K2 Annex 98 (2014)
Increasingly testers count on K2 for soft-snow fun and accessible performance. The new Annex delivers. As with the Shreditor, Quickness and Forgiveness (No. 5 for both) are its most appealing qualities. But it's a more traditional, "directional" design, meant for going forward, with a shade more stability and hard-snow versatility. Other skis had more rebound or edginess, but testers admired its enthusiasm, giving it high Balance of Skills and Overall Impression rankings. Hogen: "Not the highest performance, but nearly perfect for most skiers."
The new Annex 98 picks up where the long-running and highly successful HardSide model left off, with the same versatile 98-mm waist width that's equally at home in deep powder or on hardpack. It's identical in construction to the Annex 108 (metal-reinforced aspen/paulownia/maple core), just narrower, with a slightly tighter turn radius. K2's Powder Rocker combines 50 percent traditional camber (underfoot) with 50 percent rocker (tip and tail) for ultimate deep-powder surfiness and enough hard-snow carvability to get you back to the lift. Tapering beyond the widest points of the sidecut make the tip and tail loose and smeary in deep snow, for quick direction changes and speed control. K2 splits its six-model Freeride collection into two groups: Directional (the new Annex models) and Bi-Directional (the new Shreditor models). The Annex models are more traditionally powerful. With flat tails and conventional sidecut waisting, they're not meant for backward skiing, like the Shreditors. They range in width from 98 mm up to 118. All are K2 Hybritech constructions (sturdy vertical sidewall underfoot for edge grip, lightweight cap fore and aft for supple flex). All come equipped with tip and tail grommets that accept K2 climbing skins for backcountry touring.
|Level||Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, Hi-Expert|
|Awards||Gold Medal Gear|
|Lengths||170, 177, 184, 191|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||3.25 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||2.95 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||2.97 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||3.37 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||3.46 / 5|
|Rating: Flotation||3.19 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.16 / 5|