Snowboarding & Skiing Trip Equipment Checklist
What Gear Do I Need For A Day At The Ski Resort?
Preparation will make or break your trip. I will never forget the first day I went snowboarding at an actual ski resort. You see for years I would just hike around and ride the hills near my home.
I was but eleven years of age, excited to finally start riding at the resort like the older kids. While gearing up for the trip I realized I couldn't find my gloves. "These should work, gloves are gloves right?" I thought to myself as I grabbed a pair of dirt bike gloves.
This was the worst day I have ever had snowboarding. It would have been fun had I not had wet and cold hands. I didn't even wear them most of the time because they were just soaked.
The point of all this? One misplaced piece of gear can easily suck the fun from your day or suck the cash from your wallet.
That being said my dear reader, I present to you a list of the gear you will need, when you will need it, and it's level of importance. Enjoy!
Do You Own Any Winter Sports Gear?
Section I: Hard Goods
These items are, obviously, all mandatory. You can not ski without a pair of skis. Well I suppose you could, but you probably wouldn't get very far. Skis & Snowboards, Boots, and Poles can be rented at a large sports retailer such as Sports Chalet, a local ski shop (best value), and at the resort itself. Note you will be paying the most for your rental equipment at the resort itself, with the large retailer not too far behind. Any rental shop will have package deals consisting of skis/snowboard, boots, & poles (if needed.)
You could also buy the equipment if you plan on going often. Many ski shops will sell their old rental equipment for a huge discount. If you plan on purchasing new equipment, then make sure it is at least a couple years old. That is unless you have the money to get the newest tech every year, if that's the case - go wild.
If that isn't your situation then keep in mind that snowboards usually cost half as much once the next years models are manufactured. This goes with many other types of gear, the amount of the price deduction varying by each type.
How Do I Know What Size Snowboard To Use?
The snowboard should stand up tall enough for one end to be between your nose and your collar bone. Right under the chin is usually the safest bet.
Snowboards & Skis are measured using the Metric system; specifically centimeters. Most rental shops will have snowboards ranging from 90cm (toddler) to 164 (very large adult.) I am an adult male that stands at 6 feet in height - I ride a board that is 155cm in length.
Is A Certain Size Better For Different Activities?
Yes. If you are a rider who spends most of your shred time in the terrain park you don't want a board that is too long. It will just get in your way. A short board will be easier to grab & spin as well as being light-weight allowing more control.
A long snowboard will navigate through powder much better and will have you flying down the slopes. Be aware with increased speed and weight you may have a harder time controlling this size snowboard.
Does The Style, Camber, Etc. Make A Difference?
Snowboards are built differently for different conditions/activities, so getting into that is an entirely different article. I will say that my first time riding a Rocker board, I felt like it was my first time out on the slopes.
How To Determine Whether Your Stance Is "Goofy" Or "Regular"
Just like skateboarding, the foot you put in front determines your stance. Goofy foot is riding with the right foot it the front, while Regular foot is riding with left in front. What I used to do was have someone stand with their feet and shoulders aligned. Next, someone pushes them from the back, forcing them to stick a foot out in response.
The foot that you stick out to avoid falling is the foot you will guide with; the foot that goes in the front.
Finding The Right Size Skis
Skis come in various styles and sizes as well. Many people remember pictures of people with skis towering over their heads.
This technology is obsolete, as most skis come with "Parabolic Tips" these days. This basically means the tips are curved instead of straight which allows for better control and maneuvering of the skis, which in turn means shorter skis.
The sizing rules are typically the same as the snowboard; between the collar bones and nose. Shoot for the chin.
Skiing & Snowboarding Boots Must Be Near-Perfect Fit
Making sure your boots fit is a critical step (Get it? Step?)
They should be tight, but not constricting. If your toes are up against the edge then they are too small.
The bottoms should be completely clean, especially with ski boots. The reason for this is a small "traction plate" on the skis.
These plates ensure the binding release mechanism functions in the event of a fall. The mud that sticks to the bottom of your boots can can cause it to get stuck.
Finally make sure you wear long, comfortable socks to stay warm and to avoid a rash on your leg from the boots.
Determining The Correct Size Ski Pole
Flip the pole upside down and grip it just beneath the basket, or the black thing just below the tip of your skis. Now place the handle onto the ground and hold your arm in that position. The perfect size poles for you will have your arm held at approximately a 90° angle
Just like skis, poles are also measured in centimeters. While they are not mandatory, most riders utilize them, with an exception being young children who are just learning how to ski.
Section II: Soft Goods
Staying Warm On The Slopes
Soft goods are what will keep you warm on the frozen hill you are sliding down. Being cold is a good way to make yourself call it early.
Jackets and pants can be rented at shops for a fair price. The rest must be purchased, unless someone has developed a sock rental company (business idea anyone?) then your going to cough up the change. It's not cheap either my friend.
Keeping The Legs Toasty
I have made the mistake of going riding in jeans before, which may sound stupid to you, but riding to me could mean walking to the end of my driveway if there is enough snow on the ground. It was either that or not riding... and I was a dumb kid with a ski resort in his back yard.
While riding you will spend more time on your rear end than anything besides your feet. Unless you are a beginner, then you'll spend most of your time on your bottom.
Whether its the damp cold chair lift seat, sitting down to tighten your boots, or just falling on your ass - you'll be on it eventually.
A pair of insulated waterproof pants can be rented for about $10 to $20, or purchased for around $50-$250. Purchase them to fit just a little loose, enough to be able to layer up below them without restricting your movement.
There is an elastic band on the bottom of each leg with a clip on it. This attaches to your boots to keep snow out as much as possible. For a colder day, layer up below them with thermal leggings, long johns, or even sweatpants. Some even come with a liner inside of them that can be taken out for warmer days.
If Your Hands Are Cold, You Are Cold
Wet hands will ruin your day, trust me. Adjusting your boots/bindings/anything else will turn into a painful activity. There are two primary types of gloves. Insulated gloves and Pipe gloves. Insulated gloves are thicker and warmer, while Pipe gloves are more sleek and provide greater dexterity.
Jackets Are The Most Important Winter Accessory
Unless it's warm out, I would not recommend riding without a jacket. Wind gets harsh in the mountains. Also when you fall without a jacket snow gets everywhere rendering your sweatshirt useless.
Winter jackets are awesome; they usually have all kinds of secret stash pockets, ports for headphones, and perhaps most importantly, an elastic band called a waist guard that keeps the snow from getting shoved under your shirt when you fall.
Jackets can be rented and purchased at the rental shop, the ski resort, or large sports retailers such as Sports Chalet. They typically cost the same amount as pants whether for purchase or to rent.
I purchase my jackets large so that a sweatshirt can be worn under it. An alternative and/or addition to the sweatshirt is a thermal top.
People Don't Usually Consider The Fact That Snow Is Ultra-Reflective
Sun-light straight to the eyes hurts, makes it hard to see anything, and can permanently damage your eyes. Being temporarily blinded is not the ideal scenario you want to be in while sliding down a hill covered in ice, not to mention the trees and other obstacles everywhere. Hitting people can be deadly, and even if it isn't fatal, it's never a joyful event.
Goggles Or Sunglasses?
Sunglasses will work but beware they are easily lost and broken on the slopes. The only time they would be ideal are on warm springs days.If you are riding with sunglasses, I would recommend leaving the designer shades in your car. The sports shop will most likely have some cheap eye protection for you. If they don't then I am sure the gas station down the road will!
Goggles are suitable for pretty much any situation. I wear huge goggles (pictured above) to maximize my field of vision, with the added bonus of comfort. High end goggles usually come with two different lens pieces, which can be swapped out for different weather conditions, night riding, etc.
Not only do goggles help you see, but they keep your eyes warm. You really can't appreciate the cozy feeling of some warm eyes until you experience them frozen. Let's just say that it is not fun at all.
Long, Thick Socks Are Irreplaceable
Not only should long thick socks be worn to keep your feet warm, but they will usually help prevent any rashes from developing. I wouldn't really go riding without my super special riding socks!
Don't Let That Heat Escape!
A beanie can make a whole lot of difference on a cold day. If it is extremely cold and/or windy you need to have a ski mask, balaclava, bandanna, scarf, earmuffs, turtle neck, and/or beanie. All of those would be overkill, but pick the two/three that would keep it all covered without being too much.
Protect Your Dome!
I placed this item last, not because it is the least important, but because it's importance is speculative. Helmets are extremely important in my opinion. Packed snow can feel like concrete when you hit it.
Concussions are a common occurrence on the slopes along with broken bones. Some people might not consider them as important though, so it's up to you. If you don't think they are important at the moment, come back to me after you hit your head. You'll be a helmet supporter in no time. Helmets can usually be rented as well for $5 to $10 dollars.
Binding Bag: Small bag that attaches to binding for tool storage; easily lost.
Backpack: Snowboard backpacks are water-proof or water-resistant and usually have straps for carrying a board as well.
Tool Belt: Belt with two screwdrivers, a socket, and a bottle opener; Used to fix bindings and party.
Now You're Ready To Shred!
If you properly prepare for your trip, then you will have a blast. Just make sure you have the right gear and you'll be out on the slopes all day!