If you are an avid skier, you would always aspire to improve your skiing skills and avail more opportunities. How about you try something new, but traditional this year and explore the fun of hok skiing?
Hok is a word popularly spoken by the natives of Tuva, which means skis. Tuvans use special skis, known as Hok Skis, in the Altai Mountains region for skiing. Therefore, the practice of skiing is called hok skiing if done with hok skis on.
Altai Hok Skiing or Hokking
Dwellers of Tuva first designed hok skis to meet the requirements of the terrain of the Altai Mountains. It is the same place where the culture and the origin of skiing flourished. Passionate skiers living far and wide go there to satisfy their skiing wishes.
In the world of skiers, hokking or hok skiing basically refers to the skiing session done wearing hok skis instead of snowshoes. The popularity of these skis has been increasing exponentially because of the purposeful geometry and easy-to-handle features. Usually, hok skis are short and wide and are available in two sizes only. The Balla Hok is the smallest size, which is suitable for kids. The minimum size is 125cm long, and the other one measures 145cm. The former fits most individuals, whereas the latter suits people taller than 6 feet.
Hoks have nylon skin at the base, intended to smoothen the gliding ability of the skier. It is the skin that makes the equipment fit for various kinds of terrain, including wet, powder, and crust snow terrains. For this reason, you should avoid using hoks on gravel and rocky surfaces.
With two adjustable binding options, hoks accept boots of most sizes and types. On the bindings, you will find ratchets to support your ankle and provide plenty of grip over the skis. In case your favorite boots don’t match the measurements of the bindings, you can install compatible bindings using an adapter. Thus, you can work on improving your skills while also staying in your best comfortable boots.
Men and women of all heights and weights can wear hoks without any problem. The front side of the skis is slightly upturned, while the sides give the equipment the most desired durability.
The originators of hoks used a single ski pole, known as Tiak, to acquire further stability. However, you can use one or two poles depending on the condition of the terrain and your comfort level. Hoks are already very convenient to use and don’t really require complicated techniques. Still, if you find it difficult to maintain balance, you can use a combination of hoks and Tiaks.
How are Hoks different from Other Skis?
Hoks come in a unique design, though they also share some features of other skis. The incorporation of the skin at the base makes the gear stand out in the crowd. Because of this skin, hok skiers experience a decrease in speed while gliding downhill. This way, they are able to gain composure and a good understanding of the terrain.
Skis other than hoks glide with greater speed and on a much longer pair of skis, hindering the skiers’ ability to carve sharp turns. Again, the skin is what makes it easy to climb with hoks. Because of this feature, we recommend you make the most out of hoks when the terrain is steep and powder ice. Also, it’s better to rely on hoks instead of any other pair of skis if you are a beginner. But it does not mean that hoks are only useful for those just getting started. Hok skiing is an equally valuable and productive ski discipline for experienced skiers as well.
Moreover, the adjustable bindings take away the hassle of wearing particular ski boots. These skis can go hand in hand with many hiking and snow boots. However, other skis don’t allow you to wear boots of your choice and work with compatible boots only.
When it comes to its construction, we find the size to be a major difference between hoks and other types of skis. Hoks are shorter and wider than many other skis, most similar to backcountry touring skis. Because of the wider footprint, adults of different heights can work with the two available sizes. Also, it is the wide width that enables a skier to have better stability and grip in deep snow.
When using hoks, you might face an accumulation of ice at the base. As a result, you will feel friction in moving the skis. But there is nothing to worry about. Scraping off the ice is very easy and can be done using a scraper. Or, you can use wax to improve the gliding ability of your hoks. However, the base does not need waxing frequently.
Unlike other skis, the base of hoks, which is actually a layer of skin, can be repaired as well. Hence, you won’t have to change your skis because of a damaged base.
It’s also important to compare the terrain suitability of hoks and other skis. Hoks equipped with skin glide better on powder and crust snow but fail to cope with rough snow conditions. Similarly, rocks and gravel surfaces are a big no for hoks.
Hoks are better than other skis in terms of durability as well. From nylon skin to steel sides and metal bindings, everything lasts longer when it comes to hoks compared to many other popular skis.
According to history, Tuvan cross-country skiers made hoks because of their passion for skiing. So, it would not be wrong to say that hok skis are introduced by Tuvans. The region of Tuva hosts many skiers who have extensive experience of skiing in the Altai Mountains. In fact, the design of hoks speaks highly of their experience and innovative ideas.
The base of hoks comprises a layer of nylon skin that tends to control the maneuverability of a skier in tight spaces. Also, the bindings add to the grip so that the skier can move with ease. You can also use Tiak, a special single ski pole for Hok skiing, for additional stability. Also, you can adjust the fitting of the ankle straps anytime with a simple configuration of bindings.
Hok skis are durable and lightweight. All in all, a pair of hoks is a must-try for all passionate cross-country skiers. Don’t be hesitant to include hoks in your sports gear. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, tall or short, hoks are for everyone. With proper guidance and consistent efforts, you will soon be able to explore snow-covered mountains like a pro on hoks.