K2 Snowboards Overview: The Top Most Recommended ModelsPublished on 05/26/2023 · 11 min readConsidering a K2 snowboard for your next board? Read this first! Snowboarding Expert Gaelen Mast lists K2's top models and how to choose the right one for you!
Photo by Oliver Schwendener
K2 Snowboards is one of the few brands to have massive success producing both skis and snowboards. In this article, we’ll take a look at who they are, what makes them special, and some of their most iconic snowboards for both men and women. If you’re a K2 fan, read on to find which of their boards would be best for you!
K2 Snowboards: A Quick Overview
K2 originally started as a ski company founded in Washington in 1962. While they saw plenty of success selling skis, they decided to expand into snowboards in 1987. Since that time, they’ve gone on to introduce both fiberglass snowboards and the concept of asymmetrically shaped snowboards. This now-common technology is used in many boards today, such as the ever-popular Ride Twinpig.
Recommended K2 Snowboards
Below we’ll cover some of the most popular K2 snowboards for both male and female riders, divided into four easy sections:
For each board, I’ll provide a brief snapshot—highlighting what it’s meant to do and who it’s meant for—as well as a summarized list of its strengths and weaknesses. From here, you can always chat with a Curated Snowboarding Expert, like me, to answer any more questions you might have about the board and ultimately confirm the best K2 model for your specific ability level, riding style, and snowboarding goals.
If you’ve never ridden before, or have only a few times and are already sick of rental snowboards, this is the place to start. These next two recommendations are K2’s most popular beginner-specific boards, and will help to progress faster than if riding a rental.
K2 Standard: Men’s Beginner
Overview: The K2 Standard is simple—some might even say boring—but that’s why it’s perfect. It’s not a crazy board with any unique technologies or special shapes. But it has everything you need in a beginner board and comes at a very affordable price. I would recommend the K2 standard to those who are absolute beginners all the way up to riders who are starting to tackle blues.
This board has a softer flex and a rocker-flat profile that makes it very forgiving and easy to turn. It also has a “catch-free tune”, which essentially means the board comes partially detuned from the factory—making it even harder to accidentally catch an edge in the snow. It’s a directional twin due to less rise from the rocker in the tail, but its nose and tail are the same shape, so it’ll work just fine for practicing switch as well.
- Very easy to learn the basics on
- Not just a true beginner’s board, also accommodating for progressing beginner riders
- Easy to learn switch on
- Good option for light freestyle duties
- A soft flex and rocker profile isn’t suitable for riding at high speeds
- Easy to progress beyond its capabilities for fast-learning riders
K2 First Lite: Women’s Beginner
Overview: This board is the most affordable female-specific snowboard from K2. Offered in smaller sizes to cater to a female-specific audience, this model also runs narrower than men’s boards—as women typically have smaller feet. In all, it’s essentially the women’s version of the K2 Standard.
This board is appropriate for the complete beginner all the way up to the female rider starting to take on blue-square trails. This is thanks to its soft flex specifically designed for a women’s weight, and a rocker to flat profile. It’s a breeze to turn and less likely to catch an edge in snow.
While this board has a directional twin shape, K2 claims it’s identical riding regular and switch—making it even more versatile for the new female shredder who’s excited to explore everything that snowboarding has to offer.
- A step above rental boards but still very beginner-friendly
- Not exclusive to complete newbies, great for progressing beginners as well
- Fairly easy to practice switch on
- Budget-friendly for a high-quality board
- Decent option exploring for small freestyle features
- Rocker to flat profile and soft flex isn’t suitable for high-speed riding
- A fast learner will pass the capabilities of this board quickly
If you’ve progressed past the abilities of your beginner snowboard and are interested in getting a K2 for your next model, these next two boards offer versatility and capability in many types of terrain.
K2 Raygun Pop: Men’s All-Mountain
Overview: The K2 Raygun Pop is one of the most capable and predictable all-mountain men's boards in their line-up. It’s built with a classic profile you’ll see in many all-mountain boards—camber between the bindings with rocker in the tips (a profile that K2 calls “combination camber”). Paired with a medium flex, this board offers maximum versatility and is a true Swiss army knife of a ride.
The Raygun Pop’s formula is a classic, making it one of the best choices for a rider who’s not sure where to start once they outgrow their beginner board. Though if you’re brand new to snowboarding, I’d stay away from this board, as the camber sections may be difficult for beginners. However, if you’re comfortable riding greens all the way up to taking on your first blacks, this board is a great choice.
- Suitable for a wide variety of ability levels, will take longer to outgrow
- Versatile, allowing riders to explore any sort of terrain that interests them
- Good value price point for a do-it-all board
- Good for everything, but not the best at anything
- Less exciting graphic
K2 Manifest: Unisex All-Mountain
Overview: This board is one of K2’s best options for the more advanced rider who wants to do it all and needs to know their board isn’t going to hold back their progress. Built on the same formula as the Raygun Pop, this board also features a combination camber (rocker/camber/rocker) profile with a medium flex. However, the camber is more accentuated on this board, giving it more stability at speeds and harder carving abilities than the Raygun Pop. It also features a larger rockered nose for better powder float.
I would recommend this board to the more committed all-mountain rider who knows they want to push their limits and needs a board that can take them on 99% of the mountain. If you’re not confidently riding blue squares yet, I would hold off for now— unless you’re up for an initial steep learning curve.
- Aggressive camber for great edge hold and precision when carving
- Caters towards big-mountain riding style for advanced riders
- Powder performance is better than the average board
- Not particularly park-friendly for certain features such as rails or boxes
- Not approachable for more novice riders looking for an all-mountain board
- Higher priced for an all-mountain board
While you can ride any snowboard in the terrain park, freestyle boards are specifically designed for this area. The following freestyle boards below can certainly be ridden outside the park, but they’re intended for the rider who wants to spend almost every day there.
K2 Afterblack: Men’s Freestyle
Overview: The Afterblack is a staple in the freestyle world, and one you’ll see frequently in the park. Like many K2 boards, it keeps things simple with a camber between the bindings, rocker in the tips, and a medium flex. Unlike other boards on this list that share this profile, the Afterblack is totally symmetrical, with the same amount of rocker in each tip—making it a true twin and ideal for freestyle riding.
I would recommend this board to anyone who’s dedicated to the freestyle grind. It’s a board you can slide your first box on and also a board you can hit a 30-foot jump-line or slide a double kink down rail with. In other words, it’s going to take a while to outgrow.
While this board doesn’t perform poorly outside the park, it can certainly hang on groomers and casual cruising laps. As such, there are better options out there for the rider who wants to “do it all”.
- Accommodating to most levels of park riding
- Easy to learn/ride switch on due to true twin shape
- Versatile enough for casual riding outside the terrain park
- Good price value for a high-level park board
- Just average outside the park
- Subpar at powder or tree riding
K2 Spellcaster: Women’s Freestyle
Overview: The Spellcaster is simply a smaller, female version of the Afterblack. That means it’s got the same rocker/camber/rocker profile and true twin shape for a similar riding experience. It’s just made in smaller lengths, narrower widths, and a slightly softer flex to accommodate female riders.
- Accommodating for beginner and advanced park riders alike
- True twin shape makes switch riding a breeze
- Well-rounded enough to ride outside the terrain park occasionally
- High value for the money
- Nothing special outside the park, better all-mountain options out there
- Will lag behind at powder or tree riding
The next two boards are some of K2’s most highly regarded freeride boards for serious powder days. They’re both unisex boards, so would function for both male or female riders.
K2 Excavator: Unisex Powder
Overview: The Excavator is a pure powder board that can blow you away on snowy days. If you’re all about performance in powder, this board features the best float possible, the most speed possible, and is easy to turn in tight spaces.
The Excavator features a directional shape with a massive section of rocker in the nose for float through powder and camber spanning from the front binding to the tail for maximum control and stability. It also is built as a volume-shifted board, meaning you can size down on it and get a more nimble ride for trees or other tight spots without sacrificing stability or speed.
I would only recommend this to the high-intermediate to advanced rider who plans to own multiple snowboards. If you’re not comfortable riding steep and deep terrain, and don’t get more than a handful of deeper (6+ inches) powder days, it will be hard to appreciate this board.
- Stable and speedy yet also nimble due to volume-shifted design
- One of the best boards out there for deep powder days
- Reasonably priced for an advanced/expert powder-specific snowboard
- Average performance on non-powdery terrain (not a daily driver)
- Not accommodating to most skill levels
- Poor switch performance
K2 Passport: Unisex Freeride
Overview: If the K2 Excavator sounds a little too powder-focused for you, but you still want a board that’s going to kick butt, the K2 Passport might be your new best friend. It’s classified as a powder/freeride board, and shares many of the same traits as the Excavator: the same profile, the same stiff flex, and a directional shape.
However, you’ll notice its directional shape is a bit less directional than the Excavator. This means it’s going to perform way above average on deep powdery days, but also handle better than the Excavator on groomers. The biggest difference is a nose that’s a bit less aggressive than the Excavator. As such, it doesn’t experience as much chatter at speed, and a longer tail is more accommodating to switch riding.
While I still wouldn’t recommend this board as a daily driver, it’s more versatile than the Excavator with its more traditional shape. Therefore, I’d recommend this to riders who are looking for a hard-charging board that can carve through any sort of snow and also ride a good amount of fresh powder. If you spend most of your time on intermediate to advanced terrain and love to put down carves in both fresh powder and fresh corduroy, this may be the board for you.
- Versatile big-mountain board that shines in powder
- More switch friendly than many powder boards
- Accommodating for a wide variety of skill levels, not just experts
- Not accommodating for terrain-park riding
- Not beginner or low-intermediate friendly
Thinking About a New Board? Enlist the Help of a Real Expert
K2 is a world-class snowboard brand that offers high-quality equipment. However, that doesn’t mean every single one of their boards is right for you. If you’re still undecided on which may be your best option, consider reaching out to a Curated Snowboarding Expert, like me. Our knowledgeable and friendly team of professionals offers free, real-time advice and tailored gear recommendations. The process takes only a few minutes, and is the easiest way to avoid analysis paralysis and buyer’s remorse when choosing your next snowboard.