What to Wear for Snowboarding

what to wear snowboarding

What to wear, what to wear? That’s a big question for many snowboarders who are just starting to learn about the sport. If you’ve never been on the mountain before, all of the options can feel overwhelming. 

I have been snowboarding for most of my life, and I’ve been a certified instructor for the last ten years. I’ve worn many different clothing and equipment items over the years and have plenty of experience matching what I wear to the weather outside. 

This post will show you some of the most important items you should wear when you ride. Some of these are essential, and others are optional or weather-dependent. The goal is to help you be prepared to take advantage of your time on the snow. 

Let’s open up the closet and get started. 

1. Jacket 

Must-Have? Yes

A jacket is one of the most critical wearable items you can use. They come in all sorts of styles and colors and are your first line of defense against wet weather, cold temperatures, and howling wind. 

Why You Need It?

A jacket keeps your upper body and head dry and insulated. Without a jacket, you risk getting wet from snow which will quickly result in getting very cold. A good jacket also helps block the wind, which will keep you warm when you ride. 

How to Choose?

The first step in choosing the best snowboard jacket that fits you is to make sure that it is fully waterproof. Look for materials such as Gore-Tex or a DWR (durable water repellent) finish because they offer outstanding waterproofing properties. 

Also, consider the type of environment you are riding in. If you ride in severe cold, you’ll need a jacket with extra insulation. If you ride in warmer climates, you might only need a shell-style jacket. 

Strong and durable construction is also vital because this will ensure that the jacket can be used for many seasons. Also, look for pockets, hoods, zipper placement, and other additional features that meet your needs.

I like the option of having handwarmer pockets, a dedicated goggle pocket, and an inner layer pocket for more important items you want to bring along when you ride.  

2. Snow Pants

Must-Have? Yes

Just like a jacket, snow pants help keep your lower half warm and dry. You can technically get by in a pinch without proper snow pants, but I would avoid this as much as possible. Don’t ride in jeans!

Why You Need It?

Snow pants will keep you warm and dry. Pants are often made out of the same material as snowboarding jackets, and this gives you a layer of reliable protection against the snow, cold, and wind. 

How to Choose?

Snow pants come in two different styles. Regular snowboarding pants and bibs. Regular pants sit at your waist and work fine most of the time. Bibs look more like overalls and give you added protection with a chest-high fit. 

You’ll also want to make sure any pants you choose are built to last. Look for reinforced materials in the seat, knees, and around the cuffs. This will help prevent rips, tears, and premature wear. 

If you want extra warmth, look for an insulated option. Most snowboarding pants are shell-style. This will give you plenty of wind and water protection while also being very flexible and comfortable. 

3. Base Layer

Must-Have? Yes

A base layer is your first layer of insulation. These are essential items for any sort of winter activity, snowboarding included. They will help keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 

Why You Need It?

Base layers provide you with a layer of insulation on your body. They sit against your bare skin and give you added warmth and comfort. A good base layer will also have moisture-wicking properties to help sweat evaporate and dry quickly to retain heat. 

How to Choose?

The material a base layer is made up of is the most crucial aspect of selecting the best base layer. Look for Merino wool or synthetic materials. Merino wool is very comfortable and has excellent insulation. Synthetic materials will dry quickly. Avoid cotton base layers. 

Fit is another consideration. You want a base layer to fit relatively tightly against your skin without being too tight. If it’s too loose, it won’t give as good of insulating and moisture-wicking properties. 

4. Gloves/Mittens

Must-Have? Yes

You need to keep your hands warm when you are out in the snow. Gloves and mittens are an essential item for every snowboarder. I like having a few different styles to match the conditions I ride it. 

Why You Need It?

Nobody wants cold fingers, right? That’s one of the easiest ways to ruin a great day on the mountain. Gloves and mittens keep your fingers and hands warm and dry. You need them regardless of where or when you ride. 

How to Choose?

Selecting the best gloves or mittens comes down to the conditions you ride in most often and how cold your hands tend to get. 

Snowboard gloves are very common and come in a variety of sizes, with varying levels of insulation. Mittens are a better option to go with if you are out in freezing weather or struggle to keep your hands warm. 

5. Goggles

Must-Have? Yes and no

A good pair of goggles will help you see better out in the snow. While you can wear sunglasses when you ride, goggles are much better suited to the changing light conditions and winter weather. 

Why You Need It?

You need to be able to see clearly when you are snowboarding. Goggles help you navigate changing weather conditions alongside changing light conditions. They also keep the wind and snow away from your eyes and face. 

How to Choose?

Lens tint is the most important consideration when selecting the best snowboard goggles. Some come with multiple lenses so you can adjust to the conditions you find yourself in. Lenses can be designed for low light situations or come in darker tints for bright light.

Fit is also important. You want to make sure goggles sit correctly on your face without gaps between the foam material and your skin. Look for an adjustable strap so you can secure it around your head or helmet properly. 

Anti-fogging capabilities are another thing to look for. Most lenses have an anti-fog treatment. Ventilation holes also help limit fogging.  

6. Helmet

Must-Have? Yes

A snowboarding helmet is a super important item. You can technically ride without one, but I wouldn’t recommend it. These can very literally save your life, and it’s just not worth the risk. 

Why You Need It?

Snowboarding can be a dangerous, high-impact sport. If you take a terrible fall, there is always a chance for injury. Wearing a helmet helps you limit the event of severe damage to your head. In addition, they also provide warmth and protection from the cold. 

How to Choose?

Ensure that the snowboarding helmet you choose is made from a material designed to protect your head adequately. Keep an eye out for safety ratings because these ensure that the helmet has been tested to keep you safe. 

MIPS technology is another thing to look for in a high-quality helmet. This gives your brain added protection against impact by allowing the helmet to slide around when you fall. The feature can cost more, but it’s worth it for added safety. 

You also want to make sure your helmet fits properly. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose. Always try a helmet on before you purchase it to make sure it fits. And always wear the chin strap when you ride!

7. Socks 

Must-Have? Yes

Have you ever seen someone put their bare feet into their snowboarding boots before they ride? I haven’t either. Everyone wears socks, and getting yourself a few pairs of good snowboarding socks is a must.  

Why You Need It?

Socks keep your feet warm and dry. It’s as simple as that. They give you a layer of insulation inside of your boots. Quality socks will also help keep your feet dry by providing moisture-wicking capabilities. 

How to Choose?

There are a wide variety of good snowboarding socks out there to choose from. The best options are usually made with wool and/or synthetic materials. Merino wool is an excellent option because it is very warm and has natural moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties.

Also, make sure that your socks come up above the top of your boots. This will help prevent snow from getting into your sock and also stop them from bunching up.   

8. Neck Gaiter/Warmer

Must-Have? No

Neck gaiters or warmers aren’t an essential item, but because they are so cheap and easy to put in a pocket, I always have one around for extra cold days. They are simple in design, but they work. 

Why You Need It?

Neck gaiters and warmers help protect your face from the wind and cold. On really cold days, they can come in very handy. They also help protect from the sun, which is an important thing for every snowboarder to keep in mind. 

How to Choose?

The style of neck warmer you choose is one factor to keep in mind. You can choose from a regular face mask style if you want something simple that is small in profile. A balaclava-style face mask offers a little extra insulation and an over-the-head fit.

Also, look for a synthetic or Merino wool material. Synthetic materials are going to dry out more quickly and will also be very breathable and durable. Merino wool will give you a little extra warmth and will be super soft.   

FAQs

Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to snowboarding clothing and what to wear when you ride. 

How should you dress when snowboarding?

You always want to match the weather conditions you will be riding in. It’s best to have a quality base layer, mid-layer, and outer shell. If it’s warmer outside, you might not need the mid-layer. And a helmet is a must for safety reasons. 

Can you snowboard in jeans?

Technically, sure. But I would highly discourage you from doing so. Jeans are made of cotton, which is probably the worst material you can wear in winter weather. When jeans get wet (and they will when you ride), they won’t provide any warmth at all. 

How many layers should you wear snowboarding?

Being well prepared for anything usually means having three layers. The base layer sits against your skin as an initial layer of warmth, a mid-layer adds extra insulation, and your outer shell protects against the wind and cold. 

What can I wear if I don’t have snow pants for snowboarding?

If you don’t have proper snow pants, you could get by with synthetic athletic pants or something similar. Synthetic material will dry out quicker than natural fibers, and sometimes athletic pants are water-repellent. You should really get snow pants if you want to ride often. 

Can you rent snowboarding clothes?

In some places, rental clothing is available. This isn’t always possible, so remember to check in with the resort or rental shop before heading out. You can usually rent helmets, but clothing items aren’t as common. 

How do I look cute for snowboarding?

Take some time to choose a color and fit that goes with your style. If you can try on your clothing before buying it, that will give you the chance to make sure it fits how you want it to. Trust your gut and put in some personal flair, and you’ll be fine!

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics of what to wear for snowboarding, you can get your ensemble together and get out in the snow. Remember that the goal is to stay safe, warm, and dry when you ride. Style is important but not as much as those other factors.

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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