The Alchemist and the Excavator are two of K2’s most popular boards. The two boards have a lot in common; they are both in K2’s Landscape collection, which is a series of direction boards designed to be ridden all over the mountain; they are both great boards for carving and for riding powder. However, there are a few small differences between the boards that make a big difference in how they ride and which kind of rider they are suited to.
These two boards can do everything, from carving on piste to deep powder days to the occasional lap through the park. So what makes them so good, and how are they different from each other?
Both boards have a directional shape with a longer nose than tail created by a 2cm setback in the stance.
They both have a tapered shape meaning the nose is wider than the tail. This helps create float in powder by letting the tail sink down while the nose rides up. However, the Excavator has a ton more taper, with 20mm compared to 6mm on the Alchemist.
The big difference in the shape of the two boards is that the Excavator is a Volume Shift board. This means it is a shorter and wider version of the Alchemist. The shorter length makes it easier to turn, whilst the extra width keeps maintains the surface area of the board and still keeps it afloat in powder.
Both boards have traditional reverse camber profiles between the bindings, meaning both boards rise up in the center between bindings and touch down at the tip and tail contact points.
In the nose, both boards have early rocker that lifts the nose up out of the snow. This is great for powder, although the Excavator will rise up a little more thanks to its greater amount of taper. On hardpack, the rocker lifts the longer nose of both boards off the snow, giving the boards a more balanced, twin feel.
So not much to separate them here!
Flex is another area where the two boards differentiate themselves, and this comes from the construction.
The Alchemist is a super stiff board with a rating of 9/10, whereas the Excavator has a softer flex at 7/10. This comes down to the
Underneath, both boards have a high-grade, WFO sintered base that runs super fast, holds wax well, and is tough enough to withstand a few rocks.
How the riding compares?
As we have discovered, there are a lot of similarities between the two boards. They have the same kind of directional shape, and both are camber boards with rocker in the nose.
The main differences between the two boards is that the Excavator has a volume shift shape with more taper from the nose to the tail and the Alchemist has a stiffer flex. So let’s see how this affects the riding.
Both boards are an awesome ride all over the mountain. The camber profile of both boards gives it a nice pop out of the turns and for carving. The early rocker in the nose of both boards shortens the effective edge length making it easy to initiate turns, and reduces the chances of you catching your edge.
Both board cut through chopped up snow really well, but they handle this in different ways; the Alchemist has a stiffer flex which makes it less likely that you’ll get bumper around. Plus it rides in a longer length so the extra nose will cut through variable snow. The stiff, cambered flex also make this board of of the best carving boards out there.
The Excavator has a volume shifted shape so it rides in a shorter length with less nose. However, its nose is super wide so it also handles variable snow really well. The softer flex makes it a little easier to turn at low speed or to link up quick turns if you are riding in the trees.
Although neither of these boards a park boards, they are both versatile enough to take a couple of laps through the park once you tracked-out all the powder.
That said, I definitely preferred the Alchemist, especially for hitting jumps bigger jumps where its stiffer flex felt really stable. Although I didn’t get a chance to ride the Alchemist in the pipe I bet it rips! The Excavator’s tapered shape feels a little sketchy when riding switch but is still fine for straight airs and 360s on smaller features
Both these boards are amazing in the powder! But in slightly different ways
The Excavator is one of my favorite boards in the pow! Its large amount taper makes the nose naturally float up, and its softer flex makes it super nimble and great for tight turns in the trees. The only draw back with this volume shift shape is that shorter length may make it feel a little sketchy for landing drops into deep snow or really charging in open powder fields
The stiffer Alchemist is more stable at high speeds and easliy plows through chopped up snow but is a little harder to ride at low speeds and in tight situations.
Which one would I choose?
This is a tricky question…in an ideal world I would take both but ride each one on different types of terrain.
For me the Excavator is more suited to mellow terain where you can be a little more playful with your riding.
When things get a little more serious I would go for the stiffer flex of the Alchemist.
So I would say that it kind of depends on what kind of rider you are; For more harder-charging more advanced riders I would suggest the Alchemist. For more playful riders who just want to have fun on the hill I would go for the Excavator.
Both boards are in K2’s unisex range, with a larger range of sizing between 142cm and 162 in the Excavator and 154 to164 in the Alchemist that also has a couple of wide versions.