A durable traditional lace and BOA combo from K2 offering all-mountain versatility
First up, I’ve always loved traditional lace boots so the K2 Ender boot stood out from their range as a prime candidate for testing. Amid a sea of Boa and speedlacing, there have always been those flying the flag for traditional lace style boots. With the Ender boot, K2 combine this classic style with their BOA Conda heel retention system in a supportive but not-too-stiff high end boot. K2 call the Ender “a durable, rugged premium all-mountain freestyle boot” and it’s hard to argue with that. K2’s goal with the Ender was a boot built to last, hitting that supportive medium flex point without being too stiff out of the box or too soft at the end of the season. I put this to the test through a whole season from backcountry to spring laps, and the K2 Ender lived up to it’s durable tagline.
Fit and Features
For 2020 the Ender boot remains unchanged in all key specs as the the 2019 boots tested here. From the inside out, it features K2 high-end Intuition® Pro Foam 3D Liner, wrapped around by the Mobility Conda™ Boa® system for instant heel hold. Intuition have long been the market leaders in liners, so it’s always reassuring to see their foam used. The liners were comfortable straight out of the box, with a warm fleecy lining around the calves.
If you have narrow feet they might feel a bit thin and “boxy” but this is fixed by heat moulding, so to get the best out of these premium liners I strongly recommend getting them heat moulded at your local K2 dealer. The custom moulding process expands the foam to remove any space around your foot, and gives you more precise control. If you have high volume feet you could skip this step and let the natural heat of your feet create the moulding process gradually as you ride
The Mobility Conda™ Boa® system brings quick and customizable heel hold with a turn of the Boa dial on the outer. Liner laces can often work loose over the day, so using Boa for this makes sense. The insert is adjustable in where it sits on top of the liner, with velcro holding it against the outer tongue. I found positioning it at the higher end gave the best comfort and support. Without lacing higher up on the liner the emphasis here is on solid heel hold down low with freestyle mobility above the ankle.
The most notable visual feature is the traditional lacing. While this takes a bit longer to lace up than other options out there, I love the ability to dial in the fit just right in each section of the boot. Another plus for the simplicity of traditional lacing is being able to repair a broken lace no matter where you are – just keep a spare lace in your pocket or pack. The outer also features K2’s Endo™ 2.0 construction, which is a urethane support skeleton inside a well-designed simple and durable shell. This construction is the key to the Ender boots retaining their flex and making them a good candidate for multi-season use.
A grippy Vibram® V4 outsole rounds out the K2 Ender package, and this proved grippy when it mattered. Kicking steps in deep powder or kicking around spring parking lots, the soles proved as durable as the test of the boot. They have shown minimal wear after a full season, including a fair amount of walking on asphalt and rocks.
Just like the boot flex, the Vibram® V4 outsole sits in that happy medium between freestyle and full-on freeride. The aggressive tread is deeper than a park-orientated boot and I had no concerns with grip in regular backcountry situations. However the overall sole shape is not bulky, and retains a slim footprint. Durable grippy soles can often mean reduced board feel, but in the Ender the boots still feel like it has a low profile with my foot close to the board, with a good balance of board feel and dampening from K2’s shock absorbing Harshmellow™ material in the midsole.
Beefy tread in a slim profile.
Performance: flex and durability
After a full season of riding the flex has held up really well – so well, in fact, it’s hard to believe they’ve seen a full season of use! After the initial very short break in period of about 2 days, they have retained a consistent flex with only a slight softening in the forward flex. The K2 Enders have a medium forward flex, with a more solid medium-stiff flex laterally. The comfortable medium flex forwards towards the toe makes them ride great out of the box – no ski-boot feeling during the first days, as you can sometimes get with stiffer boots. The lateral stiffness is what makes these boots great for riding fast and attacking natural terrain.
There’s no problem tweaking out methods in the Enders but when you hit that unseen pillow that wants to send you over the nose, or you land a bit back seat, there is plenty of support there too. This really helps driving carves through chop and bumpy pistes too. The combination of this reassuring support nose-to-tail with a more forgiving medium flex towards the toes makes them a great choice for all-mountain freestyle and precise park riding. You can forget your boots are there while flexing into carves and ollies, but hit a choppy run at speed and the lateral support reminds you that it’s got your back… or side.
The only real point I would personally like to see improved would be the addition of power strap on the cuff of the liner. Sometimes the lack of a power strap on the liner combined with no internal ankle lace-up ankle wrap on the lower shin above the Boa Conda gave me the feeling of more of a ‘comfort fit’ rather than ‘performance fit’. Having said that, the boots performed well all matter of riding situations, so it may be that I am just used to the feeling of a higher ankle wrap and tighter liner cuff when sitting on the lift! This is a matter of taste between people who like to feel their boots’ support at all times, versus those who like to forget that they are there. The Enders fall more into the latter category, and should hit that sweet spot for a lot of riders.
If you like a more powerful feeling fit, check out the new K2 Holgate boot which has added a power strap onto what looks like a beefed-up version of the Ender boot. If you are chasing a more unrestricted surfy ride in powder, see our review of the K2 Taro Tamai Snowsurfer boot, or if you want medium flex but prefer all Boa, check out our K2 Renin review.
The K2 Ender is a solid choice for an all-mountain durable boot with a mid-stiff flex that can handle a variety of riding styles. If you appreciate the simple reliability of traditional laces – but also appreciate comfort and convenience of BOA for quickly dialling in the heel hold, this should be on your list. The durability of the outer shell combined with the Endo 2 construction was really impressive, and the Ender should prove to be one of the longer-lasting boots out there. The balance of freestyle mobility with solid heel hold means you can tweak out a method but still have enough ankle support for all mountain attack. These impressively long-lasting boots might be the end(er) of the search for a versatile multi-season all-mountain boot.
Get more information on K2 Snowboard boots on their official site.
Disclosure: The K2 Ender boots were provided by K2 Snowboarding