2024 K2 Mindbender 106C Ski Review

JULY 4, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Bob St.Pierre

It’s fair to say we’ve been waiting for this ski for a few years now. Ever since Mindbender 108Ti emerged, it seemed like it needed a less-demanding counterpart. This is where the all-new 2024 K2 Mindbender 106C enters the chat. While we’ve had a women’s version of this ski for a few years, now the guys get a chance at this awesome ski in longer lengths and with a few updates and tweaks. Normally, it goes the other way, so it’s interesting to see K2 flipping the script here. For 2024, both men’s and women’s versions have the same build, but are available in different sizes. In a macro sense, this 106C operates quite well as a wider ski for most skiers and a daily driver for a select few. The Mindbender series has been all about fun-loving flotation and directional freeride flair, and those characteristics certainly carry forward into the 2024 K2 Mindbender 106C.

For a few years now, it’s been all about the aspen wood core and Carbon Spectral Braiding. Not a whole lot has changed in this regard when it comes to construction. By starting with their aspen stringers, this ski gets a nice mix of light weight and high energy—two massively important components of the Mindbender 106 C. For a freeride ski like this, the mix of heft and pop has to be dialed in, or else the ski may feel either sluggish or jittery—two things that nobody really wants in their skis. When K2 introduced their Carbon Spectral Braiding system a few years back, it all made sense. By weaving carbon stringers in a cross-hatched manner throughout the ski, the engineers are able to fine-tune both the longitudinal and torsional flex of the ski based on the needs of the skier. In the Mindbender series, that means a tighter weave across the forebody and a looser one in the tail. This makes the shovel of the ski more responsive from a torsional standpoint, while allowing the back end of the ski to be manipulated and flexed according to the terrain and snow conditions. In the mid-body of the ski, it’s about even right-angles, mixing the two properties and making a predictable and poised underfoot zone. This is the type of build that, when you’re skiing, you’re not really thinking about the specifics, but you know that there’s something going on with the ski that makes it feel natural and smooth. To boost that flex from a longitudinal standpoint, we’re also getting uni-directional flax fibers, and these do a great job at making the ski feel more powerful without adding weight. One of the new components this year is the addition of Bio Resin in the adhesive layers. Each layer of every ski needs to have an adhesive to hold it to the next one. These laminates add up, so K2 is using a more environmentally friendly mix in order to do so. Fortunately, it also bonds better, so there’s multiple wins going on here. If a ski can retain its high-performance nature while keeping it green, then so much the better. This ski uses a mix of cap and sidewall to create a mix of grippy performance in the thicker underfoot zones and quicker playfulness in the ends. For a ski without metal, these K2’s are still somewhat weighty, hitting the scale at 2089 grams per ski in the 183. While this isn’t exactly a feather, keep in mind the length and surface area, not to mention the shape and profile have a lot to do with how the ski will behave when actually on snow. There are a lot of skis out there that are heavy on the scale but light on the feet, and that works the other way, too.

At a Glance:

2024 K2 Mindbender 106C

169, 176, 183, 189 cm18.9 m @ 183 cm137 / 106 / 127 mm2,089 g @ 183 cm$699.95

As is the case with so many other freeride skis, the shape and profile have a whole lot to do with the personality, character, and performance of the ski, and this 106C is no different. Boasting measurements of 137/106/127, it’s a pretty smooth operator, generating an 18.9-meter turn radius in the 183. This is a great place to be in terms of arc, allowing skiers to dictate their own shape and style to the turn, and it particularly lines up with the profile of the rest of the ski, leading to a balanced unison between flex and shape. K2 uses what they call their “All-Terrain Rocker,” and this thing is pretty bowed-out, especially in the tip. There’s a lot of long tip rocker to speak of, and while the splay isn’t particularly dramatic, it’s pretty darn clear from the looks of the ski that it’s going to float really well. That carries into the tip taper as well, with the widest part of the ski brought down into the forebody. This tapered shape allows the tip of the ski to cut smoothly and predictably through fresh, chopped, and broken snow. In the tail, the rocker isn’t quite as dramatic, and this is where Mindbender separates from Reckoner when it comes to profile. The Reckoner in a similar width will have considerably more multi-directional shape versus the Mindbender, which still wants to keep that fore/aft smoothness fully intact. The tail taper does stand out—it's a short yet somewhat sharp end to the ski, thinning to a very narrow point in the rear. This combines with the rocker and the flex to make the ski easily maneuverable and incredibly fun. While the effective edge on the ski is quite short when riding a flat ski, the flex allows skiers to get this thing up on edge and when you’re able to take advantage of that flexibility, the ski smooths out. So, it’s better when used in deeper and softer snow in a smeary format, but when the conditions get firmer, it operates better at a higher edge angle. This makes it an excellent carver in softer corduroy and a wonderful floater through the trees and fluff. There is camber underfoot, and the height of said camber aligns well with the thickness of the sidewall portion of the ski to make a relatively energetic carved turn.

Since this ski is best when used in soft, fresh, and deep snow, it’s best to start there. We had the good fortune of being on this ski in some of the deeper snow of the year, and the performance did not disappoint. We got some groomer days as well, and we’ll touch on those later, but it’s incumbent upon us to not bury the lead—this thing is amazing in powder. Sure, there are better, wider, and more playful floaters out there, but at 106 mm underfoot, this is about as bouyant as it gets. The blend and mix of shape, profile, and construction creates a predictable, smooth, and resistance-free snow feel in almost any depth of snow. Here in Vermont, we don’t deal with bottomless snow, and when we do get a foot or more, it usually doesn’t last too long. That said, for most of us, on most snow days, 106 is plenty of ski. If you ski in an area that receives far more snow, this might feel a bit narrow, but the vast majority of skiers will find this width to be more than enough when it comes to powder. The most fun we had was letting it run and allowing the tail to do the work. It’s like a rudder back there—crisp when you want it to turn, yet cuts right through the snow with ease. If you’re pressing forward in the softer snow, the shovel can dive, especially for a bigger skier like me at 225 pounds, but I don’t think Emily had the same experience. For aggressive skiing, it’s better from the mid-foot to the tail, but that’s not what this ski is really designed for. It’s best when used at moderate speeds and in mid-range turns. When we first got on it back in December, our K2 representative kept touting the ski’s ability in Vermont trees. We heard him say this on multiple occasions, and while we believed him, it wasn’t until we finally skied these in snowy woods that those words actually came to life. The K2 Mindbender 106C is one of the best tree skis out there, and when there’s fresh snow in those trees, the performance grows exponentially. They’re so incredibly maneuverable, it’s almost like cheating. While the Mindbender 108 Ti may be a better choice for when there’s wide-open bowls and higher speed aggressive skiing, the 106C has a huge advantage when it comes to everything else in terms of softer snow.

On the groomers, the softer the better. That day in early December, we were dealing with some relatively rotten early season conditions, so it wasn’t really a fair fight with the 106C. That said, it was surprising how well the ski handled the hard pack, especially when the snow got cut up and piled up—that's where the subtleness of the ski comes to life. It’s easy to maneuver, and happy to go through chunky snow and crud when the trail conditions degrade. Later in the season, we got some better groomer conditions and packed powder, and let me tell you, these skis were amazing. The wide platform allows for steep edge angles, and since the flex of the ski is managed by carbon, you can really access and engage with the whole sidecut of the ski. It’s at this point that the taper and the rocker assist with a carved turn, making it more fun and more engaging and allowing the skier to really lean into the carve. There was a surprising amount of confidence involved with the on-piste performance of these skis, boosting the overall impression of the ski to a very high level. These things can lay down some serious trenches when it comes to corduroy. It’s a more complete ski than the build and shape let on, and we’re all about that type of surprise.

So, who is this ski for and what does it do best? Firstly, there’s a pretty big range here, going from K2 team riders all the way to smaller skiers that are looking for something to be their snow day ski. The sizing is pretty broad as well, with the women’s version starting at 155, and the men’s heading up to 189, this gives skiers a whole lot of options when it comes to both length and graphics. It’s not a particularly difficult ski to use, all the while catering to the fun-loving needs and wants of accomplished experts who just want something playful and smeary. The 2024 K2 Mindbender 106C operates best in the mid-range, but the ski is built and shaped such that the mid-range is actually quite large. This is a low-risk, high-reward ski that functions brilliantly in any soft snow with better than average groomer performance for a wide ski. We’re pretty darn stoked to see this men’s version come through with the longer lengths for sure.