I have been using my old mtb as a tourer which has worked quite well.
I wondered if it is possible to replace the suspension forks for normal type non suspension forks. I can foresee a few issues such as fork length
I might bight the bullet and get a new Surly frame and fork set (using 26 inch wheels)
I bought one of these to put on an old (2006 maybe) cannondale f5 hardtail (sus fork had seized up) and was really pleased with it. i ride it round town/commute to train station, put child seat on the back. The fork is significantly lighter than a suspension fork so the bike feels much nippier turning wise, although the ride is noticeably rougher! only £60 too, although i had to pay lbs to fit it as im no good with that sort of thing.
As long as you get a pair of 'suspension corrected' ridged forks you will be good to go.
A few companies make them, those On-one forks listed above are probably a good bet.
Make sure you check wheel size (i.e probably 26 inch wheels on your mtb, newer 29 and 27.5 wheels often used on mtb).
Check the fork steerer tube diameter. It will probably be 1.1/8th inch, but newer mtbs (last 8 years or so) can have tapered steerer tube, which are larger (1.5 inch) at the bottom than at the top.
I have a pair of Kona Project Two forks that I used for the same purpose. about £50 quid at the time, not sure if they still sell them new but can pick them up on ebay I would think.
I did this with my titanium Global, I got the forks from here: https://www.carboncycles.cc/
The quality of the forks was excellent and they rode really nicely, much smoother than the steel forks of the olden days. It made me realise that you don't really need suspension; you only miss it on big hits like riding down kerbs and steps. The forks I got were compensated.
All you have to do is make sure that the Fork Crown to Wheel axle is the same as yor suspension in it's post-sag state, i.e. when you're just sat on the bike on horizontal ground and your geometry will be unaffected. If it's shorter it will steepen your headtube and seat tube angle and marginally lower your BB height, making the bike react a bit more quickly to steering input.
If you get a set on eBay, make sure the steerer tube hasn't been cut too short for your head tube.
New ones should have plenty of length, but you'll need to cut them and install the star fangled nut if it's an alu steerer - carbon is easier in this respect.
Fork length will be fine.
Only bit to add to the above would be about the crown race and clearance. Some forks have a small additional lip the race sits on, others go flush to the top of the forks.
Plenty cheats on YouTube to avoid buying special tools to remove crown races and fit star nuts (I use a flat bit of wood to smack it in, the thin wood to drive down.
Measure steerer at least twice, cut once.
Suspension corrected - thankyou.
Thanks to all for all the replies
These. V-brake only, so no good if you have discs:
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