They say the geniuses of the world wear the same thing every day. Eliminating that simple daily decision saves brainpower for what really matters. I’m not a genius, just a skier. But I also wear the same thing every time I ski. If it works and I feel good in it, I wear it. Sometimes it takes a full season to really get to know a ski or a jacket. So here are some tried and true thoughts about the things I wore and used most this winter, starting with skis.
Salomon Stella 106
If it has snowed within the last five days, I’m on the Stella 106, which is the women’s version of the QST 106 and one of our top skis of the year. Since powder days at ski resorts mean one run of fresh and untracked--if you’re lucky--I appreciate the Stella because it floats through the deep, and it also has the strength and the backbone to cut through tracked up crud. It’s a big ski, which gives me confidence, but it’s light enough that I can swing around tight turns easily.
Black Crows Camox
If high pressure has set in with a streak of sunny groomer mornings and slush bump afternoons, I pull out the Black Crows Camox. These skis were made for me in that a.) I like to ski fast and lean into my turns and b.) I also like to pop off little kickers and cat-track lips. Camber underfoot, a poplar wood core, plus carbon-Kevlar strips give this ski a ton of energy and stability. The Chamonix-based Black Crows are well known for high-altitude lines, but they also know how to have a damn good time on a spring day inbounds.
I don’t overthink ski poles. But that’s the beauty of Scott’s Team Issue Ski Poles. They’re straightforward, aluminum sticks with a decent sized powder basket and wrist straps that pop out if you’re in a pickle. Enough said.
Nordica GPX 105 W
Stiff ski boots that are small enough for my feet have always been a challenge. I’ve skied in Nordica’s GPX 105 W for almost two seasons now, and they’ve been a life saver. The 105 skis like a 120. They fit with hardly any boot work. And while ski boots are finnicky and a very personal decision, I’ve also known several other women who swear by these.
I love a good hardshell, but I skied in the insulated Flylow Daphne more than any other jacket this season because it was warm, slim fitting, and has great pockets and a deep hood. It’s super lightweight, though the material is delicate. Also, it’s a great jacket to wear around town.
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
My go-to mid-layer is the women’s Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody because it’s an expert at regulating temperature. Coreloft insulation lives in the torso, arms, and hood, with Polartec Power Stretch fabric side panels help the jacket stretch and breathe. It’s synthetic--so it’s warm, even in an atmospheric river--and slim enough to layer under every jacket I own.
Dakine Beretta Bibs
Women’s bibs are having a renaissance. There are a ton of good options out there for ladies who want a drop seat for easy-access squatting in the backcountry. Flylow nailed it with their Foxy Bib. But so did Dakine. The Beretta bib is a tad more slim fitting, and therefore has a bit more style. Gore-tex, crossed-back suspenders, articulated knees, and well-placed kangaroo pockets on the chest made the Beretta a winner.
The merino baselayers from Patagonia are a few seasons old, and while they aren’t on the current roster, I hope they make a comeback soon. They’re delicate, but warm. The comfort comes from being so lightweight and soft. They also truly don’t pick up any stench.
The midweight 250 crew from Smartwool has 100 percent merino wool, a long and slim fit, and shoulder panels that push the seams away from any backpack strap. Smartwool knows baselayers, and the midweight is their go-to staple. Which is understandable. It felt good in any weather condition--be it sunshine, frigid temps, or dumping pow. A full season of use and they still look and feel brand new.
Compression ski socks that don’t feel like you’re cutting off blood circulation, and are also easy to take off? Dissent makes my feet happy.
Smith Pivot helmet and I/O goggles
The Pivot helmet is a streamlined design with multi-impact protection--though the fit wasn’t dialed. The I/Os have been a staple for years now, and they win me over for the strap designs. (Look for Angel Collinson’s moon phases next year.)
Duckworth Knit Watchman Hat
This ribbed beanie from Duckworth is made with 100 percent Helle Rambouillet merino for bad hair days. Roll it up, pull it on, and walk out the door. It’s stretch has lasted for about a year’s worth of constant use.
Le neck sock
Hestra Moje CZone Mitt
My hands never wanted to leave this pair of Hestra mitts. Goat leather and a windproof, waterproof, breathable three-layer outer material make these things super durable. The white didn’t stay bright for long, but the Primaloft insulation held up. It has pockets for each finger, which I appreciated for giving me the organization of a glove with the warmth of a mitten. Be sure to attach the wrist straps--I’d lose so many gloves on chairlifts if it weren’t for that piece of elastic. Also, these mitts fit well under the cuff.
Forsake Patch Boots
Not quite a sneaker, not quite a snowboot, the Forsake Patch are just right. An afternoon of après is that much sweeter when you have a comfortable, waterproof shoe to slip your foot in after wearing ski boots all day.
Justin’s Peanut Butter
A snack I don’t ski without, these little pouches of peanut butter--or almond butter with maple syrup--are the best fuel for skiing ever invented.