So I thought I’d create a snowboarding equipment list to help those who are new to snowboarding know what’s needed to have a safe and enjoyable time on the mountain.
From clothes to accessories to hardware and protective equipment, we’ll cover the essentials below – and I’ll chuck in some ideas for optional extras at the end too.
Snowboarding involves embarking on a mountain in cold winter conditions. It’s important to keep warm for comfort and also for safety if in the unlikely event that you end up getting lost or injured in a remote spot. Your outerwear is also important to keep you dry and warm but proper thermal undergarments also play an important part.
On some nice spring days it can be too hot for this sort of clothing but it’s still a good idea to have it on your person just in case the conditions get colder or if you find yourself in trouble. It is a good idea to wear or carry the following:
- A long sleeve thermal top – moisture wicking preferably
- Full length thermal underwear (sometimes referred to as long johns) – moisture wicking preferably
- Thermal socks – moisture wicking preferably – it’s just way more comfortable
- A beanie (warm hat). If you wear a helmet this may not be necessary but if it’s really cold it can be nice to have both – but a helmet will keep your head somewhat warm too
- If you’re someone who really feels the cold then a second thermal top is a good idea – to keep the areas around the organs warm – a second pair of socks and inner gloves will also help to keep you warm (you lose heat mostly through your head, hands and feet).
Personally I prefer Merino as my base-layer. I have this kinda skin that doesn’t like scratchy material too much. I find wool really itchy – but not Merino wool. When I found this stuff it was like a revelation! Polypropelene based thermals do the job too but personally I prefer the more natural and more comfortable Merino.
Merino is better for when you get too hot too as it moisture-wicks really well, whereas I find I sweat a lot in the polyprops. But this is, of course, a personal preference and whatever you prefer just do make sure you have a thermal baselayer.
It can also be a good idea to carry hand warmers in the event that your hands get wet and cold or you find yourself in trouble and need to keep your hands warm. These tend to last up to 12hrs.
O.K., after you have your base layer sorted we need to get the outerwear. To me the outerwear is all about keeping you dry! If there’s slushy snow out there or it’s raining or your just spending a lot of time sitting, lying or flayed out in the snow (happens a lot for beginners!) then it can be really uncomfortable and make for a less enjoyable day or even cause you to stop early.
I remember the first day it was raining on the mountain after I got my properly waterproof jacket (the first one I owned might have been waterproof at one time in its life but not when I owned it!) and being able to carry on whilst half the mountain left for the shelter of a café or left the mountain altogether.
The lift lines were non-existent and the slopes were clear!
But even if you don’t want to continue in the rain you really do want proper waterproof stuff. When it starts raining and you’re on the middle of the mountain it will take time to get shelter (and if it stops raining it’s easy to get back out there if you are dry) and you will get wet in the snow if you fall into it enough and don’t have proper waterproofing.
O.k. so what you need is pretty simple:
What to look out for with outerwear items:
Check out the following articles to learn the specs you should look out for to make sure your outerwear is waterproof, breathable and practical.
As with the sections above, hard wear could take up a whole….well, library almost! So I’m just going to quickly describe what you’ll need here without going into the ins and outs of choosing the perfect equipment for yourself. What you’ll need:
Bindings are what attach the board to the boots (or to you essentially) and come separate to boards. Some people will sell boards second hand with bindings but if you are buying new these items are separate purchases.
The most important thing with boots is that they are comfortable – you will be wearing these all day – and that they are the right amount of stiffness for your riding style and ability level. The great thing with snowboarding boots is that you can actually walk in them! Not as gracefully as you would in normal shoes but they sure beat ski boots.
If ever there was an argument between snowboarding and skiing (besides the hundreds of other things that make snowboarding better!) it would be the ability to walk that wins it for snowboarding!
Check out the many articles in the Equipment Selection Advice menu at the top of this page. To get started take a look at the following:
O.k. so this is the boring topic and all about safety! But seriously, wouldn’t you want to be safe? If you injure yourself you can’t board any more that day and likely for a while afterwards. So, what do you need to reduce the chances and severity of injury? Three main things really:
- Wrist Guards
Goggles: It can get bright on the mountain and you will want to protect your eyes from that bright sun especially as it reflects of the white snow. Not only good for eye health goggles help you to see in bright conditions when it’s really gleary and they keep the snow and rain out of your eye if conditions turn that way – or when you face plant into the snow!
I started out on the mountain just wearing sunglasses. It was o.k. but there some major drawbacks. Firstly, they weren’t much good at keeping snow and rain out of my eyes. Secondly, they weren’t the best for enhanced sight. Finally, and most annoyingly was when I nailed myself and had to go trudging 50 metres back up the mountain to retrieve them!
Watch out for: Get goggles that don’t fog up too much – this can be a real pain.
Helmet: Becoming more and more commonplace, the helmet is being worn by a lot of riders these days. I started out without one but after much nagging from my girlfriend and girlfriend’s friend (and a wee tumble that was absorbed largely by my noggin) I decided it was a good idea.
You don’t notice your wearing it. I was worried about visibility and awkwardness etc. but you seriously forget that you are even wearing it.
The one thing I don’t like about the helmet is that my head can get too hot – so I just take it off when I’m on the lift if I’m feeling too hot – you cool down pretty quickly on the lift!
Wrist guards: There are arguments that these just transfer the shock into the elbows and the shoulders. But hey I’d rather a slightly saw shoulder than a broken wrist. Besides it sounds like if that pressure is absorbed up the whole arm then that energy is dissipated and spread out more evenly – but I’m no anatomist so don’t take my word for it.
Often times you will put your hand down to break your fall as you bail (and you will bail – the great thing is that we ride on snow and it’s, at least some of the time, soft) and having wrist guards will help reduce the strain on your wrists.
Watch out for: The most important things for me with wrist guards is that they are comfortable and will fit under your gloves. I hired wrist guards once and they went outside the gloves and every time I wanted to take the glove off the wrist guard had to come off first – which gets old very quickly.
Right, so with all the essential gear sorted here is a quick list of some optional extras – if you can think of any others or having any feedback, questions or anything else to add just leave a comment below.
- Padded shorts
- Knee pads
- Elbow guards
- Neck/face gaiters/masks (great for keeping out the sunburn & windburn and you’ll look like a wild west bank robber!)
- Snowboard bag
- Helmet speakers
Photo Credit (top)
Photo By sbamueller (Osterwanderung_6825) [CC-BY-SA-2.0],