Update: I got out for a human powered run on the Tactix. Surprising how well they skied considering the plated stiff spot in the middle, and the exposed hinge. They turn like a short, soft ski — which is pretty much what they are. On the uphill, way too heavy in comparison to current ski touring gear, but they worked. A lighter binding than the rebadged G3 would be a good option. Overall, while it’s difficult to imagine many different applications for a folding ski, it is indeed impressive to see a design that works. Consensus among wildsnowers is the main application is probably military, perhaps missions involving small aircraft. You could probably carry-on a commercial flight, or gate check, but the weight and cost of the Tactix would perhaps obviate any advantages to doing so. Overall, yet another example of ski touring gear’s accelerated evolution.
I’ve checked out a few folding skis over the years, have never been impressed. They’ve always been heavy, skied poorly, and simply were not worth the money for most people. That especially is true as average ski lengths have significantly dropped over the years (a 180 cm plank fits easily in most automobiles, 210 cm is a different story). Nonetheless, Elan got some buzz going this past winter with their Ibex Tactix effort — you could hear the heavy breathing emanating from the gear blogger crowd. I’ve been asked for a take, more than once. So here goes. We’ll look at the tech first, then go ski the odd little things once some of our springtime alpine access opens up.
I can think of a couple applications for folding skis. While development of the Tactix was obviously pushed by the needs of various armed forces, you have to admit that if skis could be carry-on luggage, that would free us from the awkward and sometimes quite arduous schlepping of enormous ski bags. More, how about activities such as bicycle access that require stowage of inconveniently long planks? The folded Tactix is still long (97 mm) compared to common carry-on baggage and the pair weighs 12 pounds, 5443 grams (with bindings, 9.4 lbs sans bindings) so advantages might be less than you’d assume at first glance, but the concept intrigues nonetheless.
Practicalities aside, let’s simply enjoy a look at how they fold up. We’ll file another report once we’ve actually tromped around on the things.
If you’d like to acquire the folding ski, Elan suggests doing so through any Elan dealer.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.