So the time has finally come. You’re about to try snowboarding or skiing! First of all, congrats and the snowboard/ski community welcomes you! It’s going to be your first time and now you’re wondering what you should wear or even buy. This article aims to answer all those for you.
Universal Pro-tip: Defer Buying
The very first practical and smart tip–I know, I haven’t even talked about a specific item yet–I’ll tell you is to: try not to buy anything yet as much as possible. This is because firstly, you’re probably trying this out with friends or family. Maybe you’re excited or scared, maybe you end up not wanting to do anything with it at all after one try or maybe you end up loving it. Even if you end up loving it, maybe your life would only allow you to go skiing barely 1-3x a year.
You don’t want to buy things only to find out you don’t like it or even waste heavy $$$ for something you’ll barely do annually.
If you need to buy something, don’t go shopping for “the name” or for the “highest quality”. With all due respect, you probably wouldn’t know what you’re talking about or looking at so you’ll just be wasting money. Honestly, go for the cheapest. You don’t know if you’ll like it yet, and even if you end up liking it after the first few tries, it’s better to shop after you’ve tried it because you’ll know your riding style, your (fashion) style, the riding type you want to do, sizing of boards, boots, jackets, etc!
(I’ve also talked about some meta/environmental things about the snowboard industry in general if you’re interested)
Things You’ll Need
Alright, I’ll go from head to toe. I’ll lay out most items you’ll see snowboarders wear. Not all of them are required at all especially for first time snowboarding but I’m sure you’ll be asking anyways: “but what about X?” so I’ll address it here too 😉
Your gear is as follows:
- Face Mask
- Snow(board) jacket (sweaters etc inside)
- Snow pants
- Snowboard socks
- Snowboard Boots
- The snowboard itself
First of all, helmets, snowboard boots, bindings, and the snowboard itself are provided already in ski resorts. You don’t have to shop for them in advance. They are available for rent at pretty much all ski resorts.
Please please please wear a helmet. Don’t be stupid. I say this to everyone even if you’re not a beginner.
You can’t wear any footwear for snowboarding. Only snowboard boots go into snowboard bindings (the mechanism that straps and attaches your foot to the wooden board).
Goggles, honestly, you don’t need them for your first time. What it does normally is you get to ride fast without snow and fast (not to mention freezing) winds hitting your eye. Trust me, you won’t be reaching those speeds today lol.
Face Masks (e.g.: neck warmers, bandanas, balaclavas, snowboard face masks/not the everyday covid face masks etc) are actually optional BUT during these pandemic times, ski resorts actually require you to wear face masks inside the ski resort (when going indoors or riding lift lines).
When you’re out there going down the hill, you don’t need to wear it but surely you’ll at least go indoors to register, buy a day pass, and rent things and you’ll probably access a magic carpet or a small lift for your bunny hill, so it’s kinda guaranteed you’ll need a face mask already.
You can wear a regular face mask (the one you use everyday due to covid) while snowboarding, and at the same time, wearing the snowboarding face masks/balaclavas etc are also permitted as masks when you go inside.
Snowboard jacket is the meat of this article I think. I’ll try to simplify it for beginners: you don’t need a specialized “snowboard jacket” per se. You just need a winter jacket in general. Something waterproof is ideal since you’ll be rolling around maybe, falling also. The snow will stick to you, then melt, then get absorbed by the jacket and then it adds weight and it’ll make you cold later on.
If it’s not waterproof or the waterproof-ness has faded already with your jacket, that’s fine too. Just remember to bring extra sweaters for a quick swap after.
For the garments inside (shirts and sweaters), the most important point is to wear materials that are ideally moisture-wicking (it doesn’t absorb and hold your sweat, but rather it leaks out of the material). So ideally you’d wear shirts and sweaters that are polyester, WOOL is good, elastane or whatever else, just not cotton (because it does exactly the opposite of what we want lol). It’s not required. If you pull your closet and it’s all cotton, that’s fine too. Again, just bring lots of extras since this activity (and the fact that it’s your day 1) will make you sweat…A LOT. Yes, even if it’s winter outside.
For snow pants, I say just go to Walmart (or Target or the likes) or something and get one for $25. I know, because my first snow pants was from there haha! I heeded my future advice.
It’s the same with the jackets; you want it waterproof ideally because you’ll even sit even more when starting and strapping up your board.
If you don’t have one, that’s fine too. On a normal day back in uni when I started, I’d wear long johns (thermal pants) + any casual pants when commuting. You might end up wearing what you normally wear during winter, that’s fine. So if you’re like me, then layering up will make you warm BUT you want to layer up and not get constricted. There will be a LOT of leg motions like squats in this activity.
For socks, again, I’m not going to complicate it, wear whatever socks. It doesn’t even have to be thermal/warm/wool/winter/snowboard socks. Normal socks will do since snowboard technology does a good job and snowboard boots in itself are warm already.
Just wear a medium/long sock pair (not ankle socks). You’ll be wearing boots so you want it as high so it’s not rubbing and chaffing you. At the same time if your short socks rolls down your foot while strapped in….ooooomg, it’s such a hassle to unstrap, loosen your boots, take your foot out in snow, and then have to re-tighten your boots then strap back again.
and then for the boots, bindings, and board, I’ve covered first thing already.
That’s it! You’re all set! Enjoy and have fun on your first day!!!
Water, bring tons of water.
No you do not need a bag/backpack. You need it in a sense that you want a place to put your water bottle, your snacks, etc in, but you don’t need to wear one as you’re trying to snowboard for the first time. It’s not required. If you’re seeing them on social media, that’s because they’re in big mountains and they know they’ll be hours from a chalet or something, so it makes sense to bring one. They’ll probably just ask you to drop and leave it on the snow as you practice in the bunny hill.
Which reminds me, get a snowboard instructor if you can! With most ski resorts now, you get free lessons if you rent an entire set (helmet/boots/bindings/board) if not, they have a beginner set package usually (the gears mentioned + snowboard instructor/lessons + lift access to the beginner hill).