Up until a couple of years ago, I absolutely hated winter. I hated being confined to the indoors for four months out of the year, having nothing exciting to do, and especially the cold weather.
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Then I tried snowboarding. At first, I hated that too. How can you like something where you spend more time falling on your butt than gliding down the mountain?
I’m very proud of myself though because I pushed through it after a few years. One thing I found to be super important is how to dress for snowboarding. If you know what to wear snowboarding, then part of the battle is over.
You’ll save yourself from being uncomfortable all day on the mountain and instead of wishing you were home in front of the fire, you’ll be having a blast racing (or making your way carefully) down the mountain.
Have some questions about snowboarding? Here are ten common questions answered about your first time snowboarding.
What to Wear Under a Snowboard Jacket
When I started out, I had no idea how important choosing your clothing was for snow sports. One of my major complaints was I hated cold weather and I became cold easily. Some people argue that what you wear under your jacket is more important than the jacket itself.
Layering is such an important part of dressing for the snow especially when it is very cold outside. As it warms up, you can remove layers, but it’s best to prepare for the coldest temperature you’ll see.
This is arguably your most important piece of clothing so do not skimp on this one. There are different weights for the base layer – lightweight, midweight, heavyweight (original, I know). The colder the conditions, the heavier you want your base layer to be.
I have a versatile midweight base layer that I wear pretty much anytime. You don’t want your base layer to be cotton. It’s best when it is made of wool, fleece, or synthetic material.
Top Choices for Snowboarding Base Layer
- Hot Chillys – Top – Pants (These are the ones I wear.)
- REI Co-op Merino Wool – Top – Pants
- Odlo Performance – Top – Pants
The mid-layer can be omitted on warm days but is absolutely necessary for cold days. This can be a pullover or a small jacket. My favorite mid-layers are the ones that zip into a larger jacket to make a 3-in-1 combo jacket.
Those seem to fit the best for me. Since I get cold though I still typically wear a 3/4 zip pullover and take it off during the afternoon when it may start to warm up.
Just like the base layer, the mid-layer should not be made out of cotton. Try to find something out of the same materials – wool, fleece, or synthetic.
Top Choices for Snowboarding Mid-Layer
Women’s Snowboarding Jackets
Here’s where you can let your personality out. I’ve seen some of the cutest snowboarding jackets over the last couple of years! If you’re wondering what I wear…
Mine is plain black. My parents bought it for me in high school and it’s still kicking and I’m too cheap to buy myself another.
That’s the thing though, these jackets are expensive, but if you buy a good quality snowboarding jacket then it should last you for years!
The main things to look for in a jacket are if it’s waterproof and whether it fits correctly. Looking back, I wish I had found one with a more flattering fit also. I’m glad my jacket isn’t white or I’d bear a striking resemblance to a jumbo marshmallow.
The 3-in-1 jackets can be more expensive, but you may not have to purchase a mid-layer if you decide to go with one of these. They are also very convenient because the built-in mid-layer fits so well in the outer shell.
Top Choices for Women’s Snowboarding Jackets
- Columbia – 3-in-1 jacket (The one I use and love!)
- Another Columbia – 3-in-1 jacket
- Obermeyer – Jacket
Snowboarders may go through pants quicker than skiers do because of the bindings. I’ve had one pair of pants for a couple of seasons now and they are starting to tear at the bottom. I think from where they keep getting caught and pulled in my bindings when I cinch them down.
The first question to ask yourself is: bibs or pants? My answer is both. I love my bibs for really cold and snowy days. I’m still prone to fall every once in a while and it’s easier to keep snow out of your clothes if you’re wearing bibs.
Unless you face plant and slide down the slope. Then it’s virtually impossible.
Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with that though. I love pants too because they make you look much better than bulky bibs. If I’m feeling confident and know the mountain then I’ll go with pants all day long.
A couple things you want to look for when buying snowboarding pants are the gaskets that cover your boots and pockets. It’s so hard to find pants with plenty of pockets.
Top Choices for Women’s Snowboarding Pants
There are a few other items to complete your snowboarding outfit. One major item is socks. Socks are so important for keeping your feet and toes warm all day. I’m partial to Darn Tough or Farm to Feet brands.
Gloves or mittens are also incredibly important. Many snowboarders choose to go with gloves because they think it will be easier to adjust their bindings.
I’ve found I love wearing a lightweight glove under mittens to keep my hand toasty warm but keep my fingers from getting sweaty.
Related: A Budget Guide to Snowshoe, WV
You’ll need something to keep your neck warm and during COVID this can double as your mask. There are thick neck gaiters made of fleece that are for warmth or you can wear a thin buff used to keep the wind from your face.
Another option is the balaclava that comes with a full hood and covers all but your eyes. These can be thin or made of warm, thick material as well.
We’ll talk about helmets later, but you’ll want to keep your head warm. This means if you don’t have a helmet (though I highly recommend it) you’ll want a toboggan for sure. You may also want to keep one with you for when you’re off the slopes.
You know there is more to snowboarding than the clothing alone. Here is a complete snowboarding gear list so you don’t miss anything if you’re snowboarding for the first time! Please know that all of this can and should be rented when you are starting out.
Once you’ve gone a couple times and if you know that you’ll be making a few snowboarding trips each winter, only then would I recommend buying your equipment.
As a beginner, you’ll want to try out a few different snowboards before you buy. This will be to test out the length and brand of board. When you first go to rent the employees should be able to help you with picking out the correct length for you.
The general rule of thumb for the length of snowboard is that it will hit between your chin and nose when you stand it on its end. A shorter board should be easier to turn and may be what you want to start out with as many people feel they are easier to control.
Once you’ve tried a few out, I would recommend demoing the board that you think you may want to buy either from a local shop or from a shop at the ski mountain.
There are two different types of bindings – the traditional ones and step-in bindings. Traditional bindings are the ones that you manually cinch down and step-ins are ones that you step into and they lock into place themselves.
You’ll pay a good bit more for the step-ins plus you have to buy special boots. The traditional bindings are what myself and most other people have. It’s a good idea to talk to someone at your local shop so they can get you the best bindings for your board.
Just like the base layer is your most important piece of clothing, the boots are your most important piece of gear. If your feet aren’t happy then you won’t be happy I can promise you that.
So much of snowboarding has to do with where the weight is in your feet so your boots can also help you out in that way. There are many options when it comes to boots. There are lace-up, boas, double-boas, and step-in boots.
I have the double-boas and can’t recommend them enough. They do cost a bit more than the single boa system so if you want to save some money then go with those instead.
Please, please, please wear a helmet no matter how good you think you are. It’s not even about how good you are, but how crazy other people can be. Anyone can plow into you at any point in time on the mountain. This is what holds me back in many cases.
I hope that never happens to you, but if it does you will want to be prepared.
What to Wear Snowboarding by Temperature
The only thing I change by temperature is how many layers I have on so it’s pretty simple.
30 degrees or below – All layers on plus my warmest jacket.
30 – 40 degrees – I’ll not wear my mid-layer so only my base layer and jacket are on. Make sure that you’re okay with only having your base layer on if you go into a restaurant to eat. It doesn’t bother me now, but it took some getting used to.
40 degrees or above – I usually take the liner out of my ski jacket so there’s only the waterproof shell and wear a lightweight base layer and mid-layer.
Is there anything else you bring with you to board? Let me know in the comments!
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