An Expert Guide On What To Wear Snowboarding

expert, guide, snowboarding, travel, wear, what - 15 minutes to read


If you’re starting or searching for some new gear, we cover what to wear snowboarding in this article. We share our favorite products and the basics to keep you warm and protected from the winter weather.

As a beginner, it can be intimidating and a little confusing as to what to wear. Not only is it a new sport, but for regulars, it’s a lifestyle with norms and rules. Regardless, from experts to newcomers we’re all enjoying the same sport and require a lot of the same clothes.

We’ve been fortunate enough to test out a lot of gear and happy to share some excellent tips and tricks.

Tips For What To Wear Snowboarding

Dress for your level of exertion

If you’re starting snowboarding or you’re an intermediate, we suggest dressing a little warmer. As a beginner, you’ll spend more time standing, sitting on your butt, falling, and not snowboarding as much.

You spend more of your concentration on the movements vs. your energy. When it becomes second nature to turn, you make a lot more. An expert bombing a double black chute uses and creates a lot more energy similarly. If you’re an expert rider, dress a little cooler.

Get the Basics

Invest in the basics, such as thermals and socks, when you’re just starting. They provide the most bang for the buck in terms of warmth. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when it comes to gear, but if you can manage to keep your base layer dry, you’ll be just as warm in a $100 jacket as a $900 jacket. Take our recommendations with a grain of salt!

Dry Feet Are Warm Feet

Always keep your socks dry when you get ready. My socks are the last thing I put on before my boots. I’ve had days with cold feet because I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth or got sweaty driving to the ski resort. It makes a huge difference!

On that note, it’s a good idea always to dry your boots, gloves, and even your goggles. Never leave those items in a cool or damp location. It’s not hard to bring these items inside and store them in a warm/dry spot.

How Do I Wear This?

When you first wear snowboard or ski-specific clothes, straps, skirts, and gaiters can all be a little confusing.

Socks — We’ll touch more on this later, but socks should go above the calf and protect your skin from the boot.Pants — The gaiter located inside of ski pants goes on the outside of the boot. It is designed to keep snow from entering the boot and it does an exceptional job at this.Jacket — Jacket layers over the pants — this includes the powder skirt or snow skirt. Many jacket producers have pants and jackets that interlock, but this often requires for it to be the same brand.Gloves — You have two options for gloves long cuff and short cuff. If the gloves have a long and wide cuff they go over the jacket sleeves. If the gloves have a short and thin cuff they go under the jacket sleeve.Goggles — Are worn over the helment, not under. The only people who wear them under are park riders who have hit their heads a few too many times. Truthfully, you can wear them which ever way is most comfortable. Helmet — Please wear a proper ski helmet that offers protection for the back of your head.

What To Wear on The Mountain

ThermalsWool SocksSnowboard JacketInsulated JacketShell Jacket

Midlayer JacketSnowboard PantsShell PantsBibsInsulated Pants

Mitts or GlovesBalaclavaBuff HeadwearGogglesHelmet

What To Wear Snowboarding

Base Layers

Base layers or thermals are the first line of defense against the cold. It’s vital that the base layer is moisture-wicking and can dry fast. A quality base layer is made from a natural fiber like wool as it has excellent technical advantages. Wool can resist odor, wick away sweat or snow, and provide a lot of warmth.

If wool is cost-prohibitive, choose thermals from a polyester or nylon blend. You can find them on Amazon, outdoor stores, or any cheap department store carrying winter wear. Do not wear a cotton base layer as cotton pulls body heat away and remains wet for an extended period.

Since the base layer touches the skin directly, opt for something comfortable and flexible. We like a large waistband for the legs and a top with a collar for better protection. A great option is to have top thermal with a 1/2 zip as it allows you to dump heat when you get hot.

After a lot of testing, we’ve found Helly Hansen’s wool thermals to be some of our favorites. Their Lifa line offers a lot of value with tremendous comfort and performance. Yak Wool thermals from Kora offer the best performance, but they are costly.

Wool Snowboard Socks

Similar to thermals, opt for a material such as wool or synthetic for your socks. Do not wear cotton socks when snowboarding, as it will almost certainly lead to cold feet. For most, any pair of wool socks or warm synthetic socks will do the job.

However, ski or snowboard socks are cut high up the calf to protect the skin from the boot. Many brands also offer dynamic panels on the heel and shin where pressure and abrasion are most likely to occur. Then more insulation and moisture-wicking material around the toes. They’re definitely worth the price if you snowboard a lot!

At the very least, opt for a medium or slim sock. Loose or bulky socks can trap moisture and bunch up, which results in cold feet. On that note, do not wear two pairs of socks as they will trap moisture. The key to warm feet is dry feet! Smartwool and Darn Tough both make some awesome ski socks that will keep your feet happy.

What Snowboard Jacket To wear

There are a large variety of jackets available, and every company has a multitude of options. In the most basic sense, you have two options for jackets — insulated and shell. For the best performance, we suggest the three-layer system. The only problem is that this can be expensive and a little cold for those just starting with winter sports.

Put an advanced snowboarder tends to run hotter than a beginner as they’re moving faster, thus more body heat. Consider an insulated jacket instead of a shell and mid-layer if you’re starting or a casual rider. Or, for more resort-focused riders, choose a light insulated shell that works alone or with a mid-layer on frigid days.

An insulated jacket is considered “resort wear,” and it’s a perfect jacket for most to have as it works well in everyday life. Resort wear insulated jackets come in a wide variety of price points and performance packages.

Inslutated Jacket

We ride with a shell jacket for our resort wear jacket that contains medium insulation from Picture Organic Clothing. It has many sweet features such as wrist gaiters, a snow skirt, and a helmet-compatible hood. Compared to our traditional hardshell jackets, the cut is a little baggier, looking better on a snowboarder. The Bio-Sourced exterior shell on the jacket has performed beautifully and kept us dry on deep days in Jackson Hole and Snowbird.

Picture Organic Clothing is a pretty rad B-Corp that designs fair-trade and eco-friendly clothing that largely avoids synthetic materials from petroleum. They work closely with retailers to pass as much cost savings as possible to the consumer and offer fantastic value for a green product. As an awesome bonus, they’re responsible for some of our favorite ski films in the last few years (Zabardast, Made in Voyage, and Shelter).

The Columbia Whirlbird IV Interchange Jacket is an excellent value if you’re looking for a cheap option. Granted, it doesn’t have any of the performance or sustainable cred like Picture. We are fans of Columbia for their accessibility to solid products. As a side note, every snowboard jacket should be helmet compatible and have a snow skirt as a minimum.

Shop For Insulated Jacket

Shell Jacket

Shell layers use a waterproof and windproof material that offers superior protection from the elements. These premium jackets most commonly utilize a multilayered nylon GORE-TEX material for the jacket’s exterior. As a result, a shell jacket provides exceptional protection from the snow, wind, and moisture. Hardshell jackets are excellent, but they come with a high price tag, and most lack any form of insulation.

We use the men’s Arc’teryx Sabre AR and the women’s Sentinel AR shell jackets. These are top-of-the-line jackets built to handle everything ski and snowboard. The rugged jackets keep us bone dry in adverse conditions, and the brushed flannel interior feels excellent to the touch and disperses moisture to dry fast.

They’re great jackets for split boarders or those who spend more time in the backcountry and are considered the gold standard. It makes for an excellent resort jacket, but truthfully we spend most of our days in the resort in more affordable jackets.

Shop For Arc’teryx Shell Jacket

Mid Layer

If you opt for a layering system, then a mid-layer jacket is where you’ll get the majority of your warmth. Midlayers go on over your thermals and operate as a jacket for when you’re not skiing or snowboarding. Mid-layers come in a wide variety of fashions, and we have several different types for different conditions. The most common are down jackets, synthetic down jackets, and fleece sweaters.

The most affordable option we recommend for everyone is a fleece jacket, as it provides plenty of warmth at an affordable price. It’s not technical enough for extreme conditions, but the average snowboarder shouldn’t be out in adverse conditions anyways. Fleece is also great to combine with an insulated jacket if it’s frigid out.

We both use synthetic down jackets from Arc’teryx as our mid-layers. The jackets are lightweight, provide excellent warmth, and handle moisture exceptionally. It’s tough to beat their classic Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket.

Shop For A Midlayer Jacket

What Snowboard Pants to Wear?

There are three basic styles of pants to wear snowboarding, shell, bibs, and insulated pants. You need a lot less insulation in the legs than you would think. It’s not your core, and it’s where the vast majority of your movement comes from when you snowboard.

Shell Pants

A robust pair of shell pants will keep you dry and protect you from the cold winter wind. We have a couple of pairs of shell pants, but the big difference in the pants is those with insulation and without insulation. They’re bomb-proof pants made for sending if off jumps and tackling steep lines in the resort or backcountry.

They feature things like rear leg zips for ventilation when climbing mountains and kevlar-enforced insteps to prevent cuts from crampons or ski edges. However, insulation only comes in the form of a thin flannel brushed interior. They are not for sitting around in the cold. I wear these pants all the time unless it’s a cold or deep snow day when I’ll bring out the bibs.

There are a plethora of pants that are much more affordable and provide plenty of performance. You can pick up more affordable shell pants from a wide range of gear companies like Outdoor Research, REI, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and Helly Hansen.

Shop Arc’teryx Shell Pants

Bibs

If you have a season pass to a ski resort and plan on chasing the powder, then a pair of bibs is a worthy investment. They’re fantastic on deep powder days (pretty much mandatory in Japan) and keep you bone dry.

It’s a great pant to add in rotation to your ski outfit for days that are cold or deep. Bibs come with a ton of advantages! Most importantly, they keep deep snow out of your waistline as the opening extends well up to your chest. Other sweet features include the addition of breast pockets, added warmth around your core, and a comfortable pant with no pressure on the waistline.

If it’s a powder day and I feel like crushing through pillows or sending it off cornices and drops, you’ll find me in my bibs. Two excellent brands for bibs are 686 and Picture Organic Clothing. They both have outstanding performance, value, features, and some sweet designs.

Insulated Pants

Unlike an insulated jacket, I find a lot less use for heavily insulated snow pants. They tend to restrict movement and generate too much warmth. So unless you run cold and plan to cruise down green runs slowly, don’t wear heavily insulated pants.

If you’re a weekend warrior or take one ski trip a year, consider some decent pants like The North Face Freedom pants. They don’t cost an arm and a leg but deliver a heck of a lot of performance with a waterproof exterior and synthetic insulation.

If you want something even cheaper, bargain shop around on Amazon or at your local department/sporting goods store. I spent several short weekend trips when I started snowboarding in $50 snow pants from a generic sporting goods store. They kept me happy and warm enough.

Shop For North Face Freedom Pants

Mitts or Gloves

Quality gloves will be your best friend on the slopes because cold hands or feet will ruin your day. The main reason people don’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding is due to the cold. When dressed appropriately, you’ll never be cold.

There are a ton of options for gloves! However, snowboarders should consider a pair of mittens. Mitts keep your fingers together and allow for less surface area to the cold. It means your hands stay warmer in mitts than gloves. Snowboarders don’t hold ski poles, so it’s an easy decision to wear mitts.

We went through a couple of pairs of soft gloves and mitts made from synthetics when we started, and they all kept our hands warm. However, they kept wearing out, so we switched over to Hestra leather gloves a couple of seasons ago, and they show no signs of wearing out any time soon. A worthy investment for any who rides a lot, plus they look sweet!

Balaclava/Face Mask

It’s always good to pack some snow protection for your face. We’ll go without anything on sunny days, but we expect snowy conditions on the mountain more often than not. We generally switch between two different styles of face protection.

The primary for bad weather and cold days is a merino wool balaclava. We’ve tried a bunch of different balaclavas, and it’s tough to get one that doesn’t collect tons of moisture before freezing to your face. As for the best warmth and performance, we’ve found the balaclava from BlackStrap can do wonders.

Shop For BlackStrap The Hood Balaclava

Buff Headwear

The balaclava is for cold days or heavy snow. On most days, we get by just fine with a Buff that can be worn around our neck or pulled to cover the face when needed. They make several versions of the original Buff, but the merino wool version is excellent and only $10 more.

Goggles

Unless you’re on a budget, it’s a good idea to get quality goggles. They are an essential part of your ski outfit and a lifeline when riding more demanding terrain. Goggles protect your eyes and aid your vision on the mountain.

The Smith Mag 4D are the latest and greatest in snow goggles and what we’ve been using for three seasons now. With that new technology, expect to pay a premium at $320. Of course, they are very arguably the best ski goggles on the market. If you don’t want to drop $200-300 on goggles, there are some excellent budget options.

For only $60, you can grab the Giro Semi that includes two lenses for low light and sunny days. Or you can try out a relatively new brand Outdoor Master that gained a lot of traction on Amazon.

Shop For Smith 4D Mag Goggles

Helmet

Not wearing a helmet is a thing of the past. Do yourself and your noggin a favor and wear a helmet when you snowboard. A helmet applies whether you are a beginner or an expert. The great thing about helmets is they keep your head and ears warmer than hats too!

We rock the Smith Quantum Helmet as it’s considered one of the best helmets on the market. It provides robust protection around our head, plenty of ventilation, and a cozy soft interior. The easy-to-latch and unlatch helmet buckle is possible to take off with gloves on! It also features MIPS technology which allows the helmet’s interior to move independently from the shell minimizing lateral brain trauma in an impact.

After getting a concussion last snowboard season, while wearing a helmet, it’s not something I plan to forgo anytime soon.

Shop For smith Quantum Helmet

Awesome Snowboards To Check Out This Season

Jones Flagship

Gnu Ladies Choice

Yes. Hybrid

Salomon Pillowtalk

Arbor Westmark

Never Summer Lady West

Bataleon Surfer

Yes. Rival

Snowboard Boots

Burton Driver X

Vans Viaje

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