- Jan 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm #3572315Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Just read about trekking skis, anyone know about them?
They appear to be a hybrid between X-C skiis and snowshoes, sort of short, wide X-C skiis. I believe they have built-in skins. They have some type of binding that accepts hiking boots/shoes.
Do they give you the best of both worlds, or the worst? Do they glide at all?
They seem easier to use than snowshoes, you just shuffle them forward next to each other as with X-C skiis, no need to lift your foot as with many types of showshoes. Maybe that’s the main advantage.
Currently they are very expensive, multiple hundreds of dollars including some sort of special binding. With luck they’ll drop in price eventually.
Any experience with them?Jan 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm #3572318Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Elliott: I assume you are referring to Altais and the like.
There was a whole thread here on BPL a few years ago where some Altai users posted reviews of their experiences.
Use the BPL search function.
My recollection is that users reported for moving across flat terrain, they worked fine. Less effort than snow shoes and less skill needed than XC skis. Wait one month, and they will go on sale for 50% off.
CheersJan 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm #3572319
Black Diamond has released a new line of these:
With snowshoes you need to pack down enough snow with each step to support your weight. Whereas with longer skis the weight bearing surface overlaps from step to step, so you only need to pack down a portion of this with each new step. That’s a big part of why skiing feels and is much more efficient.
These trekking skis have more glide than snowshoes (which have none) but they have vastly less than a ski without a skin. You could barely glide down a green ski run with most skins. I think they are better than snowshoes in almost all conditions, but not better than something like a fishscale skin + removable climbing skin. With those you can actually ski down descents, with “trekking skis” and a normal winter boot, you’re not going to be doing much “skiing”.
If they don’t work out for BD, they might have them on sale in a year or two, but these are better than snowshoes so perhaps they’ll take off. Then again, snowshoes have less potential for wipeouts and they usually have crampons for steeper icy slopes, so snowshoes might still win out.Jan 9, 2019 at 6:48 pm #3572334Philip TschersichBPL Member
@philip-akLocale: Kodiak Alaska
“I think they are better than snowshoes in almost all conditions”
I have tried them and came to the opposite conclusion. But I do agree that real skis with skins are superior to the trekking ski things in every way other than compactness and cost of entry.Jan 9, 2019 at 8:49 pm #3572359
Why do you find snowshoes better? These trekking skis would be more efficient on the way up and faster on the way down, plus have more float in total for really soft conditions (to be clear, I am mostly speculating here. I have used something similar but only about 80cm long which was very unstable on descents). The main time I would opt for the snowshoes is in really challenging terrain where being nimble is number #1.
Other than the cost, I think “real skis” would be better in every way because you can get them in a short, nimble length too if you want. So the difference is that with removable skins and real bindings you gain the ability to descend faster (no skins, lock the heal + real boots), plus you can use fishscales on low angled/rolling terrain to move much more quickly.Jan 9, 2019 at 11:50 pm #3572421Philip TschersichBPL Member
@philip-akLocale: Kodiak Alaska
We mostly have relatively steep terrain here (coastal AK) and firm snow. The grip of crampons on snowshoes are more important than the glide of skis in many instances. If I mostly did packed fire road or smooth trail approaches it would be different, I guess. The skins on the mini skis are inadequate for climbing anything but gentle slopes. Side-hilling on firm snow would require a much better binding and real boot in order to edge at all, and the ‘skiing’ ability of these things on any sort of descent is terrible. For our conditions, the little skis basically do nothing well. It really depends on where you live.
This would be considered pretty mellow snowshoeing terrain here. Note what the mountains in the background look like:Jan 10, 2019 at 3:01 am #3572469Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I thoroughly dislike my MSR Lightning Ascent ‘shoes in comparison to my back country skis. I use G3 climbing skins that work great on ascents.
As snowshoes go the Lightning Ascents are great but not fun at all in deep snow. I call the experience “semi-postholing”.Jan 10, 2019 at 3:17 am #3572478
Fair enough. If you’re on firm snow and mostly worried about grip I can see favouring snowshoes. Indeed these “trekking skis” would have a less grip than usual skins since they don’t run the full length. It’s hard to say how much grip the new BD trekking skis have without trying them, since there are a lot of variables there (e.g. amount of camber, grip of the skin, size of the ski). I’d rather they largely gave up on glide and just put a full length skin on. I suspect most users would too because most users will be non-skiers that are probably terrified at the thought of gliding down hill – especially with a free heel.Jan 10, 2019 at 3:27 am #3572482Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
I’ve seen these skis used in the field.
They seemed, to me, neither fish nor fowl.
Snowshoers probably won’t like them because,well, they are ski-like. Most snowshoers, at least out West, are on snowshoes because they are not comfortable on Nordic touring skis.
Anyone who uses skis will prefer their Nordic skis for touring conditions and their powder skis with AT or beefier Tele bindings for more technical terrain to the hybrid skis.
I am not sure of the overall market.
Basically, who will buy them? Maybe in the heavier wooded or icy areas where skis aren’t as practical but where people want some glide (thinking my native New England)?Jan 10, 2019 at 11:59 am #3572527Max OBPL Member
The BD’ look like the ones from OAC (skinbased.com). Funny, they are not online in the EU version of the BD site… ;)
I have some of them iin use lately and they are a fun toy for playing outside in wintertime, but they ar not for srious backcountry travel. The reasons have been mentioned above.
Good for winter hiking in flat to “hilly” terrain.Jan 10, 2019 at 5:26 pm #3572550S LongBPL Member
I have the first generation Altai ski-shoes and really like them for most things around here (Wasatch and Uinta Mountains). I have done King’s Peak a couple times in the middle of winter and the Altais were head and shoulders above snowshoes for that. Ditto with Gannett Peak in Wyoming in winter (all the way to Upper Titcomb Basin, at least). I have the Lightning Ascents and they work well when the going gets steep/icy, but for everything else I like the Altais. Note that I DO have my Altais modified with Silvretta 500 bindings so I can use my double mountaineering boots for longer, colder trips. I don’t know how well the universal binding works. Agreed that a “real” ski+skins combo would do better in conditions requiring more float, or steeper conditions that aren’t nasty enough to want snowshoes for maneuverability/grip, but it’s costly to get a good setup.Jan 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm #3572583David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
A long time (8 years!) since my review of the prototype Altai Hok was published here, and not a whole lot has changed.
It’s understandable to view snowshoes, skishoes, nordic skis, and backcountry (alpine) skis as competing tools. I’ve come to see the categories as having very little overlap in terms of the terrain for which they’re best suited. A lot of the teeth gnashing associated with these discussions (including the rather silly one which ensued after that article) has to do with folks trying to universalize their experience to all terrains.
As Dan mentions, snowshoes are pretty terrible in unconsolidated snow. In Montana I only use them either very early in the season, or in spring and early summer once trips involve a lot of bare ground and consolidated snow. There is a lot of deep winter, lower elevation skiing to be done for which skishoes are the ideal tool. I much prefer a fishscaled ski for these trips. I find them better for rolling terrain, and like not having to fight the inevitable icing of skinserts. Unfortunately no one makes a good scaled skishoe. The old Trak Bushwacker was just about perfect.Jan 11, 2019 at 5:43 am #3572660Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
I am not debating the utility of these skishoes. Or looking at them as competing.
I am just wondering, who will actually buy them? Seems a very small market for reasons already stated.
I guess a more blunt question from a business standpoint: Will Black Diamond’s investment on the purchase, marketing, etc. pay off?Jan 11, 2019 at 6:15 am #3572666Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
This sort of thing keeps popping up. Karhu made some years ago (also sold rebranded by LL Bean), then the Hoks, now these. A niche exists, for sure. But I`m with Pmags – I think the market is pretty small.Jan 12, 2019 at 5:52 pm #3572869
I’ve been experimenting with trekking skis since about 1988. They’ve been around a lot longer, with roots in Mongolia, and more recently in Scandinavia.
The ability to squeeze performance out of them depends primarily on your skiing ability, the skin inset and quality (e.g., balance between grip and glide, resistance to icing), float surface area, and some camber. I’d argue that metal edges and boot/binding are only secondary performance factors – for trekking at least.
I use the BD Glidelite 127s with universal bindings, Altra Lone Peak Mids, Forty Below Light Energy overboots. For me, this is a deep backcountry powder tool for low- to moderate-angle terrain, but will be useful for only low-angle terrain until your skiing ability improves.
Better for winter bushwhacking when compared to long skis.
Better than snowshoes for deep winter powder.
Better than traditional ski gear for long days/long miles because you can use more comfortable footwear.
And they are super fun in rolling terrain – you can cover a LOT of miles compared to snowshoes, esp. on the return trip back to the car.
They may be perceived to have a narrow niche but the conditions in which you can get a lot out of them will increase as your skiing ability with them increases.
I love mine and really enjoy my setup.
For me, the bottom line is that it’s a really fun way to travel in deep powder, and still wear trail running shoes – which means warm feet and less fatigue/foot pain.Jan 12, 2019 at 7:18 pm #3572885Ross BleakneyBPL Member
I played around with variations of this idea a few years ago. Then I bought the Altai skis. They are OK — but I was disappointed with the glide. I would have preferred a fish scale pattern, along with easily attachable skins (similar to what “Easy Skin” system Fisher has).
I was also a bit disappointed with their universal binding. It was somehow both flimsy and rigid, in that it didn’t ski especially well, and didn’t glide very well either. The Black Diamond universal binding looks better, in that it uses a hinge, not a flexible bar. I ended up dispensing with the binding (yours free if anyone wants it) and just installing a NNN BC binding instead. This means that I now only use it for winter trips, which limits value (as explained below).
In general, they are definitely a niche market. They are never likely to climb as well as a snowshoe unless they have an easy way to add a crampon. They will never be able to ski as well as a good ski, although if they made the changes I recommend, they would come close. Short skis are still skis. It is tougher to keep a straight kick and glide, but they still work. They won’t be as fast, but if they just had fish scales (or better yet, were flat with removable skins) then they would ski just fine. It is worth noting that skins don’t have to be slow — there are high performance cross country skis right now that are using skins instead of fish scales. But they use a very tiny amount, and thus can’t climb the way that a full skin can (or the way an Altai ski can). In any event, the two advantages are:
- Takes up less room in the trunk. This is especially nice if you are going out with a bunch of folks who are snowshoeing.
- Much easier to carry. This is the main use, in my opinion, and it is why the universal binding is key. For Spring trips, this is a good way to go. You hike the first couple miles carrying the skis the way you would carry snowshoes.
If they skied better (and the Black Diamond may) and had an easily attachable crampon, then I might use them a lot more. The key at that point would be the binding.Jan 16, 2019 at 3:04 am #3573314Michael SirofchuckBPL Member
@mr_squishyLocale: Great Wet North
In the early 80s, I had a pair of Trek “Bushwhackers” – a short, fat ski with a fishscale kicker. I mounted a non-releasable Silveretta binding on them that fit my Koflach double plastic boots – they were dynamite for long approaches in and out on flat to moderate terrain. I had skins for steeper terrain. Sadly, I sold them.Jan 16, 2019 at 3:51 am #3573318
@mr_squishy The Trek “Bushwhackers” were a gem. I miss mine as well. I regret selling very few things, but I regret selling those. The closest I came after I sold them was a set of fat-but-not-fat-enough Dynafit’s at 130cm that I mounted w/Dynafit bindings for lace-up plastic mountaineering boots that had a Dynafit mount on them. I used a Dremel to make my own fish scales on them, then used skins for steeper terrain and stripped the skins off for sustained downhill.
ca. 2004, above the treeline in the Wyoming Beartooths:Jan 16, 2019 at 10:38 am #3573345Greg PehrsonBPL Member
@gregpehrsonLocale: playa del caballo blanco
Dave, I started looking for a pair of Trak Bushwhackers after your excellent review. I followed eBay and craigslist for several months, then suddenly, 5 pairs popped up over the course of 2 weeks in December from different sellers between the 2 sites. So there is hope out there for seekers!
Just got mine with a 3-pin binding in the mail a couple weeks ago. Haven’t gotten to try them out yet here in the NE US but am very excited.Jan 21, 2019 at 3:57 am #3574102Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Have old 190 cm. Atomic TM 22 Telemark skis and use G3 skins. In fact I just sed them this week on a high altitude camp to test my Scarp 2 tent mods in heavy snow,
These Tm 22 skis have Voile’ release bindings with 75 mm XC bindings and Voile’ cable bindings. I use aged Scarpa T3 boots. Works great.
For flatter and rolling terrain I have the same Voile’ bindings on longer (210 CM) Asnes Combi Combat Norwegian army skis. (Only available in the US at Neptune Mountaineeing, Boulder, CO.) These skis have full metal edges and are plain tough.Great for faster travel than the Atomic Tele skis if steep terrain will not be on the agenda.Jan 21, 2019 at 7:47 pm #3574268Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
The bushwackers worked for me in variable terrain, like a winter trip on the Long Trail to Little Rock Pond. They make sharper turns in forested areas. But for steep climbing (or descendng), or postholing conditions that will not support even fat skis, snowshoes are necessary. Being a dino, I still use those with the Sherpa design, tube on the perimeter and a durable deck of snow and ice repellent material, plus the spikes of course.Jan 22, 2019 at 10:12 pm #3574484Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
I have a pair of Altai Hoks and very much enjoy them for the conditions they are suited (i.e., as noted flat to lightly hilly, but not steep terrain). I use them with 3-pin bindings.
I just noticed the new BD product for the first time in Ryan’s Uberlight review. The one thing I noticed, that does not seem to have been commented on above is that the BD Glidelite 127s seem to be about half the weight (1kg/pair vs. 2kg/pair w/o bindings) than the Hoks. I assume part of the difference is the metal edge. Still, that is a big difference both on the feet and when carried on the pack. Am I missing something? Anyone have thoughts on this point?Jan 22, 2019 at 11:08 pm #3574495
I have pretty thick metal edges on my backcountry skis, that I’ve replaced. They weigh around 50 grams per meter. So, even if the BD 127’s had full metal edges of the type you’d need for skiing ice and crud (note that XC skis will have much lighter metal edges), we are only looking at about 200 grams tops, and probably closer to 100 or 125 for a metal edge that would be reasonable on this type of ski.
That’s somewhere between 4 and 8 ounces.
The BD skis have lighter core construction than the Hoks, and lighter skins (Glidelite skins).Jan 23, 2019 at 6:42 am #3574601Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Anybody tried these:
Fish scales – check. Optional climbing skins – check. Crampons builtin and add-on – check.
The key to Trackers Skishoes is the aluminum tracking fins that run lengthwise along the bottom, acting like sliding crampons.
— RexJan 23, 2019 at 9:54 pm #3574715Ross BleakneyBPL Member
Those look really good, Rex. I’m not sure if they are fast, but they certainly look like they work well as snowshoes. That was always one of the issues with a lot of the trekking skis. They didn’t really do either thing (act as a snowshoe or ski) very well. If you encountered a lot of ice, or crust, or other bad ski conditions, you were just out of luck. If you knew conditions were going to be great, then you probably just used skis. For those, it seems like you would just bring them along every time you would otherwise just use snowshoes. Even if they don’t ski that well, they would still ski better than regular snowshoes, while performing just fine as snowshoes.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.