.
Thanks! Remember, these are snowshoe replacements. They’re great for a non-skier because you won’t have a skier’s expectation of performance (of a non-skinned ski). At the same time, as you go over the terrain you should have plenty of opportunities to slide downhill, with brakes. When I am in the backcountry with skins on AT skis, I rarely find it worthwhile to take them off. If it’s icy I don’t need to, and it takes a long fun slope to make it worthwhile to take the skins off, ski down, and put the skins back on again. It’s usually simpler to just push downhill. So your experience on the Karhus wouldn’t be much different than that of an AT skier. BC or tele skis with waxed or waxless bases can move through the snow by gliding and sliding because the ski’s resistance when weighted is significantly lower. Of course, they would need to put skins on to match the climbing performance of the Karhus.
>Lastly, if you had to choose one or the other (as I need to do) which one would you choose? Or more importantly, is there really a differance?
If you are simply replacing snowshoes with the hope of sliding downhill occasionally, the Metas are fine. The shorter length and light cut won’t challenge you. If you are planning to learn to ski sometime, then the Karvers would be a better investment because once you do learn to turn skis the Karvers will respond a bit better. Until then, you probably won’t notice the difference of four inches in length and 1/2 inch in width anyway. I didn’t notice any difference in performance between the Metas and the Karvers while slogging, since they have the same surface area.
A recommendation: Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book, by Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland! It has an 18-page section on skiing in the backcountry that is a great orientation for using Karhus, and of course the rest of the book is excellent and apropos.
I guess one question that hasn’t been raised is, “why would a skier use these instead of BC skis?” For one, if you’re going on a trip with friends on snowshoes these would be more fun than wearing snowshoes while not being completely different. Also, these are skis you can take into prime snowshoe terrain (forest; sastrugi). Further, our powder here is very fluffy. On a snowshoe trip last spring wearing MSR Lightning 30s, I was sinking up to my knees. The Karhus would have at least equivalent flotation and allowed me to ski occasionally, in a situation where I’m not sure I could have even travelled on regular skis.
Anyway, I hope the above is useful. I bought my Karhus as a fun replacement for snowshoeing; I have AT and BC skis for skiing and touring. I think the Karhus are also a good way to start the transition.Dec 7, 2006 at 4:32 am #1369787
I like the idea of these bindings. Any thoughts on potential use paired with some backcountry nordic skis? would they perform similar to the traditional x-country binding setups (salomon, 3-pin, etc.)? I would like to use my own footwear but still be able to do some light touring and gliding in the bc.Dec 7, 2006 at 7:40 am #1369810
>Any thoughts on potential use paired with some backcountry nordic skis?
I think they would work, but at a cost in efficiency and comfort. The rigid footplate does tend to inhibit kicking, however, this certainly isn't any worse than a rigid tele boot or AT ski binding. Also, the hinge in the binding being at the base of the toes is further back than even modern XC/BC bindings, but part of the reason is to make up for sloppy boots where you don't have the strong toe structure of XC/BC boots. (This also makes up a bit for having a rigid footplate.) I was able to kick and glide on the Metas, so it is certainly possible, and not really that horrible. I just wouldn't consider it to be as efficient and comfortable as using BC bindings and boots, but then my AT rig isn't either. But for reasonably short distances, or situations where you're going to be walking more than gliding (skinning, powder, etc.) I think they would be fine. I can see where this would be a useful compromise if you needed other boots (e.g., ice boots) and could avoid carrying a separate pair of ski boots.
The Meta bindings are 4.5 inches wide at their widest (the strap pins) and the actual metal binding base is 3.75 inches wide. The screws could probably be securely mounted on skis as narrow as 2.5 inches wide, if you don't mind the bindings hanging over the edge. (My Fischer BC skis are barely wide enough.)Dec 18, 2006 at 12:51 am #1371409
I’ve been on Karhu Metas now for three seasons and I love them so much I just ordered a pair of Karvers for my gal. I’ve been on BC skis for about 15 years and have tried a bunch of skis, from Fischer crowns to Karhu 10th mountains to XCDs to Kazamas, Tuas, Atomics, Rossi’s, Catamounts, etc and here's what I’ve discovered:
1. These skis stink IF you use the universal binding that comes with the ski and ANY boot. I’ve tried plastic mountaineering boots, Sorrels, and even T3s. It's not the ski, it's not the boot, it's the binding that's horrible.
2. While these skis do not glide well, they go up hill very well, and they go down hill even better, so I’m fine with that. I’ll take my 10th mtn. tours out if I can’t get there on my sled.
3. These skis RIP when you put a good cable tele binding on them (using the 3-hole inserts) and drive them with a big boot (I’m on a Scarpa Terminator-2 in the backcountry here). I’m tracking up lines that have only seen snowboard tracks on them before. They have changed the way I look at skiable BC ski terrain to be on par with what is possible on pure tele skis or a snowboard! Yes, that’s correct. Read it again. They RIP!
I've got pit-bull bindings on the Metas (using a Burton stomp pad for the heel) and ordered Voile hardwires for the Karvers. I’ll get the heal piece on with some JB weld and let the good times roll.
When I say RIP, I mean really rip. I’ll take these skis down double black test pieces I wouldn't think of taking any other BC tour ski down, slopes that would otherwise be limited to a true tele ski or snowboard. The first reason is the short size; these things turn so quickly you can pick your way down anything with extreme control. I’ve dropped through 45 degree trees, hucked 6 footers off rocks, and can still out-climb anyone else on a fish scale base, but not better than a full length skin or snowshoe.
The ski is also pretty stiff, has a great shape, and a flex that gets progressively more supportive under stress. The stiff flex combined with tunable metal edges make these skis pretty good hard-snow carvers too, especially considering the 100mm width.
Float is fine in our Southern California maritime snow pack; my tips are always visible, and with my pack I’m well over 200#.
Waxing is also as simple as finding my can of silicon vending machine spray and hosing down the entire bottom, skin and all. This makes the ski glide and the skin not glob up. Maxiglide works too.
Finally, with a proper binding and boot and a little pow or corn, I can usually teach my friends to link tele turns on these skis in under an hour! But then I take them back and give them something else so I can have some fun, too.
Do yourself a solid and buy these skis, buy some good bindings and some good plastic boots and you’ll wonder why this ski took so long to come along! And no, I don’t work for Karhu.
Greg the trailgoon
Job 38:22Jan 29, 2007 at 3:16 am #1376199
I have still a question. Can the binding on the Kahru Karvers fixed at the heels when you use them for skiing?
UweJan 29, 2007 at 11:10 am #1376235
in a word, no. strictly freeheel'n here.
-gFeb 14, 2007 at 9:49 am #1378462
Great thoughts everywhere ranging from pure snowshoeing to ripping with cable bindings.
I have metas and ordered two sets of karvers for me and my wife. We'll snowshoe together with the dog and also try out some tree skiing and whatever else we can make these things do.
I did Springer Orchard at Whitegrass Touring Center on the box-stock meta's and had a great time doing modified tele turns in powder. I can go straight up Wiess Knob (sorry, don't know the grade) and come back down through the trees. I plan to do a day-long tour of Dolly Sods Wilderness before winter ends. Maybe more than once, weather permitting.
Winter issue combat boots work well with the standard binding. (Hey, they were free – and they're warm, too.) Even used my BCX-7s one time and the were fine. However winter boots such as Bugaboots (tall duck boots)are bad because the binding puts pressure on the snowshoe tab on the heel. It hurts.
I'd thought about using 3-pin bindings with the M6 inserts, but cable bindings are an even better idea. My Fischer BCX boots can go either way. And with cables, I can even use Garmont Excursions. This could be intersting!
Regardless, these are a fun diversion from XC and BC skiing.Aug 13, 2007 at 7:20 am #1398398
I just found this thread. I just bought a pair of the Karvers and would like to mount them with a tele binding. I saw that you mounted Voile Hardwires. Were these the CRB version or the standard 3 pin hardwire without the releasability? Also, was wondering where you mounted them on the ski, chord center or boot center? What length of screws did you use? Any trouble with keeping the screws mounted to the board? I have never skied the hardwires, can you remove the cable if ski conditions warrant it i.e., firmer snow conditions? Did you experience any tip dive while using the hardwires?
Sorry for all the questions! Thanks in advance for any input!Aug 13, 2007 at 8:18 am #1398405
I've got Voile 3-pins mounted on my Karvers. The skis have threaded inserts compatible with old-style, standard 3-hole tele bindings. So, I can swap back and forth between the 3-pins and the factory bindings. I did have to shim up the end of the 3-pin closest to the ski tip to get the right angle with my (overkill) plastic boots.
-MikeAug 17, 2007 at 2:55 pm #1399047
Another question, I do my own tuning and was wondering what the factory bevel is?
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