Q&A with Charles Bausman of MTI | FITS®

April 13, 2017

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Charles (Charlie) Bausman, a Researcher and Coach at Mountain Tactical Institute in Wyoming. He shared a bit more about his time in the Marines, his current role at MTI and just how important quality gear is to anyone facing a tough environment. See the full Q & A below!

Charles Bausman Bio from MTI: Charlie served as a Marine Infantry Officer, separating as a Captain. He deployed to Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIR) as a Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer. He has competed in a wide variety of athletics, from boxing to strongman to mountain triathlons. Charlie has completed the Military Athlete Advanced Programming Course and Crossfit Level 1. Charlie graduated from the College of Charleston in 2010.

charlie bausman with mountain tactical institute wearing fits working out

When did you first become interested in being a Marine?

I was first interested in joining the military while in high school, but opted to follow a chance at playing football at the college level. As it turns out I wasn’t talented enough to be a starter in college, but the Marine Corps continued to stand out to me as a way to serve the country in a time of war. I admired the Marines I knew and the reputation of the service.

Has anyone else in your family been a member of the armed forces?

My father served in Vietnam, and my step-father served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Neither pushed me towards the military - in fact, they were both very nervous about me going in as a infantry officer.

How many deployments overseas do you have under your belt?

I deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, and Iraq in 2015.

charlie bausman wearing fits while deployed overseas

Can you describe the terrain/environment that you experienced while overseas?

As you might expect, Iraq is incredibly hot… Like melt the sole of your boots while walking hot. The ground can be hard, cracked earth or sandy.

Afghanistan has a wide variety of climates and terrain. My unit was sent to Helmand Province, where the Marine Corps was predominantly deployed from 2008 - 2015. It was another arid environment, although it is marked with water filled wadi’s (small canals used for agricultural irrigation) in farming areas.

How crucial was having quality gear?

Foot care is one of the most important pieces of gear an infantryman carries. When you’re walking with loads of up to 100 lbs, your feet will get trashed unless you take care of them. A good pair of socks is one of the items I don’t mind splurging on. You’re no good to your unit if you can’t walk.

What drove you to select FITS during your deployment and how did it perform under pressure?

A friend had recommended FITS because they made a sock which was the ideal thickness for hot environments. If socks are too thick, your feet will sweat and cause blisters. Too thin, and they’ll wear out. I spent a small fortune on a variety of socks but found FITS to work the best for me.

What was the most challenging part of your time in the military? Physically, mentally, or both.

Carrying a super heavy pack for long distances is always a physical kick in the butt. You get used to it, but it’s not something I would ever do for fun. “Embracing the suck” is incredibly important for morale. If you can learn how to laugh while living out of a hole in the ground, the hard stuff is much easier.

What is your current role with MTI?

I am a researcher and strength & conditioning coach for MTI. We focus on mission specific performance for those in professions whose lives depend on their performance. This is includes military, law enforcement, fire/ems, and mountain athletes. Our mountain athlete community consists of mountain guides, elite level skiers/snowboarders, climbers, etc.

charlie teaching a mountain tactical institute class wearing fits

How did you get involved with MTI?

I had taken a course with MTI while still in the military. After transitioning from active duty, I started with a internship at MTI and now work there full time in Jackson, WY.

How has your experience in the military translated into your current field and position at MTI?

We work predominantly with military personnel, so having that baseline experience established is very helpful. The military has it’s own culture and it’s own language - if you haven’t done it, it’s hard to understand.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working with our athletes. I had a week where I was working with a special operations military unit one day, and then coaching a couple of olympic skiers the next. The research we do encompasses fitness, psychological performance, gear, and tactical level policy. It’s a jack of all trades position that is both physically and intellectually stimulating.

How crucial is having quality gear in your current role?

I still serve in the reserves, so the need is absolutely there for quality gear. I’m also active in mountain biking, trail running, snowboarding, backcountry hunting, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. I need quality gear that won’t fail on me.

Does the gear that you wear on a daily basis impact your ability to perform? Does it change based on the type of training or terrain?

As we like to say at MTI, “the mountain doesn’t care.” My mountain objectives aren’t anything close to what our athletes do (a co-worker who doubled as a mountain guide had climbed Mt. Denali over twenty times), but quality gear is a very important component to successfully and safely achieving the goal.

Lastly, we have to ask, but would you recommend FITS socks to current service members or anyone training with MTI?

Yes. I tried a huge variety of brands. FITS has been the best for me.


Mountain Tactical institute began in 2007 as Mountain Athlete with the aim of developing programming for mountain guides, ski mountaineers, alpinists, whitewater kayakers and other mountain athletes. After realizing that fitness programming for these unique sports were immature and incomplete, they built their program from the ground up to cater to the specific needs of these athletes. Read more on MTI here...