Altai Skis Hok Review

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LoveJohnny
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Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby LoveJohnny » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:33 am

Fun! I have to start this review with the word fun...! Because it's really what the Hoks are all about!

I was not convinced at all before trying the Hoks. After all, there has been several other companies in the last 20 years making "snowshoe" kind of skis without any success, they all stopped production at some point. Why would it be different with the Hok? Well, basically because they are the only ones on the market right now, but mostly probably because it was about time that people (including me) realize how fun they really are.

The "ski" comes in two different sizes, 125cm and 145cm. Width is about 100mm around the waist, and of course, there is a synthetic skin permanently glued under the ski. They have nicely and strongly rockered tips for any type of powder. You can fit whatever binding you want on it, and they also sell a universal binding in which you can fit any of your winter boots. I tried the 125cm with Voile 3-pin bindings and leathers.

It's not what you think. We would be tempted to think it's a slow snowshoe that can sort of ski downhill. But no, it's actually a real ski too! It climbs like crazy due to the large full-width skin, but it's really, really fun on the downhill. This thing is like a 4WD truck, you can go anywhere you want. You can ski places you never did before. First because of its size, you can ski down the tightest glades with much more manoeuvrability than any other ski. And second, because the full skin provides just the right amount of speed control without having the feeling of 'drag'. The Hok really opens up a whole new range of skiable territory. They are fun anywhere, even on the groomers!

I know it sounds weird if you never tried the Hoks, but they really make you completely rethink why we do the tele thing with 200cm skis...

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/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"Your heel (and mind) is not really free until you cut the cable..." -Me

kumachan
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby kumachan » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:40 pm

Thanks for posting this review, LJ! I've been lurking around here for a couple of weeks trying to catch up on 18 years of R&D change in backcountry travel and you guys on this site are really amazing with the reviews. I'm getting back into winter camping & backcountry trekking after a long time away and am really interested in the Hoks. These look like a great way to get into the backcountry with gear while I work on getting my X-C chops back. Were you carrying a pack on the 125s? If so, how heavy would you estimate you were on the skis? I really like that Altai makes the Balla Hok as I want to introduce my 5 year old to our woods in winter!

This post might not be the right place to post kudos, but the reviews of equipment by the folks on this site are amazing, are miles ahead of any "pros" I've spoken to and have kept me busy reading for a couple of weeks! Lilcliffy & MikeK might want to consider giving R.E.I. & E.M.S. staff a seminar in backcountry skiing equipment and technique as those kids haven't a clue! Thanks, again, for taking time to write these reviews, they're a godsend in the age of websites created to hype particular gear manufacturers!

-Gene

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lilcliffy
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:18 am

Thanks for starting this one LJ!

I am very excited to try the Hok- both as a bush-wacking FUN(!)- but also for working through dense forest.

I am expecting my pair this week some time. I ordered the 145cm- am putting NNN-BC on them.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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LoveJohnny
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby LoveJohnny » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:38 am

Welcome to TT Kumachan!

This is a labor of love, no money or marketing involved... Just honest reviews of gear we like or not... I wish my English was good enough to write more in-depth reviews...

I never ski with a backpack... But even if I was carrying a heavy one, I would still go for the 125cm version to really get the vibe of the Hoks... I would go 125 if tele-downhill is your priority or 145 if you're more into touring...

I sure will buy a pair to mount with NNN soon too... Let us know how you like them Cliffy...!

Kumachan, actually, you can find Lilcliffy reviews on several online stores... ;)
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"Your heel (and mind) is not really free until you cut the cable..." -Me

kumachan
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby kumachan » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:37 pm

Thanks for the welcome, LJ! Your written English is fine, I'll be happy to read more detailed comments from you! Thanks, too, for the info on Hok lengths & pack weight. I think the 145 is the way for me to go. Thanks, again!

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MikeK
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby MikeK » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:34 pm

I know I mentioned it before but I still can't help but think of using something like these for winter mountaineering in the Adirondacks or Catskills.

A lot of the big mountains here have long approaches because they are deep in the wilderness, but using something like this vs. a snowshoe, you strap these on your back, ski the approach with some long xc focused skis then switch over to these when you hit the narrow, steep trail to the summit. For traverses I'd just ski them the whole time as I wouldn't want to climb/descend with long skis on my back if I didn't have to. Surely faster than snowshoes.

It would be killer if there was some sort of crampon system for them for when you hit ice falls and cliffs and not have to carry a full set of microspikes or crampons and have to switch.

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bgregoire
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby bgregoire » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:47 pm

MikeK wrote:I know I mentioned it before but I still can't help but think of using something like these for winter mountaineering in the Adirondacks or Catskills.

A lot of the big mountains here have long approaches because they are deep in the wilderness, but using something like this vs. a snowshoe, you strap these on your back, ski the approach with some long xc focused skis then switch over to these when you hit the narrow, steep trail to the summit. For traverses I'd just ski them the whole time as I wouldn't want to climb/descend with long skis on my back if I didn't have to. Surely faster than snowshoes.

It would be killer if there was some sort of crampon system for them for when you hit ice falls and cliffs and not have to carry a full set of microspikes or crampons and have to switch.


Ice falls and cliffs on hoks? might as well aim for everest!
I live for the Telemark arc....The feeeeeeel.....I ski miles to get to a place where there is guaranteed snow to do the deal....TM

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MikeK
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby MikeK » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:53 pm

Yeah... just little ones here... like 6-8' usually. Might be a few double that, but they aren't sheer or else they tend to put up ladders. Short scrambles up with crampons. Sometimes a rope is a good idea.

Freshpow
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby Freshpow » Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:16 pm

Johnny, you are a master salesman! I've been eyeing those Hoks for over a year, and I finally pulled the trigger last weekend after reading your review! So far all I can report is that they are super fun for playing with my kid in the back yard, and they glide better than I expected.

nilsy
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Re: Altai Skis Hok Review

Postby nilsy » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:22 pm

Hi everyone and thanks for the great review LJ! I would say that LJ hit the mark with saying the Hok is kind of in its own world. It is not really meant to replace tele or AT or XC. It is best used in the backcountry and works well in any kind of soft snow. SInce we came out with the Hok in 2011-12 I have been on it a lot, first for testing and development and then- for fun. There are a lot of things the Hok does well, and definitely some things it does not do well, but for me what keeps me going out on it is the simplicity of travel. I can go out with a 3 pin and cover a lot of terrain that is often in between xc and full tele (with skins). For downhill use, I use a single pole exclusively, which gets rid of the short ski fore/aft stability issue.

I see a comment in regards to crampons. Our new adapter plate (http://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/adapter-plate/) is designed for a cut out in the center that fits the Band D tele crampon (110mm) http://www.bndskigear.com/telemarkcrampons.html

cheers, and happy skiing nils


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