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

K2 Mindbender 89 Ti 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. This 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

K2 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 106 C W, uses carbon as its principal structural element, as does the 115 C 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 …READ MORE

Mindbender 106C W

The Mindbender 106C W ties together several strands of K2’s DNA. One strand is K2’s pioneering history of women’s models; since K2 introduced its first women’s ski, I dare say they’ve marketed more women’s models than any other brand. Another spiral of its genetic make-up is K2’s early adoption of rocker, giving it a wealth of experience in mastering flotation and ease of operation in deep snow. The baseline of the Mindbender 106C uses a …READ MORE

Mindbender 89 Ti

Of all the new 2023 skis that are upgrades to existing models, none took a greater leap up in all key averages – Total Score, Power and Finesse – than K2’s Mindbender 89Ti and 99Ti. In the case of the Mindbender 89Ti vis-à-vis the Mindbender 90Ti that it supplants, the new ski blows the doors off its forebear no matter how you slice it. The retiring 90Ti languished near the bottom of our rankings last …READ MORE

Mindbender 90C W

K2’s Mindbender series manages to cover all of its bases with just two principal constructions, Ti Y-Beam and Spectral Braid. Substituting the cross-hatched fibers of Spectral Braid for a sculpted sheet of Titanal saves both weight and money, bringing the MB 90C W price down to an economical $499. The Mindbender 90C W probably isn’t the right choice for all experts, but for someone whose off-trail skill set is still in its formative stages, it’s …READ MORE

Mindbender 99 Ti

Of all the new models introduced this season, K2’s Mindbender 99 Ti took by far the greatest leap up in our standings, all the way to the top of our Finesse Favorites. But it wasn’t its Finesse properties per se that drove its across-the-board improvement, but the new Mindbender 99 Ti’s vastly enhanced Power properties. When a ski is calmer on edge on hard snow, it improves the overall impression of forgiveness and ease as …READ MORE

Reckoner 102

One of my favorite bump skis that wasn’t intended to be a bump ski was the K2 Shreditor 102 (circa 2015). Of course, it couldn’t be as quick as a real mogul ski edge to edge, so it did most of its navigation by slarving through the troughs and slinking around the lumpy bits. The new Reckoner 102 is in several respects the same ski, albeit embellished in ways its ancestor was not. The similarities …READ MORE