Originally Posted by dlince
Hi all -
I am struggling with whether to buy Bushwackers vs Bonafides, and after seeing some good posts on here about this topic, wanted to get the community's advice.
The crux of the issue: Last season was my first entire season skiing in Tahoe (Western US). I grew up skiing in Eastern US, so the Bushwackers with their narrower underfoot were more immediately comfortable, but I never had a chance to test the Bones in the powder. Even though I liked the Bushwackers a lot more, I've had a few folks say I should go for the Bones and force myself to get more comfortable with them, since I'm now in the West. I'm just worried about turning them on moguls and trees...
Thoughts? Answers to the key questions here:
Where in the world are you skiing?
Vast majority of time in Tahoe (Western US). One trip a year to Colorado and to Utah.
What kinds of terrain do you prefer (groomed runs, moguls, race course, park'n'pipe, trees, steeps, backcountry/sidecountry)
All except park'n'pipe and backcountry.
Generally, my goal is to push myself, so for that I'm hitting the trees, steeps and moguls, or going faster on groomers.
On groomers, I tend to go for speed, but will occasionally like to do some tight turns on the side.
Not doing formal racing anymore.
How many days a year do you ski?
Hoping for 20 this year
How advanced are you as a skier?
Expert. Although this season I'm coming in out of shape.
What's your height and weight?
6'1.5" (186cm), 172 lbs (78 kg)
Since you like the Bushwacker and want something wider, seems like an obvious solution would be to check out the Kabookie (more on that below).
If you didn't like the Bonafide in bumps and trees, but you like the Bushwacker, it is likely more than a width difference! One is quite stiff, very stiff actually, the other one quite soft. These skis are not too similar. Just flexing them on the wall makes that apparent. Most of the flex you are getting out of the Bonafide is already built into the ski: on the BW, you are doing the flexing via your boot. As a rule, a stiffish ski like the Bonafide with a stout tail is going to be tough to ski in bumps, especially if you aren't super comfortable in bumps to start with. Same with trees: if you get just a little tentative, a ski such as the Bonafide, with such a powerful tail, can make you even more tentative. I have skied both of these skis a bunch, and you have around 15lbs on me, which isn't a lot. I found the Bonafide to be a great big open ski, tons of stability, but similar to the Mantra for me, in that it works me over in the bumps, and has a small sweet spot for lighter skiers. The Bushwacker is much more comfortable for me in bumps and trees: I can ski pretty aggressively there on it, whereas the Bonafide is kicking my butt in the bumps. Kevin, who is an excellent bump skier (grew up skiing Killington) would tell you the same. He owns both, takes the BW into the bumps, and leaves the Bonafide at home if he is going to ski bumps.
If you were just ripping open terrain, I would say look at the Bonafide; it has always skied like a typical Western big mountain ski for me. For what you describe, it sound like it is too stiff. I am really wary of anyone saying "just get a ski and deal with it". Sounds like a great way to be in the market for a replacement ski in a few months.
Since you like the Bushwacker, the Kabookie is the obvious choice. It is what I ski for the conditions you describe! It is a bit stiffer than the BW, but not a ton, and quite a bit more forgiving and softer than the Bonafide. It has titanium reinforcement underfoot, but not as much metal as the Bonafide, and the tip and tail have a thinner layup and no metal. Flexing it, both by hand, and on the snow: underfoot it feels about 10% softer, and at the tip and tail, 15-20% softer. I can really pressure the tip well on that ski: when I try to drive the tip on the stiffer Bone, it just pushes back (hence why it doesn't like bumps). This makes all the difference: the Kabookie really comes alive in bumps and tight spaces: one of the best tree skis I have ever been on. The tip is easy enough to bend up at will, the sweet spot of the ski is larger, but it still has all of the power and stability a normal person could want (I ski pretty fast). Whereas the Bonafide for me is go-go-go, about a 9/10 for stiffness and GS turn preference, and the BW is nimble, light, agile, but not very substantial; maybe a 5/10 for stability and big-turn preference: the Kabookie slots somewhere between these 2, at around 7.5 or so. It gets the majority of the stability of the Bonafide, and the majority of the quickness and ease of use of the BW.
I took the Kabookie up on some seriously nasty hardpack the other day, and was very surprised at how competent it was in re-frozen off-piste bumps. That tip has a great flex, as does the tail. Then again, I am more a fan of not-too-stiff skis that respond well to technique; for me, these are always better in tight spaces, and more fun too. They tend to be a bit more rewarding. I don't like fighting a ski just to get it to bend or to stay within the sweet spot.
As far as width goes: it really depends on your needs. 98mm is a great all-around width for western snow, so is 88mm. It depends on where you ski, when you ski, and what the season is like. Last year was pretty dry; I skied my 98's a few days early, and the rest of the year, was on narrower skis. This year has been nothing but hardpack and boilerplate. Another season, you could get tons of snow and need 115's a lot. There is no right answer.......you could do worse than a 98mm for your one ski though. If you can afford 2, look for something around 80-90, and another 110 or so!
Good luck with your search!