Snow surf legend Taro Tamai’s high end soft flexing creation
I first reviewed the K2 Taro Tamai boot two years ago and was surprised to find that soft comfortable boots really agreed with me. I had previously equated ‘high tech’ with ‘stiff’ and it was a revelation to me to have boots that felt great straight out of the box. Since then, K2 have been improving on the TT design and with the introduction of a removeable ankle harness this year I was excited to give it another test. I was not disappointed as straight out of the box, this fourth iteration of the K2 TT boot seemed to be even more comfortable than before and required even less breaking in.
Fit & durability
K2 haven’t changed the sizing of the TT boot from two years ago, so I had no issues with the fit. A true US10 foot still fits perfect in the size 10’s. The toe cap is now covered in leather and is a bit more forgiving than the older model. This means that the toe box has a bit more give, and the break in period dropped from about a week of riding to hmm, maybe two days? They did break in a little, but they went from being comfy right out of the box, to super comfy so it was hard to pinpoint the exact moment they felt perfect. The boots felt so good those first few days that I didn’t even bother to get them heat molded.
With 20 days in them so far this year, the wear and tear is surprisingly minimal. If I look closely at where the Boa cables run against the tongue fabric there is some really faint wear, but it seems that K2 have toughened up the outer material without compromising the high end finish.
The zip up lace cover is still there, but it’s a lot looser than in the past. This is a good thing as it’s now easy to close even if you don’t have the bottom boa cables cranked tight. It’s good for keeping snow from getting stuck in the tongue and melting, plus it gives the boots a distinctive look. The cover hides the rubber reinforced flex zones located mid-boot which are the equivalent of an articulating cuff. These flex zones reduce boot breakdown from the repeated flexing that happens naturally when riding.
Heat moldable Intuition Pro Foam 3D liners with Spaceheater tech are the go here and these are the highest end liners in the K2 line. They have reflective heat blankets under the insole to keep the boots toasty even in extra cold weather. On the flipside, they get way too warm if you keep them on in the lodge too long. No problem, keep your lunches short and spend more riding to get the best out of this boot. Internal J-bars and cored ankle pockets combine solid heel hold with comfort, and make these liners my favourite out there.
The roll top shape of the liner, which was introduced last year, is very loose around the top of the boot and at first I found the gap between my shin and the boot to be disconcerting. However, I’ve found that after half tightening the top zone Boa, if I pull the roll top back towards my calf, tightening it around my shin and then finish the Boa tightening, it gets snug enough for me. Ideally, a strap around the top of the liner would be great for keeping the liner tight around the shin, and improve boot to board power transfer on toe side turns.
Boa H3 Coiler system
The Boa system doesn’t have any major changes but I had less pressure points this time. This was the main reason I didn’t heat mold the boots. It just wasn’t necessary.
After using boots with Boa for the past three years now, I am used to the system and can dial in a good fit very easily. Getting the boots on or off is now faster than ever and it’s very handy to pop the coilers to release them at the end of the day.
Removable Ankle Harness
The removable ankle harness is a great addition to the boot. It makes a tight grip around your ankle and increases support, yet leaves your shins loose for maximum mobility. If you don’t need the extra heel hold, save the harness until the boots start to get soft…erm, softer than you like, then add the harness. It’s easy to put in but the first time I tried to take it out, it took a lot of pushing and pulling. Subsequent attempts were smooth though so it’s just a matter of breaking the system in.
Underfoot is the Vibram Rollsole outsole. It is tapered on the sides to allow the foot to roll more into turns for a more surfy experience. Additionally, K2’s proprietary dampening system, Harshmellow is in the outsole to smooth out vibrations.
The sole also now slopes up at the toes for a reduced footprint. This is good for riders in between binding sizes who prefer to squeeze into a smaller binding.
The TT boot was made for snow surfing: for getting low in deep carves on the groomers first thing in the morning, and of course for flowing through terrain in powder. Regular resort riding works too, as long as you like a soft flexing boot. For high speed riding in rough terrain though, or for riders who like stiff boots, there are more appropriate boots out there. It’s great to see the boot get constant updates, especially ones that improve the riding experience. This year’s new ankle harness is really useful and makes the boot so much more versatile. I also liked the Vibram Rollsole for a more natural lateral roll in carves, and the slightly more spacious and softer toe box. K2 and Taro Tamai have managed to keep the essence which made this boot so successful and improve on it. It still is a super comfortable, flexible boot made from high end materials and if you long to spend your days being one with the mountain and your board, the K2 TT boot could be an essential part of your kit.