What Gear Do You Need to Start Snowboarding?
Snowboard Expert Gaelen Mast shares a list of the exact snowboarding gear you need to hit the slopes and have a fun and comfortable experience!
As someone who’s worked in the ski resort industry for the past five years, I’ve worked with hundreds of new snowboarders and have noticed a common trend—those who come prepared with the proper winter gear have a much better experience than those who do not. Knowing what to get as a beginner snowboarder can be a confusing and sometimes costly experience if you don’t know where to start. This is why today, I’m sharing a list of the exact snowboarding gear you need to hit the slopes and have a fun and comfortable experience!
First and foremost, you’re going to need to get yourself a snowboard, otherwise, you aren’t going to be doing much riding! A new snowboard and some bindings can typically run you anywhere between $350-$1,000+ and there’s a ton of options out there so it can feel a little intimidating to know where to start. You can shop for a board online, at a ski/snowboard shop, or even go the used route to save some money.
If you’re new to snowboarding I would highly recommend working with a Curated Expert to make sure you get the correct type of board to suit you. If you’re in the market right now, feel free to reach out to me or another Snowboard Expert here on Curated, and we’ll be happy to help! Renting a board from a ski resort is also a great option but this can quickly become expensive if you go more than a few times a year.
Think of snowboard boots as big, bulky snow boots. Like snowboards, they come in a variety of styles and price ranges which can be confusing to know what to go for when just starting out. Snowboard boots typically run true to your sneaker size and should feel snug and secure but not uncomfortably tight once fully fastened. Poorly fitted boots will make it harder to control your snowboard and therefore, interfere with the learning process. They also won't provide ample ankle support. Boots can range from $150 to $400+, and again, I would highly recommend chatting with a Snowboard Expert if you are unsure of what to get as they are an important part of your snowboarding experience.
It may seem odd to put something like socks so high on the list but it’s because your sock choice can actually make or break your snowboarding experience regardless of if you get everything else right. Is it ESSENTIAL that you get yourself a pair of wool socks—none of that cotton sock nonsense! Your feet can get colder much quicker than the rest of your body and freezing toes are no fun at all. Most any pair of wool socks will do the trick, but if you are really worried about getting cold feet (no pun intended), you can get yourself some snowboard-specific socks! Also, pro-tip, bring an extra pair of socks to the mountain with you to change midway through the day or before you leave—it’s an amazing feeling.
Snowboard jackets come in a variety of different styles and there are options on the market to suit everyone’s needs and aesthetics. The main thing to look for is a jacket that is both waterproof and insulated. There are plenty of jackets out there with fancy bells and whistles which can be convenient to have, but realistically, you’ll be fine with any jacket as long as it's waterproof and insulated. Jackets with zip-up pockets are also quite handy as it provides a place to stick your pass, phone, keys, or whatever else you might want to bring along with you. If you live in a cold climate already, chances are you might already have a winter jacket that doubles as a snowboard jacket! Personally, I like to have a few different jackets so I have choices depending on temperature for the day, but as a good rule of thumb go for your warmest option if unsure because it’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed on the mountain.
The whole spiel I just gave about snowboard jackets also applies to snow pants. There are tons of styles and tons of different options, but as long as they’re insulated and waterproof, you’re good to go! Expect to spend a lot of time on your butt when snowboarding (regardless of skill level), so you definitely want to make sure you’ve got some snow pants that aren’t going to soak through easily.
Similar to your sock choice, having the right pair of gloves/mittens can seriously alter your snowboarding experience. Thick, waterproof gloves are a must-have if you want to stay out on the mountain all day. Your gardening gloves are not going to cut it! I would recommend gloves that are on the larger side as they provide more coverage on your wrist and arms. If your gloves are too small or short, snow can easily get up inside them which is an unpleasant experience, to say the least.
Now to address the age-old question: should you go with gloves or mittens? Well, the choice is entirely yours! I personally find mittens to be warmer since your fingers are all together, but many people prefer gloves for the increased dexterity. Try them both out and see which one suits you better! A word of advice, no matter what you decide on, get yourself multiple pairs if possible. You could have the best gloves/mittens in the world but they WILL find a way to get damp or even downright wet after a few days of riding. Having a second pair ensures you can always start your day with dry hands while letting your other pair(s) dry out.
Without base layers, your whole experience is going to come crashing down once you reach the summit of the mountain and realize just how cold you are! At the very least, wear some comfortable pants such as track pants, sweatpants, or long johns, and a comfortable shirt that you don’t mind getting wet or potentially dirty. If you plan on being a snowboard enthusiast, I would really recommend getting yourself a pair of thermals (long underwear). These will make a night-and-day difference for your comfort, especially on those bitterly cold days.
Everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to thermal underlayer order, but I’ll share my favorite one: the three-layer method.
- Layer one: a pair of thermal pants and a shirt that will keep your core warm
- Layer two: baggy pants like sweatpants or pajama pants as well as a thicker shirt such as a sweater, sweatshirt, or fleece (this layer will add a little extra padding and warmth too)
- Layer three: your coat and snow pants that will provide protection from the snow, wind, and other elements.
All these layers work together to give you a warm and dry experience!
So listen, I’m not your mom, I can’t make you wear a helmet. BUT, I would highly highly recommend getting one especially if you’re new (or even experienced) to snowboarding. It’s so easy to catch an edge and get tossed on your snowboard and it happens so fast. Falling is just a part of snowboarding and it’s going to happen to you, a lot. As someone who’s been snowboarding for 10+ years, I still fall at least a few times every single time I go ride. Luckily I’ve gotten a little better at my falling technique and I usually bounce right back up. Getting yourself a good snowboard helmet is as simple as knowing the correct size for you and ordering whichever one catches your eye!
Long before a mask became typical in the rest of the world, skiers and snowboarders wore them when out on the mountain. I’m not talking about disposable surgical masks, rather thicker insulted masks that cover your face and neck. The air on a cold winter day is enough to sting your face if exposed for just a few minutes and these face masks, often called balaclavas, are a lifesaver! Even on warmer days, they’re still often necessary as the wind against your face from riding down a trail is enough to chill your face. There are plenty of different styles out there and everyone has their preference, so do a bit of experimenting and find one that works for you!
Last but not least, we have goggles! Some people can’t ride without them while other people don’t wear them unless they absolutely have to. I fall into the latter group but even so, I always bring a pair of goggles with me just in case—and I would recommend you do the same.
There are three main reasons why people wear goggles—well four if you count people wearing them for extra style points!
- Reason one: they provide a barrier from the wind rushing against your face which can make you cold and/or dry out your eyes
- Reason two: if it’s snowing, it’s darn near impossible to see anything when riding if you don’t have goggles
- Reason three: they act like sunglasses and make it easier to see if it’s an especially bright day.
Goggles can range widely in price from $20-$300+, but I’ve found you often get what you pay for so keep that in mind before buying the cheapest goggles you can find somewhere. There are lots of options with different strengths, different UV ray protection, and different lens options, so do some research.
While I wouldn't say you NEED the following items, they certainly can't hurt to have. First is sunscreen as some days can be quite bright, and while it might feel great to snowboard in some short sleeves, getting sunburnt is all too easy with the sun reflecting off the snow and onto your exposed skin. The second is lip balm—chapped lips can strike at any time and it's easy enough to keep a stick of lip balm in your pocket just in case. The last thing you might consider is butt pads if you're a beginner and worried about injuring yourself. These can give you the confidence you need to get out there!
If You Don’t Know Where to Start
Hopefully, after reading through this article you have a better understanding of what you need to get your snowboarding on! If you’re still feeling unsure of what gear to get exactly, that’s totally understandable and honestly, it’d be quite surprising if you knew EXACTLY what to buy now. After all, an internet article can only guide you so far. The good news is, if you really want to find the exact gear you need that matches your budget and any other criteria, now you can! The Snowboard Experts here on Curated are all experienced snowboarders with a wide range of snowboard gear knowledge, and we’re happy to work with you until you find that perfect setup to get you out on the mountain!
If you’re ready to make this winter epic and want some advice on picking out the best gear possible, chat with a Snowboard Expert! Cheers!