Snowboarding 101: A Guide to the Must-Have Gear

By Damian Papworth

Getting ready for a day of snowboarding can be a daunting task for anyone who isn't from a snowy wintery environment. But whether or not you're a seasoned snowboarder or a newbie from Florida who's never even seen snow, it's easy to learn the right way to dress not just to impress, but to survive out on the slopes.

While choosing the right board and binding is important, no one, beginner or expert, should consider a day on the slopes without planning accordingly.

Cotton should be avoided at all costs because unlike synthetics, it actually holds water in instead of wicking it away. That matters when snow is melting on your boots and potentially getting into your socks. An excellent sock made of a materiel like SmartWool will keep you dry and healthy, while cotton will only lead to trouble. Don't even put a layer of cotton over something synthetic: avoid it at all costs. Good winter gear won't have cotton elements.

Layers are a crucial part of dressing for snowboarding because it's much more convenient to be able to take something off or put something on at a moment's notice than it is to unzip a one-piece ski suit and go from there. Sometimes, a drop in temperature will necessitate adding a layer, while other times, on a warmer spring day, three layers just won't be necessary. Layers make adapting a whole lot easier.

Learning to layer properly is a breeze. The first layer to any snowboarding outfit is the base layer, which is the long underwear and socks layer. These clothes should fit snugly to trap your body heat and keep your core warm while also wicking moisture away from your skin so that you do not hold in the dampness of sweat.

The insulation layer of a snowboarding outfit goes on over the base layer, but does not need to protect from the elements like the outer layer. Also known as the middle layer, this is what provides extra warmth by keeping heat locked firmly in while allowing water to be wicked away. The middle layer consists of a sweater or zip-up, usually made of wool or fleece. Its purpose is to provide a little bit more warmth while not adding too much bulk to the outfit. Boots are also included in the middle layer.

The most important layer of any snowboarding outfit is the outer layer, because it is the first to meet the inclement weather. While the other two layers are all about keeping body heat in and water out, the outer layer can focus more on protection from the immediate elements. Outerwear consists of goggles, gloves, and the snowboarding jacket.

Gloves are another crucial part of snowboarding outerwear because of the amount of time that snowboarders spend getting up from the ground. The right pair of gloves should fit snugly, prevent snow or water from leaking in at the wrists, and be made of a waterproof material. Warm packs are a popular item to purchase at ski barns because they can be held in your palm inside the gloves on particularly freezing days on the slopes.

Snowboarding goggles are important because of many things. One, in the event of a sudden weather change and a big snow, you're going to need something to block the snowflakes from getting in your eyes. Another is that a bright, white, reflective surface can do damage to your eyes after an hour or so, so the tinting in the goggles decreases the UV rays. Goggles also keep things like tree branches from doing any damage to your eyes.

Snowboarders should take the most time in choosing the right jacket, because that is the first layer of the outfit that's going to come in contact with the outside elements. A snowboarding jacket should repel both wind and water, and provide a hood that easily folds away for extreme weather. Remember that this is your first line of defense against the cold! Plan accordingly. - 30448

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