Elan Ibex Tactix — Folding Ski First Look

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 18, 2018      

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.

Folded, 97 mm length.

Folded, 97 mm length, 168 mm deployed. For those of you who need to know, the base ski dimensions are 120/84/105. Click images to enlarge.

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.

Unfolded for skiing, hinge is visible at the bottom.

Unfolded for skiing, hinge is visible at the bottom.

The binding (G3 ION branded as Elan) attaches to a rigid aluminum plate, everything shows evidence of complex CNC mill work. I don't even want to ask  the price.

The binding (G3 ION branded as Elan) attaches to a rigid aluminum plate, everything shows evidence of complex CNC mill work. The ski is obviously based on the Elan Ibex XLT one of the lighter planks we’ve tested. We like the way the XLT skis, but the folding version is clearly compromised with its rigid plate. It’ll probably get us downhill as a practical matter, but I don’t expect it to actuate my downhill grin extensors. I don’t even want to ask the price, but I did, $1,800.

To begin the folding or unfolding process, all you do is pull up on this latch, which frees up the binding plate to rotate in or out of a number of slot catches.

To begin the folding or unfolding process, all you do is pull up on this latch, which frees up the binding plate to rotate in or out of a number of slot catches.

To continue folding, the binding plate is rotated out of the catches.

To continue folding, the binding plate is rotated out of the catches.

Here we go.

Here we go.

Plate is now rotated to storage position.

Plate is now rotated to storage position. If you like, you could ski the ski backwards, though the free ly flexing hinge might cause interesting effects.

Fold up.

Fold up.

The hinge is burly.

The hinge is burly.

Kudos to G3 for getting their bindings re-branded by Elan,  rather interesting a European ski company would  resell product from Canada.

Kudos to G3 for getting their bindings re-branded by Elan, rather interesting a European ski company would resell product from Canada.

If you’d like to acquire the folding ski, Elan suggests doing so through any Elan dealer.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


30 Responses to “Elan Ibex Tactix — Folding Ski First Look”

  1. Jim Milstein May 19th, 2018 7:41 am

    No, thanks.

    I’d prefer to take really short skis than these monsters (Altai Hoks, for example). But, a good laugh.

  2. Charlie Hagedorn May 19th, 2018 9:07 am

    Awesome — looking forward to the next chapter of the story!

  3. Rob May 19th, 2018 10:35 am

    A folding shot ski is more useful.

  4. Jim Milstein May 19th, 2018 10:48 am

    But they weigh a ton!

    How about short skimo skis of the same or greater width? Five to seven lbs lighter with bindings! This is a gigantic step backward, never mind the price. As for how they ski, thanks, Lou, for sacrificing a ski day.

  5. XXX_er May 19th, 2018 1:22 pm

    guys up here used to make approach skis for snow boarding from 130cm kids skis cheap from the swap

    they glued skin scraps directly to the bases, it didnt have to be very strong to just go up so they made bindings to fit their AT boots cobbled together from door hinges, plastic and bits of wire

    it was a pretty cheap way to get up a hill

  6. Brandon May 19th, 2018 2:42 pm

    Seems to be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Are you supposed to boot pack all the time, what about the touring part of touring skis?

  7. Crazy Horse May 19th, 2018 7:09 pm

    I can see a big market for this ski. First the US Army needs to establish the 12th Mountain Division and equip all it’s soldiers with it. At $12,000 per pair (a typical Military/Industrial pricing level) it should easily pay for the 1200 page Milspec procurement document proving it’s superiority.

    Lou, maybe there is a business opportunity here providing the study?

  8. Jim Milstein May 19th, 2018 7:23 pm

    Crazy Horse, as usual, is on to something. Here, the military angle. These skis already have the all black “tactical” æsthetic. Navy Seals or Army Special Forces are a natural fit, and then all the wannabees, who are numberless. The weight, in this context, is a plus. Tactical stuff should be black, heavy, and unbreakable or, at least, look like it.

  9. See May 19th, 2018 9:17 pm

    The main advantage to these would seem to be improved maneuverability with the skis on your back— not catching on rocks/branches, not interfering with boot heels/axes/etc.. Not a big deal for me, but maybe useful for certain “missions” (a term at least as irritating as “tactical” when referring to a civilian ski tour, imo).

  10. dan May 21st, 2018 5:28 am

    an excellent solution! now we only need to find the problem that it solves

  11. Lou 2 May 21st, 2018 7:18 am


    I heard it’s indeed useful for Special Forces military using small helicopters as well as needing to pack baggage compactly. Other than that, indeed, I don’t seem much in terms of reasons to purchase-use. Knowing us humans, we’ll probably think of a few more (smile). Lou

  12. Jim Milstein May 21st, 2018 7:22 am

    And, they’re fiddly! A lot of folks love fiddly or there wouldn’t be split-boards. With this brilliant innovation ski tourers can fiddle in parallel with their split-boarding companions. One thing to be said for telemark gear: not fiddly.

  13. Ryan May 21st, 2018 7:30 am

    Looks like a base tune/grind would be a SOB!

  14. wtofd May 21st, 2018 7:51 am

    It’s as if they looked at the weakest part of split boards and asked, How can we make it worse?

  15. Lou Dawson 2 May 21st, 2018 8:44 am

    I heard they’re adding a pistol grip, in that case since they’re already black we’ll call them “tactical assault skis.” Or, perhaps not, I don’t think Google likes any terminology that could be firearm related. One has to wonder what G3 thinks of the tactical bindings (smile). Lou

  16. See May 21st, 2018 9:09 am

    Can you blame them?

  17. Stephen May 28th, 2018 7:58 am

    These would actually solve a problem I have, except for the price. Out of curiosity, are they based on the XLT 84 or 94?

    So, I’m heading to India in July to go cycling in Ladakh, etc, but may well end up hanging around until winter. It would be nice to take ski gear over too, but no way will any useful skis I know of fit in a bike box, hence the problem. Freighting to and from India would be cheaper than these though. [sigh]

    If anyone can suggest skis which might handle heavy powder or older snow okay, along with the odd patch of harder stuff, are 160cm long (or preferably less), please do so. I won’t hold my breath…

  18. Stephen May 28th, 2018 8:01 am

    PS: I forgot to say I’m not heavy at around 65kg/143lb and about 180cm/5’11” tall; I usually ski on ~165-175cm.

  19. Jim Milstein May 28th, 2018 8:56 am

    Stephen, I just measured a pair of Altai Hoks at hand. Fitted with minimal AT bindings, they might be appropriate for your projected use. Length = 146cm, 122/111/122mm, weight/pair = 2400g.

    They have 69cm skins permanently embedded underfoot; so they are “waxless”; although waxing the skins is a good idea. Minimal sidecut makes them harder to turn, but short length compensates for that. They are quite wide, so are okay in soft snow for a light skier and should be okay in breakable crust because of shortness, width, and minimal sidecut. Expect poor performance on hard surfaces.

  20. Jim Milstein May 28th, 2018 9:29 am

    I see at the altaiskis dot com site that they have a newer ski, the Kom, with a fish scale base. More sidecut and available in longer lengths as well.

  21. Stephen May 28th, 2018 10:08 am

    The Kom looks interesting, but they’re out of 150cm; 162 might just fit in a bike box, maybe. Still, the pattern wouldn’t be very useful in the Himalayas, especially at Gulmarg; here in Oz is another story. I think either freighting my skis there and back or else picking something wide and stiff and going a bit shorter than normal might be better options; sometimes short skis can be had cheap on closeout.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 May 30th, 2018 9:55 am

    I got out on the folding Elan ski, added an update to beginning of post.

  23. Jim Milstein May 30th, 2018 10:28 am

    You’re right, Lou:

    “Overall, yet another example of ski touring gear’s accelerated evolution.”

    Evolution is famous for exploring blind alleys. I hope evolution gets around to evolving a ski sole with zero friction on snow forward and to the sides, yet a whole bunch backwards. Skins are so yesterday, so heavy, so fiddly.

  24. Jim Milstein May 30th, 2018 10:55 am

    Why fold the ski?

    Why not have it in pieces? Easier to splice than to hinge. I’m borrowing the idea from the beloved splitboard.

    The idea of telescoping skis, borrowing from poles (and telescopes), seems pretty much impossible, but it’d be great to tune your skis to the conditions underfoot or to stick ’em in your pack when booting up a peak or walking on snowless stretches.

  25. Njord June 8th, 2018 9:17 pm

    Don’t need folding skis when you are riding in the back off a MH-47…

  26. MItchellskis July 3rd, 2018 5:36 pm

    I can at least see the theoretical advantage but I guess no one here has ever spent hours hiking down steep, rocky terrain with skis on your back catching on every other step threatening to throw you off balance down the talus. Or hiking up through thick timber with skis catching on every branch.

    But yeah I guess a super short ski could solve that just as well.

    Sounds like these are too heavy as-is to hit the intended target anyways.

  27. Colin Carver October 24th, 2018 1:10 pm

    Hello all.

    A quick note.
    You mentioned they are probably aimed at the military. Could not be farther off.
    These skiis are aimed at serious ski mountaineers.
    Anyone who is not a climber will not understand. This is not a product for the skihill, and has nothing to do with the size of your car. The benefit of accessing a difficult region without skiis towering overhead on steep ice or rock is valuable, not to mention safer, and eases ropework dramatically.
    Cool version of a cool idea from way back.

  28. Colin Carver October 24th, 2018 1:16 pm

    Wait. 5kg a pair???

  29. Lou Dawson 2 October 24th, 2018 2:21 pm

    Yeah, I didn’t think they’d be a popular option for climbers due to the weight, like I alluded to, more for specialized uses, covert, or limited cargo space. Lou

  30. Nakia Brown March 4th, 2019 1:22 pm

    Elan, being a Slovenian company, this ski was indeed originally designed for use by the Slovenian army mountain division, and has sold to some other armies around the world, US included.

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