The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2014-2015 Blizzard Kabookie

Jason Hutchins reviews the Blizzard Kabookie, Blister Gear Review

14/15 Blizzard Kabookie

2014-2015 Blizzard Kabookie, 180cm

Dimensions (mm): 133-98-118

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 178.2 cm

Sidecut Radius: 21 meters

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,008 grams & 2,004 grams

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: +1 cm from recommended

Days Skied: 10

Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Park City Mountain Resort

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Kabookie, which is unchanged for 14/15, except for the graphics.]

When Blizzard introduced their flipcore line of skis a couple of years ago, both the Bonafide (at 98mm underfoot) and Cochise (at 108mm underfoot) were instant successes.

Well, Blizzard realized those full-metal laminated skis might be a bit much to haul up the mountain, so they’ve recently released a few skis based on the original line but with a lighter core and without a full sheet of metal.

But this change in construction seems to have done more than just decrease the weight: Blizzard has also made versions of the originals that are a little more user friendly, and a better match for lighter skiers.

In this review I cover the 98mm-underfoot Kabookie, and you can also check out my review of the 108mm-underfoot Scout.

On-Piste / Groomers

Blizzard may be marketing the Kabookie to sidecountry chargers, but this ski won’t disappoint many skiers inside the resort ropes, either. Like most of the Blizzard skis I’ve been on, the best line down the mountain on the Kabookie doesn’t stray far from the fall line, and this is especially true on groomers.

Blizzard uses a full-length vertical sidewall along with a titanium flipcore construction (with titanium only placed underfoot) to provide a very torsionally stiff and damp ski that craves speed.

The Kabookie held an edge very well while carving early morning frozen groomers at Alta, only giving way to a bit of tail slip when pushed very aggressively over the iciest sections at top speeds.

Blizzard Kabookie, Blister Gear Review

Jason Hutchins on the Blizzard Kabookie, Devil’s Elbow, Alta Ski Area.

The Kabookie I have been riding is only 180cm and has both tip and tail rocker, so locking onto an edge obviously doesn’t feel quite as solid as the monster 192cm Black Diamond Zealot I rode earlier this season. But while the Kabookie might not gain much in terms of stability from usable edge length, it does in its heavy, damp feel, and predictable sidecut profile.

Although this ski lacks the full metal laminate of the heavier Bonafide, there hasn’t been a single instance where I have wished for a stiffer or damper Kabookie, not only on groomers, but off-piste as well.

The Kabookie doesn’t offer a ton of energy from turn to turn with either carved or skidded turns, unless you really focus on working the ski from tip to tail. Over time, I found the Kabookie to offer the most exciting ride when I really threw the skis out to the side and back up the hill during transitions (moving my center of mass farther inside turns and ahead of the skis than I’m accustomed to), then pressuring the ski hard all the way through the finish of each turn, really loading up the tail. These dynamic weight shifts made the ski feel a little more aggressive at the start of turns and much more energetic from turn to turn.

The tradeoff, however, is that the dynamic movements and high speeds the ski loves make for a more demanding ride when speeds are lower.

My first two days on the Kabookie were spent at Park City Mountain Resort teaching lessons for the National Ability Center, and quite honestly, the ski grabbed my attention quickly in subtle but not-so-positive ways. I have spent a lot of time on skis that are fairly easy to ride this season, including the Salomon Rocker2 108, Atomic Bent Chetler, Nordica Soul Rider, and Line Opus. But jumping on the Kabookie, I immediately noticed that the sidecut shape and rocker profile combination at the tip didn’t pull the skis into turns with much enthusiasm. Unlike those other skis I mentioned, which require only a very subtle amount of foot steering and edge to pull the tips into a new turn, the Kabookie required a conscious effort at the beginning of turns to make sure the tips were far enough down the fall line to safely apply pressure to the inside edge. The first morning on the ski, I surprisingly caught an edge a few times moving from turn to turn. (And in case you’re wondering whether I detuned the skis before heading out, I did.)

I’m inclined to link these sensations to the gradual nature of the sidecut at the point where the tip rocker starts its move toward the sky. With this shape combination and low edge angles, there just isn’t much help from the sidecut profile to help initiate turns. The take-home message here (and as you’ll see elsewhere) is that the ski takes some effort and technique, both at high and low speeds.

Shallow Crud (Consistent Base Layer)

Although Blizzard says the Kabookie only has a portion of titanium under the bindings, the ski feels like it has a full-metal laminate when cruising through chopped-up new snow, and also because of its fairly heavy swing weight. In new snow tallies around six inches, if you didn’t look down at the snow, it would be hard to tell the difference between skiing untouched fresh spots or sections of cut-up leftovers. As long as the underlying layer is smooth, the Kabookie provides an incredibly calm and predictable ride through the new snow, which allows for confident high-speed, aggressive skiing. There is absolutely no deflection due to the sidecut shape, and even though the ski has a softer shovel, the flex ramps up quickly in the forebody, allowing for complete confidence when plowing into shallow chop at speed.

Deeper Crud (Consistent Base Layer)

For such a small ski, I have been really impressed with how the Kabookie handles deeper, cut-up conditions.

When Alta received a decent-sized storm a couple of weeks ago, I strayed from my usual High Traverse laps, opting instead to play around over on the slightly more relaxed areas accessed by the Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts.

The Kabookie worked best when the reins were kept loose. Using long-radius turns, soft edge angles, and a more relaxed, centered stance, the Kabookie’s soft shovel kept the ski riding high in chop, while the heavy, damp feel of the ski made for easy transitions from pile to pile.

Though the ski felt great on the lower-angle slopes, on steeper or more technical terrain where more speed control was needed, I found the Kabookie to become more of a handful in the deeper crud. As I’ve mentioned, the ski has a fairly stout, damp flex, and has a surprisingly heavy swing weight. Combine those characteristics with somewhat narrow dimensions, a flat tail, and minimal rocker splay, and the result is a ski that requires a lot of energy to scrub speed, slash, and maneuver in tight places when the snow is deep and variable.

I found that the keys to success in these situations was to stay really light on the edges and keeping the bases as flat as possible (so as not to have the flex working against you so hard), or just upping the energy level and skiing very powerfully.

The important caveat here is that I am a fairly light, balanced, finesse-style skier. Heavier, more aggressive skiers may not find the ski to be as much work.

 

21 Comments

  1. pj mcmillan April 3, 2013 Reply

    I want these! Please box them up and ship um

  2. Jimmy April 16, 2013 Reply

    Looking forward to that Scout review! Will I have a long wait?

  3. Petter June 28, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the review, Jason!

    Regarding 180 vs 187, what’s your height (cm) and weight (kg)?

    • Author
      Jason July 1, 2013 Reply

      Petter,
      I am 185.5 cm tall and 72-73 kg

  4. Tutuko (Tom) September 3, 2013 Reply

    I’m on the 187, weighed in as 2kg flat, so pretty nice weight for the amount of ski there. I’m 186cm, 80kg and found the 180 too short. Love the ski.

    • Just to chime in – I’m 83 kg / ~183 lbs. and the 180cm Kabookie definitely did not feel like enough ski, while I could, actually, ski the 180cm Bonafides the way I wanted to (see my review.) So while I imagine I’d prefer the 187 Bonafide, I enjoyed the 180cm Bonafide. But I would HAVE to ski the 187 Kabookie, can’t get away with the 180cm length. (Which all makes perfect sense.)

  5. Oleg S. November 26, 2013 Reply

    Hi,

    You had tested Blizzard Kabookie, but I not his “big” brother/siste Blizzard Bonafide, is there a specific reason? I’ve heard that both skis are very similar and based on your weight you would choose one over the other. I am pretty heavy guy (200 lb, 6′) and I am kind off leaning toward Bonafide vs. Kabookie.
    Any suggestions?
    thank you,

    Oleg

    • Hi, Olag. You can now see my review of the 180cm Bonafide. I don’t know how / where you ski, but having also skied the 180cm Kabookie (but not the 187cm lengths in either ski), I would encourage you to go Bonafide over Kabookie.

  6. Josh January 1, 2014 Reply

    I’ve tried the Bonafide and really want to try the Kabookie for all the reasons noted here – primarily the lack of metal. I can’t find anyone who demos the Kabookie and wonder if anyone knows where I can find one to demo. I hate to buy it without trying it. Since Jason clearly tried it locally, I am wondering if someone demos the ski here in UT.

    On sizing, I’m an expert, 5’9″ 145lb. I’ve been on a K2 Recon 165 for years. Wondering if the 172 or 180 is the right fit on this or the Bonafide.

    Thanks!

    • TM January 15, 2014 Reply

      Josh,

      I bought a 180cm Bonafide this year after trying to demo one over the last couple years but never could. I scored an unreal deal one day walking into a shop so couldn’t resist. I absolutely love every aspect of it except for one thing, the shovel/swing weight. I’m 6’1″ and anywhere from 176-180lbs, 42 year old expert. I’m an unusual skier in that I have a very finesse/technical way of skiing but when I’m skiing without my family I’m a hard charger. So finding skis that suit a huge range of skiing is a must. I do have an extensive quiver but found the Bonafide a ski that you can honestly take every single day and have a blast. I just find it heavy being on all day long compared to everything else I own, not heavy from the boot back at all, all the weight is up front.

      I found a kabookie 180cm demo that I’m trying this weekend to see how it stacks up. If I love it as much as I like the Bonafide I will put my Bonafide up for sale. If you read Jason’s review on the Kabookie from blister gear he refers to the kabookie being heavier swing weight, not as jibby, not as poppy off jumps, etc.. That’s how I would describe the Bonafide is for me. It likes to stay on the ground and you have to force it to be jibby but I will give that up for it’s other awesome qualities. I’m just thinking Jason is smaller than I am so I should think the kabookie is jibby and poppy in comparison to my Bonafide.

      But I agree with the other guy, if you don’t want to Demo there is no way you will go wrong with a 180cm Bonafide. If you ski more moguls than the average guy go Bonafide or Sick Day. The stiffness of Mantra tail and the stiffness and width of the Hell and Back tail will hinder you in moguls.

  7. Wasatchback January 1, 2014 Reply

    Cole Sport in Park City has Kabookie demos. They’re the only ones in UT with the kabookies for demo.

    • Josh January 2, 2014 Reply

      Thanks so much – they do indeed. Really appreciate it.

      • TM January 15, 2014 Reply

        Sorry Josh but the reference to the Hell and Back and Sick day was for another guy looking at Bonafide, hell and back, and sick day. Got mixed up

  8. Dan January 16, 2014 Reply

    I’m 5’9″, 130 lb, and 35 years old. I ski a 160cm Fischer Progressor right now. I ski aggressively on groomers (from Ohio), but I’ve moved to Idaho, and I’m looking to become an advanced powder skier too. Would a 173cm be enough for me given my weight, or should I move up to a 180?

    Thanks!

  9. TM January 18, 2014 Reply

    Demoed a 180cm kabookie today on firm, fast, little bit marbly groomers. All I can say is that it wasn’t the bonafide that I have tried several times. I will say that it was lighter, and that’s what I was looking for but on today’s conditions the bonafide would have been better. Obviously a no brainer. I’m sure that if I was skiing normal soft groomers and non icy moguls the kabookie would have been great. So not a fair demo day of it. Top sheet VERY fragile, couple runs down a mogul field left some chunks out of it underneath my boot area. The other ski I was on today was my sick day 95 in a 186cm length and I have to say that it did awesome. Was definitely lighter and more nimble feeling than kabookie but the edge grip was on par, with almost a little bit smoother more damp feel. Typical Line/K2 characteristic.

    Hoping to try Kabookie in some softer conditions before I lay to much judgement on it versus the bonafide.

    • Hey, TM – not sure if you’ve read my review of the 180 Bonafide, but I completely agree with your take on the 180 Bonafide vs. 180 Kabookie, and you and I are close to the same weight. As I wrote above, while I can get away with dropping down to a 180 Bonafide, I definitely can’t get away with a 180 Kabookie. If you’re still looking, sounds like you need to get your hands on a 187. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

      • TM January 19, 2014 Reply

        Second day at a different hill with firm and fast groomers minus the ball bearings. The snow didn’t go through the thawing and freeze cycles our other hill did so the groomers were much more consistent and fun. The Kabookie was so much more fun today, I was able to roll them easier from edge to edge and they held turns even on pretty damn firm groomers awesome. Strong , powerful with great grip. I’m sure the bonafide would have held better but if I didn’t know what I was missing I would give them an A. Anything off the groomed was absolute garbage, major ice balls and crust. I didn’t spend any time in moguls today because I didn’t want to thrash the new demo, the top sheets are very fragile and I ski the bumps hard! I noticed on my wife’s black pearl demo it looks like a layer of metal under the binding area, this last years Kabookie demo does not have that. Her black pearl says titanium flipcore, this kabookie says carbon flipcore on it. Anybody know what the deal is there??
        I wish I would have had my sick day 95 today to try it side by side,I had my older Kendo instead which is always an absolute blast on days like today.
        The part about the kabookie I enjoyed was its lighter overall weight. I know I can ski that all day without as much knee fatigue as the bonafide was giving me. It’s still a heavy ski in the shovels, just it’s design, but one I can live with. My wife noticed the tip weight of the black pearl demo also in comparison to anything else she owns. If I can enjoy a kabookie on a day like today then anything else soft will be a dream.

        Have you guys spent any time on a sick day 95? And how do you compare the new line supernatural to the Bonafides and Kabookies?

  10. Blister Member
    Jim July 11, 2014 Reply

    Hey Guys,
    I really enjoy reading your reviews, I feel like you really caught the feel of this ski –
    “ I found the Kabookie to offer the most exciting ride when I really threw the skis out to the side and back up the hill during transitions (moving my center of mass farther inside turns and ahead of the skis than I’m accustomed to), then pressuring the ski hard all the way through the finish of each turn, really loading up the tail.”
    Spot on !! If this were a water ski I’d say it has an exceptionally large pre turn. I call it total angulation commitment; to me it feels like the higher on edge the better. I purchased mine (180’s) midyear, 2 seasons ago. I then acquired an 185 Opus at the beginning of last season. I love the more centered neutral position and playful nature of the Opus and find myself skiing it on all but the firmest days. Going back and forth between skis has me wanting to replace the Kabookies. The rear mount makes me feel like the 180 Kabookies have way more tip than the longer Opus. I noticed that your mount is at +1, I’m on the recommended line. The PB & J sounds like it might compliment my Opus better for a two ski quiver. Also, I’m 55, 5’11, 170lbs and have been skiing longer than most of your testers have been alive (Read as really old). My knees are only OK and I don’t consider myself a charger but more of a finesse skier. I’m a directional skier and only the occasional trip through the park, usually chasing or filming one of my boys. I generally get 20 – 25 days a season and of those 80% are heli or snowcat (Opus days). The resort days I do get are North Shore Tahoe (Squaw, Alpine, SB). I demoed both the Mantra and the Bonafide @ PC , both are great skis, but way too much work and not nearly enough fun for me. Any suggestions for something that would transition better with my Opus. How soon will the 2015 reviews start showing up?

  11. Stephen August 21, 2014 Reply

    Awesome review, dude. Can you recommend a similar ski? I bought used 12/13 180cm Kabookies with Marker Griffon bindings last year along with a Canyons pass before ever trying on a pair of skis – my buddy and the guy at 2nd Tracks assured me they would be THE skis for me after about a week skiing. They were right. I love em and I’m gonna mount some Dynafit Radical STs to them for this upcoming season. I don’t really have enough experience nor have I ridden enough skis to know why I like them so much, but I’d like to find a similar ski that is also different enough to have a different experience with – if that makes sense. I’m 6′ 160lbs and want something for sidecountry (I’ve got some 190/120 Fisher Big Stix for those powder days up the lift). Any suggestions??

  12. Ian October 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Jason

    It’s interesting to read your comment that “the sidecut shape and rocker profile combination at the tip didn’t pull the skis into turns with much enthusiasm. Unlike those other skis I mentioned, which require only a very subtle amount of foot steering and edge to pull the tips into a new turn, the Kabookie required a conscious effort at the beginning of turns to make sure the tips were far enough down the fall line to safely apply pressure to the inside edge.” I demo’ed the Bonafide at the end of last winter and found them to be the same.

    I have also noticed that the Blizzard Spur, a new ski for 2014-15 has quite a different shape to the other Blizzard skis in the line and am wondering if that’s an indication of a change in design approach by Blizzard for 2015-16 (Nordica appears to have made the switch from a more traditional shape in their Hell & Back series to a much more tapered and “modern” shape with the Nrgy series) ?

    thks
    Ian

  13. Frank October 29, 2014 Reply

    Hi,
    I am 5’9” and 150 pounds, also am a former racer looking for a ski to ride hard in the glades and pow and also try some touring. But when I get out of the glades I also want my ski to respond well on groomers. I still have a pair of Dynastar Homeglass but I’m tired of carrying two pair of skis when travelling.
    Is the kabookie a great choice ?
    Or what would you recommend.
    Thank’s

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