> 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.