For the past decade, K2 Snowboarding has been known for their creative designs. Whether tinkering with rocker profiles, which began with their updated Gyrator in 2007, or widths and outlines in recent models like the Cool Bean, Carve Air and Simple Pleasures, they’ve brought a different feel underfoot. I like the quiver mentality—different sleds for different days makes sense and breathes a bit of fresh air into my riding after a few decades onboard. I ride a Carve Air and Simple Pleasures regularly.
However, there’s one thing that was missing from K2’s lineup until recently: a true all mountain charger for heavier days. A stiff, snappy, ride that you can rely upon when pushing your comfort zone. That all changed when they dropped the Joy Driver in 2016.
Developed in conjunction with Pacific Northwest rippers Lucas Debari and Kael Martin, the Joy Driver is a directional, camber-dominant design with the right ingredients for high-speed boarding in all conditions. It quickly became a team favorite—you’ll see powder-first freestylers like Kael, Matt Belzile, Johnny Brady Jr, Kyle Miller and more aboard the board in media offerings this fall—pretty much anyone on the K2 team who likes to ride backcountry. And when I got my hands on a pre-release of the 17-18 model sized at 159cm this past February—they’ve got sizes ranging from 56-65—it became my go to deck for the rest of 2016-17.
With a relatively skinny waist, a bit of taper, and the bomber control that comes with camber underfoot, the Joy Driver let me roll the dice on Baker pillow lines and hold an edge with solid response when the snowpack was a little less forgiving. A stiff tail with just the right amount of kick gave confidence that it’d take some impact on landings and maintain stability through chopped-out runouts. When we went to Valdez, AK to fly with H2O Guides, it provided the perfect combination of directional float and a bit of early rise in the nose, which allowed for front-foot heavy acceleration down long Alaskan ramps. I never felt like the Joy Driver was getting squirrely at speed or looping out on landings. It just did what a snowboard was supposed to when riding fast on steep mountains.
The Joy Driver gets my nod of approval as a daily driver for those who like to ride steep powder and catch a bit of air, from resort laps to the backcountry.
The K2 Joy Driver retails for $649.95, comes in standard and wide versions, and is available at your local shop or directly from the K2 Snowboarding website.
About the reviewer:
Weight: 160 pounds
Boot size: 8
Riding style: fall line/freeride
Riding experience: 25 years, 60+ days per year
Typical board length: 156-159cm