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

2017-2018 K2 Catamaran

After spending more time on K2’s all-new asymmetrical Catamaran, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: it’s the culmination of everything I’ve always wanted K2’s jibby pow skis to be. I’ve owned the Hellbent, Obsethed, and Shreditor 112, and spent time on the Petitor and Shreditor 102. The Catamaran feels like it takes the best characteristics and potential from those skis and chisels them into a more intuitive, versatile package.

Historically, K2’s pow skis have been heavy, and they’ve felt heavy, especially in the air. The 120mm-wide Catamaran feels lighter and quicker than the much narrower (112 mm) Shreditor 112. Off drops and lips, it feels much lighter than any ~120mm-wide ski I’ve been on, and weight-wise, it feels most similar in the air to the Moment Deathwish, a pretty light 112mm-underfoot ski.

Historically, K2’s jibby pow skis have been soft. The Hellbent jibbing shots in IDEA have inspired many a young skier to buy super buttery planks, only to find that they’re quite hard to ski fast in variable snow if you don’t ski like Pep Fujas.

The Catamaran takes that soft, playful flex pattern and stiffens it up just a touch, making the ski much more versatile at the expense of just the tiniest bit of butter-ability.

In the past, K2’s playful pow skis have also had a lot of rocker, which has compromised their all-mountain performance. The Catamaran has a decent amount of traditional camber underfoot, but I never found it to have trouble planing up in deep snow, slashing, or surfing, and on groomers and in variable snow, I really appreciated the added bite of its camber.

So how did K2 pull this off? How did the Catamaran take my favorite parts from K2’s old skis and unleash more of their potential, while also making the ski more approachable and versatile? It would be easy to point fingers at their outlandish asymmetrical shape, and I’m sure that’s some of the cause. But the Catamaran presents too potent an overall package to be regulated to the cubby of “creative and niche ideas in skiing that are just a touch too different, and thus should be disregarded.”

Deep, Fresh Powder

I won’t rub it in too much, but my first few days on the Catamaran had pretty perfect conditions to review a 120 mm powder ski. Targhee’s been getting a bunch of mid-sized storms this year, and I was blessed with many nearly untracked runs. In this sort of snow, the Catamaran is incredible. It floats very well, and while I was worried the 184 cm version would be too short for me, I never got the tips to dive, and its short length makes it very easy to slash and pivot. A lot. More than I ever have before. It’s just much than the Hellbent in this respect, and it feels a lot lighter doing it, I was significantly less fatigued after each run.

Cy Whitling reviews the K2 Catamaran for Blister Gear Review.

Cy Whitling on the K2 Catamaran, Grand Targhee, WY. (photo by: Julia Tellman)

In tighter terrain I couldn’t believe how quick this ski felt. It’s so easy to pivot that I found myself slashing stashes I would have considered as too tight in the past. In fresh snow and tight trees, I can think of no other ski that’s this quick and easy. It doesn’t sink and get bogged down, and it’s very easy to slash in tight spaces.

Tracked Powder

Here, in more wide-open situations, the Catamaran’s taper and soft flex start to show a little more. It’s still very, very fun, but if you like to rage, attacking the mountain in chopped-up snow, the Catamaran is not the ski for you. It prefers to play, pop, and jib through chopped up snow, instead of charging hard. That said, it is more stable and open to charging than the Hellbent.

In tighter situations, the Catamaran’s maneuverability means you’re skiing untracked powder longer. I was skiing stands of trees so tight that no one else had ventured in, and still having a blast, thanks to the Catamaran’s quickness and agility.

In the Air

The Catamaran is very fun in the air. The swing weight feels very low, lighter than narrower skis like the ON3P Kartel 116  or the Shreditor 112. I swapped between runs from the Catamaran to the Sego Big Horn 106, and found that they felt similar in terms of swing weight.

On spins I found that, just like the K2 Marksman, the very tapered tips and tails give you a lot of leeway. It’s easy to land 20 or 30° off from your intended spin with the Marksman and swivel the rest of the way once you’ve landed. Reverts to and from switch are similarly easy. I’m not good at spinning, but the Catamaran made me feel a lot better at it that any other ski has.

I did find myself washing out the tails on bigger landings, something I’ll get into later in the review.

Firm Conditions

These are not skis for going fast in firm snow. If you like to pick your way down the mountain taking smaller airs, buttering rollers, and finding tranys, the Catamaran is fun. If you like to open it up though, you’re on the wrong ski. The tips get floppy quickly, the taper makes itself very apparent, and the ski has an obvious speed limit. I would, however, be interested to see if / how much better the 190 cm version performs any better in these conditions.

On clean groomers, it’s possible to lay down powerful turns on the Catamaran; its camber bites well, and you can go fast if you maintain a centered stance. But, as I said before, if you’re looking for a ski to rage in firm conditions on, this is very obviously not your ski.

Mount Point, Length, Etc.

5 Comments

  1. Cody March 21, 2017 Reply

    Hey Cy, can you describe your height/weight and skiing ability/style? I’m about 5’8″ and 175 and am not sure if I should size up from 179 to 184 on this ski or not? I have some 178 Bent-Chetlers and some 185 Opuses so would hate to make the wrong choice (either way too long OR too short). Having a little info about your height etc may help as a reference point. I looked through the article a few times looking for that info, my apologies if it is there and I somehow missed it. These skis sound amazing! Great review!

    • Cy Whitling March 21, 2017 Reply

      Hey Cody,

      You can find my info in my bio (http://blistergearreview.com/contributor-bios/cy-whitling) I’m 6′ 180-ish lbs.

      Given that you’re skiing both 179 Bent Chetlers and 185 Opuses I think you’d probably be fine on either size Catamaran. It’s a much less chargy ski than the Bent Chetler, so you could definitely get away with upsizing, especially if you’ve been enjoying your Opus.

      Really I’d say it depends on what you want out of the ski. The longer version is not going to be as quick / manoeuvrable for you, given your height, but I’d wager it’s as easy / playful as your 185 Opus, if not more so.

      But if you want to get really jibby (and if you’re skiing tighter terrain) the 179 should be great, it just won’t be as stable.

      • Cody March 21, 2017 Reply

        Hey, thanks for the quick reply! I had looked around for a bio but only found more articles! I go through Driggs sometimes on my way to Jackson or Grand Targhee. I’m in Bozeman, so it’s good to know that this review is also based off of similar terrain and conditions that I would encounter.

  2. Blister Member
    Ted Copper April 11, 2017 Reply

    Hi, thanks for the review. I’ve had for three seasons both the 179 (actual pull 180) and the 189 (191) Pettitor 120, love them, and am very interested finding out more with the longer 190 Catamaran. But it sounds like the Catamaran is softer in the middle than the stiff-in-the-middle Pettitor.

    If you’ve skied either of those much, I’d love your comparisons.

    The one drawback to the Pettitors, for me, is their weight. But there’s lots to like.

    I’m 145-150 lbs/5’10”, Schizo mount both – the 179, usually @ -1 1/2 (for directional fore/aft stability in variable/uneven) and the 189 usually @ +2 1/2 to +3 1/2 (more chargy) to +4 or even +4 1/2 (more turny).

    I find the shorter 179 ski to be more playful but chargeable, fun. More like your description of the 184 Catamaran, maybe, but stiffer?

    Even better, the longer 189 ski is for me a real crud buster/fast charger standout. In pow or on groomers. It holds a sharpened edge at speed, very well. The longer ski mounted so forward I find much more stable than the shorter, but both fun.

    I am a more directional skier, so only the longer one might fit me. Thanks for your great review!

    • Cy Whitling April 14, 2017 Reply

      Hmmm. I can’t really speak to the Pettitor but getting on a 190 Catamaran is a top priority for me next year. I’m a huge fan of the 184 but am really intrigued by the idea of an extra 6 cm on this ski…

      It sounds to me like replacing the 179 Pettitor with the 184 Catamaran might be a really good choice for you. It will probably be even more playful, and then you’ll still have the 189 Pettitor for when you want to ski fast in more variable snow.

      Hope that helps!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*