15 Essential Pieces of Kit For Your Snowboarding Trip
The reaction to my quick ski trips post was positive and there have been lots of queries around what kit people would need. Ski and snowboarding gear can be very expensive it's also highly fashionable with styles, looks, technology changing faster than you upgrade your phone.
I have a very simple rule. Buy good stuff, screw the fashion trends and make sure you're warm, comfortable and riding well. With those rules your investment will last you a good few seasons. That applies to those of us happy with our 5 days of mountain time a year. If you're lucky enough to ride every weekend then go wild and upgrade regularly. Here are a few of my essential kit picks to help you choose wisely. I've done this from your head down to your toes:
I spent the first few years on the mountain without a helmet. When I think about it all I can't think is "what an idiot." Over the last few years there has been a serious switch to people wearing helmets - you're the odd one out if you don't have one. Safety first folks. Once its on you don't think about it and in fact it keeps you nice and warm. Solomon Brigade is my pick, simple looks army styled and does the job.
Its always a good idea to have a beanie in your pocket. If it gets cold it saves you. With the Solomon helmet you can wear a beanie underneath without any trouble. I try to match with my overall styling. Changing your beanie is the cheapest way to change your look. Good choices at Blue-Tomato.
One of the more expensive items but so worth getting right. I have changeable lenses, one for low light and one for sunny. Alternatively get a general purpose lens. Sunglasses are a mugs game, just get goggles. I like Oakley, pricey but they will last you forever. Just watch pesky skiers as they can scratch them up good.
4. Never Enough Protection
As I get older, I've gotten safer. Back guard, elbows and knees. This allows an old guy to hit the park and come out in relatively one piece. You feel like a loser until you fall then you thank your that clever loser in your head. POC is lovely but pricey but what says safety more than made in Sweden? I am a fan of the VPN material, it is a soft flexible dough that goes hard under impact. Once you warm up you don't know they are on.
Wind, snow and low temperature. I wear one of these most of the winter in Ireland. It is a smart way to stay warm, drier and feel a bit more snug on exposed chair lifts. Wind protector from North Face is my choice.
6. Merino Wool Baselayer
Merino wool is there for a reason, it is the smartest temperature control clothing material available. I saw an ad for Helly Hansen Workwear merino wool that was a sailer who said he wore it for 200 days straight without washing - sold! That sums up the difference between polyester base layers and merino. Polyester can stink. For cold days I wear two layers.
This is the only bulk I wear. Depends on temperature but never hate myself for one of these when the sun disappears. Weight wise it isn't gonna weigh you down and you can stuff it in your backpack. No need for brands or expense on this piece.
Burton are the Apple of snowboarding. They just think of everything. Good pockets are important to avoid the iPhone being discovered in the alps next summer. I am a fan of mid weight jackets, a good waterproof breathable shell but with some warmth. This allows you to manage your layers and warmth as you experience different conditions. I wouldn't buy a jacket without:
- Powder Skirt
- Link to my pants
- A hood - that fits over my helmet
Over the last few years I bought a jacket I like to wear off the mountain as much as on the mountain. I alway travel to the mountains with a spare lighter jacket for the evenings so I can let my gear thaw out while I thaw out.
Again worth spending a few quid on decent gloves. Leather is a luxury but it does wear the best. Mitts or gloves, tried both prefer gloves. I personally go Burton again, they allow me to attach the gloves to my wrist so I never lose them on lifts if I need to take them off. The strap and elastic allows me to fit them perfectly. Baker 2-1 gone through about 3 pairs of these over the year. They are polyester and waterproof with some leather paths on the fingers. A handy goggle wipe sits on the space between your thumb and finger.
Burton jacket Burton pants. It's like Apple gear, it just all works really well together. Gators to go over your boots and a few stink vents. On colder days I will supplement with a 3/4 base layer on my lower half. Its okay to go for a thicker insulation on your pants as you don't really feel the heat there.
Any ski socks work. Smart wool is good but some elastic helps them keep their shape. Don't go massive premium but don't get the cheapest.
If you fancy long days on the go you need a water pack. Hydration is a killer at altitude and if going hard you are getting thirsty. Good news is water gets nicely chilled. A good water pack can also save your back. Make sure it fits and has a chest and waist strap to keep it flush. North Face or Camel Bak.
Now you have to make the call on do you want to invest in your own hardware. If the answer is yes boots are the first port of call. The only way to get boots is to go to a shop and get fitted. They are all very different. Cheap boots are generally for beginners and are not stiff. You need a good stiff board, comfort is important but secondary really. Its gotta fit and be tight. This is your key interface with he board. I like a pro fitting from Snow and Rock. 32's for me, really wanted Nike's but they just didn't fit. If I shopped online I would be crippled.
I switched to Rome a few years back. A start up style snowboarding house. A bunch of guys left Burton and set it up. Made in Austria, the Targa has more settings than a F1 car. Very adjustable for us pros!
If you know what your riding style and what camber you want then go wild. It's worth trying a few boards. Rental boards are crap, you can upgrade to premium boards and it is better but your own board is special, you just know it and how it reacts, you know when it needs a bit of love and a service. Rome is my brand of choice but I have friends that are Burton loyal, Arbor loyal everyone has there own preference. I like to cruise at speed so basically I have a big long board, its fine for old man style park run but it limits my backside 720s due to its length.
Now go out and ride powder! And if you can't watch this video for inspiration.