The base layer is the first line of defense against cold, wet snow. It’s what you wear directly against your skin, and it’s responsible for wicking moisture away from your body and drying quickly. The material you choose for your base layer should be breathable and fit snugly without being too tight. Avoid cotton at all costs, as it holds in moisture instead of wicking it away from your skin. Opt for a long-sleeve shirt that keeps your torso warm but doesn’t restrict movement when worn under snowboarding pants.
As far as materials go, skip the cotton or silk (too heavy), and try polyester or merino wool instead. Two great options:
- Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew Top
- Burton Midweight Merino Crew
Your insulating layer is the most important part of your outfit, because it keeps you warm. A jacket that is too thin or a jacket with no insulation will be ineffective in keeping the cold out. For example, if you have a jacket that has little to no insulation and wear only a t-shirt underneath, you will likely get cold very fast.
When snowboarding down the mountain, you’ll build up heat from all the physical activity; however, this heat will escape quickly once you slow down or stop to take a break. Make sure that your insulating layer has some form of breathability and/or ventilation so that excess heat can escape without leaving you feeling wet and sweaty when moving slowly to put on your bindings or eating lunch in the lodge.
Two types of popular insulations are synthetic insulation made from polyester fibers and goose down. Synthetic fill is typically less expensive and can still provide good warmth retention even when wet; however it’s not as light and compressible as goose down fill which holds its shape better over time and can last for years. Your choice comes down to how much warmth vs weight vs price ratio is important for where you live and what type of weather conditions you’re preparing for.
Outerwear is your first line of defense against the elements. It not only needs to keep you warm and dry, but it also has to be breathable to avoid overheating and sweating (which will make you cold). To avoid being uncomfortable when snowboarding, there are a few things that should be considered:
- Fabric type
- Wear snowboarding socks or a thin pair of socks. You’ll need a good sock for comfort, fit, and warmth. Your foot should be snug and secure inside your boot—it shouldn’t feel loose, but there shouldn’t be too much pressure either. If you wear the wrong kind of sock, you could end up with a frozen toe after two hours on the mountain!
- The best fabric for snowboarding socks is wool. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water without feeling wet or cold. It also traps air between fibers that provide an insulating layer against your body heat escaping into the air around you and prevents cold air from seeping in through tiny holes in your clothing.
- Snowboard socks should be thick and high enough to prevent your shin guards from chafing your skin. A good rule of thumb: if it’s rubbing bare skin then it’s probably not thick enough for long days spent riding powder at high speeds! You don’t want blisters developing just because you wore the wrong type of sock when boarding down slopes all day long so make sure yours are nice and cozy this wintertime adventure!
Gloves and Mittens
Mittens: Warmer than gloves, easier to put on and take off, better for people with arthritis or circulation problems. Gloves: More dexterous, better for people with long fingers, more breathable.
When choosing between gloves and mittens to wear snowboarding, you should consider what you value most in a glove. If you’re someone who tends to have cold hands but wants an option that’s easy to take on and off (like when you want to snap a photo), mittens would be the way to go.
If dexterity is important (for example if you’re a beginner who will be handling your snowboard straps a lot), then gloves might be more suitable. Both styles work well for snowboarding and either can serve as accessories in completing your look (it worth mentioning that mittens tend not to be as stylish).
Socks and Underwear
Socks and underwear are not the most fun part of buying snowboarding gear, but they are the most important. The wrong pair of socks or underwear can make or break your day on the slopes, so if you can only afford to buy one thing from this list, go for some good winter socks and a pair of sports underwear.
Get some good winter socks that cover your shins. Boots aren’t all made equally, and there is a wide range in how much insulation each boot has on its own. For this reason, you’ll want to look for wool socks that are long enough to cover your shins. Go with at least medium thickness (if not thick) wool socks to keep your feet warm. Don’t choose too thick of a sock as they may not fit into your boots well.
And buy some breathable sports underwear! You don’t want 100% cotton undergarments when you’re spending all day active in freezing temperatures—they just get wet from sweat and stay wet, which will make you cold later on in the day. Get a pair or two of synthetic, quick drying sports underwear instead.
Pants and Shorts
The cold is a fact of life. If you’re tackling the mountain on a day that doesn’t have much natural snowfall, however, it’s important to keep your legs warm so you don’t get frostbite. Pants are great for keeping your legs warm and insulating layers are even better, especially if it’s cold enough outside to justify wearing an insulated jacket too. Whatever layer you choose, just make sure that it blocks the wind while remaining breathable and comfortable so you don’t get overheated.
A snowboard jacket is arguably the most essential piece of clothing for your day on the mountain. It’s your last line of defense against the elements, and therefore needs to be properly suited to keep you warm and dry. The catch? A good snowboard jacket will easily run you $200 or more.
Snowboard jackets can be made from a variety of different materials, but it’s worth noting that they need to be completely waterproof while also allowing moisture to escape. A great way to check this is by looking at the “breathability” rating on the tag—the higher it is, the better. Most good jackets these days are made out of a material that has a high breathability rating (usually 10,000 or 20,000g), so don’t settle for anything lower than that if you want something that won’t get clammy after five minutes in the cold. No one wants clammy clothes!
Beanies, Helmets, and Balaclavas
- Beanies are a good option for snowboarding and skiing, given their price and availability. Most ski resorts have a wide variety of hats to choose from. They’re also the most versatile option, since you can wear them when you’re not on the slopes.
- Helmets are definitely your best bet for safety-related matters; head injuries are serious business, and they can be avoided with proper equipment. Plus, helmets used in colder climates will also help keep your head warm.
- Balaclavas seem like the most effective way to stay warm while keeping your face protected. They’re an ideal solution against windburns caused by cold temperatures and harsh winds while speeding down a mountain slope at 30 miles per hour (or faster). You could even opt for a balaclava with eyeholes cut out if you want your eyes exposed during your run
Goggles or Sunglasses
No matter what the weather, if you want to be on your snowboard all day, here’s how to pick the right goggle lenses so that you don’t break a lens and get blinded by fog.
- Pick the right goggle lenses
If it’s cold outside, pick ski goggle lenses—they can sometimes double as goggles for when it’s warmer out. On rocky terrain, avoid plastic lens materials such as polycarbonate or plexiglass (which is why we have an aversion to wearing our skis), and stick with a hard plastic lens material like polycarbonate or glass lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are better in terms of scratch resistance but retain their shape better than glasses, so they’re more comfortable to wear (making them ideal for tactical mountain biking). If you ski at high altitudes and get altitude sickness easily, protect yourself from UV exposure with one of these glasses over your regular ski goggles.
protect yourself from the cold weather with your clothing
First things first: you can’t go riding unless you’re wearing a helmet. This is just a fact of life, so don’t even try to fight it. When picking out your helmet, be sure that it fits snugly around your head and keeps your ears completely covered. You can also pick up goggles at the same time for protection against the sun and snow. These will be extremely important if you want to avoid snow blindness… or just being annoyed by tiny flakes blowing into your eyes all day.
Next up: the clothes! You absolutely have to have a winter jacket on hand when you go riding, as well as a good pair of gloves (look for ones with Gore-Tex in them if possible). If it’s really cold outside, you might want to pick up some neck warmers and balaclavas too. Don’t forget about socks or underwear either—keep yourself warm from head to toe (and everything in between).
Last but not least: pants! You need thick pants that provide plenty of insulation while still allowing movement around the knees and hips. Try on several pairs before making a decision so that they fit perfectly—otherwise they may fall down while you ride (no one wants this!).