Fashions come and go, but the best jackets and pants for snowboarding will always keep you warm and dry in the toughest of winter conditions.
Generally speaking, the more you pay, the more technical the fabric will be. When hunting for your next piece of outerwear, the two most crucial factors to consider are:
Measured in millimetres, the waterproof rating refers to the depth of water required to penetrate the fabric (based on filling a one-inch diameter tube). Anything under 10,000mm is pretty average; the best snowboard jackets will have ratings of 20,000mm plus. Bear in mind, too, that a garment’s water repellency tends to degrade with age, so it’s worth getting the highest rating you can (unless you’re a park rat eyeing up another black coach jacket – if we’re honest, practicality usually goes out of the window in the world of freestyle fashion).
It’s easy enough to make a fully waterproof snowboard jacket – in theory. After all, a macintosh keeps you dry in the rain, right? The difference is you’re working (and sweating) hard while you’re on the mountain, so to maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid the perils of trapping moisture which later freezes, your snowboard outerwear needs to be able to breathe.
“Testing protocols are far from consistent between brands”
Breathability ratings are measured in grams, and refer to the weight of water that can pass through a square metre of fabric in 24 hours. Testing protocols are far from consistent between brands, but generally speaking the best snowboard jackets and pants will boast a breathability rating of 15 or even 20,000 grams.
It’s worth noting that Gore-Tex – a pioneer in technical fabrics and still the market leader – don’t actually offer a standard waterproof/breathability rating; instead they increase the number of layers as you go higher up the range.
Aside from the quality of materials used, you should always consider how well your new threads fit – and no, that doesn’t just mean whether you prefer ‘em tight or baggy. The best snowboard outerwear is designed with articulation in mind; in other words, it should be super easy to bend those knees, twist those shoulders or reach for those grabs. If it feels constrictive, move on down the rack.
“The trend this year seems to combine modern cuts with a 90s flavour”
There are a ton of other features and gimmicks you can look out for (see our video guide How To Choose Your Snowboard Clothing for more advice) but let’s face it, no purchase is quite so personal as your clothing, and we’re all swayed by that most ethereal of factors: style.
Some riders will always see a snowboard holiday as an opportunity to unleash the inner peacock; others will stick to earthier tones for their jackets and pants (our own rule of thumb is not to choose any colours you’d think twice about wearing on the street back home – that goes double for pants). Today’s market will cater to all tastes, but for what it’s worth the trend this year seems to be toward tasteful block colours that combine modern cuts with a 90s flavour.
One more word of advice: jackets might be more exciting but don’t skimp on your snowboard pants – because no one likes getting a wet backside.
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