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 experience?
What is Hok Skiing?
Hok skiing is similar to snowshoeing, but it is easier and takes less energy as the hok skis (also known as ski-shoes) are designed for sliding, so you do not need to pick your feet up. It basically involves hybrid skis instead of traditional skis that were invented by Asian hunters long ago as a means to enjoying winter more conveniently.
Hok is a word popularly spoken by the natives of Tuva, which means skis. Tuvans use special skis, known as Hok Skis or ski-shoes, in the Altai Mountains region for skiing. Therefore, the practice of skiing is originally called hok skiing, and more recently ski-shoeing.
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.
Ski-Shoeing Equipment and Costs
In the world of skiers, ski-shoeing or hok skiing basically refers to the skiing session done wearing altai skis instead of snowshoes. The popularity of these skis has been increasing exponentially because of the purposeful geometry and easy-to-handle features.
A mix of both snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing, ski-shoeing is definitely an exhilarating winter experience for adventure-seekers. The gear you will need for this particular sport is a mix of the equipmentof snowshoes and cross-country skis. However, ski shoes are easier to use and do not require a lot of high-end or specialized gear. You can use regular ski poles for balance while trekking or skiing, and ski shoes can be used with many flexible sole boots.
The cost for a complete hok skiing equipment varies, depending on the kind of gear you require. For beginners, it should not cost more than $500, while for medium-range equipment, the cost would range around $800-$1000. High-end equipment costs about $1500-$2500.
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 or ski-shoes accept boots of most sizes and types. On the universal binding, 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.
Single Ski Pole – 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.
Ski-Shoeing Speed and Pace
Ski-shoeing comes midway between cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in terms of speed. It is much faster as compared to snowshoeing, as you do not have to lift or pick up your feet from the pile of snow each time you walk, but you can rather push or slide the snow. However, it is not as fast as skiing, as you cannot glide down the terrains with this sport.
Moreover, while ski-shoes do get traction when moving up to higher altitudes, they do not function as efficiently as snowshoes. With a few compromises, you can definitely enjoy ski-shoeing. Winters can be much more fun with this enthralling sport.
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.
Technique: How Easy to Learn?
Ski-shoeing is a sport that is not very difficult to learn, but it comes with its own set of drawbacks. Ski shoes may not provide the same stability as snowshoes on steeper hills, which can be hard to maneuver, but they are relatively easy to use in flat terrains as they glide easily.
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.
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 ascend with hoks. Because of this feature, we recommend you make the most out of hoks when the terrain is steep and the snow is powder.
Durability of Ski-Shoes
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 a silicon spray or 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 ski-shoes and other skis. Ski-shoes or hoks equipped with skins 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.
Calories Burned Ski-Shoeing
Since this sport is an amalgamation of both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the total calories burned depend on the terrain and the steepness of the hill. If you are coming downhill, you can expect to burn only around 200 calories, while going up can help you burn 500 calories. Overall, you can expect to burn up to 1000-1200 calories per hour while ski-shoeing.
Level of Exertion: Workout or Recreation?
Ski-shoeing can both be a workout and recreation, depending on the terrain as well as the nature of your adventure. If you go hiking, you can expect to work out more, whereas, on flat terrain, it is considered to be a recreational activity.
When and Where to Practice?
Skishoeing can be done anywhere, depending on the nature and intensity of the activity. Most people ski-shoe in the woods or in the open snow terrains during the winter months of January and February.