As America’s preeminent ski brand, K2 has made the core recreational skier – not the race competitor – the focus of their best engineering. This philosophy has been extended to their boot line, where they’ve aimed at the all-terrain, big mountain skier as their top-end target. To take an obvious example of how this orientation finds expression in the new shoes, flip one over.   The sole of a race boot tends to be a single, monoblock structure, but the Spyne series uses a grippy sole that’s a far better solution if you’re climbing a rocky ridge or riding a snowmobile in the backcountry.

The central feature from which the Spyne derives its name is the Powerfuse Spyne, a carbon exoskeleton that adds rigidity in the rear, allowing the rest of the boot structure to be a more effective shock absorber. This is a design element that, in conjunction with the Energy Interlock that controls the rivet-less rear connection between shell and cuff, makes the K2’s particularly well suited to charging through the irregular terrain features and broken snow conditions that prevail off piste.

In another echo of their ski origins, for every Spyne there is a Spyre, or a parallel women’s-specific boot made for the go-everywhere gal. For 2018, both the Spyne and Spyre flagship models get a Precision Fit Pro EVA liner that takes full advantage of this heat-moldable, custom inner-boot material.

K2’s freeride orientation puts an automatic emphasis on all things off-trail, so its version of a hike-mode (HM) model, Pinnacle, was integrated into its overall design plan from square one. Energy Interlock was conceived from the outset to accommodate a latching mechanism that would unlock the Powerfuse Spyne. To further facilitate hiking, the upper buckle connects to a broad power strap that will remain latched when unbuckled, increasing forward range of motion needed for steep climbs.

If the Pinnacle is made for sidecountry (lift assisted access to backcountry), the Pinnacle Pro is made for the purist who begins his climb from the bottom. Made in super lightweight Pebax instead of PU, it has two long-bale buckles on the cuff as well as a Velcro strap. Like the Pinnacle 130 and 110, the Pro uses integrated Tech fittings so they can be used with regular DIN bindings or with Tech bindings.

If you have chronically cold feet or ski where the mercury regularly hovers near zero, K2 has four new boots with an integrated heating unit made by industry leader Thermic. The four Heat models being introduced in 2018 are the Spyne 120 Heat, the Spyre 100W Heat, B.F.C. 100 Heat and the B.F.C. 90W Heat. All these models come with amply insulated inner boots, but if your toes are never warm, a heating element right on top of them should solve the problem.

Completing the K2 boot collection are its B.F.C. – Built For Comfort – models, as always in men’s and women’s iterations. Their high-volume 103mm last and Cushfit liners won’t put a lot of pressure on a foot unaccustomed to the concept of fit tension. Soft, pliable plastic over the instep allows the lower shell to spread open for “hands-free” entry. In further acknowledgement of this skier’s less polished skill set, the B.F.C. hike switch is cleverly re-positioned as “A/M”, for “Après Mode.”

For 2018, K2 has added a new flagship to both the men’s and women’s B.F.C. lines, the B.F.C. 120 for men and the B.F.C. 100W for women. With the addition of the two new Heat models, skiers looking for outstanding convenience and the comfort of an over-sized fit now have 8 B.F.C models from which to choose.

K2 deserves special commendation for introducing its boot into a brutally competitive market and never wavering on the first principle of its commercial plan: K2 would not, have not and will not authorize the sale of its boots on the Internet. K2 understands the special requirements entailed in fitting a boot properly, an exercise that can only be accomplished long distance with the intervention of a thousand angels. Since most angels are busy elsewhere, we wouldn’t count on them sorting out boot-buying on the Internet anytime soon.