As winter approaches, you’re getting ready, and no doubt excited to hit the slopes. If this is the year you take up snowboarding, get ready for an amazing adventure.
But in order to make the most of your first season on the board, there are a few boxes to tick. Being prepared and warm while on the mountain will allow for an unforgettable experience while hastening your skill development. Let’s get started.
When it comes to getting into snowboarding and starting your shredding journey, the most important decision you’ll make is your snowboard.
But what is a good snowboard for first-time riders?
The shape and bend profile of your chosen board will be a big determiner of how you fare on the hill, at least at the beginning.
Add in the knowledge of what terrain you’ll be boarding on, you will then be able to choose a board that’s right for you.
If you are just starting out, consider getting an all-mountain snowboard.
With soft to medium flex and a central stance, beginner riders will have an easier time making their way down any type of run.
A flex rating of 1-3 and 4-6 make up the soft and medium flex. These are great for first-timers tackling groomed trails and tend to be more forgiving than the stiffer snowboards.
As you gain more experience, you’ll have the chance to branch out into freestyle and freeride boards that will allow you to venture off-piste (non-groomed trails) and show off your bag of tricks.
Lastly, there are two types of curves on any snowboard.
Your board will either be a camber or a rocker.
Traditionally, a rocker profile is considered best for beginners practicing their C and S turns.
However, if you are confident of quickly progressing and aren’t afraid of a few early falls, then get a camber board, which will give you more stability on faster runs.
2. Boots and Bindings
Snowboard boots come with a variety of different lacing systems, flexes, and styles.
While the right board is essential, wearing the right boots will keep you out on the slopes for longer, keep your feet warm and lower your chance of injury.
As you get into boarding, you’ll likely rent once or twice. But if you’re considering getting serious, then your first major purchase should be on a solid pair of boots.
All beginners and even the best riders take hearty falls every once in a while.
Acquiring a well-fitted boot will protect you during those moments, but also hasten the learning process.
A good boot fits naturally, allowing you to feel one with your snowboard.
Bindings are what connect your boot to the board, allowing you to carve up the mountain.
There are different kinds of bindings, from manual fasteners to clip-on, similar to a pair of skis.
Not every boot suits every binding and not all bindings suits all boards.
Accurately collaborating with all three will leave you with an epic snowboard setup that will last multiple years.
3. Snow Jacket & Pants
It’s one thing to have a great setup and the ability to get down the mountain safely while carving it up.
But in order to do so for hours on end, you’ll need to stay warm and protected from the elements.
Furthermore, it’s easy to choose the coolest design to help you stand out in the lift line. But the coolest design is no good if it doesn’t have a good outer shell and a breathable interior.
A great snow jacket will be waterproof and windproof.
The waterproof aspect is self-explanatory, whether you fall or not, snow always seems to end up on your jacket.
But the windproof aspect should not be overlooked.
Whether you’re on the chairlift or roaring down the hill, any wind that creeps in can quickly lower your core temperature.
Mix this with sweat and you’ll quickly begin to shiver whenever you’re standing idle waiting for a lift back up. This leads to having a breathable jacket.
Your interior jacket should be able to regulate temperature and help to wick sweat. Although you create sweat when you become warm, it quickly becomes the enemy if it interacts with cold temperatures.
All of this also applies directly to your snow pants.
Now that you have the gear to keep your body warm, complement your jacket and pants with the most important safety gear of all, a helmet.
You may feel a tinge of jealousy watching those skiers float down the hill with just a fluorescent headband, but all beginners and expert boarders should wear a helmet.
For beginner snowboarders, control is a common issue. The only way to get better is to continue to board, which leads to more falls.
Importantly, it’s way easier to fall face first as a snowboarder than a skier, all the more reason to protect your most important organ.
But to stay comfortable, a helmet shouldn’t be too tight. Allow your head to be able to breathe without the helmet flopping from side to side.
You should also be able to fit two fingers between your chin and strap.
When snowboarding, your extremities, such as your hands and toes, will be the first to get cold and even numb.
As your body regulates its temperature ensuring your chest area receives more heat, there’s less blood circulation to your toes and fingers.
Add on the fact that your hands make contact with the snow often, it doesn’t take much to get them cold.
Depending on your budget, you don’t have to fork out big bucks for a top-of-the-line pair of gloves.
Often secondhand will do, as long as there are no holes. If you’re someone that gets cold easily, consider getting a pair of mittens rather than regular gloves.
On lush bluebird days, with the sun beaming down and reflecting off the snow, there is a lot of potential for eye damage.
While secondhand goggles will often suffice, it’s vital that they provide your eyes with enough protection.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a top-notch pair, think about what type of snowboarding you’ll be doing the most.
For those with few bluebird days and gloomy skies, get low light lens. While dark lenses will help you combat those sparkling sunny days.
Importantly, make sure your goggles fit properly with your helmet.
A good pair will stop the wind from breaking through.
Miscellaneous (but no less important) items to consider include your base layers.
A top and bottom base layer are vital to staying warm on those wintry days.
A good layer will be synthetic or woolen, allowing you to wick sweat and stay dry. Be sure to stay away from cotton.
A mid-layer, such as a fleece, will also help if the temps are particularly low.
When looking for a pair of socks, they must have the ability to remove moisture. Cold and wet feet will quickly end your time on the slopes, bluebird day or not.
Consider the amount of insulation in your boots when choosing your socks. Often thin socks and good boot insulation will do the trick. The sock should also go above the boot.
Lastly, hand warmers are a handy and cheap way to add some extra warmth to your extremities.
These tend to last most of the day, keeping your hands and feet warm even when you are boarding.