Snowboard Buying Guide: What Equipment Do I Need?

So you want to go snowboarding? Safety is a key consideration for this winter sport, which carries a high risk of injury if you’re not careful. Start by buying or renting the right kind of board for your skill level and the predicted ski conditions. But before you walk into the shop, review these tips on snowboard styles and what other gear you’ll need to enjoy this exciting sport.

Choose the Right Board

Snowboards come in two primary types, all-mountain and freestyle. Most people choose all-mountain boards, which are more versatile, suitable for both groomed trails and backcountry. The original snowboards were directional meaning you need to turn the board with one end acting downhill. A newer type is known as twin-tip, meaning they can go both directions as needed for switchbacks.

Freestyle boards are lighter, shorter, and more flexible, best for more experienced snowboarders seeking additional thrills. A third type, called split-boards, can be split into two skis as needed for climbing and are for back-country only.

Like skis, snowboards come in sizes, shapes and weights designed especially for women and kids. REI has an excellent guide to choosing a snowboard, complete with a helpful video.

Don’t Skimp on Safety Equipment

Helmets: If you’re in the camp that helmets aren’t cool, look around and note that many of the best riders on the hill are being smart and protecting their head from concussion and head injury. Helmets come in enormous variety, including some with built-in speakers and wireless internet for easy iPod access).

Wrist Protection: When you fall (and you will) there’s a good chance you’ll try to break your fall with your hands, despite lessons to the contrary. When this happens, wrist guards or gloves with internal wrist protection are the key to preventing risk fractures.

Goggles: Not only do goggles protect your eyes from the snow and ice, they also protect against UV rays, the wind, and wayward tree branches. Choose goggles with lenses suitable for the day’s weather, and make sure that they have an anti-fog system to prevent cloudiness.

Pads: Prevent painful bruising with plenty of padding; you’ll want pads for knees, elbows, hips, and your rear. Not only are you protected from the cold and the hardness of the snow but you’ll also be more comfortable during the early stages when you may find yourself sitting on the board a lot.

Leashes: Wearing a leash to keep your board from plummeting down the mountain doesn’t just protect your investment, it protects your fellow boarders too. Leash up and rest assured that you’ll be taking your ride back home with you at the end of the day.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.