When K2 waltzed into the boot market six years ago, part of the story heralding its arrival was that its team required only 18 months to create a better boot line. There was a whiff of hubris to the claim, as if the marketing juggernaut was predestined to seize a sizable share of the arguably already over-served boot market.
K2 soon learned that no matter how attractive a marketing package it presented – the launch was accompanied by a whimsical ad campaign, a pledge of no Internet sales, and an appealing product story about its new shells and not-quite-as new liners – if you consistently lose the point-of-sale cage match against a competitor’s product, your success is going to be more limited than your expectations. In other words, what really matters happens in the first ten seconds of skier/boot contact.
K2 proved it got the message when it debuted its BFC collection of 4-buckle models that put an unabashed premium on first fit impressions. Its flexible shell and cushy liner allowed for “hands-free” entry and exit, without the writhing and acrobatics associated with high performance boots. The BFC’s won the instant-comfort face-off and sales ensued.
The lessons learned about positive first impressions carried over into the development of K2’s next performance series, Recon, and its feminized companion, Luv. While Recon and Luv were in development, two other market forces commanded K2’s attention: the global trend to lighter weight everything, and the ski-market-specific demand for heat customization of both liner and shell at the time of sale.
The key to the new Recon/Luv lies in the Powerlite shell’s material and how it’s molded. Four different densities of TPU (all PU used in ski boots is thermoplastic, but never mind) form shell walls of varying thicknesses, opting for thinner/lighter wherever possible. At only 1650g in a 26.5, the Powerlite construction is in the welterweight class of backcountry boots but it’s made for the all-terrain, in-resort skier.
As it’s made from TPU, the Powerlite shell is eminently heat-moldable except in its most rigid zones in the spine and sole. The Ultralon liners are meant to be molded, but don’t need to be in order to impart an initial sensation of “ahhh” instead of “ow”.
K2 teamed with Thermic to create the heated Recon 120 Heat, the Luv 100 Heat, BFC 100 Heat and BFC W 90 Heat. For folks with chronically cold feet, having the heat option integrated into the boot design improves ease of operation and eliminates the pain of installation.
If you want to romp around the backcountry, the Pinnacle series of hike-mode boots is back. The BFC’s and women’s BFC’s have all been given a makeover but haven’t lost their focus on convenient entry and comfort. All the new K2’s can be retrofit with Grip Walk soles if so desired.