Hello and welcome to my K2 Darko snowboard boots review.
In this review I will take a look at the Darko as freestyle snowboard boots.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the Darko a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how they compare with other freestyle boots.
Boots: K2 Darko
Price: $259 (USD recommended retail)
Other Uses: Casual All-Mountain
Flex Rating: Medium (5/10)
Flex Feel: Medium (4.5/10)
Rating Score: 83.1/100
Compared to other Freestyle Boots
Out of the 27 freestyle boots that I rated:
Overview of the Darko’s Specs
Check out the tables for the Darko’s specs and available sizes.
Freestyle or Casual All-Mountain
Lighter than normal
Traditional Lacing with internal Boa
Who are the Darko Most Suited to?
The Darko are best suited to anyone looking for a reasonably priced boot for riding freestyle park or for casual or intermediate all-mountain riding or all-mountain riding for lighter weight riders.
They pair best with softer flexing boards - around 3/10 to 4/10 flex ideally and up to 5/10 flex.
Good for most beginners, unless your quite lightweight and up to an advanced freestyle rider.
The Darko in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the Darko are capable of.
Boots: K2 Darko 2021
Size: 9.5 (US Men's Sizing)
Date: January 28, 2021
Snowing! Nice and fluffy too. And lots accumulated recently. -2°C (28°F) and -5°C (23°F) with wind. Perfect! Light winds 20kph (12mph).
24 hour snow: 16cm (6")
7 day snow: 66cm (26") - and that was the last 4 days.
On groomer: soft and nice.
Off groomer: plenty of fresh! Soft and nice for the most part with some icy patches underneath on steeper parts
Bindings angles: +15/-15
Board Demoed With: Lib Tech Terrain Wrecker 2021
Bindings Demoed With: Burton Malavita 2017
Outersole Length: 31.0cm (mondo 27.5cm)
Difference between Mondo & Outersole: 3.5cm
Backstay Height: 26.6cm
Rider Weight: 175lbs (79kg)
Boot Weight: 900 grams*
* Average of a sample of boots I weighed was 1006 grams, so a bit lighter than the average. Heaviest were 1320 grams and lightest were 740 grams.
They felt just that little bit less than medium, but pretty close to medium. 4.5/10 to 5/10 from my feel.
Width: On the narrower side. Not super narrow, but I found them on the narrower side of medium. Nothing that was too narrow for my regular width feet, but snug around the widest part of my foot.
True to Size?: I'm typically a 10 and rode these in 9.5s, because I find K2 10s borderline pack out too much after a while for me. The 9.5s feel too tight to start and I was yearning for the 10! The 10 definitely works for me for testing purposes, with the 9.5 being a little tight to start. But after heat molding and then riding for a while I felt like they would break in nicely. By the time I finished riding in them, I felt like they fit quite well. Think I need a 9.75 in K2 boots! So they are borderline true-to-size, borderline running half a size big.
High or Low Arch: They felt pretty good on the top of the foot. I usually get a little pressure on the top of my foot in most boots to start with and then that pressure eases with heat molding and after riding. The Darko had minimal pressure on the tops of my feet and only got better over time. So, I think they are fine for a higher arch. I don't have particularly high arches though, so I couldn't say for sure.
They aren't amazing at absorbing shock, but also not too bad. Definitely not as much as my Tactical ADVs, but those things are super cush. These were a little worse than the DC Mutiny I tested around a similar time but a little better than the Salomon Launch that I also tested at a similar time.
Really good board feel in these. The sole is soft and flexy and quite flat/quite low tread depth, so I predicted they would have good board feel and they proved it when getting out on snow.
Not quite as good for leaning into a big carve at speed as my control boots (Tactical ADV) but not too bad for their flex. A little better for quick maneuvering at slower speeds.
Really good adjustability. Traditional lace, so really good - and they also have a boa which works on a harness around the liner of the boot, which is really handy for cranking down the ankle on the fly, if anything feels like it needs tightening during the day - don't have to open the boot out to get that adjustment.
They weren't the most comfortable I've ridden in, but they were pretty good. No major pressure points or anything, but ideally would have liked a little more wiggle room for toes, in terms of side to side and up and down.
Let’s Break up this text with a Video
Not much heel lift, but there was a little there. For how snug they were and with that internal harness that wraps around the ankle, I expected something that would be as good as it gets or close, but there was more lift than I was expecting. That said, it wasn't much and nothing that I would likely notice when riding without paying particular attention to it.
These boots are fairly bulky, true to K2 form. If you need something low profile, these aren't that. If you don't need low profile, then it's a non-issue.
Sole quality actually seemed really decent for the price of boot. But the tread depth is low and as far as I can tell there's no rubber in there. The sole, IMO, is more focused on board feel than it is on traction, as you would expect from a typical freestyle boot.
Takes a bit to get in and out of these boots. Actually getting my foot in and out was pretty easy, especially considering how snug they were in the 9.5, but you've got traditional lacing to deal with (which has more good things than bad, IMO, but it does take a little longer to get in and out, and takes a bit more elbow grease than something like BOA).
Also the inner harness that's controlled by the boa takes a little bit to get lined up properly. But these certainly aren't deal breakers and things that you get used to pretty quickly.
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
Contribution to Final Score
TOTAL after normalizing
The Darko is a nice light freestyle boot, that comes with a friendly price tag and does a great job as a freestyle boot or a casual all-mountain boot, particularly well suited to boards with a 3/10 to 5/10 flex, IMO.
There's nothing super flashy about this boot that stands out as amazing, but there's nothing bad that stands out either.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you’re interested in learning more about the Darko, are ready to buy or want to research current prices and sizing availability, check out the links below.
If you want to see how the Darko compared to other freestyle boots, or want to check out some other options, check out the link below.
Hey Nate! I borrowed my buddy’s new Darkos all season after he decided he’d stick to skiing (boo) and liked them for weight, fit, stiffness, board feel, and the inner boa. What would you recommend if I wanted something similar but lower profile and dual boa? I won’t get multiple boots like I have multiple boards so this will have to do it all: from slow speed noodling on my NS Harpoon and Gnu Finest to high speed carves on a stiff old school camber board. Arbor Hemlocks with the first two and Union Force on the bomber. Maybe a tall order to cover all bases but what do you think?
Not sure there’s the perfect answer. I think ideally, you’d have a softer pair for the softer boards and a stiffer pair for the stiffer boards – but you can get away with something in the middle. I’d probably be more inclined to look at something around 6/10 to 7/10 flex to be a good middle ground for those boards, but I found the Darko more of a 4.5/10, bordering on 5/10. But if you wanted to go with that same kind of flex, but in a Dual Boa (and lower profiles), then something like:
– Vans Aura Pro – dual boa, low profile, really similar flex to the Darko (maybe a touch stiffer) – weighs more though. My weights for each was 900g (2lbs) for the Darko and 1140 grams (2lbs 8oz) for the Aura Pro. Also note that the two boas on the Aura Pro control the lower and upper sections of the outer boot and they just have a standard lacing harness on the liner
– Burton Swath Boa – same as Aura Pro in terms of how the dual boa functions and everything else mentioned above, but lighter – I weighed at 920g (2lbs 1oz)
– Burton Ruler Boa – as above – not as nice as the Swath Boa, but otherwise ticks the boxes. I haven’t weighed the Ruler BOA, but the Ruler (speed lace) I weighed, was only 820g (1lb 13oz). The Boas may make it a little heavier but can’t imagine it would make a massive difference
Those would be the closest I can think of but let me know if you would be interested in anything a little stiffer (in that 6/10 to 7/10 flex range).
Thanks, I would be interested in seeing what options there are that are a little stiffer like 6-7, knowing how much boots break in over time.
I also really do like that the boa on the Darko locks down the ankle internally, but maybe that’s not a common feature. It’s great to be able to loosen up a little during lunch break and lock it back down without actually undoing knots and getting in there.
Quite a few models with the internal boa feature, but not usually accompanied with boa for the outer boot. Usually with traditional lacing for the outer boot. There are a couple of triple BOA models out there, but they’re stiffer options (Ride Trident and K2 Thraxis come to mind – 8/10 and 9/10 flex).
Some other options that are trad lace for outer boot, with that internal boa, include:
– Salomon Launch Lace Boa (5/10 flex – not as low profile as some, but more low profile than the Darko) – a little heavier than the Darko, from my weighing, but not by much (960g)
– Salomon Dialogue Lace Boa (6/10 flex – same as Launch in terms of profile) – a little heavier again versus the Launch (1040g)
– Ride Fuse – but stiffer than what you’re probably after – more like 8/10 flex (960g)
– Ride Anchor – not one that I’ve ridden, so not sure about profile, but Ride tend to be smaller profile – not sure about flex, but Ride rates it a 7/10. Ride boots tend to be on the lighter side.
– K2 Ender (6/10 flex – but not low profile – around 1080g from what I measured 2020 model)
Some other low profile Dual Boa options in that 6/10 to 7/10 range, include:
– Adidas Response ADV (6/10 flex) – really low profile, 1080g
– Burton Photon Boa (6.5/10 flex) – good footprint reduction, 940g
– Thirty Two TM Two Double Boa (7/10 flex) – smaller footprint than average, 1040g
– K2 Maysis (7/10 flex) – this one actually does have the internal boa, but only one boa that tigthens the whole outer boot. So you get the advantage of that internal boa, but less adjustability in terms of tightening the outer boot. Not low profile either – but quite light – 960g.
Awesome, thank you. This is super helpful!
You’re very welcome AMac.
Hey Nate, total brain fart on my part. I started digging into the Dialogue SJ Lace Boa *because of your recommendation here*…then forgot about it and asked you about it again today in that item’s review page. Super duh. Please disregard that Q and don’t bother posting that one or this note. You have given me all the info I needed with the well crafted replies above. I’ll dive in with the Dialogue and hope I guess the size right!