2014-2015 K2 Annex 98


There are far better crud skis out there. If you are primarily looking for a very good crud and variable conditions ski, the Volkl Mantra, Blizzard Bonafide, and the Nordica Hell & Back are all better choices.

Untracked Pow

The untracked snow I skied on the Annex 98 happened to be relatively warm, thick spring pow. And for me, I wasn’t comfortable skiing fast down the fall line on the Annex 98’s in these conditions. The shovels just felt too insubstantial to drive hard, and yet, when assuming more of a centered stance in this deeper snow, I’d end up weighting the tails of the skis more than I’d want to, causing the skis to feel rather grabby. The best way to deal with flat tails in deeper snow is to drive the shovels hard, and I didn’t find I could do that on the Annex 98, despite the ski’s ample tip rocker.

In this sense, the Annex 98 is sort of the opposite of the Blizzard Bonafide, which I found to work quite well in deeper snow. While the Annex 98 has more tip rocker than the Bonafide, the Bonafide has more substantial shovels and a looser, more pivot-y tail. That combination worked well for me.

In lighter pow, however (and especially when skiing lower-angle slopes), all of this ought to be less of an issue, and the Annex 98’s soft-flexing shovels and tip rocker ought to allow the skis to plane up quickly and easily.

Who’s It For?

1) Advanced and expert skiers who care a bit less about flying around at flat-out speeds, and prefer instead to carve clean turns, making good use of the Annex 98’s tails and their ability to bite and hold an edge, while also appreciating how easy it is to bend the ski into deep arcs.

2) Those who spend most of their time in more uniform / consistent conditions—whether that means well-manicured groomers, smooth windbuff, or untracked pow. The shovels of the Annex 98 are too soft and the tips too tapered to make this a good crud-busting ski, but if you’re not spending much time in chopped up, variable conditions, then this will matter a whole lot less.

3) If you’ve found the shovels of some other 98mm-underfoot skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, Nordica Hell & Back, or Volkl Mantra to be too much—either too stiff, or too heavy and sluggish—but never felt like their tails were too much … then you are the skier who I think might like the Annex 98 the most.

Bottom Line

My suspicion is that skiers will be able to identify pretty quickly whether or not the K2 Annex 98 is their cup of tea. The ski is soft, forgiving, and quick up front, while the back half of the ski is pretty stout, uninterested in smearing, and would like you to be tracking down the fall line. It’s a tale of two skis under one topsheet.



5 comments on “2014-2015 K2 Annex 98”

  1. There seems to be a vaguely familiar ski ‘feel’ running through a number of models in the K2 backcountry oriented ski lineup. Having experience with the 181 Coomba (non rockered tip), 188 rockered Coomback, 188 Sidestash (enhanced tip rocker version) and 178 Darkside (lesser tip rocker version) there are some handling characteristic similarities with your assessment of the latest Annex model, to varying degrees. My experience is primarily based on backcountry snow conditions running the gammut of quality from unskiable crust to hero pow; very little time was spent inbounds.

    All K2 models skied basic right side up pow and consistent untracked snow conditions well. The issues arise in temperature/rain crust and heavy punchy moister coastal snow and deeper stiffer, settled faceted pow. Somehow, I suspect, the variable sidecut with the more deeper shape in the fore of the ski struggles to balance with the straighter rear. Noted more in the Coomba/Coomback and to lesser degrees with the Sidestash and Darkside. With the Coomba/Coomback I struggled to find a true sweet spot in crust deeper moister coastal powtatoes and deeper faceted stiffer snow. The skis tended to overturn at the tip forcing a weight shift to center/back. At this point there seemed to be a lack of centered feel in which to balance and work effective round shaped or z shaped turns. Frequently balance would further be forced to the rear and the straighter tails would protest completing turns and/or breaking free/smearing resulting in a bit of a ‘cookie cutter’ effect while being taken for a rear weighted ride.

    Experiences were similar but less dramatic on the Sidestash and Darkside. The more robust flex and wider overall width of the Sidestash assisted with tip stability and power however, the deeper rocker line combine with potentially a slight mismatch with the forebody side cut just didn’t allow a consistent tip engagement that was balanced with the rear of the ski in these more marginal snow conditions. The effect was less impactful than on The Coomba/Coomback and the power of the ski allowed a bit more in the way of style reinforced ski persuasion.

    The wider Darkside handled a much broader spectrum of snow conditions with aplomb and panache. Deeper yet stiffer facets were laughed at, consistent, smooth breakable rain or temperature crust with shallower penetration was a nimble, balanced tap dance and all drier pow was an enjoyable sunday walk in the park. Issues arose from deeper moister wet spring snow, breakable spring crust on deeper penetration moist snow beneath and some funkier wind slab and crust conditions. The forebody of the ski would slightly fold and the sidecut issues would reappear in terms of the ski feeling slightly unbalanced and hooky at the tip. Having said that, I would characterize those conditions at being at the extreme end of bad snow conditions penetrating into the gray area before unskiable….anything within those margins and the Darkside was generally a reliable, enjoyable, poppy yet fairly stable ride.

    I will be experimenting with some forebody stiffening lexan strips and some custom base spooning on the Darkside to see if they improve the ever so slightly ‘folding’ aspects of the forward third of the ski to eliminate that variable in tweaking their performance for edge of envelope snow conditions…looking forward to product testing in bad snow this winter! ;)

  2. I should mention some personal stats from which the above observations were made from. Skier: 179cms tall, 172 pounds in weight. Skiing for 35+ years, prit near back country specific for the past 20. Ski an average of 80 days/season, 126 days this season. Boots employed are: Mainstay— Dynafit Mercury, mostly without tongue, tongue in for tougher snow conditions and more challenging 3D snow. Once in a while— Garmont Delirium, upright forward lean position. Also of note; aforementioned obs for the K2 skis mostly drawn from experience with the Mercury boots with and without tongue. It was noticed that more subjective control of the various skis was obtained with the more burly Delirium, however, the basic character of ski response was similar though impacted the joy of skiing in a less negative sense. There were occasions where the Delirium felt like too much boot for the skis aside from the Sidestash where a good power balance was achieved.

  3. Do you guys plan to review the Annex 108? I’m trying to decide between the 98 and the 108 for my first touring setup. The 98 would be fine for the northeast where I live but I’d also like the option of using it out west which has me leaning towards the 108.

  4. HI have bought a pair of Annex 89 14/15, I weigh 187 pounds and I am 172 tall. I am an intermediate skiier.

    When I tried the ski on Hard snow, then they did not grip.
    I dont know if it is because I bought the skiis to long, or if I should get a pair of racing skiis for the days, when the pists har icy, or very hard.

    What height are you? And what length did you use?
    I have a Telemark binding on these.

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