2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Ski Review

A welcome addition to the Mindbender family, the all-new 96C presents an excellent middle-ground between some existing skis in the K2 line, and also carves out a great little niche for itself in the process. For years, the 90C and 116C has been the only Mindbender skis that use carbon spectral braiding in order to fine-tune the flex of the ski, leaving the 89/90, 99, and 108 as the Ti versions. The 85 kind of stands on its own as a more basic version and build, but the C and Ti skis definitely have more technology and sophistication involved. By bolstering the number and style of carbon-powered skis in the Mindbender line, K2 has opened up the all-mountain and freeride side of the spectrum to a whole new group of skiers. As the mid-90's model, the 96C serves as a benchmark ski in this category, and so far, we’ve found it to be fun, engaging, versatile, and smooth.

There’s not a whole lot of differences when it comes to build and construction from the 90C. The 96 uses an Aspen wood core, Carbon Spectral Braid, Uni-Directional Flax, and Bio Resin to hold it all together. The addition of Flax is the big difference in terms of performance, as these longitudinal stringers help keep the fore/aft flex of the ski on the slightly stiffer side. The 184 cm length clocks in at 1930 grams per ski, so it’s not terribly light, but that gives it the smoothness when it comes to performance. Like all the other Mindbender skis, and most of K2’s models, the Aspen wood core provides a quiet and stable foundation on which to build the rest of the product. By weaving the carbon stringers together in a strategic manner, the Spectral Braiding allows the engineers at K2 to make the ski torsionally stiff and responsive in the shovel, and more playful and freeride-oriented in the tail. The cross-hatching is tighter up front, and looser in the rear, mimicking what they do with their Titanal Y-Beam in the Ti versions of the skis, but using lighter and more reactive carbon in order to achieve similar results. While it doesn’t contain a full-sidewall like the Ti versions, the 96C, and other C models, use more of a half-cap design to increase maneuverability and ease of use. This separates the C versions by making them a bit more agile and drifty.


2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis






166, 172, 178, 184 cm

17.8 m @ 184 cm

131 / 96 / 119 mm

1,930 g @ 184 cm


If you’re familiar with the shaping and profile of the 99Ti, the 96C isn’t a huge departure. One of the big differences is that the 96C has a tighter turn radius at 17.8 meters in the 184, while the 99Ti is 19.6 meters in the same length. This is due largely to a relatively wider tail in the 96C that allows it to finish a proper turn with less work and pressure. You still have to have a good amount of input on the 99Ti to get the same results. Additionally, with the 96C being slightly more flexible, it’s easier to access the entirety of the sidecut, and that makes a lot of sense for the style of turns that the ski likes to create, as well as the demographic of skier who will likely find themselves on the 96C. There’s enough taper here to allow it to float seamlessly through fresh snow, as we found out first hand on a pretty deep day here at Stowe. Similarly, it’s well-rounded enough in that shape to make it hook up easily on groomers and propel you nicely through a carved turn. From a rocker profile perspective, the 96C follows the newer lines of the Ti versions, with slightly longer and smoother bends that make it feel more like a freeride ski than anything else. It certainly has more of a playful feel due to the combination of shape, profile, and construction. For a ski with the intention of the 96C, it seems to all line up and make sense.

2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis: 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis Top Sheet Closeup Image 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis: 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Tail Closeup Image

And this is where performance comes in to play. The flexible nature, the maneuverable personality, and the fun-loving character of this ski make it an invaluable addition to K2’s line. Like all good mid-90's skis, this one should ooze versatility, and we’ve definitely found that to be the case. If you had to pick one superlative to describe the 96C, it would certainly be versatile. That said, it’s also not the strongest in any one particular area, so skiers should be aware that there are some limitations here. With a shorter turn radius than it’s Ti-powered buddy, the 96C excels in mid-radius and mid-speed carves, but if you’re looking to push and drive it harder into the arc, the flex in the shovel may not hold up to the most aggressive skiing. And that’s fine—that's what the 99Ti is there for. Conversely, it is able to shorten up the turns quite effectively, so if you’re needing to link in moguls, trees, and short-swing turns, the 96C is a superior option to the more metallic version. When skiing down a blue groomer, the 96C is very happy in the mid-zone of both speed and pressure, but if you find that sweet spot, it is excessively fun, smooth, and easy to turn. Just do not expect it to ricochet you from one hard GS turn to the next—there's more finesse needed here. Most skiers will spend most of their time on groomed or relatively smooth terrain, and in this realm, the 96C will align quite well with the intended skier. It feels intuitive, natural, and untroubled when it comes to on-piste performance.

It gets more interesting, not surprisingly, when the terrain and snow conditions begin to vary. Starting with moguls, this is one of the best mid-90's bump skis out there by a good margin. Feel free to drive the tips of these skis right into the front of the mogul and expect consistent flex throughout the crests and troughs. Since it’s more directional in terms of shape, but still flexy in the tails due to build, it lines up really well in both zippered and tight bump lines as well as more spaced-out moguls that require some extra thought in the approach. Having that flatter tail is a nice feature in firmer bumps, as the more twin-tipped options in this realm have the tendency to wash out if the in-between zones are scraped clean. Many of these same benefits can be felt in the trees. The additional advantage is that you get the width, taper, and rocker to create and maintain quickness and flotation for when there’s fresh snow in the woods. The combination of shape and build makes this ski an exceptional tree ski, and while the 106C seems like a more obvious choice for when there’s actual snow, most of the time here in Vermont, a 96 is more than appropriate. It’s a very convenient ski for wiggling in and out of the glades, contributing to a high confidence factor—skiers do not need to think about or worry about these skis when it comes to linking short or necessary subsequent turns in the woods.

2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis: Full Width Action Image 1 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Skis: Full Width Action Image 2

If you test a ski long enough around Stowe, you’re going to get a snow day before long, and while we skied them in more wind-buffed snow earlier in the season, more recently we got on them in about 8-10 inches of powder and are pleased to present the results. Unsurprisingly, the blend of taper, profile, and sophisticated construction leads to a pretty darn floaty ski. Aggressive experts may feel that there’s something left to be desired, and they wouldn’t be wrong—it's not that difficult to push past the performance point of the 96C in softer and heavier snow, but if you’re skiing with moderation and value friendliness over demand, this ski has all you could ever want. It’s always fun to test skis in deep snow and see what they can do. For most skiers on the planet, there’s definitely nothing wrong with the 96C when it comes to powder performance.

While we’re able to point out a number of avenues in which the 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C is put to good use, it is also fair to note that there are some limitations on the aggressive side of the spectrum. Are experts who like to push a ski and drive it hard going to overpower the 96C? It’s pretty likely, but that’s a very small percentage of skiers. Without sounding like this ski is too middle-of-the-road in a bad way, that’s kind of what it is. The mid-range speed limit and turn shape make it totally accessible for a huge range of skiers, and that’s a big benefit to the sport as a whole and K2’s overall lineup diversity. We loved our time on the 96C, from early-season groomers to mid-March powder days, and everywhere in between. That’s the best part of this ski—it’s incredibly convenient in combining multiple attributes all season long. As a one-ski quiver for a ton of skiers, this new width has a huge upside.

2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Ski Review: Shop Now Image

Written by Bob St.Pierre on 03/16/23

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