Expert Review: 2023 K2 Instrument SnowboardPublished on 09/09/2023 · 11 min readSnowboard Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton tested the 2023 K2 Instrument snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton tested the 2023 K2 Instrument board at Powder Mountain in Utah this past spring. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but don’t forget, every snowboarder is different and what works for one may not work for all. If you have any questions on the Instrument or would like recommendations on what board would be ideal for your needs, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
A quick note that we're not sponsored by any brands, so all of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does K2 claim about the board? [Everett] You want to play some jazz? You can cruise around here. This thing is meant to go with the flow, rhythm, and blues going through back and forth. This is what this board is designed for. They wrote that. I went on their website.
[Mike] K2 claims the Instrument is an all-mountain board with a heavy dose of carving and pow.
What is your overall impression? [Everett] My overall impression of this board is a hard-charging board, but if there were powder around, which I wish today, this thing would've accepted that too and done great.
[Mike] This board is awesome! Setback stance cambers your foot, so you're in control. There's a little rocker in that tip so that it will float. It's also volume-shifted, so you want to ride it three to five centimeters smaller than your normal board. This is a great option for those guys with bigger feet. I rode the 157. I could have gone down a size. However, it doesn't feel too boaty. It's still lively, quick edge to edge. Even though it's wider, you're in control—a lot of good float.
What is the profile of the snowboard? [Mike] It features a little rocker in the nose, and then it's camber for the rest of the way. As a result, it floats well in softer snow and slush. Carbon stringers run the length of the board. They help add strength. This board is extremely lightweight, which helps keep it lively. And then it also has forks. The forks help as the board twists and turns. It will be lively and send you into that next turn. So if you're trying to lay down some big turns and hold an edge, this board is awesome.
How does the board turn? [Everett] This board is amazing at turning. It's one of the most fun boards I had—railing turns and getting a high edge. I can get so low on the ground on this thing, and it can handle it, no problem. I felt so stable on it.
[Mike] This board is so much fun to turn. It is volume-shifted, so it's designed to be ridden three to five centimeters shorter than your regular snowboard. It means it's a little wider through the overall profile and contact points. But it's a directional freeride board. If you want to get good at turning, you should ride this snowboard. It is fun. I've had the chance to ride in a couple of different conditions, but with that camber underfoot and then that little bit of rocker here, combined with these forks, it is lively, springy, and as you get it up, more torsionally twisted. It is just going to swing you into that next turn. So you can fly edge to edge all over the mountain all day and have your skier friends chase you down, unable to catch you.
What’s the edge hold like? [Everett] The edge hold is incredible. Super high sidewalls on these are going to make sure you can get super deep railing carves on it. It's going to hold you super hard into that. So you can cruise down the mountain.
What about stability in turns? [Everett] Having a volume-shifted board helped with stability in turns. You can push it as hard as you need and want to and see where you're going to get out of it.
Do you feel a lot of chatter when you are riding? [Everett] This board didn't have a lot of chatter. Having the carbon built into this board made it much smoother, lighter, and able to tackle all the terrain you are thrown over. Even if it was super uneven, I didn't feel any of it.
How does it feel in terms of speed? [Everett] Speed is this board’s friend. It wanted to go fast. It wanted to flow with the mountain. So open it up as you go through those turns, and it will fly down the mountain.
Is it easy to control at speed? [Everett] This board was definitely easy to control when I was up to speed and feeling super comfortable, especially at a higher, more aggressive pace. This board kept up fairly well and wanted to keep going.
What about energy and acceleration? [Everett] This board did want to accelerate. It had a lot of playful energy but really just wanted to go. So if you leaned into it over your front foot, you would start flying.
Is it playful freestyle-wise? [Everett] It's not a freestyle-oriented board. This board would act up in being playful. If you found a side hit, you'd be fine. It's not here to be throwing spins and big tricks, but you still could if you just wanted to get some air time and have some fun on it.
What about pop? [Everett] Having that carbon within this board would give you the pop when needed. It's not going to be the highest ollying board, but it will still give you the air time when you want it.
What about buttering? [Everett] Being on the stiffer side, buttering is not its friend, but having some playful tendencies did allow it. You can get a little up there. You can do some maneuverability on either tip or tail, buttering around.
How is it for riding switch? [Everett] This board is not meant to ride switch, but you can totally do it. I mean you can kind of butter it as you bring it around, but I would not stay switched too long on this thing.
How is jumping with this board? [Everett] Jumping is the one aspect of freestyle that this board could have fun on. You'll have a lot of stability on takeoff and landing, so you could bust out some good moves on bigger features if you wanted to. This board can handle that.
How is stability on landings? [Everett] This board is going to be super stable on landings. Having that volume shift will disperse your weight so much that you could land on just about anything.
[Mike] This board is incredibly stable. With the shape, it might be a little interesting landing switch, but if you're doing some big straight airs or 360s, sevens, or a big old method, this board will be super poppy on the takeoff and super stable when it comes to landing.
How would this board be in powder? [Everett] Having a much wider board and volume shifted like that will ensure you get up and on top of it. And with a good solid taper to this board, it'll keep you so you can initiate turns, cruise on through, and stay above it all day long.
What about on uneven terrain and chunder? [Everett] We ran into a lot of uneven terrain and chunder today, and I could put it through the paces on that. Since it's more of a bulkier, harder charger, you could cut right through it, but the playfulness made it a little bit more forgiving as you did go through there.
[Mike] In terms of control on uneven terrain, this is a great board for that. It is nimble edge-to-edge and wants to spring you into that next turn. That little rocker in the nose will be good for floating through whatever's in your way. With how lightweight it is, if you're going to do a lot of choppy stuff, the board isn't going to eat it up as much. It's super lively, so you'll get some feedback there. But overall, with its shape and the camber profile, it's a really easy board to control.
How is the maneuverability in the trees? [Everett] This board is one of the more maneuverable in tight trees. Again, volume shifting helps make quicker, more dynamic turns through shorter, more technical areas. This board did a really good job on that.
[Mike] This board is maneuverable in tight spaces. With that volume shift, you can run it smaller than your normal board. That means there's less to move around in those tight spaces. It's also super lightweight with that carbon, which will help propel you edge-to-edge. Finally, it's got a ton of control. This is a great board if you're looking to ride trees and get into some of those tighter moguls, tighter trees, and tight chutes.
What terrain is this board ideal for? [Everett] This board is for opening up, railing hard turns and powder days. Those are the two aspects it's super great on. So if you're going a little more up on bigger terrain with fresh snow, this thing will float. It'll just cruise on through once you find your rhythm.
[Mike] This board is designed to be a directional all-mountain freeride snowboard with a heavy emphasis on putting it on edge and finding fresh snow. If you don't ride a lot of park, but like to rip it on the groomers in the morning, seek out some fresh snow or ride some trees. This could be a board that does it all for you.
What terrain is not ideal for this board? [Everett] I would avoid park riding on this board. It's not built for that. So you will want to steer clear of that on this board.
[Mike] You're going to get a lot of interesting looks if you take this in the rail line. That said, this board will not be the best park board. It's directional and a little wider. While lightweight, it's not designed to ride switch a ton. With those stringers, it will not be your best for pressing. This will not be the park rider's choice, but this board will perform well all over the mountain.
Any location you think it'd be good or not good for? [Everett] This board is built for cruising all day everywhere, mellow riding, but you can still push a little harder. Say you're trying to find more conditions with a lot of fresh snow. This board will be great. Even on those East Coast days, you could still have fun on this if you just like making good, hard carving turns.
[Mike] Honestly, this board is at home anywhere there is groomed snow or fresh snow and some space to make turns. With that camber profile and that stiffness, it will be fine on some of those hard pack or icier conditions. This board could work on the East Coast or West Coast. It's a universal snowboard for people that like to turn their snowboards, look for fresh snow, and have fun.
Who would you recommend this board to? [Everett] I recommend this board to the hard carver. If you like the occasional powder day, this is the perfect blend of hard-charging and float when necessary.
[Mike] I recommend this board to freeriders or snowboarders who value their turns and like finding a lot of fresh snow. Depending on the day, they're not afraid to do a bit of both.
Who would you not recommend this board to, there are other better options for them out there?
[Everett] It would not be an everyday quiver that's going to be able to hit more—moguls, trees, and park riding. This board is not meant for a beginner rider, but I could see it as a little bit more of an intermediate-friendly board. You can step on it. The playfulness does make it a little bit more friendly so that you can step into it earlier, but it will follow you as you progress into your riding ability and take it up to a more advanced state.
[Mike] I wouldn't recommend this board for a beginner. It is a very lively board. While that makes it easy for an advanced or high-level intermediate rider to turn with, it'll be really scary for that beginner. It's also not going to lend itself well to someone that likes to ride a lot of switch.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you have any questions about the K2 Instrument or want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Everett, Mike, or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations. Note that the 2024 version of the K2 Instrument is linked below - same tech, just different graphic: