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Calling all Altai Hok users!
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Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/03/2013 15:55:39 MST Print View

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?

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/03/2013 22:36:44 MST Print View

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.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/03/2013 22:47:05 MST Print View

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.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Hoks on 12/04/2013 07:34:58 MST Print View

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.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: re: Hoks on 12/04/2013 09:39:10 MST Print View

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.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/04/2013 09:46:56 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 01/16/2014 21:33:44 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/04/2013 10:23:51 MST Print View

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...


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/04/2013 10:30:10 MST Print View



Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/04/2013 10:49:11 MST Print View

"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.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/04/2013 11:47:47 MST.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
my 2 cents 2 on 12/04/2013 11:31:36 MST Print View

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.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Hok weight on 12/04/2013 11:50:08 MST Print View

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.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: my 2 cents 2 on 12/04/2013 12:00:32 MST Print View

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:

Andy Chasse'

Locale: The Front Range
My thoughts... on 12/04/2013 12:30:32 MST Print View

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!

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - F

Locale: Monterey Bay
FYI: Altai Skis demo and rental locations on 12/04/2013 13:52:14 MST Print View

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.
United States
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"

Edited by Hillhikerz on 12/04/2013 13:53:44 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: FYI: Altai Skis demo and rental locations on 12/04/2013 15:02:24 MST Print View

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.

Marc Britten
Re: Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/05/2013 15:38:15 MST Print View

>I note that they don't list the weight.

4lbs 8oz for the pair according to this

Chris Cheng
(chrischeng) - F
Re: Re: Re: Calling all Altai Hok users! on 12/05/2013 21:09:21 MST Print View

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.

Herman E
(hre814) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
SAR on 12/05/2013 21:30:50 MST Print View

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.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: SAR on 12/05/2013 21:40:53 MST Print View

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.

Herman E
(hre814) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Both on 12/06/2013 00:12:42 MST Print View

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.