Snowboarding is an exhilarating sport – but it also has its fair share of potential for injury.
However, with the right snowboarding safety equipment, that potential for injury can be greatly lessened – though never eradicated altogether.
This post will outline how important each item of available safety equipment is and whether or not it’s worth getting or not. Some safety equipment is completely unnecessary for your average rider and some is very necessary.
What Safety Equipment for Snowboarding this Post will Cover
In particular this post will look at:
- Snowboard leash
- Butt pads
- Knee & Elbow Pads
- Body Armour
O.k. so clothing isn’t always seen as safety equipment – but if you find yourself in trouble out of bounds – or even just riding the lifts – and you get too cold this is hazardous to your health so it’s worth including here.
In my opinion the most important thing about staying warm is staying dry – so waterproof clothing is a must.
Even on warm sunny days don’t skimp on this – the snow is still wet! And if you find yourself lost outside of the resort you don’t want to be left stranded without appropriate clothing – weather on the mountain can change in an instant.
O.k. if you’re just doing laps of the park near the base then this is probably not as necessary but otherwise make sure your clothing is appropriate.
As a minimum:
- Good waterproof snowboard pants
- Good waterproof snowboard jacket
- Good waterproof gloves
- Merino wool or polypropylene top
- Merino wool or polypropylene socks
Try not to wear any cotton on the mountain. Cotton won’t wick away moisture – so if you get wet you’ll stay wet and if you sweat you’ll get wet too. There’s nothing worse than going back out on a cold mountain after a break with cold, wet sweat on your body!
If it’s a particularly cold day some optional extras could include:
- Merino wool or polypropylene pants (to go under you snowboard pants)
- Hand warmers
- Inner gloves
- Extra layers under your jacket
- Warm hat to go under your helmet (assuming your wearing a helmet!)
- Neck warmer
- Face mask
When I started riding I wasn’t interested in wearing a helmet one bit.
I didn’t think it was cool for starters 🙂
But most of all I was worried about it affecting my peripheral vision and in general just being a cumbersome piece of equipment to have.
But I was hassled and harassed by my girlfriend and her friend (thankful now they did) to try a helmet. But I still didn’t budge. And then I took a hard tumble and smacked my head on the ground and thought “O.k. it’s time to try out one of these helmet things!”
And when I finally did try a helmet I didn’t even notice it was there! They make helmets really light these days, and they’re designed to not hinder your vision at all.
I wouldn’t ride without one now – it’s just not worth risking your head. These days helmets are so good you won’t notice them.
And if you’re worried about not looking cool? Don’t worry about it, most riders wear helmets these days and there are some pretty stylish helmets out there too.
When buying a helmet make sure that it fits well and make sure your goggles will fit with it – and while you’re at it, make sure it looks good!
Slightly less common items of safety equipment are wristguards.
Snowboarders are divided on wristguards. Some say that protecting the wrist only transfers the shock up into the shoulder.
However, I am on the side of wearing wristguards and have used them since I started riding – and I’ve definitely felt a couple of times where I could have really damaged my wrists had they not been there. I’ve got pretty strong shoulders and pretty skinny wrists so maybe this is a personal thing.
Most wristguards, if not all, these days fit under your gloves and are pretty comfortable. You’ve still got full use of your hands with wristguards on so you want have to pull them off every time you need to use your hands.
The only downside I’ve found really is that the palms of my gloves seem to wear through quite quickly due to the concentration of pressure to that area.
Goggles are great not only for making it easier to see on the mountain and keeping the snow or rain out of your eyes – they also protect your eyes from the sun and from any hard knocks.
The sun is particularly strong when you are on the mountain and the glare of the snow can be blinding and not good for your eyes.
When I started riding I used to use just sunglasses.
What made me change to goggles?
- Firstly, the sunglasses didn’t do a great job of keeping the snow and rain out of my eyes;
- Secondly, they didn’t always keep out all of the glare; and
- Finally, I got sick of having to trudge back up the mountain any time I had a decent wipe out and they got knocked off my face!
When buying goggles try to find goggles that don’t fog up – and make sure they will fit with your helmet.
Some goggles you can get with interchangeable lenses so that you can put in darker lenses on bright days and lighter lenses on days with low visibility.
UPDATE: Strapless bindings are becoming more common these days. For strapless bindings, it’s more likely that you become detached from your board, which makes having a leash a better idea.
A snowboard leash is essentially a strap that attaches the rider via the boots (usually) to the snowboard via the bindings (usually).
It’s like the leash that surfers attached to their surfboards and their ankles to keep the board from getting away from them if they’re thrown off a wave.
Because snowboarders are strapped onto their boards this isn’t as big a problem – and because, unlike skis, boards will very very rarely become detached from their rider, there’s even less necessity for leashes.
In fact I’ve never once seen a board become detached from its rider whilst strapped in. Think about it – even if one binding were to break there’s still another one holding the board on.
The only situation I have ever seen a board loose (and I’ve seen this a couple of times) is when a snowboarder has come back from a break and they’re sitting in the snow about to strap in and they get distract and the board slides away from them.
Thankfully the only times I’ve seen this the board hasn’t gotten very far!
I’ve never used a leash and it’s a very rare thing that you would lose your board – though if you were to lose it, it could be potentially bad for your board – or worse, some unsuspecting rider or skier further down the mountain.
This is really a personal thing – if you think you can’t be careful enough when strapping in on a slope or you are particularly risk averse then maybe you should get a leash otherwise as long as you are careful then these aren’t really necessary, in my opinion.
Come on, harden up!
O.k., just kidding.
These are only really necessary for anyone trying out some particularly gnarly tricks or for beginners who are falling on their backside a lot.
There were definitely some moments when starting out that I was wishing for a butt pad, particularly falling on hard ice, but these are strictly optional in my opinion.
Knee & Elbow Pads
These are really for people trying out some new tricks or for beginners who have bad knees and/or are prone to crashing on their knees or elbows.
Again, strictly optional in my opinion.
What are you planning to do on the mountain!
Seriously though, body armour is really only for the most extreme riders – and a good idea for them – but for your average rider body armour is not only unnecessary but quite awkward and uncomfortable (I would imagine – can’t say I’ve ever worn it).
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading and I hope you have found this post useful for deciding what snowboarding safety equipment is necessary for you.
If there are any pieces of safety equipment that you use that I’ve missed please leave a comment in the comments section below. Also if you have any questions or differing opinions surrounding safety equipment it’d be awesome to hear from you too.
For an overview of all the gear you might need on the mountain for snowboarding check out the link below.