photo: Altai Skis Hok nordic touring ski

Specs

Price Historic Range: $216.95-$329.95
Reviewers Paid: $259.00

Reviews

2 reviews
5-star:   0
4-star:   2
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

These are a lightweight, maneuverable way to get off the beaten track and have snowfun. If you can walk, you can Hok :)

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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...
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Wife carving downhill...
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Us exploring (using my Hoks as a bench).
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Experience

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.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

I'm so glad you reviewed your Altais, Heath! I'm always curious about how these niche skis work out and when people use them (versus skis or snowshoes). I can imagine them working well in our tight New England forests. I also learned a new gear word ("lurk") thanks to your review. Did you make your own tiak or buy the Altai one? https://www.trailspace.com/gear/altai-skis/tiak/


7 months ago
BC Heath

We have one of the Altai Tiaks. I think it’s roughly 7’ long, very durable and reasonably light. It’s a bit cumbersome to cart around all the time and sometimes frustrating to manoeuvre. I put a basket and tip on the top so I can use it somewhat as a loooong ski pole (the two piece will make it more pleasurable methinks). I’ve also used limbs off trees in a pinch.


7 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the explanation!


7 months ago

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.

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Skins do a good job in climbing
  • The universal bindings work well
  • You have several binding options

Cons

  • 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 :)


lunchspot.jpg

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $259

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review, Big Sky. I've been curious about these and who they work best for. What kind of snow conditions and terrain (including steepness) do you use yours in?


4 years ago
g00se

Beautiful pic. Thanks for posting the review!


4 years ago
bigskyrunner

My first outing was about a foot of mixed snow, second trip was 2.5'+ of powder :)


4 years ago
bigskyrunner

The trail climbs approximately 1500' in a little over 4 miles, nothing overly steep (save a few short sections), but a definite steady upward climb. The second trip I broke trail the entire route and took over three hours to get in, the trip out only took about an hour


4 years ago
Old Guide

I've looked at these for a couple of yrs now. I like the review. I wouldn't mind adding some speed to an adventure or two. Were you always on a trail as I'm wondering how you liked them in the woods?


4 years ago
Old Guide

Could you use skins on them?


4 years ago
bigskyrunner

I was both on and off trail, they maneuvered nicely through the timber- this was in flat to rolling sections, steeper timbered stuff would depend on your skiing skills, mine need a lot more honing :). It has a pretty big built in skin, you could probably add additional skin fore and aft of the factory skin. It would be nice if they offered a step in crampon or the like for icier conditions- even a cross-cross rope setup that went on/off easily would be nice


4 years ago
bigskyrunner

got out yesterday with the Tiak and was pretty impressed with it on the downhills; for gentle to rolling terrain I would stick with poles, but for steeper stuff I did better with the Tiak- this could be a function of me not being a very good skier, nonetheless I'll stick with on steeper outings


4 years ago

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