Introducing a new section to the First Chair blog: “What We Use.” Here, Skiershop employees weigh in with their thoughts on the gear they use, as well as other helpful tips to get the most out of your day on the hill. For today’s What We Use, we talked with Skiershop vet, Mike Thomas.
Q: What is your favorite ski and why?
A: The Blizzard Bonafide. For skiing here at Stowe, it offers unparalleled versatility. It handles hard snow really well, but then it’s nimble and quick in the trees. I can ski it all over the mountain and I know it will respond well whether I’m carving a GS turn or cruising a bump run. Having camber under foot gives the ski great edge hold when it’s icy but the rocker in the tip and tail help you smear some turns when we get fresh snow.
Q: How do you feel about AT bindings vs. Alpine bindings? Do you have a preference?
A: I don’t like AT bindings. I don’t like the stack height off the ski and I think they eventually develop a little bit of play. I try to keep my AT skis AT skis and my alpine skis alpine skis. I understand when people want to have a setup that does both, you just need to understand the compromises your making. For skiing touring it’s a necessity, but for skiing lift access, I prefer not to make compromises. In terms of alpine bindings, I really like the Look Pivots and the Rossi FKS. They’re relatively light for how durable they are. The elastic travel, the retention, is incredible; they hold you in the ski very well, but do a good job releasing when you need them too. I find that I can use a lower DIN setting than most other bindings.
Q: What do you look for in boots when you’re thinking about getting a new pair?
A: Well I’m a boot fitter so my feet always hurt, like the story of the cobbler’s son. It can be really tough to find a balance between comfort and performance. I ski in a Dalbello Krypton now, and with the Intuition liner, they give warmth and comfort, as well as performance. I really like they way they grip my foot, but comfort isn’t always on the top of my list. The Intuition liner helps make the fit a little more comfortable, without sacrificing any of the performance.
Q: Gloves or mittens?
A: Gloves. I don’t like mittens. I unbuckle my boots pretty much every lift ride, so I need the dexterity that I just don’t get from a mitten. As far as gloves go, Hestra makes phenomenal product. I think that the quality of the leather they use and some of the little things they do, especially with the seams, is pretty cool. They do a great job keeping your hands warm and dry, even when you’re working up a sweat.
Q: What do you to to keep your face warm?
A: I grow a beard.
Q: What the most important part of your body to keep warm and how do you do it?
A: Keeping your core warm is so important because as long as it stays warm, it helps keep your extremities warm as well. Personally, I’m all about layering. I don’t like insulated jackets very much because I like to be able to tailor my outerwear to the particular day. As a result, I like the flexibility of a shell and being able to layer with a down jacket or other mid-layers underneath. When you’re actually skiing you generate a lot of heat and get sweaty as a result; this can make for some pretty cold chair rides. One of the ways I avoid this is by using extremely breathable outerwear. I’m wearing Mountain Hardwear clothes that feature their DRY.Q technology, which is probably the most breathable gear I’ve ever used.
Q: In terms of goggles, can I get one lens that will do it all, or do I really need to get different goggles for different days.
A: I think here in the East you can use a lowlight goggle, something that will boost contrast, for almost any day. However, it’s nice to have at least two lenses. Something like the Smith I/O is great because it’s so easy to switch between a Sensor and an Igniter lens. You can swap them out right in the parking lot in about 60 seconds.
Q: What is the most important article of clothing for any après ski event.
A: Pants. People that were their base layer to the bar: you look silly.