K2 Coomback 104 (2014-2015) Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 26, 2014      

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To demonstrate the massive commitment we have at WildSnow, we test skis in all conditions, including weeds.

To demonstrate the massive commitment we have at WildSnow, we test skis in all conditions, including weeds. Here, Tyler substitutes a stem for a slalom gate.

Lou gains a nervous smile and a suspicious laugh when I start snooping around WildSnow headquarters. I think he is just glad he was able to hide the latest crop of carbon infused powder boards from my prying eyes.

I can never seem to get him to cough up an unfamiliar creation from who knows what manufacture. Excuses abound, although Lou mostly expounds on what he views as my destructive tendencies.

“I need my test skis back in a pair instead of 4 pieces,” he says, “that way a mere mortal such as myself can have a take.”

K2 Coomback 104

K2 Coomback 104

Lucky for me even the less exotic offerings are still just as much fun, and most are durable enough to honor Lou’s wishes. For example, recently I was able to pry some Coomback 104’s out of the Wildsnow arsenal.

K2 has forged a loyal following with their Coomback ski line and for good reason. The previous models balanced a sweet spot of float, edge control, damping, and pop. K2 seems to have updated this formula by adding a little width without the weight. Some other changes of note are the new sidewalls, tip and tail rocker and taper as well as snow-phobic topsheets.

The hybrid sidewall construction is a bit of a departure of K2’s more recent way of doing things. It can sound good, but in reality is something most skiers won’t notice in the store or on the slopes.

Theoretically the hybrid sidewall construction should give some additional edge purchase on the hard stuff, in practice its tough to notice that type of difference on anything but a race course.

K2 should be commended for adding a reasonable amount of rocker to this ski. All too often I see rocker marketing hype override common design sense.

Both the tip and tail taper and rocker make the Coombacks easy to initiate and release turns even in some of the breakable crust I tested them in. This characteristic seems to honor the late Doug Coombs, and his legendary predictability and poise on the steep stuff. Sitting at 136mm/104mm/122mm the Coomback enjoys a tried a true shape common in North American backcountry skiing.

The snow-phobic top sheet is a welcome addition, but it’s not perfect. During my tours the dark parts of the topsheet graphics were still able to accumulate icy snow while the lighter areas remained relatively snow free. To be fair this issue seems more prevalent climates similar to Colorado where we encounter solar top sheet heating from our bluebird days. Overall I would say this is a good improvement from other topsheet material on the market but a lighter graphic may have put the icing issue to bed forever. (WildSnow.com advocates light color ski topskins, some companies have aquiesed, but ski graphics designers want their say and don’t like pallet limits.)

While I think this ski will hold a wide appeal I did find some things that are worth considering. The normal uniform flex profile I’ve experienced from other K2 products seems to be modified. Where the ski switches from a cambered profile to a rockered profile the ski is notably softer than in the waist or in the relatively stiff tail. This flex pattern rewards a more neutral stance and required some adjustment to my typically tip initiated turns.

Coomback tip rocker profile.

Coomback tip rocker profile. Note the Montana skin tip attachments, they’re nicely designed to use the tip OEM hole, and include a template for drilling your own hole if so desired.

While I’m not sure what magic K2 cooked up in the core of the Coomback I would have to assume there is a change in materials toward the tip of the ski to reduce weight. I don’t see this as a big issue with the ski, just something I could feel in more firm conditions. In softer conditions this flex pattern helped the ski float while in either a neutral or more aggressive stance. This ski performed commendably in the chop however the soft tip can be easily deflected at speed. The Coomback certainly has a speed limit but one most backcountry skiers will find adequate.

The Coomback individual ski weights at the 177cm length were Wildsnow verified at 1668 grams 1644 grams respectively. K2 lists them at 1650 grams which seems to be well within manufacturing tolerances we see from other brands. In my opinion this fits well in the human powered category for ski size and weight, though the “weight wars” are resulting in some amazingly light carbon skis that are skewing expectations.

Another feature of note; K2 keeps their traditional tip and tail holes that can be useful for some skin applications and rescue situations. This feature seems to be more and more elusive in modern backcountry specific skis. We are glad to see K2 kept this feature around; it’s for real people in the real backcountry on real skis.

Overall the Coomback 104 is a good update to a well loved ski. While there are wider skis out there the 104mm waist and rockered tip/tail allow the ski to float well for its size. The Coomback stays true to its roots but attempts to distinguish itself from previous resort or sidecountry oriented iterations from K2 with its weight and construction. On hard conditions the Coomback skis more similarly to other resort offerings while in soft conditions its performance is on par with other skis in the 100mm + waist category.

Don’t worry Lou, I’ll bring them back in one piece…..someday.

(Guest blogger Tyler Christoff Tyler Christoff grew up ski racing and tree farming. He knows how to use a chainsaw. He raced at Syracuse University, making Nationals multiple years. He is one of our favorite ski testers, even when he breaks stuff.)

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52 Responses to “K2 Coomback 104 (2014-2015) Review”

  1. Erik Erikson December 26th, 2014 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the Review, coombacks have been my favourite skies for quite a long time now. Good to see K2 did only moderate changes.
    What I don´t really understand (and said bevor in another blogpost) is that the longest available coomback is only 184 now (instead of 188 in the previous models). I think a ski like this should be used in a least bodylength, so 184 is quite short for taller people who like to go a little faster.
    And to be honest: In my experience the snophobic topsheet doesn´t help at all, at least in the previous models. But maybe they improved that too.

  2. George December 26th, 2014 4:49 pm

    Did you verify the length of ski? My first edition Anti Piste (Coomback) measured longer than listed. I think my 174 measures 177 for example.
    I appreciate the added girth underfoot and hope to test them side by side with my oldies. Thanks for the review.

  3. George December 26th, 2014 4:55 pm

    Tyler: Nice review. Can you compare the Coomback to some other 100-105 underfoot skis? For example the new Fisher, Carbon Convert or Denali?

  4. Erik Erikson December 26th, 2014 10:37 pm

    @George: No, I did not actually measure the new K2. I am just talking about the lengthes K2 states by themselves. Till this season it was 188 for the longest, now it is only 184. And right, every K2 skies I owned were actually about 3 cm longer than stated. So my coomback 188 is more like 190 plus, which I like and at least the new coomback 116 should still be in my opinion. But maybe thats just an european point of view, cause here (in Austria) a 100 plus mm BC – ski is still considered to be really wide and you buy it for kind of freeriding and doing fast and big turns (and hence longer), while in the US it seems to be almost quite the average width for a BC-ski.

  5. J Hanna December 27th, 2014 5:48 pm

    Regarding the snow -phobic top sheets, I have been using RainX on mine for 2 seasons now with good results. This is the stuff that beads water on your vehicle windshield. The K2 top sheets do shed the snow but I have found this stuff gives it a little extra.

  6. Tyler December 28th, 2014 4:02 pm

    @george: its difficult to compare the coomback to the dynafit denali and the fischer (hannibal) as they are in a different weight class in my opinion. The K2 will be a much more damp ski much closer to its resort oriented relatives. To me you gain a bit of burliness with the extra 200 to 300 grams in the coomback.

  7. George December 28th, 2014 4:22 pm

    @Tyler: Thanks I understand the dampness, having skied BD Carbon Converts on Friday and K2 Anti Piste/Coomback on Saturday. The comparison is useful since I find my C-Converts are 300-350 grams lighter yet they are stiffer and the tip does not fold up under speed or heavy snow like the K2. I am waiting for the K2 in the 1,400 gram range and white top sheet…for now the C-Convert is my BC ski.

  8. David K January 26th, 2015 5:52 pm

    I just received the Coomback 177s (K2 2015) in the mail, and they do look really long!! Next to my Volkl Mountain 177s, they are a full 5 cm longer! The Coombacks 177 measures out at 180 cm along the curve, and 179 cm tip to tail. Don’t companies have a standard way to measure skis?

  9. Erik Erikson January 26th, 2015 10:47 pm

    HI David, that´s how it has always been: K2 skies are reasonable longer in a given length than other brands. I just can asure you that my old coomback (102 mm) in 188 (I myself 187, the ski in reality something like 190) is no problem for me to ski on, and I am not a pro. In fact it´s my favourite ski even.
    The new one does have more rocker they say so it will be even easyer to turn I guess
    Of course you notice the length on the uphill (kick turns), cannot deny that
    Would love to read a comment from you how the new coomback performs as soon as you have skied it.
    / You seem to have linked a website to your name, but I can´t open it?!

  10. Merdad January 29th, 2015 12:55 pm

    Anyone telemark skiing the K2 comeback 104 (2015 model)? Like to hear your experince with them. Thanks.

  11. Merdad January 29th, 2015 3:20 pm

    Anyone telemark skiing the K2 coomback 104 (2015 model)? Like to hear your experince with them. Thanks.

  12. Mike January 31st, 2015 3:26 pm

    FYI, just purchased these (haven’t skied them yet). They are the 184s, but actual tip to tail length is a hair over 186cm. I’m guessing with the significant rocker they will ski a bit shorter than that though. This is mentioned in some reviews. Total weight using a luggage scale, with Dynafit Radical TLT FTs (like in the review) is 4.7kg.

  13. CJ February 13th, 2015 8:33 pm

    Has anyone put some more days on these now that the season is half done, and be willing to comment on how they like them? Debating about getting a pair of them.

  14. Erik Erikson February 13th, 2015 11:11 pm

    I´d like to join CJ in his question, would also be very interested on some longer-term impressions of the new coomback. If it is comparable to the old one but only lighter it could really become number-one on my wish-list

  15. Ben February 14th, 2015 12:48 am

    I’ve got about 30 days on a pair of 177 Coomback 104s and 5 days on some 177 114s. I’ve only had them in WA but the way this winter is going they’ve seen everything from 12″ of new to ice to corn to slush.

    Overall I’m happy. Been to long since I put any days on the older Coombacks for me to compare. My main ski the last two season was the G3 Zenoxide (not C3).
    I bought the 104s to be my all-round winter ski. I’m really happy with it in anything soft. Way better in powder then the Zenoxides. I think K2 really did a great job with the new rocker profile. It also does well in edgeable hardpack, even inbounds.
    Only time I miss the Zenoxides is when things get really firm. The Coombacks are definitely a softer ski then the Zenoxides and I find them to be chattery when things get icy. Nothing unmanageable, they just have a lower speed limit in those conditions.
    While these skis would be OK for Spring skiing, personally I’ll be going with something different.

    Don’t have enough days on the 114s to be very confident yet but so far I’m amazed at how well they ski. K2 got slightly fancier with the rocker and taper profile while also making the ski noticeably stiffer with a bit higher camber then the 104s. If you don’t mind the weight, this might actually be a better all conditions winter ski. Again, ice is not its strength but in anything edgable I’m happy pushing this ski as fast as I want to go.

    For reference I’m 5’10” 175 and in my mid-30s. Ski about 80% backcountry. I never raced but I work as a guide so I can handle a ski OK.

  16. Thom Mackris March 9th, 2015 10:34 am

    Any thoughts about quickness in comparison with:

    a) the original (non-rockered) Coombas (mine are 181)?
    b) a 2013/2014 Carbon Megawatt?

    Skiing in the Front Range can get claustrophobic – avoiding open windy areas, so quickness in tight trees is paramount.

    As you can tell, I don’t have a lot of datapoints – just one rockered ski (Megawatt). I’m 5’10″/165Lbs and the 181 Coomba beats me up when things get tight. The Carbon Megawatt is fine.

    I’m trying to put a 174 Coomback in perspective, but something keeps whispering in my ear: “Carbon Convert”.


  17. Jeremy G. March 9th, 2015 11:23 am


    Figured I’d add my two cents: I’ve been skiing the carbon convert in 180 this season with about 12 days on them so far. I was somewhat apprehensive about what I saw as a longish ski but I can tell you that it feels pretty nimble and really easy to maneuver. I can pull off a series of short radius turns in trees and still ski some longer radius turns out in the open, where they feel really stable. And they definitely hold an edge on firm and even icy snow. I’m an intermediate level skier without too many skis to compare it to, so take my experience with a grain of salt. I’m 6′ and 160 lbs.

  18. Ryan April 22nd, 2015 5:44 pm

    Which Carbon MW length are you using?
    I found that the Coomback (177 rockered) can pull off tighter turns in trees than the MW in 188 or even 178. Both skis are longer than advertised.
    I have not gotten on the Carbon Convert yet.

  19. David King April 23rd, 2015 1:42 pm

    I love these skis! When I first got them, I thought the 177 cm looked a little long, but then when I started skiing them, I fell in love! Just a whole new level of skiing: fun, light, fast, nimble, stable…. you name it, these are the best skis I have ever owned. I have them mounted on a simple Dynafit binding and love them for both ski area and backcountry. If I were to have only one pair of skis, this would be it (and even though I have lots of skis, this is the pair I use all the time…. even on hardpack!).

  20. CJ April 23rd, 2015 2:47 pm

    Ended up buying a pair of 184cm 104 Coombacks. They have been great in all conditions from breakable crust to corn to powder. No complaints. I find them much easier to ski in challenging snow than the previous versions of the ski and being lighter and fatter helps as well. Completely happy with them.

  21. Alex January 4th, 2016 11:46 am


    I’ve been touring on 2011 Coombacks 167cm. I weigh 140lbs and typically carry a 20lbs pack which puts 160lbs on the skis. There are times when the old 167s feel short (deeper snow). Can anyone recommend a length for the new Coombacks 104? Would 177 be ok or unnecessarily long (weight, etc)? Expert skier. 100% touring.

    Thx for any feedback.

  22. Erik Erikson January 4th, 2016 11:57 am

    I own the first rockered version of the coomback (only slightly rockered though) in 188. I am weighing 165 pounds “naked” and my height is about 187 cm.
    The 188 coombacks are still my favourite skis and never felt too long.
    100% touring also, more medium than real expert skier I guess.
    The new coombacks have more amount of rocker, so 177 will for sure not be too long for you imho. Maybe on the up, if you should happen to be really small and/or to have very short legs.

  23. Alex January 4th, 2016 12:11 pm

    Thank you for your feedback! The new Coombacks must ski “shorter” than the past versions due to added rocker, etc which is likely why each length was bumped up 3cm. I may just get a pair of 177’s and see what happens!
    Happy touring. Alex

  24. Erik Erikson January 4th, 2016 12:22 pm

    I am sure you´ll love the ski. Happy touring to you too

  25. Truax January 4th, 2016 9:15 pm

    I second the 177 Coomback.

    I’m 145 lbs nekkid and, wait, am I seeing that 20 lb pack weight correctly? Hot dang we gotta get your pack weight down – 20 lbs is a pig of a touring pack! Unless you’re carrying an airbag pack with apres beer in it, one for you and one for me, then I understand 😉

    Anyway, I digress. I ski the 177 Coomback @145lbs and 178cm tall. Pack is ~10 lbs depending on fluids carried FWIW. The 177 is near perfect, if not sometimes short at times (high speed, big lines, in deep snow). But turns on a dime when needed and I’ve got longer powder skis in the quiver to compensate for the shorter Coomback when conditions require. I’m ok at skiing and find that this is one of the best all-around skis that I’ve been on.

    I’ve owned a variety of AT skis, and some good ones like 180 Vector, 176 V6, 183 V6, 178 Manaslu, 177 Huascaran, and 180 Carbon Convert, to name a few. 177 Coomback is the best ski I’ve had for 100% touring here in the Rockies, with the 183 V6 coming in a close second. I’ve even rallied the Coomback on resort with tech bindings and it did just fine. Crushed the groomers with barely a speed limit actually.The 184 would do better here but that’s not what we’re doing, we’re touring. Anyway, you’ll be stoked on the 177. Can’t speak highly enough of this plank. Get em and you’ll love em!

  26. Thom Mackris January 4th, 2016 10:36 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    I just woke up to this thread from last Spring (your post from April 22nd).

    My 178 carbon Megawatts are the 2013-2014 model, mounted on the recommended line.

    It looks as if the short list for this category (for me) is narrowing down to a Zero-G, the Coomback and a Praxis BC. Obviously, I couldn’t go wrong with either of the three 😀


  27. J.C.Simpson January 20th, 2016 10:58 am

    I find the 104s the most versatile ski for n.z.conditions. I have been using Dynamite bindings. Does anyone have any views on whether the skis will be less flexible if I switch to Marker touring bindings? Also has anyone tried the 1114s?I found them pretty hard to manage on harder snow.

  28. Witold January 20th, 2016 3:09 pm

    Last season first run I found them hopeless! After 2 hours on them I believe they are best skis I ever had . /And I ski already well over half century !/.

  29. Lisa Dawson January 20th, 2016 4:03 pm

    Witold, thanks for your input.

  30. J.C.Simpson January 20th, 2016 9:53 pm

    Thanks Withold.I will be trying them in next two days. IncidentallyI have got about 50 under my belt. Well over! much respect.

  31. Pierre February 28th, 2016 11:57 am

    Im on 177 104 Coombacks. Ski in the BC Kootenays. Love the ski for everything. resort, touring and big lines. I also have the 102 in 181 for teleing. The new version is lighter and better in all conditions.
    Recently changed boots and moved binding 9mm forward. Huge difference, skiis now dive in deep pow and I have to ski off the tails more than I’m used to.
    In the deep pow I switch to G3 Districts at 187 length and 114 underfoot.
    Does anyone have feedback on the pinner tail on the 114 Coombacks?
    Looks like a great ski but wonder if the pinner tail is too narrow?

  32. J.C.Simpson February 29th, 2016 1:42 am

    I have just done 12 days in deep powder in Kashmir on th 114. Really easy to skin with. Great to ride in big turns in powder. Skittish on the hard stuff.

  33. brandon March 12th, 2016 11:35 am

    looking at some older red and blue coombacks. Hear they run long. so with the flat tail. was wondering if the 181 would be good. I’m shy 6’4″ 170 lbs. I want to avoid longer than necessary ski for a spring ski. Been interested in wayback or v6, but not around long enough for 2nd hand. thx

  34. Alex March 12th, 2016 12:01 pm


    I weigh 140lbs + carry another 15-25lbs depending on type of tour, for a total weight of about 160lbs on the ski. All my previous K2’s (Mt Baker, Hardside) were 167’s and were perfect for efficiency and performance. My initial pair of Coombacks were also 167’s and turned out to be too short (easily crushed, had to be mindful of up/down loading). I switched to Coomback 174’s (now 177’s) and they were perfect. Therefore I would guess that you would need the next size up given your higher weight. 181’s (old) or 184 (new version). Hope this helps! Alex

  35. nate porter March 12th, 2016 9:15 pm

    I and 6’1″, 170lbs plus gear. I skied the red and blue Coombacks in 181 and liked them in almost all conditions. This ski, or the more recent version have been my go-to ski for a few seasons. Pretty easy to jump on and have a good time. When you say spring ski, are you talking about steep tight couloirs, or general bc touring/corn skiing? They’re probably fine for any general spring skiing, but maybe not the best for tight, steep couloirs. Cheers, Nate

  36. swissiphic March 12th, 2016 9:16 pm

    5’9″, 175 pounds dry weight. The 188 (Old models) Coomback’s were too long. 181 regular Coomba’s felt too short though. Both skis threw me in the back seat in crusts, heavy coastal pow and slabby snow. Couldn’t find a sweet spot in many snow conditions.

  37. John October 22nd, 2016 5:03 pm

    I just snapped up a pair of last years 114’s. Can’t wait to mount the Radical FT’s.

    Am wondering if folks are mounting on the line or forward?

  38. Daniel May 11th, 2017 1:56 am

    Considering a Coomba 104 for all purpose touring, steeps, and some resort. 6’1ish, 180lbs. short legs though. Controlled, medium fast skier. Speed stability is not a major aspect of my skiing. Years ago I had a 174 1st gen. Coomback which felt good for AT and allright inbounds. 181 Backlashes were on the long end of my spectrum. New Coombas would replace a 92mm 179 ski with slight tip rocker, whoch never felt short.

    So I am torn between 177 and 184, which likely are more like 179/186 long. 186 would be my longest ski ever, not sure if that would work for my touring needs.

    what’s your take?

  39. Chet Roe May 11th, 2017 8:49 am

    I am 6’2″ long legs and ski the 114 Coomback in 177….they actually measure about 180…not too long for me……get the 177 and not the longer (though once upon a time they also made a “181” i think) in my opinion

  40. Daniel May 27th, 2017 12:45 am

    @Lou & other craftsmen:
    coomback/coomba 104 drilled 4.1mm and mounted w/kingpins. Would you trust this or redrill 3.6 1cm back?

  41. Lou Dawson 2 May 27th, 2017 4:53 am

    Hi Daniel, personally I’d trust it if mounted with good quality epoxy and tightened correctly, what I’d consider is the style and experience of the skier. In my opinion most of these binding pull-out problems actually occur because a skier takes a fall or near-fall while in touring mode, a “knee fall” that puts a huge amount of force upwards on the binding toe unit, pulls the screws part way out, then the toe comes completely off later if the user doesn’t notice what’s happened. A weaker ski mounting area allows this to happen more easily. Also important is the size of the skier and the type of boots. Smaller skier in less beefy boots will place less upward force on binding toe unit during the downhill. Big skier in big boots, in the backseat, lots of force upwards on the binding toes. The year-model of the ski is important as well, later Coombacks have binding reinforcement like any other ski, is my understanding. An experienced tech can tell while drilling and placing screws if there is adequate reinforcement in the topskin. It’s pretty easy to feel the difference between skis, but one does have to have some experience. Lou

  42. Daniel May 28th, 2017 1:21 am

    I trust the technician’s srewdriver feel.
    Wood glue was used.
    Would re-installing in the same holes with epoxy improve the situation or should I leave as is?
    I weigh 180lbs and ski in dynafit zzero4carbon cuff boots, and not exactly aggressively.

  43. Lou Dawson 2 May 28th, 2017 4:10 am

    Daniel, if it’s a ski with questionable mounting reinforcement plate I’d remount. But is you ski the 2014-2015 Coomback? If so, my understanding is they have a normal binding mount plate (though I don’t understand why anyone would use wood glue for a permanent tech binding mount). Lou

  44. Daniel May 28th, 2017 5:49 am

    It’s the 2017 Coomba which is supposedly identical to 14/15 Coombacks.
    The shop pretty much never epoxies, but then again, they mount a ton of tech bindings with good results and have done so ever since.

    given this set of facts, remount in same holes with epoxy or just ski them?

  45. Lou Dawson 2 May 28th, 2017 1:26 pm


    I’ve not heard anything about 2017 being any weaker than any other brand, have you?


  46. Daniel May 29th, 2017 12:45 pm

    reglue or just go ahead and ski?

  47. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2017 7:03 pm

    Like I said, are you concerned that these skis are somehow weaker than other brands-models?

  48. Daniel May 30th, 2017 4:58 am


  49. Lou Dawson 2 May 30th, 2017 7:53 am

    Clear. So, sounds like you should use them like you would any other trusted ski. For future reference, here at WildSnow I recommend using good quality epoxy for any semi-permanent tech binding mount, but opinions vary. It’s hard for ski shops to do that, as using epoxy is fiddly and time consuming compared to just squirting some wood glue in each drill hole.

  50. atfred May 30th, 2017 8:13 am

    I’ve had pretty good luck with “gorilla glue” – used sparingly.

  51. Lou Dawson 2 May 30th, 2017 8:55 am

    Problem with Gorilla Glue is it is pretty much as strong as epoxy — but doesn’t soften much with heat. I quit using it as I was breaking too many screws that were put in with Gorilla. I keep it around, just not for binding screws. Lou

  52. Lou Dawson 2 May 30th, 2017 8:59 am

    I do sometimes use wood glue for temporary mounts.

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