Dec 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm #1310538
Greetings and salutations!
I'm enamored with the idea of ski-shoeing. I've been an alpine skier since the '80s but I typically stick to the groomed cruisers and found that trees tend to win when I bounce off of them. I've done some snow shoeing in the military and recreationally.
I like the idea of the Hoks as an alternative to snowshoes as it seems more efficient to glide through the snow than to stomp through it. I also like them as an alternative to Nordic skis for when I'm in the trees for the reasons mentioned above and the belief that they'll be more maneuverable.
So FWIW for this purchase, I'm looking to buy these instead of the MSR Lightning Ascents with a plan to buy proper back country skis later on down the road. Probably would go with the universal binding and definitely the 145s due to my size.
So any problems with the skins holding up? Anything I'm missing which would give the MSR Lightning Ascents a edge on the Hoks?Dec 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm #2050606
Ross BleakneyBPL Member
I have a pair. They are fun. One of the things I like about them is that you can easily fit them in a trunk (although I think I have the shorter ones). This means that you can join your friends who are using snowshoes and not have to worry about a ski rack.
They perform quite well as skis. They are long enough and have enough flotation to do the job. The permanent skin is convenient, but it is the one thing I don't like about them. I wish they had gone with fish scales instead. It makes it slow when you hit a flat area. But compared to snowshoes, they are plenty fast. Snowshoes give you a bit more control, in case you have to go up through a steep, tricky area. If you get the universal binding, make sure your boots have plenty of flex. The bindings themselves don't bend very much (they don't pivot like Nordic bindings). I ended up using a homemade type of universal binding which I attached to the SNS BC bindings. I've also just used the SNS BC bindings with the proper boots (for those days when I know I won't carry the skis very much).
I haven't used them on too many trips, so I can't comment on longevity. Generally speaking, I'm pretty happy with them.Dec 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm #2050609
Thanks for the feedback Ross. My thoughts were to buy them with the universal bindings and then buy a three pin setup later on if it makes sense. Having done zero nordic skiing in my life, using skins is new territory for me.
Thanks again.Dec 4, 2013 at 6:34 am #2050668
@davecLocale: The West Slope
The Hoks and Lightning Ascents are suited to very different things. The LAs are poorly suited to thumping around in moderately angling, powder woods, which is what the Hoks are best at. On the other hand the Hoks, esp the 145s, are quite bad at windpack and refrozen junk, which is where the LAs beat all other tools. Just make sure you match the tool to the terrain.Dec 4, 2013 at 8:39 am #2050701
I think I'm kidding myself into believing that this will be an either/or purchase. This will be my first winter with SAR. I don't have the op tempo figured out yet but at some point I'll have to pick up some snowshoes. The calls have dropped the past couple months (thought that they would spike during hunting season) but I suspect they’ll increase once the snow starts dropping and everyone dusts off their toys.
For recreational purposes and considering the pros/cons you've mentioned for each system, sounds like the Hoks are a better choice for the areas I'll tend to roam.
Thanks for your input David.Dec 4, 2013 at 8:46 am #2050702
deletedDec 4, 2013 at 9:23 am #2050709
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
I note that they don't list the weight.
If they were reasonably light, I expect they would list the weight.
I have looked into similar things in the past and the weight was what turned me off… heavier than either skis or snowshoes.
the price would also seem to be a clue as to them being heavy as light weight is more expensive than that.
Over all, I consider these a psychological crutch for those resistant to the idea of learning to ski backcountry conditions. But these may be the worst of all worlds.. heavey, slow, don't turn well, longer and heavier and clunkier than snowshoes and harder to maneuver…
I admit they MAY perform well in certain conditions. But I think that would be a VERY narrow slice of the spectrum of all conditions… And it still seems to me that a short/wide/light weight, good turning wax less base ski would be a better choice (with some skins if the waxless base slips too much)… AND a pair of snowshoes for when conditions are unskiable…
Snow is so variable you need a quiver of tools…
my 2 cents…
BillyDec 4, 2013 at 9:30 am #2050710
@idesterDec 4, 2013 at 9:49 am #2050717
"Have you considered a smaller Backcountry XC-ski like the Alpina Lite Terrain ski."
I haven't but I will. Looks like I'd need the 178s.
"Over all, I consider these a psychological crutch for those resistant to the idea of learning to ski backcountry conditions."
Well they are advertised as ski-shoeing. In theory, it's not a perfect snow shoe or ski but has some nice features of both. I think these would be nice in conditions where I'd normally want to use a snow shoe (a mixture of open fields and trees) where these would allow for me to glide instead of stomp through the open areas and provide more maneuverability in the trees.
I've been skiing since the '80s but I'm not much of a tree/powder skier and consider myself to be mediocre overall. With a kid in hockey, I'm lucky to hit the slopes 10 times per year and that's being overly optimistic. I have to be realistic with where I am skill-wise and time available to improve it so yes it's a crutch but it's better than sitting on the couch.
"Snow is so variable you need a quiver of tools…"
Truer words never spoken. Most of my skiing is well below 6k'. Our snow tends to be heavier that the stuff in the Rockies and Utah so I find that my plain ol' Dynastar parabolics are fine for what I encounter locally. Had a chance to go skiing with a buddy at Snowbird and went gaga over their Champaign powder (10k' at the summit I believe) but I think I would have had more fun with some of those fat powder skis.Dec 4, 2013 at 10:31 am #2050731
spelt with a tBPL Member
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
Sorry Ian for grumping all over your thread but
1. I am tired of seeing "quiver" tossed out whenever someone starts a thread about a single kind of ski. Maybe a good faith assumption that they did their research and know the conditions they're planning to ski in would be in order, no? Maybe they don't have the money to have 6 setups. Maybe they want 6 setups but this is the setup they're looking at right now. Maybe they know the conditions they like and are only going out at those times. Can we maybe have one discussion about skis without assuming that everyone will, wants to, or should "amass a quiver."
2. I am tired of people knocking the Hok for not doing things it was never designed to do, and by extension the people using it as baby wussy skiers. Not everyone skies alpine backcountry. Not everyone has access to that sort of skiing. Not everyone skies avalanche terrain. Not everyone wants to! Can we maybe have a discussion about Hoks where no one disingenuously suggests they suck b/c you wouldn't take them heliskiing or winter mountaineering, and no one suggests the only reason to use Hoks is b/c you're afraid to learn "real" skiing. That's bullshit.Dec 4, 2013 at 10:50 am #2050737
@davecLocale: The West Slope
My 145s were 46 oz a ski without bindings. As I said in my oversnow travel SOTMR last year, the Hoks are about average in terms of weight/surface area.
I found a used pair of Trak Bushwacker skis at a swap last year. They're 150cm and have a waxless pattern which runs almost to the tail of the ski. They climb great. I think the Hoks, or something else designed to fit this role, would be best with such a long and aggressive waxless pattern.
Skis like the Hok fit a particular niche. People inculcated with conventional nordic or alpine backgrounds tend not to get it.Dec 4, 2013 at 11:00 am #2050740
Thanks Doug. David addressed some of my concerns with the universal binding and the skins. They are still new enough that it's difficult to determine the life of the skins but I haven't found a review indicating a catastrophic failure with the skins peeling off so I think I'm comfortable enough with them at the is point to pull the trigger (after the new year).
I'm still undecided on the universal binding but I like the idea of being able to use them with my trail runners so if I had to buy it today, I'd probably get them and purchase a three pin binding later on.
Spelt!, no worries man!
Nothing to do with anything but I really like the Lined Elk Skin Gloves Altai sells and I have to give them extra points since they're made here in Washington:Dec 4, 2013 at 11:30 am #2050754
Andy ChasséBPL Member
@andycLocale: The Front Range
I have a pair of Hok 125's with universal bindings that I picked up for this season…
So far, so good. I'm not a particularly great skier (a few seasons of xc and no alpine, ever), but these let me get to some nice terrain without feeling like I'm going to eat snow every other step. As mentioned, they excel in heavily wooded areas and are great at breaking trail. They glide reasonably well, all things considered, and they climb like champs. I'm in northern CO and ski mostly off trail between 9-11K with these, with a nice mix of rolling terrain and steep climbs/descents.
I'm not the biggest fan of the universal bindings, but they work well enough. I think someone else mentioned they don't flex that well and I agree with this. And the control leaves something to be desired. If I were to do it again, I'd probably pick up the adapter plate and mount BC bindings. As for durability, too early to tell. I think the skin could become an issue at some point, but who knows.
Overall – totally worth it, in my opinion. I find myself taking these out most often and always looking forward to it!Dec 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm #2050777
Michael DriscollBPL Member
@hillhikerzLocale: Monterey Bay
I was going to do this with the Truckee location last year; but never made it… from the website… lots of places it the PNW…
"Altai Skis demo and rental locations are limited, mainly near our home bases of Quebec and NE WA. Below is a current list of areas you can test out a pair.
49* North Nordic Center – Chewelah, WA
Mountain Gear – Spokane, WA
Methow Valley Ski School – Methow Valley, WA
White Pass Nordic Center – White Pass, WA
Oregon Mountain Community – Portland, OR
The Truckee Sports Exchange – Truckee, CA
Panara Imports – Marquette, MI
Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply – Grand Marais, MN
The Base Camp – Billings and Helena, MT
White Grass Touring – Davis, WV
The Mountaineer – Keene Valley, NY"Dec 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm #2050812
Thanks for showing that Michael. I looked at this a year or so ago and only remember 49* North which is not a place I go to ski. At that time, I calculated the cost of gas and rental fee and soon realized that it was cheaper for me to buy them.
White Pass works perfectly so I'll check them out there. Don't know if they are new on the list or if I just missed it the first time around. I suspect that I'll be limited to the trail network but at least I can see which binding system would work best for me.Dec 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm #2051209
>I note that they don't list the weight.
4lbs 8oz for the pair according to this
http://altaiskis.com/buy-products/ski-gear/hok-ski/Dec 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #2051372
My wife just got a pair, so this is the weight as they are shipped with no bindings (includes 2 rubber bands and the plastic shipping wrapping) for the size 145 skis – 5 pounds 5 ounces.Dec 5, 2013 at 8:30 pm #2051385
Herman EBPL Member
If you plan on using them for SAR, I would go with snowshoes. The are more maneuverable (easy to pivot, etc) and you can take them off and strap them to your pack without skis (I know they're short at 145) poking up. Hiking up a steep crusted area is easier with the proper snowshoes without slowing your team down, etc.Dec 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm #2051390
Thanks Herman. I'm looking at these primarily for recreational purposes but you make a good point. I'm sure at some point I'll have both the snow shoes and Hoks.Dec 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm #2051421
Herman EBPL Member
If you can't afford both at this time, I would buy the snowshoes first if you are doing SAR, that way you have some overland way of travel this winter. Next winter get the skis.Dec 29, 2013 at 11:27 am #2058531
Thought I would share this for any Washingtonians who'd like to demo the Hoks. I stopped by the White Pass Nordic Center yesterday to check out the Hoks. They have two 145s and three 125s which are brand new still in shrink-wrap. When asked about the bindings, she wasn't sure but believes that they will put the universal binding on them instead of the three pin so bring appropriate footwear.
The snow was horrible yesterday so keeping my fingers crossed for new snow. The Nordic Center hasn't opened yet and bad as the snow was, I'm not going to be surprised if I have to wait until February to try these out.
I enjoyed a short day hike on the PCT and regret that I didn't bring my ice skates with me for the trails. From driving up the east side of the pass, not much was sticking below 4500'.Jun 4, 2015 at 4:44 pm #2204733
Mike MBPL Member
more time has passed, anymore Hok users out there? I do a lot of snowshoeing, but it definitely limits how far I can go in day. These look appealing as I believe I could cover more ground and quicker. Where I snowshoe most of it is not suitable for x-country skis (at least at my skill level anyways), but at first blush looks like these might be
I have zip experience downhill skiing, will I kill myself on these? maybe worth taking these to the bunny hill and taking a few lessons?
there are places where I need the grip of snowshoes, is there a cramponesque like device that would suitable for strapping on the Hoks when such an occasion arises? are they easy on/off (if such a device exists)?
thanks in advance
MikeJun 4, 2015 at 8:08 pm #2204760
@bjorn240Locale: Westchester County, NY
I love mine. I think they are very fun for low angle forest trail travel, and quite quick too. But at least for the 145s, I would say that skiing experience is helpful. What makes them more fun that snowshoes is that you can ski them. But skiing (even low angle stuff in the woods) alone in the backcountry, can bring some dangers, so knowing at least how to wedge turn is a must.Jun 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm #2204765
Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
first, i am no expert on this topic or on BC skiing. so take that into consideration. Dave C here on BPL I think has some thoughts on the Hoks. Also note that I did not get out on mine a single time this winter due to the poor snow here. In the PNW.
It seems that the main complaints with the Hoks is that they do not downhill ski that well. The skins are not removable and so slow you down. They don't have much sidecut, so they don't turn great, and being so short, you can't really rip turns on the downhills.
Second, they don't glide well, as there is little camber to them. And they are noisy when you are kick and gliding (or trying). I will add to this that they don't track well at all due to their short length. I doubt the 145s will be much better. A little better, but not much.
So they are not good downhill backcountry skis. And they are not good touring BC XC skis.
But they do climb ok, although not as well as a BC AT ski with full skins and definitely no where near a good snowshoe. They partial skin can only grab so much. The benefit is that you don't have to screw with taking the skins off and on constantly. And they maneuver through trees SO much better than full length skis. You can just pick them up and walk with them like snowshoes even.
So they are a big compromise. They are really good at nothing in isolation. But seem to work OK in a wide range of conditions and functions. And if you can freeheal ski OK, they can be skied downhill pretty well. Plenty of videos showing it. For me they are fun because I love XC skiiing, but you cant really do it on lots of wooded trails with full length BC XC Skis. Too long, too many tight turns through trees, to much uphill for fish scales. I like snowshoeing too. But when you are coming down or on flats or gentle ups, it just kills me when in snowshoes because I am thinking how much more fun and faster it would be to do it on skis.Jun 4, 2015 at 9:32 pm #2204780
One of my Russian expat friends bought one of those, and he was very disappointed in it. The manufacturer claimed Hoks was just as good as Siberian skis. Except he had them when he used to live in the former Soviet Union. The Hoks in his opinion were nothing more than big awkward snowshoes which can go downhill and weren't good at anything. "Americans can't tell the truth", he says.
He wanted true forest skis, not a hybrid between alpine and forest. I think he ended up importing his from Ukraine or Russia though.
Honestly, I rather order one straight from Russia:
If one is going to use a Siberian-inspired design, might as well use the real thing rather than a severely compromised design catered to alpine skiiers.
The ski maker who runs the website is a very nice guy, but sometimes he forgets to respond to e-mails. So, don't be offended if correspondence is poor.
But these skis don't come with climbing skins. You will have to add them on yourself. Over there, they use sealskin, or the skin from the legs of reindeer and moose.
The bindings are made for commercial hunters where procuring sable skin is the difference between living well into the next year, or being on the verge of starvation. So, it's important that they don't make noise or able to dismount to be able to stalk. But it shouldn't be hard to affix your own aftermarket bindings on them, or find a ski shop who will.
Disclaimer: I don't own these skis. Tried them through a few of my friends and they are very nice.
There are a few other manufacturers of skishoes though. I can link to a few if people want more competitors.
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