The Kabookie Bids Adieu
A sad bit of news I unfortunately have to report following the WWSRA demo at Mammoth Mountain is word the Kabookie will not return for the 2015-2016 season. As the metal-free version of Blizzard's smash-hit Bonafide, the Kabookie's niche was always precarious: a little too heavy by modern touring standards, yet also a little too light in the eyes of Alpine skiers.
Consequently the Kabookie had a hard time finding an audience. In contrast, there was no such hesitation with regard to the Bonafide; the ski industry and the ski-buying public embraced the Bonafide as a modern, GS-based alternative to Volkl's venerable Mantra, a best-of-breed All Mountain masterpiece.
The Bonafide's acclaim and popularity were absolutely deserved, but I'll tell you a secret: the Kabookie was the better ski. I've owned both and skied both extensively. The Kabookie gave us the best of the Bonafide in a lighter, snappier, feistier package. Without the full metal jacket, it was subtly softer, and that modest difference made it less vulnerable to "flip-core" rocker's tendency to aft-balance the ski.
Did the Kabookie suffer for lack of metal? Not in the least. The ski still had a metal plate beneath boot and binding which gave it effectively the same hard-snow edge grip. As ski design continues to evolve, we are learning that full-length metal layers don't really make sense in today's All Mountain skis, save for true Big Mountain riders (a niche the Bonafide was never targeting in the first place).
I initially bought the Kabookie as a touring ski on basically a whim and an SIA-demo memory. I soon discovered the ski was massively versatile—better than anything else I'd ever tried not just for All Mountain touring but for in-bounds skiing as well. I've since added another pair to my collection, so that I have one mounted with Dynafits and one with Look Pivots.
A testimony to just how good the Kabookie actually was comes in the form of the 2015-2016 Bonafide: it has been redesigned to make it more like the Kabookie. I would argue if Blizzard had merely repainted the Kabookie red, and stamped it "Bonafide," the ski would be dominating next Fall's best-of lists across the ski media landscape.
But that's another story. For now, you can still get the Kabookie, and if you're in the market for a true All Mountain carver, you'll be hard pressed to find better. Yes, the Kabookie will be reborn in 2016 as a light carbon tourer, the "Zero G", but my initial impressions of the new Bonafide (which is also carbon-infused) were mixed, to say the least. Farewell Kabookie!
Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents