Individual Review K2 Mindbender 130 Boot

Ron

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I had the opportunity to demo K2's new Mindbender AT 130 boot. Replacing the Pinnacle series, the Mindbender was actually in the works before the amazing Recon. Its Powerlite shell is virtually identical to the Recon, and it adds a 50° Powerlock Spyne walk mode, tech fit, and GripWalk soles that can be swapped out for alpine soles. The claimed weight is 1650 g (on a size 26.5), also like the Recon. Men's sizes range from 24.5 to 30.5. The women's line is called the Mindbender Alliance and will have the same features offered in a 110 and 90 flex, in sizes 22.5 to 27.5.

The Mindbender has several cool features. You can adjust the forward lean from 12° to 17° by inverting the lower connecting clasp on the walk mode; you can further refine the amount with an adjustment screw. The beefy 50mm-wide power strap has an innovative RipCord quick-release pull tab that enables you to release the strap pressure using one hand. The boot features a heat-moldable Ultralon liner with an ankle relief that allows for better walking articulation; you can also use laces with it. The walk mode mechanism is rock-solid and can be operated with one hand.

Both the 120 and 130 are built on a 98mm last; the 110 is on a 100mm last. Like the Recon, the Mindbender is very anatomical. A wider and taller toe box allows your toes to spread; it reminds me of the Hoka One One or Altra running shoes that are designed to allow your foot to work as intended, especially for balance. The boot is low volume from the met heads back. The instep is fairly low volume as well, but the shell is heat-moldable if you need customization. Another thoughtful aspect is that all buckles and straps are screwed and not riveted, which lets you replace them easily if broken or worn out.

So how does it ski? As with the Recon, K2 used three different materials on the boot, including a softer material over the instep to enable ultra-easy entry and exit. On the snow, the boot skis exactly like the alpine Recon. I could not detect any aft movement in the spine, and since the boot is identical in many aspects to the Recon, I was right at home. I have about 70 days on my Recons with zero complaints (see my Long-Term Review on the K2 Recon HERE). The 130 flex is not overly stout and has a very nice, even flex. The Mindbender is laterally stiff so all but the most demanding technical skiers will find that it performs extremely well.

The only downfall to this boot is that the upper cuff bails are too long for anyone with moderate to thin calves. A K2 representative told me they are aware of this and working on a solution for folks like me who had to max out my upper two buckles. Since all the buckles attach with screws, this won't be an issue for the chicken legged among us.

I wasn't able to test the AT aspects of the boot, but I look forward to doing so.

It's worth mentioning the colorways K2 chose. The 130 comes in a matte tan and black, and the 120 comes in olive drab green; both look very sharp. I got several compliments on the boots while demoing.

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Ron

Ron

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I have 10 days or more on the 130 Mindbender and I am lovin' them. I have left the GW soles on since my bindings are compatible and honestly, I cant say I feel anything different from the standard alpine soles as far as performance goes. K2 did fix the long bail on the buckles and now they are even better than my previous Recons (and Langes for that matter) with plenty of room for thin lower tip/fibs. I find them just as comfortable and responsive as the Recon (no surprise since they are essentially the same boot ). I am not ready for AT skiing yet so I cant attest to how they perform but they are really grippy walking in them and the walk Mode provides ample range of movement (50*), when skiing, there is no sign of any slop or movement at the spine. K2 did a great job with the locking mechanism! I much prefer the 130 flex over the 120. The liners are very warm and feel great. These are excellent performing and super comfortable boots. I recommended them to some people at our Base Club and was really pleased to hear from 2 people that they absolutely love their boots. You never want to recommend something as important to someone as boots without confidence :).


Thermix Boot heaters work really well and I love how easy they were to install. I feel the wiring is more substantial and the heating element does a great job. The batteries themselves are small and unobtrusive. What I really like the most is the built-in strap holder on the battery. no need to have separate holders. its ingeniously built into the battery and simply unsnaps from the bottom like a clasp. The Bluetooth connection is actually pretty cool and easy to use with the phone app.

I purchased the Thermix heaters and boots on pro-pricing
 
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tomahawkins

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Hi @Ron, thanks for the review. Out of the blue I got my son a pair of Mindbenders last spring; unfortunately he had no chance to use them, but I liked the construction and he liked the fit. I'm trying to settle on either Mindbenders or Recons, at 120 or 130, and would appreciate your thoughts on models and flex. Current boot of choice are Lange XT 120s MV. I'm 6'1", 165 lbs, and ski freeride and bumps almost exclusively. Also suffer from SCLS (skinny chicken leg syndrome) so was interested that they fixed the bail issue -- my Langes are really hard to crank down. Also, can you compare toe boxes? I found the Recons appealing because I think I read they have a bigger than normal toe box. Maybe I have weak toes, but I just don't used them to steer the skis, so I prefer they had room to wiggle. Much more concerned about a good fit around the ankle, mid foot, and calf. I do AT, but rarely and is much less of a consideration. If both are equal, I'd get the Mindbenders, but if the Recons have a roomer toe box, I'd probably go that way.
 
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Ron

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I am still a huge fan on the overall fit and shape the K2's. Yes, the toe box is roomier and in everyday possible. the overall fit is identical so fit isn't an issue. the Mindbender gives you a walk mode and thats a nice feature around the base area and parking lot. for off-piste, I would take the Mindbender. There's not a significant difference but for groomers I still prefer the flex and feel of a spine that is not compromised with a walk mode. Bail issue has been resolved.
 

Siliconb3ach

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@tomahawkins Am exactly the same as you, spend very little time on-piste and deciding between the Mber 130's and the Recon 120 LV. Had 130 mindbenders delivered last week and love the fit and feel. Just feel cautious about the walk/hike mode and how that would hold up in the long term.
My main worry/concern is if they'd be as sturdy as the Recon in big drops etc. Walk mode looks and feels solid (range of motion is truly "mindbendending" and I was really impressed) but I just think of the physics of applying sudden pressure to a long/thin metal rod and that's all that's putting me off. Came here looking for answers in Ron's reviews, best info available on the boots. Swapping out my130 Pinnacle's and K2 have really upped their game with these, plus with the 19/20 Mber on sale everywhere at the moment I think they're a steal.
 

Philpug

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Stay tuned for an upcoming Recon Pro review.
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Ron

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which? Mindbenders? for most skiers, yes they are fine, for those who are really pushing the boot and ski on edge, you might find the Recon as a better choice. this season, I am skiing the Recons on-piste, and the Mindbender for AT or a powder day.

Langes fit me well however, the toe box was a little tight on the 5th 6th toe. I have a fairly boring foot in a good way. Narrow overall, low ankle, Achilles, instep. but nothing crazy. the K2's fit me best,
 

Wasatchman

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which? Mindbenders? for most skiers, yes they are fine, for those who are really pushing the boot and ski on edge, you might find the Recon as a better choice. this season, I am skiing the Recons on-piste, and the Mindbender for AT or a powder day.

Langes fit me well however, the toe box was a little tight on the 5th 6th toe. I have a fairly boring foot in a good way. Narrow overall, low ankle, Achilles, instep. but nothing crazy. the K2's fit me best,
Lange's fit me best but I haven't really tried K2 boots. I should try on the mindbenders for possible AT use. That's why I was asking what kind of other boots fits your feet well.
 
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Vinnie

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I recently picked up a pair of Mindbender 120s. My current boots are K2 Spyne 110 HV. Even though it is a 102mm last I still had major work done on it to relieve pressure in the toe box. I took a chance on the Mindbenders based on Ron and bootfitters.com review that they have a roomy toebox. Well, they really do, probably the best out of box fit I’ve ever experienced. Which brings me to the question of last size, I’ve been taking that as a reliable metric for winnowing down boots that I might be interested in. I couldn’t even get my boot into a normal width K2 Spyne let alone the LV model. Now you have the same brand’s next generation boot where the LV model is roomier than their old HV model. Has boot design changed enough in the last few years that last size is like flex and only relevant for a given model line?
 
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Ron

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first off, really glad you liked the boots! I dont know what size you wear but one thing about the k2 boot last is the width runs consistent across all sizes. Other boot's lasts change as the boot size get larger over (typically) 26. Not sure if that explains anything.
 
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Any comments regarding Mindbender's walk lever interfering with Pivots? I saw a couple reviews mention this on Evo.

that issue involved an early prototype. I confirmed that with one of the top folks at K2 last season. No issues.
 

Vinnie

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I recently picked up a pair of Mindbender 120s. My current boots are K2 Spyne 110 HV. Even though it is a 102mm last I still had major work done on it to relieve pressure in the toe box. I took a chance on the Mindbenders based on Ron and bootfitters.com review that they have a roomy toebox. Well, they really do, probably the best out of box fit I’ve ever experienced. Which brings me to the question of last size, I’ve been taking that as a reliable metric for winnowing down boots that I might be interested in. I couldn’t even get my boot into a normal width K2 Spyne let alone the LV model. Now you have the same brand’s next generation boot where the LV model is roomier than their old HV model. Has boot design changed enough in the last few years that last size is like flex and only relevant for a given model line?
Sad tail of guy with 24.5 mondo shell size. The 2020 Mindbender 120’s didn’t work out for me, there was something weird going on with the left boot. It was like the boot had no contours from the heel to the forefoot. Defective shell, defective foot? I was able to return them (Thank you Outdoor Gear Exchange).

I searched everywhere for a 24.5 2021 Mindbender 120, even ordered through k2snow, but no luck. I decided to order the women’s Mindbender 110 Alliance where 24.5 is a common size. Got them today and finding overall the fit is good. Also there probably was something weird going on with the Mindbender 120, because the left boot fits much better.

So some questions if anyone can help out:

1. Is the women’s and men’s shell the same? If not what are the differences? I am thinking that the cuff might be lower, but would the clog be the same?

2. The 110 Alliance comes with the Power Fit Tour liner, the same as the Mindbender 130. The Mindbender 120 comes with the Precision Fit Tour liner. What’s the difference?

3. Any difference between the 2020 and 2021 Mindbender boot line?

4. I know the flex rating is only relevant for comparison for boots within the same brand and model. Don’t have the 120’s to compare but 110 Alliance seems about as stiff as the men’s 120. So is it just marketing that at some point the top model for non-race women’s boots got a 110 flex rating and there is no direct comparison to the flex of the men’s boot in the same model?
 

Vinnie

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I am currently in possession of a 19/20 K2 Mindbender 130 and 20/21 Mindbender 110 Alliance so I am going to try and answer my own questions:

So some questions if anyone can help out:

1. Is the women’s and men’s shell the same? If not what are the differences? I am thinking that the cuff might be lower, but would the clog be the same?
From talking with different shops the same lower is used in both the men’s and women’s models. Though to me, when using the same liner it feels like the 20/21 MB 110 is a bit lower volume then the 19/20 MB 130. Apparently the cuff is modified to take into account the difference between men’s and women‘s calfs. I didn’t really feel a difference in the way my calf fit in either boot.

2. The 20/21 110 Alliance comes with the Power Fit Tour liner, the same as the 20/21 Mindbender 130. Both model years of the Mindbender 120 comes with the Precision Fit Tour liner. What’s the difference?

3. Any difference between the 2020 and 2021 Mindbender boot line?
The 20/21 MB 110 Alliance and 20/21 MB 130 now come with the Power Fit Tour liner. The 19/20 MB 130 comes with the Precision Fit Tour liner. There is a huge difference between the Power Fit and Precision Fit. The Power Fit is stiffer and really locks in the ankle and heel. It takes up way more volume out of the box. It also looks like it the upper is wrapped with a layer of carbon.
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Another difference between the 19/20 and 20/21 models is that the walk mechanism has been modified. Still the basic metal shank but the 20/21 mechanism is smaller.
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CityOfBridges

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I am still a huge fan on the overall fit and shape the K2's. Yes, the toe box is roomier and in everyday possible. the overall fit is identical so fit isn't an issue. the Mindbender gives you a walk mode and thats a nice feature around the base area and parking lot. for off-piste, I would take the Mindbender. There's not a significant difference but for groomers I still prefer the flex and feel of a spine that is not compromised with a walk mode. Bail issue has been resolved.
Now that you've had a chance to ski in these for a season- any thoughts on their durability? Durability of the shell and the walk latch are my primary concern (I plan on purchasing replacement soles up front, and in time getting a new liner).

I'm looking at investing in a pair for 50/50 applications, and they felt good in the store, but I want to invest in something that is built to last 10 years (with liner + sole replacements). I saw a thread of someone's Mindbender 130 that literally exploded :eek:

Also, how true have you found the flex to be? I'm still a fairly new skiier (2nd full season but doing ~40 nights per season) who is currently doing resort blue + black runs, but I'm buying these as a 10 year investment (fingers crossed) and hope to advance to consistent blacks and get to 50/50 touring/resort applications.

They fit good in the store, but I don't think I have a particularly narrow foot. My 5th/6th toe did feel a little crammed, but no obvious pressure points... Is it assumed there will be a little give one the liner (and possibly even shell) get heat molded?
 

tomahawkins

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Not the Mindbender, but I'm loving my new Recon 130s. I have 5 days on them so far. First day walking from the car I had a fair amount of pressure on the mid top of the foot, but that cleared up as soon as I started skiing. Prior boot was a Lange XT 120 and the Recons feel a little stiffer (full 130? not sure) and I like the roomier toe box. Also easier on and off than the XTs. I'm considering sending them to CAST to install tech toe pins for my Shift bindings.

My son is not having the same luck with his Mindender 100s. Complains of shin pan, which is dissipating a bit, but hasn't gone away completely. Any suggestions? We haven't heat molded the liner yet, so I suppose that is the next step.
 
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