The K2 Holgate boot is a relative newcomer in K2’s boot range. First introduced in 2020, it’s a rugged, stiffer boot offering a higher level of support than the well-known Maysis and Ender boots, but stopping short of the full-on freeride Thraxis model. I’d previously reviewed the K2 Ender boots, and have always liked relatively stiff boots, so I was keen to see how the slightly sturdier Holgate boots would compare. While I enjoyed the traditional lacing and durability of the K2 Ender, I was looking forward to seeing how much extra response the Holgate would bring, especially in the backcountry.
FIT & FEATURES
The first thing that you notice when you pick up the Holgate boot is the rubberized outer, which feels super tough. The K2 Holgate has an Intuition® Pro Foam 3D liner with Intuition® SpaceHeater™ tech to reflect heat back in and keep your feet warm, and Recycled Coffee Mesh to reduce the stink levels during seasons of heavy use. Internal j-bars add support around the ankles, making it a firmer-feeling liner.
I’ll limit my comments on fit as everyones feet are so different, but the Holgate fits true to size for length, with a standard to wider fit for width. Heat moulding is recommended to speed up the break in. If you have problems with boot fit take a leaf out of the skiers’ book and go and see a professional boot fitter, or at least use a good aftermarket insole like Shedsoles. If your ankles don’t line up with the cored ankle holes in the liner, thinner or thicker insoles can fix this.
Foot hold at the liner level is taken care of by K2’s BoaConda heel hold system and a power strap around the top of the liner. This Boa Conda system has a slightly larger shaped plastic heel-hold piece for more support compared with the Mobility Boa Conda of the Ender and K2’s more freestyle-orientated boots.
I was happy to see the addition of a power strap to the liner, which gives a more assertive feeling of locking the liner around your leg. However the power strap is touch lower than on other brands, so you need to have the outer boot well opened to crank it down or re-tighten it. Ideally I’d like to have the velcro on the corners of the liner tongue (as found on the Ender and Maysis) in addition to this power strap for a really locked-in feel but once I stopped thinking about it, it functioned fine.
The K2 Holgate has the Vibram® V4 Harshmellow™ outsole. For me this has about the right balance of grip and dampening versus board feel for an all-mountain boot. For a pure park or jib boot, you’ll probably want more of a flat sole like K2’s Darko model. However if you’re looking at the Holgate as your next boot, there’s a good chance that hiking and billygoating around the mountain is on your agenda. For this I found the Vibram V4 sole gives great grip without feeling heavy like a full-on mountaineering sole. The Harshmellow dampening was also welcome when splitboarding, as splitboard bindings lack the soft footbed of regular bindings.
FLEX AND PERFORMANCE
The Holgate is a stiffer boot, rated at 8/10 on K2’s scale. If you like soft-out-of-the-box flex, you’re in the wrong neighborhood on the stiffness scale! Take a look instead at the K2 Taro Tamai Snowsurfer for a premium softer boot. The very first day it felt stiffer than I had expected, especially compared to the 7/10 stiffness rated Ender boots. However, I realized that I was cranking down the powerful H4 Coiler Boa a bit too tight. As the internal BoaConda takes care of heel hold, you can use the main BOA to moderate the flex: crank down the outer and the Holgatebecomes full-on freeride stiff. Leave it a few clicks back from that and it’s a more comfortable all-mountain resort-friendly flex. Either way, this is a solid flex pattern that suits going fast.
Freeriding inevitably involves ups as well as downs, and boot-packing up short hikes and in snow shoes, the K2 Holgate felt solid and comfortable. The coffee-infused liners are a welcome feature for reducing the stink when you take them off after a long day hiking too! Where the Holgates shone most of all was splitboarding, where the extra lateral stiffness was a big plus. They performed about as good as any mid-stiff soft boot can be on the skin track, and the ‘supportive but not ski-boot-stiff’ flex was responsive for the ride down. One small personal point is that while the H4 BOA is supposed to be a tougher mechanism, for backcountry I would still love to see a traditional lace version of this boot for the old-school reliability. I would also like to see this level of boot with dual-zone double BOA on the outer for more fit-tuning options. Having said that, the single Boa worked really well for quick loosening and tightening during splitboard transitions, when you want to go from looser walk mode to solid riding mode – often while your quicker-transitioning skier friends wait to drop in! I have to admit the BOA made this point a lot quicker – just be careful not to over-tighten that BOA in your hurry for powder!
The K2 Holgate is for someone who finds themselves wanting extra support but doesn’t want a ridiculously stiff boot – and doesn’t want to spend ages getting multiple fit zones dialed each time they put it on either. After a short break-in period, the combination of a stiff-end-of-medium forward flex to the toes, with stiffer lateral support make the Holgate really supportive for high speed riding in varied terrain but still able to flex enough to have fun when you find spots to slash or jump off. The feature set make it a good choice as an all-mountain freeride boot. As long as you don’t mind a single BOA outer, the warm liner, quick loosening and tightening, surefooted grip and dampening tech all make it a winner for long days in the backcountry. If you want an easy on and off, highly durable boot that’s ready for high speed lines at a moment’s crank on the BOA dial, the K2 Holgate is a solid choice.