Ok I’ll admit it, that term “one-boot quiver” is overused and frankly quite dumb - but the idea of having a single ski boot to do it all is pretty appealing. Yes, there will be a compromise in performance on either end of the spectrum of touring versus downhill performance, but for many, that will be outweighed (pun intended) by just being able to grab that single boot no matter what. K2s newest BOA-equipped Mindbender 130 boot is made for exactly that: serving those of us looking for a freeride-ready boot that you can take touring from time to time.
Over the past few years, K2 has taken a more holistic approach to their product design, combining entire product groups under names like Mindbender and Dispatch - their freeride and free touring lines. Designing these products in tandem makes sense, given that matching a boot to a ski is paramount for both performances. Given that, the Mindbender 120 boot is designed to drive big heavy skis like K2s Mindbender skis, and in order to do so, focuses very heavily on downhill performance. In fact, it shares much with the inbounds-only Recon boot.
The new Mindbender 130 comes with the brand-new BOA Fit system we’re seeing on all kinds of boots this year. I’m not going to go deep into the tech on the BOA, read more on that here, but it’s integrated the same way as other boots on the K2 and works as advertised. The boot comes with tech fittings, Grip Walk sole, and an external walk mode and features a claimed 50-degree range of motion, adequate for most walking missions. It’s no skimo slipper, but that’s not the point. Inside, K2 gives you the option to swap out the harshmellow inserts to give the bootboard either a damper feel or a more rigid feel.
I tested the Mindbender 130 both inbounds and in the backcountry around Jackson Hole. The BOA fit system certainly helps with making this boot fit a wider variety of feet. That being said, I did not get along with the fit (I found it quite narrow for the claimed 97-104 mm last, and it has a fairly high instep). The heat-moldable liner and a custom footbed help, but not every shell fit is for everyone. Aside from the fit, this boot skis very very well. I’ve found that many walk-mode boots immediately develop slop or play in the mechanism or the low-friction cuff pivots, but that did not seem to happen in these. Instead, they felt extremely solid edge to edge, and offered a surprisingly progressive flex for a four-buckle boot. (Can we still call these boots that?). They are not race-boot stiff, but are definitely a true 130 flex - perfect for lighter weight hard-charging skiers, or those of us looking for a boot with a little bit more forgiveness.
On the skin track and boot pack, the Mindbender 130 walks better than most freeride boots. It feels light on the feet, and the low-friction pivots and range of motion make it comfortable for extended missions. I would say it’s a perfect boot to grab for sidecountry riding where you might encounter bootpacking or a short skins.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking for one boot to do it all, whether it’s shred inbounds laps, go on a ski tour to access your favorite stash, huck cliffs in the sidecountry, or take one boot on an international trip, K2’s Mindbender 130 BOA is a fantastic choice. It skis well, it walks well, and will serve all your freeride needs.