What essentials do I need?
If you’re ready to explore the fresh powder by skis or snowboard, you’ll need to be prepared. Throwing on some thermal leggings and cheap stretch gloves isn’t going to cut it. Being prepared with the right ski and snowboarding gear will help to ensure your safety in the often changing weather conditions.
Your mom’s nagging all those years wasn’t a waste of breath. Having your noggin covered out in the cold will help to keep you warm. Find a helmet that breathes right and fits your favorite pair of goggles. A helmet will stay put in a strong wind and many allow for temperature adjustments with vents. Oh, and then there’s the protection element, which I’m sure mom would also want you to have on the slopes.
Mentioned above, goggles—or at the very least sunglasses—can be a much-appreciated accessory. Sunglasses will protect against glare and sunlight but goggles give added benefit if there is any blowing snow.
Starting at the item closest to your skin, you’ll want a shirt that is made with a wicking material to help keep your body dry from sweat, because even though you’re in snow, all that maneuvering is quite the workout. From there, continue to layer based on weather conditions.
How to dress in layers:
- For conditions that are in the 30s to 40s and sunny, you might just need a wicking shirt and light pullover.
- For colder conditions, think mid-20s to 30s with windy conditions, consider a thermal shirt, sweatshirt, and ski jacket.
- For temperatures below freezing, think 10-15 degrees, you’ll want a thermal shirt, sweater, and a quality jacket designed for snow sports.
- For really cold conditions, think 15 degrees below zero, you’ll want to be well layered. Thermal shirt, sweatshirt, sweater, and a good jacket.
When you’re looking for an outer shell for skiing or snowboarding, look for jackets that are windproof, breathable, and waterproof. For midlayers, look for fleece or garments made with wicking materials.
Many of the same technologies that are useful for upper body garments are also important for lower body garments. You’ll want pants that are breathable, waterproof, and windproof. Stay away from jeans, which can reduce your mobility on the slopes.
If you’re new to the sport, many snowboard pants are reinforced for added protection when you’re kneeling (or falling in some cases) into the snow.
When purchasing skiing or snowboarding boots and skiing or snowboarding pants, make sure the pants will have the length and room to cover the tops of your boots. All the waterproofing fabrics and technology in the world won’t help if the snow gets in from above.
When purchasing protection for your hands, avoid cotton and wool materials. Look for a pair of waterproof, breathable gloves or mittens designed with your favorite snow sports in mind. Whether you choose gloves or mittens is a personal preference (team gloves here), but find whatever is most comfortable for you! If you’re planning to be in really cold conditions, consider bringing along hand warmers to add for additional warmth.
Skiing and snowboarding boots are designed to keep you warm, this means you’ll only need a thin pair of socks. Avoid cotton, which can absorb sweat and leave you cold. And even if you’re worried about cold feet, don’t double up on socks. Added thickness can result in unwanted blisters.
Before you head out, make sure your boots fit properly. You should have room to wiggle your toes, but not so much room that you can turn your foot side-to-side. If you’re worried about the fit, try on multiple boots and find the one that feels the best. It’s worth it to take the time to test different sizes.
What should I expect?
Getting the gear is only half the battle. Now you actually have to maneuver the snow, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up bruised the next day. Have realistic expectations; you will likely fall, just remember to get up, smile, and try again. Or you can curse at your partner who picked it up super fast and is trying to coach you. I won’t judge.
Just remember to have fun and take the learning process as slow as you need to have a great winter adventure!