Gear Review: 2016 K2 Carve Air
A wide, short, weird looking snowboard for cranking turns, cracking ollies, and slapping high-5s
The snowboard industry seems to be both in a great and horrible place right now. Every couple months an article is written about the decline of sales and participants, mutant teenagers are twirling 1800s and flipping like crazy to win medals, and every season a different part of the country gets skunked on snowfall. Then again, many companies are pushing back on the spin to win jock mentality and with a return to the basics and pure promotion of fun times with friends. This is what we're interested in—weird shapes, experimental engineering, playful graphics and creative riding styles. And sure, it's true snowboarding is again just copying skateboarding with the retro shape trend. But that's fine, so long as we're all having fun.
Anyways, we recently got on the 2015/2016 Carve Air from K2 to try our hand at the Seattle brand's latest cut-length, extra wide all-terrain snowboard. At first glance, the Carve Air looks like a toy. And, really, it rides sorta like one too. Available in a 149 and 154 length, the Carve Air is designed to be ridden 5 or so centimeters shorter than normal. Smaller snowboards are, in theory, easier to maneuver on snow (a shorter effective edge allows for quicker turns) and in the air (reduced swing weight). Due to some engineering magic in the sidecut region the Carve air rides bigger than it is, and a big of extra girth in the waist helps it remain stable at high speeds too.
The camber profile is flat under the feet and between the binders with reverse camber—also called rocker, or "tweekend" as K2 prefers—on tip and tail. This provides some solid pop (more than a truly reverse camber board, and less than trad camber) and a truly playful feel.
We took this sucker on a tour of Utah, gripping groomers at breakneck speed at Snowbird and slashing hot pow at Powder Mountain (special thanks to both PowMow and Snowbird for the kind hospitality). It handled all of the above and much more like a champ. Jumping from edge to edge on fresh corduroy was to see the Carve Air in its element, and though tail grabs took a bit of relearning due to the chopped rear end, it handled some solid air time as good as any other. Just don't try to ride switch for extended periods of time—the hyper directional shape doesn't like that too much (duh).
All in all, this thing is a blast. If you're looking for something new to add to your collection for deep days and spring time euro carves, then give it a shot.
$450 from K2
all images by The Field