I have a love-hate relationship with the hellbent. These skis are the most playful skis I've ever skied and float beautifully in even the deepest of snow, even at slow speed. This is due to their soft flex and high rocker profile, combined with a rediculously big tip. While this is fun in consistent deep snow, it has quite a few drawbacks once things get tracked. The aforementioned characteristics that allow it to be so fun in deep pow at slow speeds cause the ski to get bucked really hard any time you find yourself in chunder or crud. Also, at high speeds in heavy powder, the ski's high rocker profile pushes against the snow and slows you down. The hellbent was a super fun ski, but it's not the most high performance. That's why I'm thinking about switching to night trains or caylors, which have a similar underfoot profile, but a more slimmed-down, streamlined sidecut, and a long, but much lower rocker and a stiffer flex, which would fix all the things I didn't like about this ski.
K2 designed the hellbent to be an extremely playful powder jib ski for buttering and skiing switch in deep untouched powder. It's designed as a more slow-speed ski and isn't so much of a charger. For this style of skiing, the ski is perfect and fills its role excellently. I would have liked something a little longer and stiffer, with a lower rocker profile and less tip splay to really ski aggressively and open things up. These were not the best chargers, but then again, that's not what they were designed for.
When I was skiing these, I was around 5'10" and 135 lbs. I skied the 179, which really measured closer to 183 or 184. They were a bit taller than me, but not much. This allowed them to have really good float, but still be manuverable. I think as a jib ski, 179 was kind of the perfect mounting spot, but if I was using these for bigger lines and larger cliffs, I would have gotten the 189 (or a different ski...)
The Hellbents were suprisingly soft. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being EP pros and 10 being solid concrete, I would say the tips and tails were around a 3, with the underfoot area closer to a 5. This flex makes them super fun and playful in deep untracked snow, but also allows them to get bucked around a lot once things get skied out.
I was astonished at how durable the bases on these bad boys were. On multiple occasions, I hit large rocks at relatively high speed and thought to myself, "oh that's definitely a core shot" and didn't even find the mark later. The topsheets were pretty prone to chipping, but that was purely cosmetic. The bases and sidewalls, aka the only things that matter for a ski's durability, held up beautifully.