K2’s Wayback 106’s have a distinguished family lineage. They can easily be traced back to the Coomba and Anti-piste skis that K2 made over 10 years ago. The Coomba was cutting-edge at the time. Since then, they’ve had incremental changes and name updates, but the basic character of the ski hadn’t really changed. Hey, if it works…
I skied Coombacks for several years as my main not-super-wide backcountry ski. Over the years I noticed several other companies making skis that were astonishingly almost identical in shape and rocker profile. There’s no doubt that shape has turned into a classic. It was cutting edge when first introduced, and continued to be a solid performer. Recently, however, as ski shapes have continued to evolve, and weights continue to go down, the old Coomback shape seemed to be getting a bit. . .old? Don’t get me wrong, I know many people still love them. I also know some who like skiing in a more new-school slarvy slashy style who don’t like them at all.
Enter the brand new 2019 Wayback 106.
The new version seems to be the most significant change that’s ever been made to the venerable ski. It updates a ski that is fairly traditional to a more “modern” shape. Here’s a bit of an overview of the transformation:
The new sticks have quite a few differences compared to the old ones. For one, they are 1462 grams per ski (179cm length, verified on postal scale), a full 200 grams lighter than the 2018 Wayback 104 (177), ~400 grams lighter than the 2009 Coomback (175), and ~500 grams lighter than the original Coomba (175). Pretty cool to see the slow evolution of ski weight reduction.
The shape of the skis is also significantly different, with more rocker in the tip and a tiny bit more in the tail, and a more tapered tip and tail.
As far as the construction goes, they are fairly similar, in that they incorporate carbon fiber “stringers”, but are mostly fiberglass. An entirely new feature is the piece of Titanal metal under the binding mounting area that extends forward and behind the binding about 30cm or so. Maybe it’s just a placebo, but I’m a sucker for metal in skis. This metal acts as both a binding reinforcement as well as adding a bit of stiffness and dampness to the middle of the ski.
That’s a brief overview, but shows that the new skis are significantly revised from the 2018 Wayback 104s. That’s quite a contrast to the differences between the 2018 Wayback and the 2009 Coomback. Although there’s almost 10 years between the two models, they are remarkably similar. The 2018 Wayback 104 was 2mm wider than the 2009 Coomback 102, had a very similar shape and rocker profile, and was slightly lighter, that’s about it.
The changes are significant enough that these 2019 skis are an almost an entirely different animal. Those who didn’t love the old Coomback or Wayback might enjoy these new skis, and vice versa. I’ve found them to ski quite differently.
Since the skis are so light, I’ve brought them on several trips when I would have normally brought a lightweight mountaineering ski that didn’t ski quite as well as my normal ride. Having a wider, longer, damper ski on these tours is quite a treat. The skis aren’t exceptionally light when compared to uber-light skimo skis, but when you consider how well they ski, the weight is impressive. They are quite damp, especially compared to lighter skis that feature a higher amount of carbon fiber. The fact that they don’t contain too much carbon fiber, along with the Titanal metal layer most likely helps with the dampness.
I’ve also found that the shape is pretty versatile. The Waybacks have enough of a traditional profile to have good edge hold, even on steep spring ski descents, while the rocker and tapered tip and tail make it surprisingly playful in powder. I’ve found that breakable crust and other less than desirable snow conditions is what really separates good skis from bad. Thankfully I haven’t encountered a ton of knee-ripping snow on these skis, but in the small amount I have they have been confidence inspiring.
I really enjoy finding skis that strike a nice balance between weight and fun, and I think these walk that line perfectly. I’m excited to get them out more this winter.
179 Wayback 106 weight (verified by WildSnow): 1462 grams
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.