The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Snowboarding Gear

As a snowboard instructor I’ve bought a lot of gear over the years. I’ve figured out what you really need and what is a waste of money that will make you freeze your ass off. I’ve suffered your common boarding issues – freezing hands, fogged goggles, overheating, heel lift – you name it.

Here’s a quick gear guide so you can skip over all that and get straight to the good stuff.

 

Outerwear

Jacket

  • Get one with the highest waterproof rating you can find (10k minimum).
  • Look out for a sleeve pocket for your lift pass, a music pocket and zipped inside pockets for the important stuff.
  • If you’re intending to take your jacket overseas to colder conditions, check for a hood and insulation for blizzard days, plus a powder skirt.
  • For Australian conditions, make sure it has vents for hot days and looks steezy as hell.

 

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Pants

  • Choose your tribe: skinny or baggy.
  • Check for pockets and vents where you need them.
  • If you’re going somewhere super snowy look for a jacket to pants interface that will keep truck loads of snow from taking up residence in your underwear.
  • Ensure your pants have boot gaiters, the stretchy inner layer that goes OVER your boot to keep snow out. (Pro tip: only noobs put their gaiters inside their boots).

 

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Helmet & Other Protective Gear

  • Say yes to helmets. Let’s face it, you’re going to fall over at some point or get hit by a kid going at supersonic speeds.
  • Consider other protective gear like wrist guards, knee protectors and butt pads. At the end of the day if you feel safer then you’ll ride with more confidence.

 

Things You Can’t Rent

Thermals & Socks

  • Opt for long and fitted thermals and socks, but not too tight. You want to forget you’re even wearing them.
  • You want lightweight wool or synthetic fibres that will take moisture away from the body and help it evaporate. Never, ever wear cotton. It holds on to moisture so you’ll end up freezing.
  • Don’t wear two pairs of socks. You’ll be much warmer with one decent pair as it leaves more room to create a nice warm air pocket for your toesies.

 

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Gloves/Mittens

  • As a beginner you’ll spend a lot of time pushing yourself up off the ground, so choose super durable and waterproof gloves.
  • I prefer mittens because your fingers get to live in a single air pocket and keep each other warm. Only downside is you can’t give people the finger.

Goggles

  • Sunglasses will not be adequate for all conditions. Goggles help to define the terrain, keep out sun, snow and rain and also provide protection from impacts.
  • If you’re only buying one pair then I recommend orange lenses as it covers you for cloudy days, fog, snow and rain. If you can afford two pairs of goggles or two lenses then get another dark pair for sunny days to cut out glare.

 

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Hardware

Boots

  • Do your boots up tight. There’s usually an inner pulley system and outer lacing system to get them snug.
  • If you want to buy your own get them fitted in a shop instead of guessing online.
  • All lacing styles have pros and cons. I prefer speed lacing or regular laces ups for a more custom fit. Beginners often like boa lace ups for speed and ease of use.

 

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Board & Bindings

  • If you’re renting then check that your board has a stomp pad to help you get off lifts, that the binding straps aren’t too worn away and the board is a decent length (chin height is a very general guide).
  • Check out the stance. Is it too wide or narrow? Where do your feet point? Most beginners like a duck stance with both feet pointing slightly outwards.
  • Rent a few boards before committing to buying one and do your research. When I was about to buy my fist board I got super nerdy with a spreadsheet to compare stats!

 

Accessories

  • For snowy and really cold conditions you’ll want a face mask.
  • Sunny conditions require sunblock.
  • Pick up a beanie for off-the-hill steeze or to go under your helmet if that’s your style.
  • Pack your pockets full of tissues for the inevitable snow sniffles.
  • Bring snacks. If you don’t eat them, I will.

 

Remember, everyone was a beginner once. Even Olympic snowboarders once started out with no idea what they were doing or with any clue about snowboarding gear. So just get out there!

 

 

Note: This was originally a post I did 2 years ago that you can see here. It was revamped in 2017 for We Are Explorers here.

 

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