What to Pack for a Snowboarding TripPublished on 08/31/2022 · 8 min readBig snowboard trip coming up? Check out these tips from Snowboard Expert and world-champion packer Jason Robinson on how to prepare for your next on-snow excursion.
Photo by Angela Compagnone
I look at a quality packing job as being as much of an art as it is a skill. Aside from the bare necessities of board, boots, and bindings, there is a lot of room for individual interpretation and creativity here when packing for a snowboarding trip. No trip will look quite the same! There are a wide range of variables, including location, weather, objectives, and different modes of travel, that will help dictate what exactly you’re going to want to bring along for the ride.
Personally, my packing background is very diverse and quite extensive. I’ve packed for countless snowboard trips to destinations near and far. I’ve packed everything from surfboards to two-by-fours on the backs of horses and mules into remote wilderness camps. I’ve even packed literal tons of live Alaskan Dungeness crab set for export to China. Yum, right?
In all my days and different methods of packing, however simple or complex, there is one theme that remains constant across the board, and that is packing light. That being said, there is a balance to strike between the items that we truly need and those that would just be really nice to have. So, let’s get into the difference here.
The biggest factor that helps you determine what to bring and what to leave behind is how you’ll be getting to where you’re going. Hitting the road, versus taking a flight, could open up a lot of options on what you can pack. Will you be mainly at ski resorts or in the backcountry? If there are four people and all the gear will be loaded up tightly into a Prius, you may need to remain a bit conservative on what you bring. If it’s just two of you in the camper van for a couple of weeks, then our concerns over space will obviously fade a bit. If the latter of the two is the case, you might as well bring the quiver and splitboard. Heck, load up the surfboards and bikes too, in case you decide to visit your friends on the coast.
If you’ve got the room, you can be pretty loose and load up the rig until you're satisfied. For those of us with some very real spatial limitations, we must approach packing more mindfully — whether flying to our destination, where we are subject to literal size and weight restrictions or driving in a vehicle with limited space.
I take pride in the ability to pack lightly and I am stubborn about not having to pay the airlines an extra bag fee unless it is absolutely necessary. Most airlines charge you for checking a snowboard bag, no matter what. One commonality throughout the industry is that if the bag is over 50 pounds, there is an additional charge. One of my main approaches to packing for a jet-setting snowboard trip is to remain under that 50-pound mark. Not only will it save you the “overweight baggage” fee, but it may also save your back a bit too, depending on how much you’ll be moving around with all that gear. I’ve found that this still allows me to bring a more-than-adequate amount of things. A little pro-tip here: having multiple bags under 50 pounds instead of one large bag over 50 pounds will be more affordable and far easier in the long run.
Okay, so there are some obvious items we are going to need to pack no matter what. We will make a checklist and work our way down the list. Your plans will greatly dictate how far down this list you make it and what you choose to bring or leave behind. Read over these as well as the more flexible packing choices, tips, and additional items that may come in handy on your next snowboarding trip.
It is a good idea to start with one board at first. If you’re packing a board bag for a flight, it is easy to add a second or even third board to the bag if needed. You can get a good idea of space and weight after packing the board bag with everything else. Typically, if packing only one snowboard, you will find that your board bag will get full before going over the 50-pound mark. Bring a second deck if you really want two different boards, in case something happens to one or you want to have the option to switch it up. If you are a beginner and decide to rent snowboarding gear, you will have the ability to pack significantly lighter.
This is a necessary and pretty straightforward item to bring along on any snowboarding trip. Unless you’re planning to exclusively no-board or pow-surf, you’re going to want bindings! Oh yeah, and something worth noting is that you will be wanting to bring a minimum of two bindings. This is often referred to as a “pair” or “set,” and it will greatly enhance your riding experience.
A space-saving technique that is worth utilizing is removing the bindings from the board for packing. Of course, this does involve unmounting, remounting, and the potential for undue hardship in the off chance that the mounting hardware goes missing somewhere in between. I recommend having just one pair of bindings in most cases, but extra ladders and buckles are nice to have.
Always bring your boots along and don’t forget to take a look, or in this case a sniff, on the inside. The inside of your boots makes for an excellent space to pack socks, underlayers, and other small or malleable items (granted the odor is fully under control). Tie or tighten the boots as needed to help get them down to a good packing size inside the board bag and lay them out yin-and-yang style for the best fit.
Okay, so this one can be a pretty tricky decision when flying to your destination. It is not just the splitboard you will be adding here, but all the other necessary gear as well. Don’t fret, with some forethought this can be done without overweight baggage fees. I recommend packing multiple bags under 50lbs as opposed to one loaded bag in excess of 50lbs, this will help avoid breaking the bank—and your back.
Outerwear and Accessories
- Jacket: Waterproof is best.
- Snow Pants or Bibs: Certainly.
- Goggles: I usually bring one pair of goggles, but aim for having an extra lens or lenses. Don’t forget the sunglasses either.
- Gloves / Mittens: A couple of pairs can’t hurt.
- Helmet: Fill the helmet with items 3 and 4; add the face mask for the whole set.
- Oversized Daypack: It’s hard to pack without a pack. I like to carry a backpack that is pretty low-profile but can roll out to fit huge amounts of stuff if need be.
- Avalanche Gear: If doing ANY backcountry riding, avalanche gear is mandatory. Be mindful as to how you pack the transceiver — wrapped inside your puffy, in the boot, or even consider carrying it with you to be extra sure it isn’t damaged.
Underlayers and Extras
- Base Layers or Ninja Suit: Long underwear is better than short underwear, and the more layering options the better… within reason, of course. Merino wool is best.
- Socks: Bring plenty of extra socks and keep your riding and après socks separate when possible.
- Sleeping Bag: This is always worth considering if you have a little space and a quality bag. This is an easy way to open up your lodging options a little bit and potentially help you save a little cash.
- Street Clothes: Of course, you’re going to want some clothing to wear after riding. Depending on where you’re going and how you picture your trip, there could be a very large variance of what to bring here. For me, less is more these days — one, maybe two pairs of jeans and a couple of t-shirts or long-sleeved shirts. I used to always pack way too many street clothes on snow trips. I’d get home and unpack only to realize that I hadn’t even worn half of what I’d brought because all we really did was snowboard ninety percent of the time.
- Crucial Items: Some things are just sort of a pain to have to buy while traveling or are good to carry with you, such as specific toiletries, lip balm, sunscreen, favorite snacks, and the like.
Since every trip is going to be quite different, there are really no absolute rules about what is required to bring beyond the most basic item — a snowboard. The destination, group size, budget, and personal preferences will all be major factors in establishing a packing list. The more trips you take, you will inherently do more packing and over time will refine your packing style to be your very own. With consistent practice, a flow state can eventually be reached and decisions on what to bring and leave will be made subconsciously.
The stress of forgetting something important, overpacking, underpacking, or damaging something begins to fade with time, and trust in one’s innate packing senses will now be allowed to grow. A zen state can be achieved here, even a connection to our distant ancestors — a nomadic people required to develop keen packing skills, stripped to the absolute bare essentials, where practicality and efficiency were matters of life and death. Tap into this true, ancient mastery and allow it to guide you to live out your most dreamy of dream trips. Soon, you can just relax as muscle memory takes over and the doors to all the wisdom in the packing universe are unlocked and align as if it were sacred geometry.
Of course, you will need to acquire the items to pack if you don’t already possess them! For help getting set up with any snow or snowboard-related gear and equipment, reach out to a Curated Expert who can help you get exactly the right setup for you or your crew.