Sage Kotsenburg’s tech heavy all-terrain destroyer
The K2 Orton boot is a new release for the 2021-2022 season and has the distinction of having been tested by 2014 Olympic Slopestyle gold medalist and 2020 Snowboarder magazine Rider of the Year, Sage Kotsenburg. This is a high-end boot that is chock full of K2’s best tech and features brand new liner and sole designs. It comes in two colourways – black and vert (white with green and black accents).
After a few years exploring K2’s soft-flex boot options (TT, Renin), last year I tried a medium flex and really enjoyed K2’s best-selling boot, the Maysis. The next logical step was to try going a bit stiffer and the all new Orton fit the bill.
Fit & durability
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s the K2 sizing. Consistency is what riders want and K2 delivers. Wearing 10.5 in street shoes, I have been a size 10 in various K2 boots for years now, and the Orton fit perfectly.
The stiffness rating for the Orton has been quite confusing. First, in the dealer’s catalog the Orton was rated a 6 out of 10 and many review sites jumped to the conclusion that it was a replacement for the discontinued Renin, another 6 out of 10 boot. This was followed by the regular catalog where the stiffness was adjusted to an 8. Nowadays, the K2 website lists it as a 7. This begs the question, how stiff is this boot really?
Walking around the house before my first day, the Orton felt stiffer than the Maysis and the 8 stiffness rating seemed reasonable. It wasn’t until I was actually riding and trying to flex the boot that I realized that they should have been rated something higher like a 9 stiffness. The tongue of the liner is very stiff and nearly gave me a shin bruise the first day. I didn’t have the tongue tight and my shin flexing into the tongue repeatedly on every toe side turn got to be quite painful by 2pm. After that day I made sure that there was no space between the tongue and my shin and since then I haven’t had any more shin-bang.
The Orton is a burly boot and the durability is impressive. I could see this boot lasting me double the length of any K2 boot I’ve worn to date. The K2 Orton have Endo Construction 2.0 around the back of the boot which is supportive and keeps the back from breaking down.
Also helping with durability (and comfort) are flex zones around the tongue, which work with the articulating upper cuff to allow for pressure point-free flexing. Lastly, the outer shell is made from HDR Premium Synthetic materials is very resistant to wear and tear, and keeps the boot looking new for a longer.
Liner – Intuition™ Pro Foam 3D Liner with SpaceHeater™
These are K2’s most supportive heat-moldable liners that keep your feet toasty warm. If you don’t have access to a shop with a K2 boot molding setup, don’t worry, these Intuition liners will naturally mold to your foot over two to three days of riding. If you do get them heat molded, you’ll skip those two to three days of boot break in. For me, the boot break in wasn’t too painful – on each of the first two days my feet got tired and cramped in the afternoon. By the third day, I was riding fine until last lift.
The liners are made with S’café coffee mesh (made from 95% recycled material and recycled coffee grounds!) for improved moisture management and to reduce boot stink.
Helping to pull the tongue in tight is a strap at the top of the liner, in addition to the Velcro sections found on other K2 boots. At first the tongue strap is stiff and getting your fingers in there to adjust the liner is difficult, but after a few days of use it breaks in and becomes easier to use.
The K2 Orton has a 3-point boot liner harness for increased heel hold and ankle support and a strap on the liner tongue to pull everything in nice and tight. I did notice that the Orton has a bit more volume around the ankle and I had to extend my ankle straps a notch to get a centered fit. This is no doubt from the liner harness, tongue strap and burlier exterior.
H4 / M3 zonal Boa® Fit System
This is a double reel Boa system that lets you adjust the upper and lower zones of the boot independently. This works great for getting the perfect fit and avoiding pressure points. The H4 coiler dial controls the upper boot and is BOA’s newest and most durable dial. It has the ability to pop out on hard impacts to avoid damage, and can be easily popped back in. The coiler dial is a step up from a regular dial as it “quickly takes up lace slack, increasing speed of entry into the boot”. The M3 dial for the lower zone doesn’t have as beefy specs as the H4 but there isn’t any noticeable difference in real world performance. Simply put, I didn’t even realize they were different until I was researching for this review. This system works well, and after a few years of using BOA lacing now, I don’t plan on going back to a different lacing system the next time I need new boots.
The K2 Orton uses the TX3 BOA® Rope Laces that originally appeared on the Taro Tamai boot last year. These textile laces are tough and do less damage to the shell than the standard steel Boa cords (which accounted for most of the wear and tear on my previous boots).
Sole – Vibram® V5 outsoles
These are brand new outsoles from Vibram boasting the latest in traction and durability. The V5 consist of at least 30% recycled rubber which is a positive move in making this boot eco-friendly. I haven’t noticed any increased grip from last year’s ‘Grip This!’ soles on the Maysis, but grip is usually something you only notice when it’s not there. No problems with that here.
Just above the outsoles is a midsole layer featuring the K2 proprietary Harshmellow dampening pods under the toes and heel to smooth out hard landings and make for a more overall comfortable ride.
K2 have pulled out all the stops for this co-design boot with Sage Kotsenburg. Packed to the brim with K2’s newest tech, what you get it is a high-performance boot worthy of Sage’s name. If you’re looking for a stiffer boot, you’ll appreciate the extras like the strap on the liner tongue, the new BOA coiler dials and newest Vibram outsole. What I like the most is the focus on durability with the bombproof outer shell, articulating cuff and the TX3 BOA laces, all designed to make this a long-lasting boot. In addition, the K2 Orton are reasonably priced for what you get, and offer better cost performance than many higher priced boots from other brands. So if you need a boot burly enough to stomp double backside twelve’s at Chad’s Gap, win a Natural Selection event or even if you’re just someone who puts a lot of stress on your gear, the K2 Orton is definitely worth checking out at your local shop.