Expert Review: K2 Poacher Skis · 2023

This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.

A skier hitting a rail on a pair of skis.

Gripping my way to a spin out of a rail onto the soft, slushy snow at Timberline, in Mount Hood, Oregon. (June 22') All photos courtesy of Brandon Westburg

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which i purchased with my own money in January of 2022.

My take

The K2 Poacher is a versatile pick for a freestyle ski that skis well in just about any weather or snow conditions one can throw at it. It’s been supportive, durable, and fun for me to rip it up on, inside and outside of the park.

A skier grabs his skis as he does a jump in the air.

Sweet shot from Matt Roebke on a fun carved out quarterpipe hit. Fantastic shot with glowing Mt. Hood in the background!

About the gear

  • Model: 2023 K2 Poacher Skis
  • Size: 177cm

About me

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Experience: 22 years skiing, raised a ski racer before transitioning into freeskiing for the last 10 years or so.

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: January 2022
  • Days tested: 140-ish days
  • Mount position: Center Mounted
  • Boots: 2020 Dalbello il Moro
  • Boot Size: 27.5
  • Bindings: 2021 Marker Griffon 13 ID
  • Where I’ve used it: Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon
  • Terrain: Terrain park, tree lines, sidecountry, powder, bumps, groomers

How it performs

Carving
4/5
Durability
5/5
Flotation
3/5
High Speed Stability
5/5
Turn Ease
4/5
Versatility
4/5

What I was looking for

I was on the hunt for a super durable park ski that would have a long-lasting life and perform well outside of the park as something a bit on the stiffer side, with a good edge hold that can hold stable on bigger landings.

A man stands in ski gear smiling at the camera. There is a ski run behind him and skis sitting on a rock next to him.

I hiked up to Illumination Rock for the annual Summer Solstice celebration with the Poachers as my weapon of choice. What an amazing experience with nothing but amazing views and spring corn snow

Why I chose this gear

I skied on the K2 Poacher in the past for last season and needed a new pair of park skis. Knowing that I’d be getting another durable ski that is so much fun to ride in the park, buying another Poacher made so much sense for me. It held up so well in the previous season and proved to be a stable park ski for tricks and features of any size. I chose the Poacher for its ability to crush a wide array of terrain while also proving to be a bombproof park ski. I have considered buying some other park skis like the E-Dollo before. Still, coming from a ski racing background, I really enjoy stiffer park skis with a solid backbone, and the Poacher seemed much more attractive, knowing I’d be on a stiffer ski.

Close up of the tips on the K2 Poacher skis.

I have put roughly 140 days on my Poachers since grabbing them, and they have held up extremely well. There is some top sheet chipping, but that is expected with heavy park use. No issues otherwise!

What I love about it

  • Speed: The Poacher skis well at speed, mostly because of the all-terrain twin rocker and build of the core that keeps the ski dense. I found the Poacher did not produce chatter, even top-speed bombing down the mountain.
  • Edge hold: Great edge hold for a park ski. The ski’s dense core creates a strong edge hold that I enjoy turning confidently on. It has a strong backbone that I could trust when laying into my turns.
  • Turns: Turning on the Poacher sure is a blast. I skied both controlled longer radius turns, and shorter radius turns with the stated 18m turning radius in the 177 length. I am able to turn with confidence and maneuver tightly at any speed.
  • Groomers: The Poacher’s camber underfoot makes for a fun ride to rip up some corduroy with. I have fun ripping quicker and shorter turns, and I personally think they ski a bit shorter than a ~19m radius.
  • Trees: The Poacher is nimble enough to make any tree run a blast. I have my skis center mounted and have no problem turning them in tight or technical tree lines without wedging my turns at all. With pretty much any mounting point on the Poacher, anyone should feel confident that they can enjoy these skis and turn them tightly in the trees. I’m honestly surprised by the technical capabilities of the Poacher and how fun they actually are to ride in the trees, being only 96mm underfoot. Typically I’d rip a wider ski around the mountain or in the woods, but the Poachers do the trick for me.
  • Moguls: The Poacher can certainly hold its own in the bumps because it’s easy to pivot and turn quickly. I’ve certainly had some fun times ripping up bump lines, even the icy ones on the East Coast.
  • Park: The park seemed like my playground on the Poachers. Deep landings, landing switch, tearing up the rails, I find I can count on this ski for solid landings, durability, and most importantly, a ton of pop! I really enjoy the 96mm waist width, and it has the perfect weight to provide stability all of the time. The Poacher always seems to have my back in the park.
  • Durability: This has to be one of the most durable park skis out there. I’ve put it through a beating in my 100+ days on it in the park, and they are still going strong.
  • Weight: The Poachers weigh 2,000 grams per ski in 177 length, with no metal. Thanks to the aspen and fir wood core, these skis have a stable and damp feel. They ski surprisingly nimble with no metal but carbon stringers tip to tail.
  • Switch riding: Pretty dang close to fully symmetrical. The early taper in the tail makes for a smooth ride landing switch or carving switch. Center mount helps me significantly with any sort of switch skiing.
  • Stability: The Poacher has a ton of pop and can be buttered with proper flexing of the tip or tail. My favorite is switch tail butters on the Poacher. I haven't experienced any chatter at high speeds or in the park. It is truly a solid and stable ski.
A skier hits a rail feature on skis.

Sliding some metal this summer up on the Mt. Hood Glacier. This rail actually was set up as a Down-Flat-Down-Flat-Down and was super challenging to get through. Photo by Christopher Newett

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Powder: I have definitely had some fun in about 6-10” of snow on this ski, but when the flakes start falling, and there’s 12”+ on the ground, the Poacher struggles to float in the deeper stuff. There isn’t a big shovel tip or powder rocker to rely on. They sure still do rip in a few inches of fresh.
  • Backcountry: Being 96mm underfoot, damp, and almost symmetrical, there's no way the Poacher is a sweet backcountry or touring ski, unfortunately. Don’t count it out for some bootpacking and more mellow sidecountry runs though!
A skier hits a rail feature in a park.

Catching a brief period of time before the clouds closed in on us in Mount Hood, Oregon in July. Photo by Christopher Newett

Favorite moment with this gear

I loved traveling and skiing in different parks this season with my Poachers. That has to be the best part. From Vermont to Colorado and Oregon with these skis, I knew good times were ahead every time I clicked into my bindings. They crushed it around so many different mountains and parks this year. I can’t wait to explore more.

Value for the money vs. other options

It’s a very reasonably priced ski for the quality and durability alone. On the lower end of the price for park skis, the very similar Armada Arv 96 falls in the same price range. Others, like the J Skis Masterblaster, the ON3P Mango, the Lib Tech UFO 105, and the Faction Prodigy 2.0, are more expensive by hundreds of dollars. The K2 Poacher earned my vote as the most durable and trustworthy ski one can buy for the price.

Final verdict

The K2 Poacher is the perfectly balanced park ski that can also rip all mountains. In addition to being bombproof in the park, it’s also built to crush on various terrain and snow conditions. It’s a stable and well-built ski that always adds up to a ton of fun in the park.

Selling K2 on Curated.com
K2 Poacher Skis · 2023
$549.95
Ski Expert Brandon Westburg
5.0
Brandon Westburg
Ski Expert
Brandon here! How can I help?
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Written By
I am a passionate east coast skier who loves skiing no matter what. Rain, sleet, snow, sun, I'm still having fun! I hop on skis for as many days possible each season. (205 days for 22' season!) Currently, I am an avid freestyle skier and Level 200 Certified Freeski coach. I work with 20 skiers all w...

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