Snow Packed

I'm planning a snowboarding trip with a group of friends--including more than a few first-time boarders. So I'm rounding up tips from reflections on my first snowboarding trips as a novice boarder. This is the first in a three-part series of posts: with the first on gear, the second running through boarding the mountain, and the last a few niceties what I wish I'd known before my first time boarding.

For a beginning boarder, good gear is especially valuable: it can make the difference in keeping your spirits up, the difference between falling the fifth time while you're wet and cold, and falling and getting right back up for another (better) run. When you're learning, you want as few negative distractions as possible: bring the right gear and give yourself the advantage in learning.

When you're learning (and fooling around and floundering while trying to learn) you're going to want to be comfortable, padded and stay as dry as possible. You are going to land on your ass, you are going eat some snow--


  • SNOWBOARD (rent/borrow)
  • BOARDING BOOTS & BINDINGS (rent/borrow)
  • BOARDING PANTS (rent/borrow)
  • WATERPROOF GLOVES (ideally, snowboarding gloves)
  • BEANIE (stylish as you all are, I'm sure you already have three)
  • SCARF (you may want to just zip your jacket, but I find the collar gets in my way--remember you'll be boarding sideways--and I want to unzip to cool off.)
    • I <3 mine.
    • Ideally, snowboarding socks. (If you buy one piece of gear for the trip--I recommend this.)
  • GOGGLES (Get/borrow real snow goggles if you can. You want maximum visibility--especially since as a beginner you won't know what to expect going down the mountain. Sunglasses work, but they'll probably come flying off.)
    • This means a snow jacket, OR
    • My first few times out, I just took a large Northface rain jacket and wore multiple long-sleeved layers underneath. If you go this route and you want to keep toasty, like me, try to include a combination of these layers (yes, all of them):
      • a silken/underwear
      • a thermal layer
      • a breathable poly-blend layer (like a running shirt)
      • 1-2 long-sleeve cotton shirts
      • and (if you're really cold) a sweatshirt.
Note: Do not bring a down jacket unless it's waterproof. Down is not an effective insulator when it's wet.

  • IBUPROPHIN (trust me)
  • SNACK (stick a power bar in your jacket so you don't have to stop in the middle of your run to pay obscene rates for the same thing at the lodge)
  • WALKIE-TALIKE (we like to play spy on the mountain ; ) They're also good for staying in touch--where cell phone coverage is bleak. If you have one, bring it.)

Post mountain
  • MOUNTAIN/SNOW BOOTS or the closest thing you have to it. My leather hiking boots work fine.
  • JACKET/SWEATSHIRT (your boarding jacket will be cold)
  • EXTRA SOCKS (just in case yours get wet)

In sum

> > DRESS IN LAYERS. so you can control your temperature. you'll get hot when you move. you'll get cold when you fall.
> > COVER YOUR EXTREMITIES. Head, hands, and fingers are the most vulnerable to the cold. Most heat loss will come from your head.
Do try on all your gear on at least once before you pack. I've seen underwear, socks and gloves forgotten this way--or alternately, miraculously remembered at the final hour.


BOREAL has a Beginner's Package: http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/lessons/beginner_packages
BOREAL/ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/rentals/gear_rentals
SFO/ http://www.sfosnow.com/ @ Haight
REI/ http://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html

Hope you find this helpful. If you have more suggestions or questions, add them to the comments.