K2 Wayback 106, 2018-2019, Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 22, 2018      

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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

Testing the Waybacks edge-hold on some fun steep corn skiing last spring in the Cascades.

Testing the Waybacks edge-hold on some fun steep corn skiing last spring in the Cascades.

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.

Not exactly the Waybacks preferred environment, but they do look pretty, don't they?

Not exactly the Waybacks preferred environment, but they do look pretty, don’t they?

Tip rocker comparo. 2019 on the left, 2018 on the right. The 2019 is a 179, and the 2018 is a 170 length, so they aren't directly comparable, but it gives you an idea of the increased tip rocker on the new 2019 skis.

Tip rocker comparo. 2019 on the left, 2018 on the right. The 2019 is a 179, and the 2018 is a 170 length, so they aren’t directly comparable, but it gives you an idea of the increased tip rocker on the new 2019 skis. The 2019s have approx 40 cm of rocker (measured from the tip of the ski to the point the bases touch), the older Waybacks have approx 28cm. A substantial increase.

Same comparison for the tail rocker. 2019 on the left, 2018 on the right. The 2019 is a 179, and the 2018 is a 170 length, so they aren't directly comparable. The tail rocker isn't as dramatically different as the tip rocker on the new skis. Looks like there's  a tad more than there used to be.

Same comparison for the tail rocker. 179 2019 on the left, 170 2018 on the right. The tail rocker isn’t as dramatically different as the tip rocker on the new skis. Looks like there’s a tad more than there used to be.

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

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Comments

7 Responses to “K2 Wayback 106, 2018-2019, Review”

  1. Andrei Malyuchik December 22nd, 2018 2:53 pm

    I can attest to Coomback 114 was a horrible ski… Hooking in soft, completely useless in the hard. Nonexistent flotation unless you’re in the back seat for good. Switched to Voile V8 and so completely happy to not EVER look back…

  2. Louis Dawson December 22nd, 2018 5:00 pm

    I never tried the old 114 coomback. I generally like ~115 waist skis, but I think that the original coomback shape/rocker profile works better in a slightly skinier ski. I suppose it’s telling that the 106 is the widest ski in the new Wayback line.

  3. George Trantow December 23rd, 2018 4:06 pm

    As SkiAlper magazine will attest, the 2016 Ski of the Year for touring was the Coomback 104, despite it’s weight over two 95 waisted skis (Salomon Mtn Exp. 95 and Atomic Backland 95). I still ski my Anti-Piste w/Dynafit bindings as rock skis and the Coomback 104 as my fattest quiver ski. Thanks for reviewing the new K2s.

  4. Doug December 23rd, 2018 4:42 pm

    Hey, Lou

    I’m a 47 year old patroller back east and I recently suffered a pretty bad ankankle fuse was a talar fuse so I was wondering if you know your fuse was a talar fuse but I was wondering if you knew anything about how a subtalar fuse might impact my skiing. My technical understanding of how the ankle works in skiing is limited. I’ve always been more of a visual learner. I watch and do so I’m not sure how a subtalar fuse would impact me. My dr. said technical climbing will be very difficult but he seemed to think I would return to skiing as long as I worked hard over the next 10 months. Any feedback would be great. Thanks for your insight so far with some past posts.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2018 5:58 pm

    You won’t have any trouble skiing, with either sub talar or full fusion, I started with sub years ago, I now have both. It’ll take you a week to get used to it, use fairly stiff boots that give you foward-back support in downhill mode. Going up, just get used to using your heal lifts more often. I did Denali when I had the sub talar… Main thing is to be sure it heals before you push it. And consider eventually getting the screws taken out. Tecnical climbing is no big deal, you just lack a tiptoe move on one foot, perhaps you’ll have to knock it down from 5.15 to 14. Lou

  6. Doug December 24th, 2018 8:13 am

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m actually not that skilled of a climber but nice to know I can get back on a wall. Has it been an issue for you in soft bumps or powder? Looks like your skiing great on steep off piste terrain so I’m feeling hopeful.

  7. Phil December 25th, 2018 4:21 am

    Until recently the shallow PNW snowpack has kept my new Wayback 106’s in the closet and out of shark-infested waters. Their first outing was in-bounds on hard groomers and the second (Christmas Eve) off-piste in 5″ of fresh. I can verify what Louie says about the skis. They are quite damp with good edge hold on Cascade concrete and are playful in the powder. I mounted them with G3 ZED bindings so the set-up is very light. Two outings may not a complete review make, but so far the Waybacks have earned an A+.





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