It dawned on me today after buying a new K2 Wayback 80 for summer use that I have never reviewed my 88s. I’ve owned 2 pairs of Wayback 88s and for several years it was the setup I used the most by a long shot. I’ve skied this stick in every type of snow you can imagine and skied my first pair to it’s full lifespan, so I’d like to think I have good overall insight on this model. Every spring I get dozens of messages from folk about what I think about this ski and over the years my impression has not changed, in general I view the K2 Wayback as a “dependable, predictable backcountry tool”.
Often people look at the Wayback 88 as a “spring only” ski due to how “skinny” it is. I remember a time when a 88 underfoot wasn’t considered skinny so I always kind of laugh when people tell me I can’t ski powder with a Wayback 88. That said, most modern skiers will find skiing deep powder with the 88 a lot more work than a floaty fat ski. If the pitch is steep or you can pick up speed the workload isn’t as bad in deeper snow. For example the last time I skied Aemmer Couloir was with the Wayback 88 in waist deep snow and it was a blast, meanwhile trying to ski the same depth on low angle terrain is near impossible, even for the best skiers.
The Wayback 88 has a slight and snappy early rise that gives great float and feedback in many conditions. The tail is stiff and snappy and can be used for precise maneuvers on everything from dropping complex pillow walls to jump smearing the side of a summer trail to control speed. On the flip side this ski will buck you when you do something wrong but it’s predictable and once you get to know the ski you will likely know in advance that you have made a bad move and are about to pay for it!
Light, Solid And Inexpensive
At 1200-1300g these sticks are pretty damn light for how solid they are and have a low price point of around $700. All things considered I think it would be hard to beat the value of these skis and it’s probably one reason you see lots of people on them. Jump turning in tight couloirs is as effortless as ripping a groomer and that’s a pretty deadly combo for those looking for limit how many skis they have in their closet.
My first pair of Wayback 88s lasted me around 300-350 days of skiing. If I was picky I probably would have retired them around 250 days as the last 50-100 the ski started to feel soft. Most skis I’ve had lasted about 25% less days on average, which made this one stand out as a great value ski. Most people I know ski 30-40 days a year so you’d be looking at many years of use.
Tool Not Toy
I very much see the K2 Wayback as a “dependable, predictable backcountry tool”. Dependable as they last long and can also take a wicked beating (I am not easy on gear, I ski over rocks in summer, I get a lot of core shots from rocky terrain, etc). Predictable as the snappy flex and stiff underfoot reacts to the conditions the same every time, AKA: once you get to know the ski it will be your own lack of reaction when you wipe out. I often use the word “tool” to first describe this ski because I view it as such, this one is for getting serious work done in the backcountry – smashing cornices, ski cutting, long and fast missions, bashing skin tracks in dense wind slab… but it’s not a toy. You aren’t going to want to grab the Wayback 88 to ski rolling deep powder… well, you aren’t… I sure as hell have learned to love it over the years 😉