Best Buys

Essential (And Cheap) Gear For Your First Snowboard Holiday

Pack smart

So you’ve booked your first snowboard holiday – the very best of times awaits (hopefully), but as you venture off into unfamiliar territory you’ll want to be sure that you’ve packed the right kit.

As you venture off into unfamiliar territory, you might not be so sure you’ve packed the right kit

Never fear! The Whitelines team has thought long and hard over what essentials you’ll absolutely need, as well as what you might not. We’ve tried to pick out options that won’t break the bank, as you’ll never really know if throwing down a whole wad of cash is worth it until after you’ve given it a proper try.

As we’ve advised in other beginner snowboarding articles, you should probably be looking to rent a board, boots and binding package for your first couple of trips at least, after that you can start to get a feel for what sizes and styles you like, rather than gambling on eBay and getting stuck with a stinker.

Rental shop staff should be able to match you with exactly what you need hardware-wise for your first adventures, but for everything you need to bring with you, just scroll on down…

Good Snowboard Socks

We can’t say it enough, a good pair of snowboard specific socks is truly essential for anyone sliding sideways on the hill. And no, we don’t mean cheap, thick acrylic tube socks from Mountain Warehouse – those things will make you sweat so hard your boots will start to leak from the inside out.

Proper snowboard socks will wick moisture away, leaving your feet dry and warmer than coating them in extra layers will ever manage, plus they give your toes freedom to move a little, meaning your circulation won’t get cut off. The WL team’s sock of choice for years now is the Burton Merino Phase sock – a couple of these is all you’ll need for a week as they won’t get at all stinky. Indeed, as discussed elsewhere, one of our editors rocked the same pair unwashed for a whole season and still has his feet at the end…

Low Light Goggles

Whilst there is a huge array of snowboard goggles available these days, for your first trip you probably don’t need to worry about splashing out over £150 on designer eyewear with interchangeable lenses, a basic pair like these Smith Scope goggles won’t set you back much and they come with about the closest thing to an all-conditions lens there is.

Whilst mirrored lens look great, if at any point the clouds come in you won’t be able to see shit, which is why for a first pair you’re probably best packing an orange (or similar) low light lens, as this will still work when the suns out. Plus, you don’t need to worry about peeling the top layer off if your goggles fog up, which they inevitably will at first.

Mid-Weight Gloves & Liners

A lot of beginner snowboarders make the mistake of buying super heavy gloves for their first trip to the mountains, because snow = cold, right? Wrong, unless you’re at altitude or you’re away at the coldest point in January it’s unlikely you’ll need gloves designed for -20°C conditions (though you should still check the forecast before you go).

It’s much better to pack a light-to-mid-weight pair of gloves instead, like these Celtek Shelter mittens above. That way your hands are unlikely to overheat and get too sweaty, which means that when you cool down you run the risk of freezing your fingers.

Also, it’s a great idea to keep a pair of dry, cotton-free glove liners in a pocket, just in case the weather gets too cold and/or you end up with wet gloves. Burton do a great pair of liners that work with touchscreen phones, just in case you like to post from the chairlift.

Non-Cotton Thermals

‘Cotton kills,’ or so they say in Chamonix. Whilst in most cases donning a simple t-shirt as a base layer won’t leave you a frozen cadaver, cotton’s inability to wick away moisture means that a sweat-soaked thermal can easily become freezing and chill you to your core.

Best to stay safe an invest in some decent thermals, preferably merino as its stink-free properties mean you can rock the same base layers for a whole week (can you see a theme emerging? – Ed). If the hefty price tag merino garments come with puts you off, you can opt instead for a polyester, blend, or similar, like this First Layer Crew from Volcom.

Good, Basic Outerwear

Photo: Matt Georges

Obvious really, but you absolutely need a half-descent, warm and waterproof jacket and pants combo to keep you feeling fine on the hill. There’s plenty to choose from in our 2016/17 snowboard outerwear buyers’ guide, but here are some basic pointers:

  • Whilst style is important – feeling confident with yourself is often overlooked as being a factor when learning – it isn’t everything. You should try and buy the best functioning gear you can afford.
  • Most jackets and pants rate their waterproofing in thousands of millilitres (eg 10,000mm or ‘10K’), which represents the height of the column of water that can be poured on top of the fabric before any moisture makes it through the membrane. The higher the number, the better the waterproofing.
  • Breathability is just as important as waterproofing, you need excess sweat to wick away as fast as possible. Just like with the above, the higher the number the better.
  • Whilst it might seem like a style choice, longer fitting jackets are actually pretty useful at keeping snow outside your clothes, especially important when you’re first starting out as you may well be spending a lot of time on your arse/face.

A Good Attitude

As cheesy as it may sound, coming mentally prepared for your first snowboard adventure is just as important as having the right kit. The mountains are cold and learning to ride is tiring – the experience is much better if you go in with an open mind and are prepared to take a few spills before picking yourself back up again.

Staying positive also makes things better for those around you, many a friendship/relationship has faltered on the hill if one person spends the time whinging about the cold/aches/pains/drag lifts/steep pistes/one footing etc. Pack snacks and stay hydrated – it’ll make being happy on the hill all the easier!

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