What To Wear Snowboarding: Ultimate Guide

If you’re starting or searching for some new gear, we cover what to wear snowboarding in this article. We share our favorite products and the basics to keep you warm and protected from the winter weather.

As a beginner, it can be intimidating and confusing about what to wear. Not only is it a new sport, but for regulars, it’s a lifestyle with norms and rules. Regardless, from experts to newcomers, we’re all enjoying the same sport and require a lot of the same clothes. We’ve been fortunate enough to test out a lot of gear and happy to share some excellent tips and tricks.


Tips For What To Wear Snowboarding

Best Skiing in Canada

Dress for your level of exertion

We suggest dressing a little warmer if you’re starting snowboarding or an intermediate. As a beginner, you’ll spend more time standing, sitting on your butt, falling, and not snowboarding.

You spend more of your concentration on the movements vs. your energy making the movements. When it becomes second nature to turn, you make a lot more. An expert bombing a double black chute uses a lot more energy. If you’re an expert rider, dress a little cooler.


Get the Basics in Snowboarding Attire

When just starting, invest in the basics, such as thermals and socks. They provide the most bang for the buck in terms of warmth. Synthetic or woom thermals are best as the key to warmth in snow is to remain dry.

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds regarding gear, but if you can keep your base layer dry, you’ll be just as warm in a $100 jacket as in a $900 jacket. Take our recommendations with a grain of salt!


Dry Feet Are Warm Feet

One of my top tips for nailing your snowboarding attire and wardrobe is to keep your socks dry when you get ready. My socks are the last thing I put on before my boots. I’ve had days with cold feet because I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth or got sweaty driving to the ski resort. It makes a huge difference!

On that note, it’s a good idea always to dry your boots, gloves, and even your goggles. Never leave those items in a cool or damp location. It’s not hard to bring these items inside and store them in a warm/dry spot.


How Do I Wear This?

Niseko, Japan

When you first wear snowboard or ski-specific clothes, straps, skirts, and gaiters can confuse you.

  • Socks — We’ll touch on this later, but socks should go above the calf, over thermals, and protect your skin from the boot.
  • Pants — The gaiter inside ski pants goes outside the boot. It is designed to keep snow from entering the boot and does an exceptional job.
  • Jacket — The snowboarding jacket layers over the pants, including the powder skirt or snow skirt. Many jacket producers have pants and jackets that interlock, but this often requires it to be the same brand.
  • Gloves — You have two options for gloves long cuff and short cuff. If the gloves have a long and wide cuff, they go over the jacket sleeves. If the gloves have a short and thin cuff, they go under the jacket sleeve.
  • Goggles — Are worn over the helmet, not under. The only people who wear them under are park riders who have hit their heads a few too many times. Truthfully, you can wear them in whichever way is most comfortable.
  • Helmet — Please wear a proper ski helmet that protects the back of your head. I’ve had one concussion while snowboarding when I smacked the back of my head hard. That fall could have left me with brain damage if I had not worn a helmet.

What To Wear Snowboarding – on The Mountain

  • Thermals
  • Wool Socks
  • Snowboard Jacket
    • Insulated Jacket
    • Shell Jacket
  • Midlayer Jacket
  • Snowboard Pants
    • Shell Pants
    • Bibs
    • Insulated Pants
  • Mitts or Gloves
  • Balaclava
  • Buff Headwear
  • Goggles
  • Helmet

What To Wear Snowboarding


Base Snowboarding Layers

Base layers or thermals are the first line of defense against the cold. It’s vital that the base layer is moisture-wicking and can dry fast. Since the base layer touches the skin directly, opt for something comfortable and flexible.

We prefer a large waistband for the legs and a top with a collar for better protection. A great option is a top thermal with a 1/4 zip, which allows you to dump heat when you get hot.

A quality base layer is made from a natural fiber like wool, which has excellent technical advantages. Wool can resist odor, wick away sweat or snow, and provide warmth. If wool is cost-prohibitive, choose thermals from a polyester or nylon blend. Do not wear a cotton base layer as cotton pulls body heat away as it remains wet for an extended period.

After much testing, we’ve found Smartwool’s Merino 250 to be some of our favorites. They have tremendous comfort and performance. Yak Wool thermals from Kora offer the best performance but are costly.

Shop For Base Layers


Wool Snowboard Socks

Wool Ski Sock Ski Trip Packing List

Opt for a material such as wool or synthetic for your socks, like thermals. Do not wear cotton socks when snowboarding, as it will almost certainly lead to cold feet. For most, any pair of wool or warm synthetic socks will do the job.

However, ski or snowboard socks are cut high up the calf to protect the skin from the boot. Many brands also offer dynamic panels on the heel and shin where pressure and abrasion are most likely to occur. Then add more insulation and moisture-wicking material around the toes. They’re definitely worth the price if you snowboard a lot!

At the very least, opt for a medium or slim sock. Loose or bulky socks can trap moisture and bunch up, which results in cold feet. On that note, do not wear two pairs of socks, as they will also trap moisture. The key to warm feet is dry feet! Smartwool and Darn Tough make some awesome ski socks to keep your feet happy.

Shop For Wool Socks


What Snowboard Jacket To wear

There are many jackets available, and every company has a multitude of options. Most choose from two basic options for jackets, insulated or shell. A three-layer system that consists of the shell jacket with a mid-layer and thermals offers the best performance. However, it can be expensive and cold for beginners and intermediates.

Casual riders, beginners, and intermediates may consider an insulated jacket instead of a shell and mid-layer. More resort-focused riders should choose a light insulated shell that works alone or with a mid-layer on frigid days.

An insulated jacket is considered “resort wear,” and it’s a perfect jacket for most to have as it works well in everyday life. Resort-wear insulated jackets come in various price points and performance packages.


Insulated Jacket

We ride with a shell jacket for our resort wear jacket that contains medium insulation from Picture Organic Clothing. It has many sweet features, such as wrist gaiters, a snow skirt, and a helmet-compatible hood. Compared to our traditional hardshell jackets, the cut is a little baggier, looking better on a snowboarder. The Bio-Sourced exterior shell on the jacket has performed beautifully and kept us dry on deep days in Revelstoke, Jackson Hole, Whistler, and Snowbird.

Picture Organic Clothing is a pretty rad B-Corp that designs fair-trade and eco-friendly clothing that largely avoids synthetic materials from petroleum. They work closely with retailers to pass as much cost savings as possible to the consumer and offer fantastic value for a green product. As an awesome bonus, they’re responsible for some of our favorite ski films in the last few years (Zabardast, Made in Voyage, and Shelter).

The Columbia Whirlbird IV Interchange Jacket is an excellent value if you’re looking for a cheap option. Granted, it doesn’t have any of the performance or sustainable cred like Picture. We are fans of Columbia for its accessibility to solid products. As a side note, every snowboard jacket should be helmet compatible and have a snow skirt.

Shop For Insulated Jacket

Picture Organic Clothing

Columbia Whirlbird IV


Shell Jacket

Arc'teryx Sabre AR Shell JAcket Ski Trip Packing List

Shell layers use a waterproof, windproof, and breathable material that offers superior protection from the elements. These premium jackets most commonly utilize a multilayered nylon GORE-TEX material for the jacket’s exterior.

As a result, a shell jacket provides exceptional protection from snow, wind, and moisture. Hardshell jackets are excellent but come with a high price tag, and most lack any insulation. They also excel at breathability, allowing sweat and moisture to escape the jacket when you’re working hard.

We use the men’s Arc’teryx Sabre AR and the women’s Sentinel AR shell jackets. These are top-of-the-line jackets built to handle everything ski and snowboard. The rugged jackets keep us bone dry in adverse conditions, and the brushed flannel interior feels excellent to the touch and disperses moisture to dry fast.

They’re great jackets for split boarders or those who spend more time in the backcountry and are considered the gold standard. It makes for an excellent resort jacket, but truthfully we spend most of our days in the resort in more affordable jackets.

Shop For Arc’teryx Shell Jacket


Mid Layer

Mid Layer

If you opt for a layering system, then a mid-layer jacket is where you’ll get most of your warmth. Midlayers go on over your thermals and operate as a jacket when you’re not skiing or snowboarding. Mid-layers come in various fashions, and we have several different types for different conditions. The most common are down jackets, synthetic down jackets, and fleece sweaters.

The most affordable option we recommend for everyone is a fleece jacket, which provides plenty of warmth at an affordable price. It’s not technical enough for extreme conditions, but the average snowboarder shouldn’t be in adverse conditions anyways. Fleece is also great to combine with an insulated jacket if it’s frigid.

We both use synthetic down jackets from Arc’teryx as our mid-layers. The jackets are lightweight, provide excellent warmth, and handle moisture exceptionally. It’s tough to beat their classic Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket.

Shop For A Midlayer Jacket

Jacket Recommendations

Arc’teryx Atom LT


What Snowboard Pants to Wear?

Tasha Lays on Cameron's Snowboard

There are three basic styles of pants to wear snowboarding, shell, bibs, and insulated pants. You need a lot less insulation in the legs than you would think. It’s not your core, and it’s where the vast majority of your movement comes from when you snowboard.


Shell Pants

Shell Pants Ski Trip Packing List

A robust pair of shell pants keep you dry and protects you from the cold winter wind. We have a couple of pairs of shell pants, but the big difference in the pants is those with insulation and without insulation. Shell pants have no insulation and are bomb-proof pants made for sending off jumps and tackling steep lines in the resort or backcountry.

They feature rear leg zips for ventilation when climbing mountains and kevlar-enforced insteps to prevent cuts from crampons or ski edges. However, insulation only comes from a thin flannel brushed interior. They are not for sitting around in the cold. I always wear these pants unless it’s a cold or deep snow day when I’ll bring out the bibs.

There are a plethora of pants that are much more affordable and provide plenty of performance. You can pick up more affordable shell pants from a wide range of gear companies like Outdoor Research, REI, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and Helly Hansen.

Shop Arc’teryx Shell Pants


Bibs

686 Bibs

If you have a season pass to a ski resort and plan on chasing the powder, then a pair of bibs is a worthy investment. They’re fantastic on deep powder days (pretty much mandatory in Japan) and keep you bone dry.

It’s excellent pants to add rotation to your ski outfit for cold or deep days. Bibs come with a ton of advantages! Most importantly, they keep deep snow out of your waistline as the opening extends well up to your chest. Other sweet features include breast pockets, added warmth around your core, and comfortable pants with no pressure on the waistline.

If it’s a powder day and I feel like crushing through pillows or sending off cornices and drops, you’ll find me in my bibs. Two excellent brands for bibs are 686 and Picture Organic Clothing. They both have outstanding performance, value, features, and sweet designs.

Shop For Bibs

Picture Organic Clothing


Insulated Pants

Snow pants ski trip

Unlike an insulated jacket, I find less use for heavily insulated snow pants. They tend to restrict movement and generate too much warmth. So unless you run cold and plan to cruise down green runs slowly, don’t wear heavily insulated pants.

If you’re a weekend warrior or take one ski trip a year, consider some decent pants like The North Face Freedom pants. They don’t cost an arm and a leg but deliver reliable performance with a waterproof exterior and synthetic insulation.

If you want something cheaper, bargain shop around on Amazon or at your local department/sporting goods store. I spent several short weekend trips when I started snowboarding in $50 snow pants from a generic sporting goods store. They kept me happy and warm enough.

Shop For North Face Freedom Pants

Women’s

Men’s


Mitts or Gloves

Quality gloves will be your best friend on the slopes because cold hands or feet will ruin your day. The main reason people don’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding is the cold. When dressed appropriately, you’ll never be cold.

There are a ton of options for gloves! However, snowboarders should consider a pair of mittens. Mitts keep your fingers together and allow for less surface area to the cold. It means your hands stay warmer in mitts than in gloves. Since we don’t hold ski poles, it’s an easy decision to wear mitts.

When we started, we went through a couple of pairs of soft gloves and mitts made from synthetics, and they all kept our hands warm. However, they kept wearing out, so we switched to Hestra leather gloves a couple of seasons ago, and they show no signs of wearing out any time soon. A worthy investment for any who rides a lot, plus they look sweet!

Shop For Hestra Mitts


Balaclava/Face Mask

BlackStrap The Hood Balaclava

It’s always good to pack some snow protection for your face. We’ll go without anything on sunny days, but we expect snowy conditions on the mountain more often than not. We generally switch between two different styles of face protection.

The primary for bad weather and cold days is a merino wool balaclava. We’ve tried a bunch of balaclavas, and it’s tough to get one that doesn’t collect tons of moisture before freezing to your face. As for the best warmth and performance, we’ve found the balaclava from BlackStrap can do wonders.

Shop For BlackStrap The Hood Balaclava


Buff Headwear

Buff Headwear

The balaclava is for cold days or heavy snow. On most days, we get by just fine with a Buff that can be worn around our neck or pulled to cover the face when needed. They make several versions of the original Buff, but the merino wool version is excellent and only $10 more.

Shop For Buff Headwear


Goggles

What To Wear Snowboarding

Unless you’re on a budget, it’s a good idea to get quality goggles. They are an essential part of your ski outfit and a lifeline when riding more demanding terrain. Goggles protect your eyes and aid your vision on the mountain.

The Smith Mag 4D are the latest and greatest in snow goggles and what we’ve been using for three seasons. With that new technology, expect to pay a premium of $320. Of course, they are arguably the best ski goggles on the market. There are some excellent budget options if you don’t want to drop $200-300 on goggles.

For only $60, you can grab the Giro Semi, which includes two lenses for low light and sunny days. Or you can try out a relatively new brand Outdoor Master that gained a lot of traction on Amazon.

Shop For Smith 4D Mag Goggles


Helmet

Smith Quantum Snowboard:Ski Helmet

Not wearing a helmet is a thing of the past. Do yourself and your noggin a favor and wear a helmet when you snowboard. A helmet applies whether you are a beginner or an expert. The great thing about helmets is they keep your head and ears warmer than hats too!

We rock the Smith Quantum Helmet, as it’s considered one of the best helmets on the market. It provides robust protection around our heads, plenty of ventilation, and a cozy soft interior.

The easy-to-latch and unlatch helmet buckle can take off with gloves on! It also features MIPS technology which allows the helmet’s interior to move independently from the shell minimizing lateral brain trauma in an impact. After getting a concussion last snowboard season, while wearing a helmet, it’s not something I plan to forgo anytime soon.

Shop For Smith Quantum Helmet


Sunglasses

I love to wear a pair of sunglasses on sunny spring days or backcountry objectives when it’s too hot for goggles. Not only is it more comfortable and looks cool it’s good for the health of your eyes. The Smith Embark are excellent glacier glasses for sun protection in alpine environments.

They use Smith’s contrast-boosting ChromaPop technology, which helps you to view changes in snow better. On the sides are ventilated and removable side shields that offer peripheral light coverage. A nifty goggle-like strap is included and helps keep the sunnies in place when cruising down a run. They’re freaking excellent sunglasses, and I’m stoked to have them in my bag.

Shop For Smith Embark Sunglasses


Helmet Headphones

Aleck Headphones

Thanks to ski films, it feels like music and snowboarding go hand and hand. In reality, it can be tough to listen to music while you snowboard. There are two options, both of which come with significant downsides.

The first is a BlueTooth speaker in a backpack which is obnoxious and doesn’t sound all that great when you’re riding. The other more dangerous option is earbuds that are uncomfortable with a helmet and hinder your ability to hear on the mountain. However, you can now opt for wireless audio housed within the helmet.

Aleck 006 Headphones are audio pucks that slip into the padding of a helmet and double as comms. They are long-time partners with Smith and fit wonderfully in the helmets. Installation is easy, and the audio quality will surpass most expectations. They are comparable to far more expensive over-the-ear headphones.

Shop For Aleck 006 Headphones


Snowboard boots

Snowboard boots are an essential piece of gear. One can argue that it’s the most critical part of your snowboard gear. A pair of boots can make or break your day on the mountain. Fit is an essential element when boot shopping, and it’s a good idea to head to your local shop to try on boots.

If a local shop isn’t within reach, a little research online gives you an idea of fit, such as narrow, regular, or wide. Once you determine the correct size and fit, flex lets you know the responsiveness of the boots. A stiff boot is quick to initiate turns, but it leaves little room for mistakes or moving the ankles for tricks.

Another great feature to seek in boots is the lacing system. There is traditional, quick pull lacing and the BOA system. BOA is the most popular, although it comes with a higher price. BOA systems allow for more significant adjustment of the boots and can be done while wearing a glove. They’re super easy to use, and I love the BOA system on my Burton ION boots.

Shop For Snowboard Boots


Awesome Snowboards To Check Out This Season


Jones Flagship

Jones-Flagship

Gnu Ladies Choice

Yes. Hybrid

Salomon Pillowtalk

Arbor Westmark

Never Summer Lady West

Bataleon Surfer

Yes. Rival


Snowboard Boots

Adidas Tactical ADV

Burton Felix

Burton Driver X

Burton Driver X

Vans Viaje

Vans Aura Pro

Ride Hera


Snowboard Bindings

Salomon Highlander

Salomon Highlander

Burton Escapade

Burton Escapade
About Cameron

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.