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Snowboard Equipment 101

So, you’re ready to get into snowboarding, but you’re starting from scratch on gear. What do you need? What don’t you need? And how can you get a deal? Good news is that you’ve come to the right spot! There’s no reason to pay full price for gear when there’s discounted new gear and quality UnNew Outdoor™ gear available. 

The hardgoods you need for snowboarding include: a snowboard, bindings and boots.

When it comes to entry snowboards, you’ll want a traditional shape, which means either directional or twin. Directional boards are more about carving and freeriding around the mountain, while twin shapes aspire to hit the terrain park and are shaped to allow for regular and backward (fakie) riding. Beside the shape, the board length is equally important. To determine your ideal board length, measure the distance from the ground to your chin in centimeters. You’ll see adult board lengths in the range from 138cm (short women’s sizes) to 164cm (tall men’s size). Kids boards range from about 80–130cm. Those riders with larger feet, 11-plus, should look for a wide board, usually designated with a W following the length (164W).

Look for boards with minimal damage on the base, you’ll especially want to check to make sure the edges are in good condition—no cracks, dings or rust.

Next, you’ll need to find bindings for your board. The system for mounting bindings on boards was the wild west in the early days of snowboarding. Now, you’re likely to find either a 2x4 insert mounting system, which accommodates 4-hole disc plates. Or you’ll find the Burton Channel board mounting system, which accommodate Burton EST bindings.

If this has your brain spinning, play it safe and buy a board with bindings already mounted. Bindings come in men’s and women’s small, medium and large sizing.

You’ll want to look to confirm that both the toe strap and ankle strap as well as the associated ladder straps are attached and in good shape. If the bindings are being sold on their own, ask about whether the mounting hardware is included. If not, don’t fret, any snowboard shop will be able to sell you hardware.

Snowboard boots come in men’s and women’s sizing similar to everyday shoes. You’ll find different closure systems including old-fashioned laces, zoned lacing systems and the BOA dials. These are all based on preference. You’re really just looking for boots with some level of stiffness and a good fit with minimal movement. A boot that’s too small will result in your toes smashing against the front of the boot, too big and you’ll end up with heel lift, which will affect your ability to turn your board. You’ll also want to check that your boots fit into your bindings. Binding sizes are correlated to your boot size (i.e.: a men’s medium binding accommodates a men’s size 8–11 boot). You can always adjust the straps to fit your boots, but the heelcup and baseplate width aren’t adjustable.

The softgoods you’ll need for snowboarding include a waterproof jacket and pants, goggles, gloves, a base layer (aka long underwear), a warm mid-layer (think fleece) and snowboard socks. Helmets are also recommended.

Waterproof Winter Jacket
You might already have a warm winter jacket that you can wear to the mountain. You just want to make sure it’s waterproof and warm enough for winter conditions. Some welcome features that are unique to specialty snowboard jackets includes breathability, which means that when you’re exercising in your waterproof jacket, it will allow moisture to escape. Pit zips are another bonus, allowing you to cool off without having to unzip the jacket. Some jackets have powder skirts and cinching wrist cuffs to keep snow out, hoods that fit over the helmet, insulation for warmth, and deep pockets for storing your gear.

Women's Jackets
Men's Jackets

Waterproof winter pants are key for snowboarding as you’ll be spending some time sitting in the snow. Look for sizing similar to your regular pant sizes, usually small through extra-large. Expect your snowboard pants to have gators that keep snow out of your boots, also zippered pockets to keep your valuables safe. The most important factor though is waterproofing to keep you dry.

Women's Pants
Men's Pants

Hot Tip: Before you head out to the slopes, consider bringing your new snowboard to your local snowboard shop for a fresh wax and tune-up. You can even ask them to mount your bindings on your board (for an extra charge of course). You’ll need to know whether your goofy or regular to get the right stance. If you’re unsure, the old trick is to picture yourself running and sliding across ice, which foot would you instinctively put out front? Right foot, you’re goofy. Left foot, you’re regular. Finally, strap into your board with your new boots on and adjust all the straps to fit.

If this is your first time snowboarding, sign up for a professional lesson at the resort, it’ll make the learning process much easier.

Annie FastAnnie Fast writes about winter sports and outdoor adventures from her home in Bend, Oregon.You can read more about her and her work at