2014 K2 Company Snowboard Binding
MSRP: $229 USD
• Airlock Highback- Eliminates traditional forward lean components for lighter weight and smoother flex
• Harshmellow heel pad – K2’s proprietary vibration dampening material
• 3 degree canted footbeds
Size tested: Medium
Boards: Rossignol Experience 164; Rossignol Jibsaw
Boots: K2 Ender, Size 10
Locations Tested: Taos Ski Valley; Snowbird
Days Tested: 12
The Company binding is marketed by K2 as a lightweight, high-performance, all-mountain binding that isn’t over-complicated. According to K2, it’s ridden by the likes of pipe vet Mason Aguirre, backcountry charger Lucas Debari, and rail guru Jordan Mendenhall—a pretty diverse set of riders. I expected the K2 Company binding to be a solid all-mountain binding, and so far, it’s delivered.
The Company’s heel and toe straps are both unique, and definitely impressed me. The heel strap is wider in the middle (most of the heel straps I’ve seen are narrower in the middle), and has two sections of thin, mesh-like material that are designed to allow ankle flexion.
I thought this was an interesting idea, but out of the box, I was still worried about having too much material on the flex point of the ankle. For the first few days on the Company, I felt like I was breaking in a pair of boots—the stiffer sections of the strap were pretty uncomfortable initially, and I definitely noticed the stiffness when on my toe edge in rougher terrain. But after getting bucked around for a day or two, the heel strap has softened up, and has stabilized at a nice flex level.
The toe strap is also unique. it consists of two plastic pieces, each of which can be independently adjusted.
This is a great touch, and I think all manufacturers should be thinking along the same lines. Because while manufacturers’ design their boots and bindings to work together, it’s pretty common for riders to have two different brands for their boots and bindings.
Often, toe straps are maddeningly different shapes, so it’s great to see the adjustability of the Company toe strap. Both straps feature tool-free adjustment, which is (thankfully) becoming an industry standard.
So far, I’ve been fairly disappointed with the ratchets. Getting in and out of the straps hasn’t been nearly as smooth as with Burton, Ride, or Union ratchets. I have to really work to get my heel tight enough (I do, however, like my straps pretty tight), and I often find myself pawing at the ratchet without any tightening success, though it’s hard to tell how much of that is due to stripped ladders. After only 10 days of use, the ankle ladder of my back (right) is very much stripped.
During a cold day at Snowbird, the ladder of the back ankle strap gave out, coming loose during a routine backside 180. I have a pair of Burton Cartels that have 5 seasons and probably 200+ days on them, and the ladders aren’t nearly as hammered as these were after 12 days.
Another small flaw in the Company binding is in a particular strap-adjustment feature. Most bindings have two different slots on either side of the baseplate that the toe strap and ladder can slide into, one more toward the toes, and one farther toward the heels. This allows for different positioning of the toe strap depending on user preference. The vast majority of these adjustable bindings can only be changed if the bindings aren’t mounted; however, the toe straps and ladder of the K2 Company can be adjusted while the bindings are on the board.
While K2 may have done this in the name of on-the-fly adjustability (which is a strength of the Company on the whole), I’ve found that the inevitable jostling of straps while not riding allows the strap and ladder to slide around pretty freely. This results in many different combinations of the strap and ladder; initially I made sure that the straps and ladders were where I wanted them before strapping in, but it became too much of a hassle over time, and I eventually just used whatever position the toe straps happened to be in. They still did their job just fine, and I never had pinch points or issues staying tight, but it was annoying.