Man… Am I tired! I just got back from a long weekend of snowboarding in Whistler for the first time. I’ll also be flying out again to Denver this coming weekend. You might be wondering why all of the traveling? Well, it’s a goal of mine this season to hit up all the West Coast Vail Resorts on the Epic Pass. I only have three more resorts to go and they all happen to be in Colorado. So, if all the stars are aligned for me, I will finish my goal by this weekend!
Since I’m traveling a lot right now for snowboarding, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do Part Two of my Beginner’s Guide to Snow Gear. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can find the article here! This post is going to primarily focus on clothing features that I consider important for a first timer.
Headphone/Earphone Access: If you like listening to music like I do, I highly suggest you find a jacket that has a hole for you to slip your headphones through. My first jacket didn’t have this so I always had to have the wires come through the front of the jacket where I zipped up. Nowadays, I have moved on to Bluetooth earphones (which I LOVE) so I don’t have to deal with the wires anymore. Also, it has the volume and tracking buttons on the headset so you don’t have to bother taking on and off your gloves every time to change your music.
Snow Skirt: This is important if you want to help yourself not get snow in your pants. It is located at the inner bottom of your snow jacket and it has snaps in the front to keep the skirt nice and tight around your body. This usually comes standard on most snow jackets, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out.
Velcro Cuff: Again, usually comes standard, but always double check. This is a must for me since I hate cold air coming through my sleeves. This is also an important feature if you want to keep snow out of your gloves. I always put my gloves on and then velcro my cuffs over my gloves.
Hood: In reality, I never use my hood. I always wear a helmet and the hood never fits over the top. It does provide some protection against the back of my neck, but otherwise serves no real purpose for me. If you are planning on not wearing a helmet (which I advise against), then a hood or some sort of head-wear like a beanie is a must.
Pants vs Bib: When I first started snowboarding, I would constantly get snow in my pants from falling down all the time. Then I finally bought a pair of overall-style pants (bib) where the waist would come up to almost my mid-section and straps that came over my shoulders. These are absolutely the best if you don’t want a wet rear-end at the end of the day.
Extra Pockets: See above in Jacket Features. If your jacket does not have extra pockets, definitely find some pants that have them.
Stretch Boot Gaiter: Same thing with the jacket, make sure your pants have this at inside the bottom of your pant legs. For the longest time, I tucked them inside my boots for some reason. I just recently I found out that they are suppose to go over your boots.! I didn’t think it was possible since the boot gaiter seemed so small.
Traditional Laces vs. Quick Pull vs. Boa System: Since I primarily snowboard, I’m going to concentrate on the different types of lace-up systems on snowboarding boots. I feel like if you are a beginner, I would definitely go for the Quick Pull or Boa System. I’ve actually tried all three over the years and I like the traditional laces the least. I would literally get a work out and be sweating before I even got onto the mountain. Traditional laces are usually cheaper though and you can customize how tight you want the boot by hand.
The Quick Pull and Boa are much easier to work with, but that also means it’s more expensive. With the Quick Pull, you have two straps on each side of your boots that you pull upwards and then click back into place. For the Boa, you have a dial/knob that you just turn until you’ve reached your desired tightness. If you are renting snowboard equipment, you’ll most likely have the Boa System to try out first.
Size/Fit: I would say this is the most important feature that anyone should pay attention to. The most frustrating part for me was finding boots that were comfortable enough to ride all day in. I first borrowed boots and my feet would ache so bad that I had to stop early. I would definitely visit a pro sports store and have them help you get fitted and see which style fits you. Also, bring the type of socks that you will be riding in. Wool socks are the best. Also, I would go on the slightly smaller side (vs. larger) since your feet do shrink in the cold and the boot will stretch over time.
Boot Liners: My current boot liners have these two small bumps that rest on the side of my Achilles tendon. I assume it’s to keep the back of my foot from lifting up (which I thought was a great idea). Unfortunately, I noticed that whenever I would board toe-side, my heel would sometimes lift up. As a result, these bumps would continuously rub against the back of my foot. So, definitely feel the liners with your hands and see if you like these bumps or not. Today, they feel fine so it could have been my lack of experience back then or I’ve worn the boots so many times now that the bumps have been worn down.
Well, that’s it for now! Thanks for reading my Part 2 Beginner’s Guide to Snow Gear. If you have any questions, just write it in the comments below.