Because Titanal adds dampening and edge grip, it’s a common ingredient in skis. But in the soft snow of the backcountry most manufacturers don’t think it’s worth the weight penalty. K2 disagrees. For its redesigned Wayback and women’s Talkback family of backcountry skis, K2 added Titanal underfoot to improve the downhill versatility. It avoided adding weight overall by keeping the rest of the ski’s build super light, using a laminated wood core sandwiched between layers of carbon and glass. Full sidewall and dampening strips help with downhill smoothness. The Wayback ($749) comes in four widths, 106, 96, 88 and 80, while the women’s Talkback ($699) offers two: 96 and 88. (k2skis.com)
K2 WAYBACK 96
$749 * BEST FOR: Mount with a Salomon Shift or Marker Kingpin binding and you’ve got a slackcountry weapon.
LENGTHS: 170, 177, 184 * RADIUS: 20@170 * SIDECUT: 128/96/115 * WEIGHT: 1,325 grams
“The Wayback was the surprise of the test for me,” said veteran tester and carving specialist Paul Cunnius. “It did not ski like the light, slackcountry ski it is—and that’s a good thing!” Skiing at Lake Louise, he found the addition of a Titanal sheet to this backcountry ski really amped up the on-piste and hard-snow performance. It skied firm moguls and frozen spring snow with nimbleness and solid edge grip. A variety of turn shapes was no problem. When he opened up the speed and turn size, it held its own. In soft snow other testers found the ski floated easily, felt nimble in tight trees and ripped through chunder with ease. It’s not the lightest ski for its size, but it’s more than reasonable for a dedicated backcountry set-up. “This is the best light ski I’ve tried to date and would be my first choice for the slackcountry,” Cunnius concluded.
K2 TALKBACK 88
$699 * BEST FOR: Take it to Europe to explore beyond the piste.
LENGTHS: 153, 160, 167 * RADIUS: 16@160 * SIDECUT: 121/88/109 * WEIGHT: 1,150 grams
K2 says the Wayback and Talkback are among the top-selling touring skis in the world. With revamped construction, which includes a partial sheet of Titanal, the Talkback is even better going down, according to the glowing praise from testers. “Very lively and easy to initiate turns,” said Ray O’Reilly, after a day of AT south of Jasper as well as time in Marmot’s newly opened Tres Hombres terrain. “Followed through cleanly and crisply, not just in the backcountry but on the groomers warming up or at the end of the day. Stable on all types of snow except for the worst heavy crust, where it showed its light weight.” The fairly narrow 88mm waist lends itself to easy edging, but with rocker in the tip and tail it still floated in the fresh. Probably best under a lighter-weight, finesse-type skier than those who really push for performance.