Is this team favourite the answer to your all mountain binding problem?
When looking at the K2 bindings line, it’s easy to be distracted by the versatility of the Lien or the surfy-ness of the Lineup, and completely overlook the Formula. They don’t have the same fancy tripod baseplate as the others, and seem pretty “standard”. However, K2 calls this jack of all trades binding a “perennial team favourite” and truth be told, that’s what got me interested. If it’s good enough for the pros, then that’s the gear we all want, right? Bells and whistles are nice, but at the end of the day, I just want a binding that holds my foot comfortably tight and lets me get on with my snowboarding.
The Formula are built on the lightweight-but-strong proFusion™ baseplate, and feature a 3° canted footbed. They have a midstiff AT nylon highback which is a nice mix of comfort and performance. The Formula have a middle of the road flex that is rated a 3 out of 5 on the K2 stiffness scale. To compare, the Lien AT are rated 4 and the Lineup are rated 2. The K2 Formula sport a Custom Caddi™ strap, which is a plush neoprene ankle strap that feels good even when tight. The past few years I’ve been happily riding lower profile ankle straps, but I feel just as home on these Custom Caddi’s.
The Perfect Fit™ 2.0 low-profile toe straps are my favourite toe straps in the industry and I’m glad they show up on the Formula. Completely adjustable to fit any boot snugly, they make boot-binding compatibility issues a thing of the past. The mounting discs are not mini discs, but have more stance options than the ones found on the Lien and Lineup bindings: they have seven holes across for lateral adjustment (rather than five) and flipping the disc lets you center the bindings better on the board. The K2 Formula also share many of features of the higher end Lien bindings like the Cam-Lock™ Centering Strap adjustors and the Hinge Mount (for keeping the ankle straps off the baseplate when you step in). They also boast 100% tool-less adjustability.
How do they ride?
It’s been a while since I rode a pair of bindings that didn’t have some sort of new baseplate or disc tech, and I fully expected to get a 15-year-old ‘vintage’ experience. I was happily surprised though to find that the Formula had a completely modern ride, and a high end one at that. They are quite damp underfoot which is a good thing at high speeds and on crappy snow days. You don’t get as much board feedback as you do with the Lien but you’ll definitely appreciate that dampness on variable snow days when hitting chunder. Part of that dampness comes from the seamless EVA footbed which is comfortably forgiving when stomping big landings (or smaller airs to flat). Comfortable is a good way to describe the Custom Caddi ankle straps too. I can crank them really tight for a snug fit without feeling any pressure points.
The forward lean and highback rotation are the same fiddly system K2 has had for a few years, but if you’re only playing with forward lean then it’s relatively painless. If you’re pulling out the screws for highback rotation, then give yourself some time to get it done (in other words, don’t do it on the hill).
The K2 Formula are a workhorse binding – they get the job done. I mean that in a good way – I like a binding I don’t need to think about when riding. They are really tough and don’t need to be babied. The canted footbed is comfy, absorbs chatter and provides a smooth ride in bad conditions. With high quality straps and mid-stiff highback, the K2 Formula proves that a back-to-basics approach can be a good place for a solid performing binding. There is a reason they are the team favourite – pros want less fancy tech and a more seamless boot to board interface. Go fondle a pair in a shop and you’ll see there are no surprises – they’re built strong and will deliver a solid ride.