Altai Skis Hok
These are a lightweight, maneuverable way to get off the beaten track and have snowfun. If you can walk, you can Hok :)
- These are definitely a hybrid that kind of create their own niche.
- Reasonably lightweight
- They’re easier to glide along in than snowshoes (slide forward instead of lifting).
- Easy to strap into if you get the universal binding
- Very portable
- Will take major abuse (rough terrain)
- Easily walk up slopes regular cross-country skis need to traverse, herringbone, or sidestep up
- The built-in skins that give traction create drag making a ‘kick n’ glide’ motion a bit more work.
- Temperatures that are in the just freezing range can make for ice/snow buildup. This can be managed to some degree by silicone spray or something like Swix FX4.
I’ve had three seasons of Hok experience now, two with the Universal Binding, one with the three-pin binding.
I find the Hoks to be superb for exploring. My wife and I enjoy wandering up frozen stream and river beds. The Hok has enough traction to climb up and enough glide to slide down. They offer a maneuverability in tight terrain my cross-country skis struggle in, a bit more speed/less effort than my snowshoes require, and an opportunity to "run" in powdery snow.
The Universal Bindings are functional. They allow you to use regular boots (I tried them with Fivefinger shoes, it worked but I wouldn’t recommend it) and have fun. I found it beneficial to stop on occasion and tighten up the straps. When I changed my binding over to a three pin it was a game changer—far superior control and efficiency, much less wasted effort.
Using a Lurk (aka Tiak) for descending is highly recommended if you’re not skilled in Telemark technique. It’s also extremely fun and controllable to ski "tripod". I plan on finding/fabricating a two-piece Lurk for the upcoming season as I want more alternatives available than poles or a one-piece Lurk.
My Hoks are 145’s (I’m 6', 200 pounds), my wife’s are 125’s (she’s 5', 110 pounds). My flotation is adequate, hers is superior.
Wife on the Lurk in powder...
Wife carving downhill...
Us exploring (using my Hoks as a bench).
I do resort, some backcountry, and lots of XC skiing. I’ve used the Hoks for three full seasons in varying conditions/terrain. They’ve provided a lot of fun and memorable moments. I wouldn’t hesitate to replace them.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Hers $400 Canadian with Universal binding, Mine $275 Canadian without binding.
Breaks the cycle of upgrading boots and skis with downhill and cross-country as bindings are universal and ski lengths are only two. Great fun, easy to use by adults and juniors, see detailed review on the Adirondack Mountain Club website (link below).
- fun on most snow conditions
- makes snowshoes obsolete
- no special ski boots necessary
- easy to use by beginners, experts
- great for seniors too
- very inexpensive for ski gear
- durable, lasts for years
- earlier binding subject to failure
- limited availability
- so much fun tires you out...
For a detailed review, see Gear Review: Altai Hok Skis on the Adirondack Mountain Club website in the News section.
Have had for 4 years and still having fun!
Source: LL Bean which guarantees the product
True to their description, these are a cross between x-country skis and snowshoes and just might be the right choice for many for winter travel in the front and backcountry.
- Easy to maneuver
- Skins do a good job in climbing
- The universal bindings work well
- You have several binding options
- In steeper and icier conditions they need more traction
I rented a pair if these from a local shop to give a whirl. I rented 125's that were mounted with BC NNN bindings, I happened to have a pair of boots that worked so off I went. They were easy to maneuver with, they climb nicely, and on the way out I shaved a lot of time off versus snowshoeing.
I did go down a couple a couple of times, but I'm not an accomplished skier, far from it. I enjoyed them enough that I bought a pair of my own; I ended up going with the universal bindings. I think if I was more of a skier I'd opt for a three pin and cable setup.
My hope is with some practice the skiing skills will pick up for me and if need be I can swap in a different binding setup (they are easily setup with three pin, NNN or their universal binding).
There are limitations to the ski. It won't get me into all the places that I go with my MSR Lightnings. They simply don't have the traction that an aggressive snowshoe crampon/deck offers. I think with a little ingenuity, you could come up a with a removable crampon which would add range to these skis.
If you have snowshoed before these will seem pretty familiar. If you also happen to be a good skier you'll probably be even more pleased.
So far I'm really pleased with the Hoks, hoping with a bit more practice on the skiing end I'll be even more pleased :)
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $259
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Historic Range: $216.95-$319.95
Reviewers Paid: $259.00
125 cm, 145 cm, and Balla Hok 99cm kids version
|Materials||sustainable paulownia wood core reinforced with a combination of organic natural fibers and fiberglass||synthetic climbing skin integrated into the base of the ski, steel edges|