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K2 Recon 120 Review

A great intermediate ski boot that is light on the feet and on the wallet
K2 Recon 120
Credit: K2
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Price:  $500 List | $382.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable last width, inexpensive
Cons:  Powerstrap is hard to operate with gloves, can be cold
Manufacturer:   K2
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 22, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Comfort - 30% 7.0
  • Performance - 30% 6.0
  • Materials & Durability - 20% 7.0
  • Warmth - 10% 7.0
  • Features - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The K2 Recon 120 is a great ski boot for an intermediate skier, and comes at a bargain price. We are impressed by the medium volume shape, which fit many testers' feet well right out of the box. When you pull it on, it is immediately apparent that the Powerlight shell is much lighter than any other boot we tested. That weight savings translated well into on-hill performance and enjoyment. Skiers looking for a stiffer boot that will help them drive big skis, or seeking more power and control will likely be more interested in something with a 130 flex. But if you're an intermediate skier who doesn't want the stiffest boot around, this is a great option.

K2 updated the colors of this season's Recon 120 but the design and performance remain the same as the model we tested.
October 2021

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Pros Lightweight, comfortable last width, inexpensiveEasy to customize, stiff consistent flex, quick-release cam power strap, very warmComfortable, easy instep, variable last ideal for larger feetExcellent medium volume fit, liner, buckles, downhill performanceComfortable, consistent flex, Grip Walk outsoles, reasonable price
Cons Powerstrap is hard to operate with gloves, can be coldExpensive, requires a strong, aggressive skierSoft flex, low performanceThin tongue on liner, soft rubber soles wear easilyLower performing, not much for extra features
Bottom Line A great intermediate ski boot that is light on the feet and on the walletWhen you want a boot that can drive any ski in any condition, look no furtherThis comfortable boot is easy to get on and off with plenty of room and variability for most foot shapesA high-performance boot in all conditions across the mountain, ideal for expert skiersThese boots offer consistent and progressive flex for the advancing skier looking to step into a top-notch alpine boot at a fair price
Rating Categories K2 Recon 120 Tecnica Mach1 MV 130 Dalbello Panterra 1... Lange RX 120 Atomic Hawx Prime 1...
Comfort (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Performance (30%)
6.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
Materials & Durability (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Warmth (10%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Features (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
5.0
Specs K2 Recon 120 Tecnica Mach1 MV 130 Dalbello Panterra 1... Lange RX 120 Atomic Hawx Prime 1...
Available Widths LV (98mm)
MV (100mm)
LV (98mm)
MV (100mm)
HV (103mm)
100-102mm (variable) RX LV (97mm)
RX (100mm)
LX (102mm)
Hawx Ultra (98mm)
Hawx Prime (100mm)
Hawx Magna (102mm)
Available Flexes 90, 100, 120, 130, 140 110, 120, 130 90, 100, 120, 130 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130
What We Tested MV (100mm)
120 Flex
MV (100mm)
130 Flex
100-102mm (variable)
130 Flex
RX (100mm)
120 Flex
Hawx Prime (100mm)
130 Flex
Walk Mode? No No Yes No No
Number of Buckles 4 4 4 4 4
Buckles Microadjustable? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight (per boot, size 27.5) 3 lb 12 oz 4 lb 3 oz 3 lb 12 oz 4 lb 12 oz 4 lb
Boot Sole Length (size 27.5) 314 mm 315 mm 318 mm 316 mm 315 mm
Liner Thermo-Moldable? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Binding Compatibility DIN Gripwalk/Alpine Gripwalk/Alpine DIN Gripwalk/Alpine
Shell Material POWERLITE TPU PU DB Hyperlite ET/PU PU

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


K2 Recon 120 ski boots - the recon 120 was not outmatched by these big mountain black diamond...
The Recon 120 was not outmatched by these big mountain Black Diamond Boundary 115 skis, whether in soft or chopped up conditions.
Credit: Chris Orozco

Comfort


The Recon 120 is a slightly softer boot than the expert-advanced oriented Recon 130. Our initial impressions putting the boots on out of the box were that they are quite comfortable, even verging on roomy. The Recon MV is a medium volume last, which, at 100 millimeters, felt wider than even some 102-millimeter boots in our review. This was especially apparent in the toe box area, where our lead tester, who typically wears a 100 to 101-millimeter last width boot, felt the excessive space the most.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - the buckles can all be micro-adjusted. they stay close to the boot...
The buckles can all be micro-adjusted. They stay close to the boot, keeping a low profile.
Credit: Chris Orozco

This size 27.5 pair also felt slightly long for their size, leading to a roomier fit that we seek out in an alpine boot. An experienced boot fitter should be able to add padding or shims to take up the volume if you are between sizes like our lead tester is. Once properly fitted, this boot is easy to pull on and remove. Its shell overlap is less stiff than other models, making it easier to take off in cold temperatures. The included insole offered enough support for testers without pronounced arches, but our lead tester found the need for aftermarket insoles to make the boot supportive.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - one of only a few complaints we have about the recon 120 is that its...
One of only a few complaints we have about the Recon 120 is that its power strap is difficult to use. We wish it was easier to tighten when you're wearing big gloves.
Credit: Chris Orozco

Performance


One of the most noticeable attributes of the Recon 120 is its light weight. With a single boot weight of only 3.8 pounds, it is nearly a pound lighter per foot than many other options on the market. While weight is certainly an issue when ski touring, it is not as much of a concern when riding lifts at the resort. That said, shaving a pound off each foot left us with noticeably more energy at the end of a long ski day. The lighter weight boot also allows for a more playful style of skiing. It allowed us to swing the skis around much more fluidly, especially in short-radius turns. This works because they weigh less, but do not suffer a dramatic loss of stiffness that can be associated with lighter boots.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - the recon's 120 flex allows for powerful turns, making this a boot...
The Recon's 120 flex allows for powerful turns, making this a boot that both intermediate and expert skiers alike will appreciate.
Credit: Chris Orozco

The Recon 120 is stiff enough to compete with most of the other 120 flex boots in our review, but, in our tests, it was not as consistent as others. In heavy, off-piste crud, it did not have the predictable, steady flex that some other boots in the 120 flex range offer.

We think this boot is more appropriate for an intermediate skier because we can overpower them while driving a big ski in challenging conditions. This boot would not do well if competing against a proven big mountain charger like the Tecnica Mach1. But it doesn't need to. The Recon offers dependable performance in most on-piste conditions and can handle some off-piste conditions, making it suitable for many resort skiers.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - whether you choose the 12 or the 14 degree forward lean, the recon...
Whether you choose the 12 or the 14 degree forward lean, the Recon 120 promotes an upright skiing stance.
Credit: Chris Orozco

Materials & Durability


It will take long-term testing to see whether or not the lighter weight Powerlite shell material will lose any stiffness over time. But, during our testing, we did not experience any noteworthy issues indicating that the Recon 120 will have significant durability issues. The Ultralon liners feel hearty and resistant to packing out quickly, and the materials used are high quality.

Warmth


The Ultralon liner used in the Recon 120 is high quality, resistant to packing out, and warm in most cold conditions. We did notice our feet getting colder than in other boots on really chilly days riding the lifts, even though we had plenty of circulation. The thinner material in the shell and liner may have something to do with this, but it only happened a few times. It helped that our feet are not as crammed in as in other more performance-fitted boots and our toes have some wiggle room. The liners are ready to receive an aftermarket boot warmer such as Hotronics.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - on the coldest storm skiing days, our feet did get cold while riding...
On the coldest storm skiing days, our feet did get cold while riding the lifts, perhaps due to the thinner shell material and liner that helps these boots shed weight on the scales.
Credit: Chris Orozco

Features


The Recon 120 has well-conceived features that allow for a customizable fit. The shell offers a canting adjustment to optimize lateral alignment, and a simple plastic wedge gives skiers the option to choose between a 12-degree and 14-degree forward lean. Four buckles with micro-adjustments secure the shell, and a 45-millimeter wide Power Cinch power strap provides additional stability around the cuff.

While the power strap is adequate, the buckle closure is difficult to operate with gloved hands. It's not nearly as user-friendly as straps that close with velcro. The included alpine soles are replaceable, and can also be interchanged with alpine rockered soles that are compatible with Marker Grip Walk type bindings.

Value


This boot is a good bargain, especially considering its lightweight and reasonable features. Because the Recon 120 has an accommodating last width that can fit lots of foot types, and offers enough downhill performance that many resort skiers will find it appealing, we think it provides an excellent value.

K2 Recon 120 ski boots - the k2 recon handles choppy snow conditions well and its progressive...
The K2 Recon handles choppy snow conditions well and its progressive flex is predictable.
Credit: Chris Orozco

Conclusion


It is not very often that an alpine ski boot, especially one in a moderate price range, makes a big leap forward. Cutting weight by nearly 25% when compared with other contenders in this flex category, the Recon is light on the feet as well as on the wallet. It is capable in many conditions but is outmatched by the most challenging inbounds conditions. This combination of factors makes it a perfect choice for the solid intermediate skier looking for a medium volume boot at a value price.

Ryan Huetter
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