Over the past few years, I’ve really figured out what works best for me as I spend time on the slopes. When snowboarding was something I could only do on vacation, I was learning what I liked a little at a time. But when you get to spend most weekends on the mountain, you have a lot more time to test things out.
What You Need
Other than the basics (board, boots, and bindings), there are some essentials that you need. And since you have to buy something, you might as well get something that looks good and that will last you a few years. And since you know I love colorful workout gear, you’ll notice that carries over to the mountain!
Over the years I’ve gone through several pairs of snowboarding pants. What should you look for? Lots of pockets to hold your wallet, chapstick, hand or toe warmers. Zippers are the safest option, instead of just snaps. My current favorite are a pair of teal Obermeyer Snowboard Pants (similar pants) that I got on sale in August (before the new gear went on sale).
Here’s another piece that you want lots of pockets! In my jacket, I store my phone (ideally with a headphone channel), ski pass, map of the resort, and extra phone battery. Take all this into account when trying on jackets, so you don’t look like an overstuffed bear when you fill the jacket with your gear. Because you should be wearing a helmet, you won’t need a hood on the mountain, but it can be nice for Apres Ski (walking around time after a full day). My current jacket is from Burton, which I got for Christmas last year (again from the sale rack!).
This is a tricky one for me, as I haven’t found any gloves that really keep me warm all day. My hands are the first thing to get cold and I have a pair of Swany Youth MIttens (similar mittens) that I got last season. You want a pair that has a pocket to put hand warmers in, but mine never seem to stay hot until I put it inside the glove.
It used to be that helmets weren’t cool. They are very normal now and I think it’s weird when someone ISN’T wearing one. So do your head a favor and get a helmet (you can also rent these with most equipment). My current helmet is a Salomon Icon Custom Air Helmet, which fits nicely over my wool hat (to hide my hair under when I take off the helmet in the lodge).
The gold standard in ski socks has been EuroSock Ski Socks since I learned to ride back in middle school. They keep you dry, warm, and they are made to fit under your boots. I wouldn’t waste your time with other brands, as they never seem to fit as nicely.
6. Long Underwear
Before you buy long underwear, check your workout clothes and look for a pair of long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. As long as you have some fitness apparel (made from technical fabrics) that look like that, you can use those instead of long underwear. In fact, I tend to pick my Ellie pieces over my ll Bean Silk Underwear on most weekends.
If it’s cold, just layer a few bottoms and a few tops.
What Is Nice To Have
You can wear your sunglasses on the slopes, but they aren’t usually as comfy as a good pair of goggles. Last year, I ended up getting these Dragon DXS Goggles at the base of the slopes when I forgot mine. They are the best size for my small face and have two lenses. I have been keeping the low-light lenses all year, since we spend so much time in the trees. My only complaint is they aren’t the easiest lenses to swap.
8. Neck Gaiter
There are so many styles to choose from, but the basic tube neck gaiter is the most comfortable for me. So I got a nice bright color that ended up matching my backpack perfectly. Turtle Fur Neck makes the most common styles and the ones I usually choose. I have two that I rotate for weekends.
This is my most recent purchase and has been a lifesaver this year – Dakine Women’s Heli Pack. Whether you want to save a little money on food or you want to control what you eat a bit more, having a backpack that you can fill with your own food is a great perk!! I make my mini-meals before the weekend and pack them in tupperware. I pack my food in the bag and it fits comfortably over my jacket – so comfortable that I barely feel it. This is how I stay on my nutrition plan on the mountain!
If you’re traveling to high altitude, this last recommendation can make your trip so much better! Have you heard of altitude sickness when visiting Breckenridge and other resorts above 10,000 feet. Kirk really struggled with the altitude when we moved here – in fact when we stay around 10,000 feet for more than one night it can still be a challenge. Altitude sickness can get so bad that it’s symptoms are similar to food poisoning or worse.
You’d think since we live at 6,000 feet it wouldn’t be a problem, but it still is! How do we handle it? Oxygen! I did a ton of research and tried everything, but the only thing that works is taking oxygen – we use Boost Oxygen. One small canister in a jacket pocket taken on lifts throughout the first day and Kirk is all good!
I hope this list helps someone who’s looking to hit the mountain for the weekend or for a weeklong trip.
Questions for you:
Have you been snowboarding?
If you could pick any color – what color pants would you choose?