Seeking the next best ski
- Nov 8, 2015
- Steamboat Springs, Co
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.