K2 once reigned over the US market for so long, its sales leadership practically became a cliché. The keys to its sustained success were manifold, but from a product standpoint it’s not hard to summarize: K2’s have always been easy to ski.  Regardless of your skill level, your terrain preferences or your gender, there’s a K2 for you and chances are you’ll love it.  Given K2’s longstanding preeminence, just about every American with 20 years on the snow has owned a K2 at some point, creating a groundswell of skier-to-skier endorsements that has kept the K2 ball rolling even when, on occasion, it’s been deflated.

It’s been several years since the investment group Kohlberg & Company acquired K2 (along with a fistful of other ski brands).  It’s impossible to effect much change in year one, so it was no surprise the ski collection didn’t move much in 2019. But while the Pinnacle design limped to the finish line two years ago, R&D was preparing a sweeping overhaul of K2’s men’s and women’s core collections.  The limited quantity of the new Mindbender series available in the spring of 2019 were snapped up by eager consumers, auguring well for a brand rebound.

The women’s market has always been vitally important to K2 – 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the K2 Alliance – and the current collection shows admirable gender balance.  For every unisex Mindbender, there’s a Mindbender Alliance model to match.  The ladder of women’s Mindbenders extends from the Mindbender Alliance 85, pitched to the intermediate market, all the way to the Mindbender 115C Alliance, one of the fattest made-for-women models you can find. All but the lowest price point models use women’s specific cores and tooling. 

The ski line overhaul that began with the Mindbenders continued in 2021 with an all-new Technical/Frontside series dubbed Disruption and the return of a twin-tipped collection named Reckoner. The headliners of the Disruption series are 5 Technical models – an arena where K2 has been all but invisible – 3 for men and 2 Alliance models for women. The signature technology for the Titanal models is a tip-to-tail band called Ti I-Beam; full length carbon stringers energize the non-Ti Disruptions. Completing the Disruption field are 5 unisex Frontside models serving the full spectrum of skiers who inhabit groomed terrain.

Twintips have always found a home in the K2 collection, but they haven’t had a family to call their own since the Shreditors. Enter the 2021 Reckoners, playful, carbon-powered twins in 102mm, 112mm and 122mm waist widths.  If the mountain looks like a series of linked launch pads to you, the Reckoners are ready to send you into orbit.

The 2023 Season

For the 2023 season, K2 has not only significantly improved its cornerstone Mindbender Ti collection,  it’s created a whole new off-piste family, dubbed Dispatch. The Dispatch skier isn’t into touring, per se, but a powder hound focused on thrilling descents, however he’s able to access them. The 3-model series, at 101, 110 and 120 widths, is clearly targeted at the off-trail world, but with the accent on the descent not the ascent.

The arrival of Dispatch caused K2 to subtly shift the emphasis of its established Mindbender collection to all-terrain, lift-assisted skiing.  Accompanying the shift in accent is a product change that is truly transformational: K2 altered all the dimensions of the Y-Beam Titanal laminate that governs how it grips. The Y-Beam fork in its forebody has a new shape, as does its tail section, which moved most of its mass towards to the rear.  The elevation in on-piste performance is stunning, making the Mindbender 99 Ti and Mindbender 89 Ti the most improved 2023 models in their respective categories. The new MB 108 Ti would also most likely have outshone its predecessor, but conditions conspired against us and we never got them on snow last winter.

Disruption 78 Ti

As is often the case in the world ski market, K2’s carving collection straddles the Technical/Frontside divide, with the vector models landing on the skinny side (in K2’s case, 71m-74mm waists), and the more versatile, less demanding (and often less expensive) models populating the slightly wider Frontside domain. In the Disruption series, the 78 Ti isn’t a watered-down carver, just a wider one, as it borrows the same construction and almost fully cambered baseline of …READ MORE

Disruption 82 Ti

K2 has always placed Forgiveness at or near the top of its hierarchy of desirable ski qualities. True to this heritage, the Disruption 82 Ti earned its highest marks for Forgiveness/Ease, which helped make it one of the few Finesse skis in a horde of Power-crazed carvers. The most obvious reason why the Disruption 82 Ti comes across as easier to ski is its width; at 82mm underfoot, and with a less radical sidecut than …READ MORE

Mindbender 89Ti

The K2 Mindbender 89Ti has yoyoed up and down our rankings of the best All-Mountain East skis since its year of introduction in 2019/20, when the Mindbender 90 Ti  debuted in last place among our Recommended Finesse models. Its position changed dramatically last year, in large part due to allotting more metal to the tail, creating a solid platform that was notably lacking in the original.  The improvement was so striking, most testers lavished praise …READ MORE

Mindbender 89Ti W

The first Mindbender Ti collection, introduced in the pre-pandemic 19/20 season, adopted the Titanal Y-Beam construction developed for the women’s Mindbender 88 Ti Alliance for the entire Mindbender Ti clan, men’s models included.  Last year’s re-design focused on re-shaping the Y-Beam from end to end, adding more metal just behind the forward contact point for more secure turn initiation, running edge-to-edge underfoot and substantially expanding the width of the Ti laminate at the end of …READ MORE

Mindbender 99Ti

Of all the new models introduced last season, K2’s Mindbender 99Ti took by far the greatest leap up in our standings, a stratospheric orbit it wasn’t able to sustain this year as new data knocked it back a few notches. But the slight dip in scores doesn’t negate the two crucial facts: 1) the Mindbender 99 Ti version 2.0 represents a vast improvement over its original incarnation, and 2) it’s one of the best AMW …READ MORE

Mindbender 99Ti W

It’s instructive that the 99 Ti is the widest women’s Mindbender with Titanal Y-Beam; the next widest Mindbender, the 106C W, uses carbon as its principal structural element, as does the 115C W. This underscores the dividing line between a true all-terrain, in-resort ski like the MB 99 Ti W that will spend roughly half its life on hard snow, and a powder-specific board like the 106 C that could double as a sidecountry touring …READ MORE