2019-2020 K2 Mindbender 116C

Ski: 2019-2020 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm

Available Lengths: 179, 186, 193 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 185.7 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2019 & 2051 grams

Stated Dimensions: 143-116-133 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 142.6-115.5-132.6 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (186 cm): 22.9 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 74 mm / 33 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Core: Maple/Paulownia + Carbon Spectral Braid + Fiberglass Laminate

Base: Sintered

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.85 cm from center; 83.0 cm from tail

Boots: Head Raptor 140 RS; Nordica Strider 120

Bindings: Marker Jester

Reviewers:

  • Jonathan Ellsworth: 5’10”, 175 lbs
  • Luke Koppa: 5’8″, 155 lbs

Test Location: Crested Butte, CO

Days Skied: ~12

Luke Koppa and Jonathan Ellsworth review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
K2 Mindbender 116C
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Full Review //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

At this point, we’ve already talked a lot about K2’s new Mindbender skis. We discussed the origin of the line with K2 ski designer, Jed Yeiser, we posted First Looks of the Mindbender 99Ti and 98Ti Alliance, and we recently published a full review of the Mindbender 108Ti. We’ve also got full reviews coming soon for the Mindbender 106C Alliance and 115C Alliance.

But today, we’re discussing the widest ski in the lineup, the Mindbender 116C. We’re working on our full review of the ski now, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at how K2’s new pow ski compares to the rest of the market.

What K2 says about the Mindbender 116C

“Conceived in the heart of the Cascades, this is the model that inspired the name ‘Mindbender’; never has there been a more capable 116mm waisted ski. If skiers keep pushing the envelope, this ski will lick the stamps.”

This is pretty brief, but the main thing seems to be the Mindbender 116C’s versatility. I.e., K2 doesn’t seem to be billing this ski purely as a “pow ski” — it’s supposed to be more than that.

Shape / Rocker Profile

The Mindbender 116C effectively replaces K2’s current Pinnacle 118, and the two skis have some very notable differences.

First, the Mindbender 116C has much mellower taper lines. They don’t extend as deep into the ski, and the Mindbender 116C’s tips and tails are much more blocky — they don’t taper to as much of a point as the Pinnacle 118’s. The Mindbender 116C still has more taper than some skis in its class like the Volkl Confession, Moment Wildcat, and ON3P Wrenegade 114, but the Mindbender 116C’s taper is still moderate compared to other similarly wide skis like the ON3P Billy Goat, DPS Wailer A112, Rossignol Super 7 HD & RD, and J Skis Friend.

The Mindbender 116C’s rocker profile is similarly moderate. Its tip rocker line is fairly deep, but there are plenty of skis in this class with deeper rocker lines (including the Pinnacle 118). And like the other Mindbender skis, the Mindbender 116C’s rocker lines are subtle and don’t rise abruptly, instead staying low until the ends of the ski. The Mindbender 116C has a pretty shallow tail rocker line, which puts it more in line with more directional pow skis, rather than more playful pow skis with big, twinned tails.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Mindbender 116C:

Tips: 5.5
Shovels: 6-7
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9.5
Underfoot: 9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8.5
Tails: 7.5-7

The flex pattern of the Mindbender 116C feels very similar to the flex pattern of the Mindbender 108Ti, with the Mindbender 116C having slightly softer tails, and stiffening up a bit slower in the shovels.

Overall, the Mindbender 116C has a pretty moderate flex pattern — it starts quite soft in the tips, slowly ramps up through the shovels, is strong around the bindings, and finishes with a moderately stiff tail.

Mount Point

Like the other Mindbender skis, the Mindbender 116C has a very traditional mount point of around -9.8 cm from center, which puts it squarely in the more traditional / more directional end of the spectrum.

Weight

K2 says they designed each Mindbender ski with its specific target conditions in mind, and they correspondingly used different construction techniques to reflect that. In the case of the pow-oriented Mindbender 116C, that means a lighter Maple/Paulownia core and the use of K2’s “Carbon Spectral Braid,” rather than their heavier “Titanal Y-Beam.” Given that powder is a very forgiving condition that doesn’t require a lot of heft to blast through, that seems to make sense.

As a result, the Mindbender 116C comes in a lot lighter for its size compared to the “Ti” Mindbender skis. Compared to other similarly wide skis, the Mindbender 116C falls on the lighter end, and is comparable to a lot of 50/50 skis in terms of weight.

For reference, here are a whole bunch of our measured weights (per ski, in grams) for a number of notable skis. As always, note the length differences to keep things apples to apples.

1710 & 1744 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1795 & 1817 Moment Wildcat Tour, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1854 & 1903 Whitedot Ragnarok 118 Carbonlite, 190 cm (17/18–18/19)
1862 & 1873 Faction Prime 4.0, 185 cm (18/19–19/20)
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm (17/18–18/19)
1931 & 1959 Volkl BMT 122, 186 cm (17/18–18/19)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2019 & 2051 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm (19/20)
2034 & 2052 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2043 & 2046 4FRNT Inthayne, 188 cm (18/19-19/20)
2083 & 2097 Line Magnum Opus, 188 cm (15/16–18/19)
2102 & 2137 Line Sick Day 114, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2126 & 2173 Rossignol Super 7 RD, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2130 & 2130 Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 190 cm (18/19–19/20)
2133 & 2133 Salomon QST 118, 192 cm (17/18–18/19)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20)
2183 & 2190 Black Crows Anima, 188.4 cm (17/18–19/20)
2196 & 2199 Icelantic Nomad 115, 191 cm (17/18–18/19)
2220 & 2252 Faction Prodigy 4.0, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
2212 & 2215 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2222 & 2278 Prior CBC, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2228 & 2231 Blizzard Spur, 192 cm (17/18–19/20)
2230 & 2250 Black Diamond Boundary Pro 115, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2246 & 2265 Fischer Ranger 115 FR, 188 cm (17/18–18/19)
2267 & 2270 Whitedot Ragnarok 118, 190 cm (16/17–18/19)
2296 & 2309 Liberty Origin Pro, 192 cm (17/18–19/20)
2297 & 2317 K2 Catamaran, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2311 & 2342 K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 184 cm (19/20)
2341 & 2357 Dynastar PR-OTO Factory, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2343 & 2360 J Skis Friend, 189 cm (18/19)
2346 & 2351 Nordica Enforcer Pro, 191 cm (17/18–19/20)
2382 & 2395 ON3P Billy Goat, 184 cm (17/18–18/19)
2408 & 2421 ON3P Kartel 116, 186 cm (17/18–18/19)
2429 & 2437 Kingswood SMB, 188 cm (16/17–18/19)
2438 & 2480 DPS Foundation Koala 119, 189 cm (19/20)
2438 & 2492 Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2490 & 2529 K2 Catamaran, 191 cm (17/18–19/20)

Bottom Line (For Now)

K2 says that each of their Mindbender skis is designed for a specific purpose in mind, and the Mindbender 116C seems like a good example of this. It’s quite light for its size, has a fairly moderate, but more tapered and rockered design compared to the narrower Mindbenders, and seems like an interesting new direction for K2’s pow skis. Blister Members can check out our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review linked below, and then stay tuned for our full review.

Flash Review

Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Mindbender 116C for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.

FULL REVIEW

Powder

Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): I used the Mindbender 116C on a few of Crested Butte’s deep days this season and I have zero complaints about how this ski handles fresh snow.

The Mindbender 116C’s deep tip rocker line, softer shovels, and rearward mount point all help to make this ski plane very well in deep snow and I never had issues with tip dive in the ~2 feet of snow in which I skied the Mindbender 116C. Of the ~116mm-wide skis I’ve used, I’d say the Mindbender 116C is one of the best in terms of flotation.

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

The Mindbender 116C doesn’t have a super deep tail rocker line, and it doesn’t have a ton of tail splay, so it’s not all that surprising that the Mindbender 116C doesn’t feel as loose as many of the less directional skis with more tail rocker. But as long as I stayed over the front of the ski, the Mindbender 116C was still pretty easy to throw sideways in deep snow. Plus, the Mindbender 116C is so light that, when I needed to make some quick adjustments, it was very easy to flick around.

Overall, the Mindbender 116C feels like a directional pow ski that’s pretty versatile in pow — it felt happy to make big, arcing turns when given the room, but it could just as easily noodle through deep snow in tight trees.

Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, 175 lbs): The primary qualification that I want to add to Luke’s comments here are that, as someone who skis a lot of more-or-less directional pow skis, the Mindbender 116C felt plenty loose to me, i.e., appropriately loose, as opposed to something like ‘sloppy loose’.

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

This doesn’t contradict anything that Luke just wrote, I just wanted to clarify. And for directional skiers interested in adding a ski for their deepest days, the Mindbender 116C should at least be on your radar — especially if your deepest days tend to include lighter, drier snow.

In seriously dense, heavy, wet snow, strong arguments can be made for going with a heavier ski that has more tip and tail rocker. But for use in actual ‘pow’ … I really liked how this ski handled: its quick enough, precise enough, loose enough, playful enough, and in sum … fun enough to make a whole lot of skiers quite happy, I think.

Soft Chop

Luke: During the first few hours of a resort powder day (when the snow was still quite soft), I had a ton of fun on the Mindbender 116C. Soft snow is definitely where this ski shines, and that includes soft chop.

But let’s get this out of the way — the Mindbender 116C is not a charger. Unlike the Mindbender 99Ti and Mindbender 108Ti, the Mindbender 116C is quite light, does not have any metal in its construction, and it’s not super stiff. In soft chop, I could still ski quite fast on the Mindbender 116C, but it in no way encouraged me to straightline fields of chop like a much heavier, stiffer ski would.

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

Instead, the Mindbender 116C encouraged a more precise, active, and playful style. It’s not a ski that feels like it’s designed to spin, flip, and slash everything, but the Mindbender 116C’s lower weight and energetic flex pattern do work well if you like to pop your way around the mountain in soft chop — driving the ski hard in the good snow, throwing it sideways when conditions deteriorate, and trying to catch air between transitions.

To put it another way, while skiing the Mindbender 116C I kept thinking of the old “hot-dogger” style. The Mindbender 116C isn’t a spinny / flippy jib ski, but I think it encourages an active, playful, directional style. Think lots of quick jump turns, picking your way down the mountain rather than blasting straight down it like you would on a much heavier ski. And, turns out, this style of skiing can be a lot of fun, provided that you aren’t the type of skier who mostly just wants to get to the bottom as fast as possible.

Jonathan: Yep, and the more you care about the soft-chop performance or the firm-chop performance of your ‘pow’ ski — i.e., the ski that you will intend to break out on your deep days — the more prepared I am to make the case for the Mindbender 108Ti.

Firm Chop / Crud

Luke: The Mindbender 116C’s low weight is definitely noticeable when the snow gets rough and firm.

In these conditions, the Mindbender 116C felt best when skied pretty conservatively. If I tried to make super big, fast turns in crud on the Mindbender 116C, the ski got knocked around pretty easily and encouraged me to dial things back.

I think the Mindbender 116C is pretty stable for its weight, but remember that this is a 116mm-wide, 186cm-long ski that weighs a little over 2000 grams per ski. That’s very light, and pretty much every ski I’ve been on with similar specs (size and weight) requires a similarly conservative style when the conditions are nasty.

So again, don’t get the Mindbender 116C if you love skis that are super damp and stay quiet and composed at speed on rough snow. Do get the Mindbender 116C if you want a pow ski that’s pretty easy to flick around and will cater better to a more active, light-on-your-feet style in crud and firm chop. Despite not being all that stable, the Mindbender 116C is predictable, which is a valuable trait in a ski that’s this light and thus requires a more conservative / active style in challenging conditions.

Jonathan: Yep. Though I still think that a lot of lighter skiers will be found ripping it up on the 116C even on days where there is far from perfect pow. So neither Luke nor I are suggesting that you can’t get along with the 116C in variable snow. But we are saying that variable snow is not where the Mindbender 116C shines.

Moguls, Trees, and Tight Terrain

Luke: As long as I was driving the front of the ski, the Mindbender 116C was very easy to ski in tight terrain. Its tail is forgiving, it’s light, and it’s easy to pivot and slide around. Despite its rearward mount point, the Mindbender 116C felt very nimble and quick (something that sets it apart from the Mindbender 99Ti and 108Ti).

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

The Mindbender 116C isn’t quite as loose as some skis with more tail rocker, but I think most directional skiers will find the Mindbender 116C to feel very maneuverable.

I definitely wouldn’t pick the Mindbender 116C if I knew I was going to be skiing a lot of brutally firm moguls and trees, but I’d say the same for almost all skis this wide. But if the snow is soft, the Mindbender 116C can be a lot of fun in tight terrain. Just stay over the front and you’ll have a ski that’s easy to whip around and that won’t punish you immediately if you get backseat.

Lastly, it’s worth noting here that I skied the Mindbender 116C on the recommended line (-9.85 cm from center) and also at +1 and +2 cm in front of that line. I didn’t notice a big difference in terms of quickness with the bindings in this range — the ski felt a touch quicker and more balanced at +1 and +2, but it definitely still felt like a directional ski that felt best when skied with a forward, driving stance.

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

Jonathan: Put these skis in anything soft — and I do not mean “deep,” but even just a couple inches of soft snow on a soft base (so I’m not talking here about ‘dust on crust’) — and this ski to me feels quite quick, intuitive, easy, forgiving, and fun. Point and shoot.

Groomers

Luke: As you could probably guess by its name, the Mindbender 116C is 116 mm wide. I don’t tend to choose 116mm-wide skis if I’m primarily going to be ripping groomers all day, but you’ll usually end up skiing at least some groomed snow throughout any day, so that’s worth quickly touching on.

I think the Mindbender 116C carves very well for its size. Like the other Mindbender skis, the Mindbender 116C initiates carved turns easily and predictably, and it holds an edge well for how wide it is. Plus, the Mindbender 116C offers a lot of energy coming out of a turn if you push it.

There are many pow skis that stay more composed on groomers if those “groomers” have been cut up by skiers throughout the day. But if the groomers are fairly smooth and / or soft, the Mindbender 116C is totally capable of carving a clean turn, and it can make a pretty wide variety of turn shapes.

Who’s It For?

Luke: I think the most obvious use for the Mindbender 116C is as a 50/50 ski that you’d use inside and outside of the resort. The Mindbender 116C is very light for its size — so light, in fact, that I could see myself using it as a dedicated touring ski. But it’s also strong and stable enough in soft snow that I’d also be happy using it inbounds, I’d just have to ski a bit more actively than I would on a heavier pow ski.

If you’re looking for a 50/50 ski and your top priority is stability, I’d look to a ski that’s similarly light — or a bit heavier — but that’s also stiffer (see the “50/50” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide). And if you’re one of those people who loves high-speed stability and you’re looking for a dedicated inbounds pow ski, then I’d definitely look to heavier options (see the “Powder Skis — More Directional” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide).

Conversely, if you like to spin, flip, and ski switch, look to skis with more tail rocker and more forward mount points (the “Powder Skis — More Playful” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide).

But for directional skiers who value quickness, forgiveness, and float, the Mindbender 116C is an excellent option. I think it makes the most sense as a 50/50 ski, but I’d also happily recommend it as a dedicated inbounds pow ski for people who don’t need an ultra stable ski and instead want something that’s easy to flick around and that’s pretty forgiving.

Jonathan Ellsworth and Luke Koppa review the K2 Mindbender 116C for Blister
Jonathan Ellsworth on the K2 Mindbender 116C, Crested Butte, CO.

Jonathan: While I certainly think this would be a fun ‘50/50’ ski, I personally would recommend it first and foremost to those who are actually looking for a true pow ski, and have one or two other skis that they will break out for firm and very firm conditions.

Some of us have gotten so accustomed to skiing fat skis when there is little or no fresh snow, it’s sometimes worth reminding folks that it’s cool to have skis that you’ll only break out after storms. And in the case of the Mindbender 116C, I’d personally be very happy breaking it out in light, dry snow ranging from 8 inches deep to 2+ feet deep.

Bottom Line

We noted in our First Look of the Mindbender 116C that it seemed like a validation of K2’s claim that they made each Mindbender ski with a specific purpose in mind. After skiing it, we’d agree with that initial take.

The Mindbender 116C is not a super damp charger of a ski, but given its soft-snow orientation, that seems to make sense. This is a ski that’s designed for soft snow, and that’s where it excels. It’s quick, easy, and feels at home in a wide variety of terrain. For directional skiers who want excellent float and easy maneuverability out of their pow ski, the Mindbender 116C is worth a good look.

Deep Dive Comparisons

Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive of the Mindbender 116C to see how it stacks up against the Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, Rossignol Super 7 RD, Rossignol Super 7 HD, Line Sick Day 114, Blizzard Rustler 11, Head Kore 117, Folsom Trophy Carbon, Faction Dictator 4.0, Blizzard Spur, Dynastar PR-OTO Factory, 4FRNT Inthayne, Icelantic Nomad 115, Nordica Enforcer Pro, and Faction Candide 4.0.

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9 comments on “2019-2020 K2 Mindbender 116C”

    • These look like very nice skis. Definitely more than just a pow ski. When I analyze the specs, construction and shape they are very similar on paper to my 9 year old Wagner Custom 115’s. The main differences being my Wagners have an all aspen core, hand laid up biaxial carbon tow and they’re were built by one of my best friends Scott H. In Telluride 9 years ago. It’s good to see K2 getting up to speed on good ski design. Bummer they’re made in China and Drumf will tax them so they’ll cost more than my Wagners. LOL

  1. Hey Tom I’m not concerned about K2 being made in China, I’m more concerned about the core going dead in about 20 days like past k2 crap skis, I went tru 3 pairs of Seth’s one season before they refused to warranty anymore, not one pair lasted more then 15-20 days

  2. How does this ski stack up against ON3P’s (now custom) Wren 114 and what one can infer on their new Woodsman 116 (as the stock “more directional” replacement).

  3. So just another 116 waisted ski that’s falls flat on its face once you get it out of perfect powder conditions. BORING, just another ski following the “build me lite “trend. ski manufacturing is going backwards instead of foreword

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