- Buyer's Guide
The Best Snowboarding Gear, Tested 2021
As the winter season finally hits in full force, and with much of the world still under varying states of lockdown, we’re all looking for the safest way to adventure. Luckily for those of us who enjoy the cold and the mountains, spending time on or off-piste might just be the way to get the “escape” you need. Below is a thoroughly tested (18 days and counting, both east and west!) selection of snowboarding gear for the slopes, the cabin, and base camp (the car!). While I tested this gear on a snowboard, much of it will work for all of you, regardless of how many pieces of wood you have strapped to your feet!
As with many of our buying guides, you won’t need all these items to enjoy your time on the mountain. However, maybe you have some Christmas money left over, or a birthday coming up, or perhaps your older jacket really doesn’t fit anymore. Now is a good time to buy with sales-a-plenty and some great powder ahead!
Best Snowboarding Brands to Check Out
If you’re looking to update your snowboarding gear, we’ve been testing products from industry leaders and smaller innovators. All with the goal of finding the most uniquely functional products that we can, from the most creative brands out there! These are the top 10 snowboarding and adventure brands that you should look to for all of your needs this winter.
The Originals: Burton Snowboards
The Norse Gods: Norrøna
Magnet Magicians: Anon Optics
Feature Full: 686
Environmental Protectors: Houdini Sportswear
Leather Craftsmen: Hestra Gloves
Wool Wizards: Smartwool
Fabric Fiends: Western Rise
Multi-tool Masters: The James Brand
On Mountain – Best Clothing and Gear for Snowboarding
Whatever your skill level, whether you’re at the resort, in the backcountry, or at the park, the right gear makes the difference between having a good day and a bad day. You want to be comfortable, dry, and warm (but not too warm!) as you enjoy all that nature has to offer.
The Best High-Performance Snowboarding Shell Jacket – Norrøna Lofoten GORE-TEX® Pro Anorak
This GORE-TEX® Pro shell is a showstopper. This jacket was designed at the behest of their ambassadors, so it is built with high output in mind. It is Norrøna’s flagship shell, and that shows in its design, performance, and comfort. The elongated asymmetric tail covers your rear (great for snowboarders to keep any extra snow out) and the removable powder skirt can offer even further protection for those backcountry adventures. This is designed to be able to cope with the harshest conditions out there. The 70D GORE-TEX® Pro shell is their most durable fabric which is 100% windproof and has a minimum hydrostatic head of 28000mm. It certainly excels in weather protection, and not once was I concerned. There’s a multitude of well-placed pockets, including a horizontal chest pocket, napoleon pocket, arm pocket, and a kangaroo pocket.
There are also small touches that make it more than just a performance piece like the integrated hand gaiters and goggle cloth. The “pit zip” runs from the hem to the elbow, allowing you to dump heat when needed. It also helps with easy on/off of extra layers, or even the jacket itself, and a long two-way zipper down the center of the chest is another temperature regulation tool. Throughout my testing, this snowboarding jacket was a warrior. As you can see from the performance characteristics, it is an impressive technical piece that will excel in the backcountry and on the resort alike.
The Best Synthetic Insulated Snowboarding Jacket – Norrøna lofoten Primaloft80 Anorak
Puffy jackets are an integral addition to any boarder or skier’s kit. This one from the Norwegian outdoor experts Norrøna is quite special. Out of all the snowboarding mid-layers I have used, this is the one I have picked up most often. This anorak is as adjustable as they come. I love that you can unzip all the way from waist to elbow on the warm and bright bluebird days, just use the pit zips, or unzip halfway down your body. This temperature regulation is tremendously useful, without having to add/remove layers. From the chest, napoleon, and kangaroo pockets, to the included goggle cloth, this is truly an enjoyable piece to use. All of the adjustment points are easy to operate single-handedly – the helmet-compatible hood, the snap hem, and the zippers.
Constructed with a mix of ripstop Cordura nylon, PrimaLoft Gold Bio (100% recycled and biodegradable), and Polartec Power Stretch Pro, this anorak is incredibly comfortable to wear throughout the mountain and beyond, and the warmth-to-weight ratio is top-class. It is heavily water-resistant and very windproof. In the right conditions, I wouldn’t hesitate wearing this as my only jacket. It isn’t the most breathable layer you’ll ever wear, but that is mitigated by the abundance of zip ventilation. The Lofoten anorak also performed exceptionally well for me on a couple of snowshoe hikes and strolls through town, and because it is such a handsome layer, it doesn’t look out of place anywhere.
The Best Snowboarding Pants
Made from a similar indestructible GORE-TEX® Pro fabric as the jacket, but this time with a recycled 200D fabric that will take a beating for years to come. A supremely comfortable waistband, including some 3D mesh padding around the lower back, means that you can wear this for a full day without the traditional clammy feeling that sometimes accompanies the hardcore shell pants. As you’d expect from a flagship pant, they come with all of the usual accouterments needed to keep you dry and comfortable with snow gaiters, healthy-sized cargo pockets, hand-warming pockets, snap adjustments at the ankle, and Vectran ripstop reinforcements to avoid any sharp edges from your board, skis, or boots.
They also come with a removable bib, so if you are working in deep powder, you can be sure to keep it out. I am a big fan of the understated, clean design on the whole Lofoten series, and this continues in these pants. The Norrøna team have undoubtedly hit a home run with this high-end collection, and I can see them lasting for decades!
These snowboarding pants are full of ingenious features. The outer shell is constructed from the same 2-layer GORE-TEX® with a DWR coating, so you know it’ll handle whatever you can throw at it. Reinforced kick patches by the ankle, fully taped seams, and Air-Flo mesh-lined vents are all designed for your comfort. The style is simple and clean, but there are many hidden pockets, attachment points, and adjustments you can make on the fly with these pants. You’ll find healthy-sized cargo pockets (with a hidden pocket behind), a lift ticket attachment loop, Velcro and snap combined waist closure, boot gaiter, and boot lace hook.
Similarly to the jacket (which can be attached), these pants are designed with the user in mind. Nowhere is that clearer than the BOA-compatible adjustment flap in the gaiter! With a simple Velcro window, you can adjust your boots’ tightness, without having to uncover your whole boot. I loved this feature as it just makes things quicker. Not only are there these marvelous features on the mountain, but there are also ready-to-go sweatpants built in! With a simple zipper, you can remove the outer waterproof shell, to be left standing in exceptionally comfortable stretch poly fleece pants. These are your liner during the day, and your sweatpants at night. I would often drive to the mountain in these, zip the shell over them for the day, and then do the reverse at the end of the day.
686 want you to enjoy your day in every conceivable way, and they create products to help you do that. The 3-in-1 Cargo Pants are a versatile pant that I would strongly recommend.
The Best Packable Insulated Down Pants – Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Pant
Once these are on, they are hard to take off! Weighing in at a featherweight 272g, these pants are perfect for layering under shell pants, or relaxing in after a tough day on the mountain. I’ve used these in both situations, and they’ve been perfect for both! With 800-fill RDS down and a breathable bluesign® approved shell, these snowboarding pants are equally warm and comfortable. What impressed me most is that I didn’t overheat in them. Two usable hand pockets, a zippered fly, and adjustable ankle snaps make these a really worthwhile luxury. They also come with a stuff sack that helps them pack down to the size of a Nalgene – easy to throw in the board bag or a backpack, you’ll be glad you did!
The Best Windproof Snowboarding Jacket – Norrøna lyngen GORE-TEX® Infinium Down
While it is easy to get on the mountain on balmy bluebird days, we all know that there are those times when the temperature drops, the wind speed increases, and it becomes just that bit harder to make your way out. That’s when you need to bring out the reinforcements, and in this case, that’s the GORE-TEX® Infinium Down 850 jacket.
During testing, I found myself waking up to a couple of brutally cold (1ºF/-17ºC) days. I reluctantly left my shell in the car, popped this on over my base layer, and hit the lift. I was expecting to be returning to the car to add my shell over the top, but to my surprise, I didn’t have to. In fact, I outlasted countless others, enjoying the day in complete comfort while the mountain cleared out from the cold. With a healthy 850-fill power RDS down warming me, and the incredibly breathable yet windproof GORE-TEX® Infinium shell, I was as snug as a bug in a rug. Not only that, it is exceptionally lightweight, at only 480g.
The water-repellent shell kept any extra snow flurries at bay and the Powerstretch cuffs kept my wrists safe from the wind. The GORE-TEX® Infinium isn’t the hardiest exterior, neither is it designed to be. So for those of you who spend your time in the glades, be careful of snags! While this was great on the mountain, it was also great to put on at the end of the day, much like being wrapped in a sleeping bag. The fit is articulated well for both performance and casual, and it lives in a good space between fitted and regular, making it all the more versatile.
The Best All-round Snowboarding Jacket – 686 GLCR GORE-TEX® Hydra Down Thermagraph® Jacket
This GORE-TEX® shell is ingenious, comfortable, and user-friendly. Alongside the usual performance you hope for from a snowboarding jacket, it is full of user-driven features that really change how you function on the mountain. When wearing this, I often found myself not needing a backpack. The shell is a 2-layer bluesign® approved GORE-TEX® outer, with DWR and fully taped seams. No chance of getting wet! This jacket is cleverly insulated with Thermagraph body mapping, which uses pockets of 600-fill power RDS down to keep you warm at the important parts – shoulders, chest, back, and sides. I found this to be really efficient and it allowed me to wear just the one jacket, without having to bring extra mid-layers. It kept me warm, but I didn’t overheat.
Pocket-wise you have a few options! A well-sized internal stretch goggle pocket, a zippered smartphone pocket (with headphone cable routing), a zippered sleeve pass pocket, a lip balm pocket, two large stuff pockets, an angled exterior chest pocket, and even an RFID pocket for your credit card. The hood is well-sized and helmet-compatible, and adjustable too, just like the cinchable bottom hem. Comfort is clearly at the forefront of 686’s design too. Aside from the Thermagraph mapping, you have Air-Flo vents, a merino wool-lined inner collar, Lycra wrist gaiters, and the ability to connect your pants to your jacket too.
The off-center zip also became a favorite feature of mine as it keeps the zip away from your mouth when riding zipped up or drinking. Drinking, I hear you say? I must have forgotten to mention the most ingenious part of this jacket – a built-in hydration bladder. That’s right, in the powder skirt, you can attach 686’s hydration bladder. This 25oz bladder is slender, lightweight, and incredibly functional. A 4mm hose (less than half the size of traditional bladder hoses) runs quietly up the side of the jacket through some elasticated loops right to the side of your chin. This has been engineered so excellently that you barely notice you have a hydration bladder on you. Perfect for sipping on the lift or halfway down a run, this keeps you on the mountain for longer.
Sure, 25oz isn’t as big as a full reservoir. But it is quick and easy to refill as often as you need. I was surprised how much I used this. So much so I missed it terribly when testing the other jackets in this capsule! The features on this jacket are second to none.
The Best Snowboarding Mid-layer Down Jacket – Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Jacket
The clue is in the name with this insulated hoody from the mountain masters. The Super/DS Stretchdown is a nimble, malleable insulated layer that I found to be very warm. Insulated with 700-fill RDS down, this is a lightweight piece that is perfect for throwing on under a shell. The stretch is excellent for all those compromising positions you get into while slaying the slopes. MH’s unique channel design retains heat very well and adds a good level of windproofing. It is surprisingly breathable too, and I didn’t find myself overheating too much, which can be the case with other down jackets. I found this to be just as useful as a travel/town option too. Thanks to the stretchy nature, it is exceptionally comfortable. A versatile layer that is an excellent crossover.
The Best Packable Down Vest – Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Vest
You may have heard of MH’s Ghost Whisperer series, as they are award winners and with good reason. This ultralight vest is unlike anything I have used before. Firstly it weighs in at a ridiculously featherweight 160g. This updated version (hence the 2!) is made from 100% recycled 10D ripstop and insulated with hydrophobic 800-fill RDS certified down. This essentially became my insurance piece. Because it packs into its own pocket and is incredibly compressible, it lived in my bag permanently for the days when my wife got too cold, or when I wanted an extra layer but not a full hooded jacket. It’s stretchy enough to move with you, and thanks to the hydrophobic down, I wasn’t concerned about it wetting out as I worked up a sweat. A truly phenomenal achievement, it comes with me everywhere now on-mountain or off!
The Best Snowboarding Underwear – Houdini Mix Wind Shorts
Imagine your favorite fleece made into boxer shorts, and how amazing that would be!? Well, I can tell you it really is that good. The team at Houdini have hit a home run here. Warm, breathable, stretchy, windproof, lightweight; these are the Bugatti of boxers. As a boarder, these also added a little extra cushioning for the derriere. Quick-drying, with soft microfiber fleece on the inside and tougher jersey face fabric on the outside, these comfortable durable boxers are a luxury for sure, but one I don’t want to be without!
The Best Snowboarding Helmet – Anon Prime MIPS Helmet
You’ve got to look after your head on the mountain as you never know when a sheet of ice, a rogue rock, or another person might jump out at you! This lightweight option from Anon is a tough hardshell helmet that is customizable thanks to the 360º BOA® system. A simple twist will tighten or loosen the interior harness to your desired level. The MIPS impact protection keeps the money maker safe and the easy ventilation adjustment allows you to let off steam through 23 vents! A Fidlock snap closure is easily used with one hand and with gloves. A feature I found excellent, as I usually hate wrestling helmet straps!
The Best Snowboarding Goggles
We all know that goggles can be the difference between making or breaking your day on the mountain! Maybe the fogging up doesn’t allow you to break your own speed record. Or the narrow view means you hit a few too many trees. Or perhaps you just can’t change lenses before you lose feeling in your fingers. Well, I’d agree with you, and I have gone through many pairs of goggles hunting for the “grail,” and I’m getting closer. This was my first time using Anon goggles, and I must say I’m impressed.
The PERCEIVE lens options provide excellent color clarity and clear contrast for highlighting those East Coast ice sheets. I have a big head, and arguably a bigger face, so I’ve always defaulted to the wider FOV goggles. That stays the same here, and the M4 has a brilliant peripheral view thanks to its Toric lens, which is designed to mimic the shape of the eye. I personally find this very important to my enjoyment and safety as a snowboarder.
When it comes to changing lenses, this is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, and the dog’s… With a twist and gentle tug, the lens is in your hand, ready to be replaced by your next choice. Thanks to nine strategically placed magnets (magic), this helps to avoid the snow/moisture dilemma so many of us know so well. The other benefit of this system is that you can now change lenses anywhere on the mountain quickly! No longer is it reserved for chairlifts or lodge breaks.
The final jewel in this already glistening crown is the MFI face mask (included!). This triple-layered beauty clips to those magnets I mentioned, just around your nose! There are obvious benefits here: 1. COVID protocols. 2. Moisture management (no more soggy beard) 3. Badassery. It feels great to hear that gentle click and off you go while others wrestle with the helmet/face mask combo. There is also a whole MFI range (including a base layer hoodie I have my eye on!). Coming with a secondary lens, microfiber slip, and a hard lens case also in the box, these are real winners.
If you prefer a more traditional shaped lens the PXV2 is a good option for you. While the flatter shape may be traditional, it has all of the benefits of the modern technologies we now see in snowsports. Excellent optics from Dragon’s LUMALENS® technology gives great color and depth perception to see all those lumps and bumps as you zip around. These are very lightweight goggles, and I didn’t have “face fatigue” when using them all day, particularly thanks to the padding and good ventilation. The lenses are quick to change thanks to their Swiftlock mechanism. These come with two lenses, a microfiber cloth case, and a padded bag for transport.
The Best Snowboarding Backpack – Osprey Soelden 32 Pack
Osprey are mainly known for their hiking and outdoor packs. But they’ve been making excellent snowsports bags for just as long! Their newest iteration, the Soelden 32, has been a great companion to me this winter. Made from 210D High Tenacity Nylon, with a PFC-free DWR, it is tough, weather-resistant, and lightweight. Storage-wise, there are many options for you to choose from. You can accommodate a hydration reservoir in the main compartment (rear access) or alternatively use the internal elastic water bottle sleeves if you prefer – these sleeves comfortably held my Nalgene 32oz.
The rear compartment has plenty of space for layers, a lunchbox, and there is a quick stash pocket on the rear wall. On the top of the bag, you’ll find a quick-access pocket with scratch-free lining for your goggles, wallet, and phone. The front of the bag has a safety kit pocket with j-zip access, where you can store your probe and shovel if in the backcountry.
On the comfortable hip belt, you have a single zippered pocket on one side (I found this great for a multitool and my keys) and a gear loop on the other side. The final feature is a stow-away mesh helmet sleeve that allows you to transport your helmet without fear of dropping it. At 32L (also available in 22L version) this can carry a lot of items and equipment. But with its streamlined and sleek profile, it doesn’t look or feel cumbersome. I even felt comfortable leaving it on while riding the chairlift when allowed! This is a functional, stylish, and comfortable bag and while it is primarily designed for the backcountry (you can attach your board or skis too!), it works just as well on groomers.
The Best Snowboard Wheelie Bag – Burton Wheelie Locker Board Bag
Beast. That would be the first word to describe this 600D and 1200D TPE reinforced wheelie bag. It is the Cadillac of snowboard bags that surprised me with how useful it is. After all, it’s just a wheelie bag, right? The name locker is so apt here because it actually fits all of your snowboarding gear. This bag has room for three decks, it has removable boot and binding bags, storage for all of your gear, and a comfortable telescoping handle. The 181 size that I have been using has become my modern-day snowboarding equivalent of a travel chest.
The top half of the bag has two large wonderful neoprene and mesh zippered compartments that fit a surprising amount of clothing and gear. The bottom half has cinch straps for your first two boards (as well as attachment points for the boot/bindings bag). And if you need a third board, that slips into a separate padded pocket underneath the main compartment. I don’t have three boards, so I often used that as my dirty laundry stash. It’s easy to maneuver thanks to strategically placed grab handles and a telescoping handle. The IXION skate wheels keep it rolling through the airport or parking lot with ease. The only danger is you can conceivably pack too much. On my flight to Colorado, I packed 82lbs into this with room to spare!
The Best Snowboarding Gear Hauler – Thule RoundTrip Snowsport Duffel Bag
The Swedish folks know a thing or two about snow and winter sports. So it is no surprise that they’ve created an excellent collection, including this RoundTrip Snowsport Duffel. 600D polyester, 90L, and in a rich teal color, this is the perfect bag for local day trips. Flanked by two oversized lined boot pockets (with drainage holes), the cavernous main opening easily fits helmets, goggles, gloves, spare layers, and more! Alongside these features, the bag has a few ingenious touches that make it a helpful addition to your base camp.
The main opening zips all the way down to the base, giving you a perfect standing mat for changing in and out of boots, and just changing clothes in general! At the beginning and end of cold days, this was a godsend and a feature I loved using. A fleece-lined pocket is the perfect spot for any electronics, spare goggle lenses, and valuables.
This bag is also part of a larger line from Thule, and it can be attached to one of their larger rolling cases. The shoulder strap is comfortable when fully loaded, and the wedge shape makes it easy to carry from car to cabin. I also think this is good value for money, and could comfortably accommodate two people’s snowboarding gear.
The Best Snowboarding Gloves
For you boarders out there, these are the gloves that you need. Also referred to as a “lobster claw,” the Hestra 3 Finger Gloves give you all the warmth of a mitten, but the dexterity of a glove. The single finger free is great for getting in and out of bindings quickly while the CZone membrane is fully waterproof and breathable, making them comfortable for a full day of snowboarding on the mountain. Boasting cowhide leather with extra reinforcement on the palms, and with flex zones in all the right places, this is the ultimate snowboarding glove. Neoprene cuffs and wrist keepers mean you can get in and out of the gloves without risk of losing them.
If you want extra warmth, the Hestra Touch Point Warmth Glove Liner fits perfectly underneath. It gives you touch screen compatibility so you can access your tracking apps, send a text, or skip to the next song on your mountain playlist (I highly recommend the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack!).
When it’s a horribly bitter day, and you just want to keep those digits warm, look no further than the Recon Mitts from Black Diamond. They’re filled with 340g of PrimaLoft® Gold on the back, and 170g on the palm for a combined 510g of toasty goodness. The goat leather palm adds extra durability, while the elongated Pertex Shield® cuff keeps any snow out of your gloves. The BD.dry® insert keeps the glove waterproof, no matter how many times your hands are in the snow. Something that is especially useful for those of us on the board. I find these get warm very quickly, so they are reserved as a backup pair for brutal days. Although if you run cold these could be perfect for you!
The Best Snowboarding Base Layers
When it comes to base layers, it’s hard to beat the original superstars. The Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Crew and Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Bottom were my go-to snowboarding base layers on the colder days. The new Intraknit line combines merino wool, polyester, and elastane to provide the perfect blend of flexibility, durability, and warmth. The mesh ventilation is knitted into the weave at gender-specific locations to maximize your comfort. There is also extra ribbing in the high wear joints (elbows and knees) to make sure that these last you for a long time to come. I like the fit, and while it is listed as slim fit, it isn’t skin-tight.
If it isn’t a jaw-droppingly cold day, I prefer something more lightweight. The Brighton base layer from the running folk at Tracksmith is my lightweight option of choice. The seamless construction makes it exceptionally comfortable. If you aren’t into wool, Burton have you covered with their X base layer tee and pants. With four-way stretch, excellent breathability, and quick-drying properties, these are a great snowboarding alternative.
You’re going to spend all day on your feet, so it’s important to look after them! Smartwool’s PhD Pro Ski Socks are some of the best out there and I’ve been wearing variations of their PhD line for years now. Constructed from a mix of merino wool, nylon, and elastane, this newer version has some great durability improvements. Particularly Shred Shield which stops your toes from tearing them apart against your boots. Cushioning on the shin, heel, and ball of your foot provides support and comfort, whether you wear them as a liner, or on their own.
The Best Snowboard Bindings & Boots – Burton Step On Bindings and Photon Boots
“We’re always waiting for the S______ers!” You were thinking of a snowboarder! I knew it! Well, thanks to this marvelous (updated) invention, the boot is now on the other foot! With this new setup, I was off and headed downhill before my skier counterparts could stick a pole in the ground. A combination of boots and bindings, three cleats (two toe, one heel) on the boots snap into the binding with a satisfying “click!”. Responsive, comfortable, and adjustable, this has revolutionized my snowboarding experience.
No longer are people waiting for me to strap in. I’m quicker around the mountain, quicker to the bar, and slower to anger! I find they enhance the day because I actually spend more time snowboarding and less time buckling, ratcheting, and undoing. With just a pull of a lever, you’re out of the bindings and exploring with ease. To top it all off, they also take less space in your board bag, since they lie almost completely flat. Can you tell I’m never going back to normal bindings?
The Best All Mountain Snowboard – Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero
Described as “chunder buster” on the Burton website, this is a pleasurable board to ride. It’s a great do-it-all board that can ride the rails, but it excels on the trails and in the powder. The camber profile helps with sharp turns and a rockered nose allows you to glide through freshies with ease. Something we’ve needed this winter with over 150″ in the first five weeks since the new year! I also found the twin flex enhanced its nimble maneuverability. If you’re a little more understated in your taste like me, this edition is covered in a subtle matte graphic by artist Ty Williams.
The Best Snow Gear for the Cabin
Mountain adventures are great. You get to explore outdoors, get some adrenaline pumping and then come home to the cabin/Airbnb/hotel room, which can almost be as much fun as the mountain itself. After a day outside in 2°F wearing boots, base layers, jackets, backpacks, etc., it feels great to peel it all off, have a shower, and slip into some comfortable casuals, ready for food, board games, and of course, drinks. This small selection of pieces are the ones I found myself looking forward to at the end of the day. And they kept me snug as I recovered for the next snowboarding adventure!
The Best Wool Mid-layer – Houdini Alto Half Zip/Houdi
The Houdini Sportswear crew are creating exceptional products, both in terms of their performance and their environmental impact. The Alto line is made from Woolly Treemerino™: the perfect blend of merino wool and Tencel®. The natural warmth of the wool, combined with the structural integrity of the Tencel makes this a perfect alternative to the classic fleece.
Exceptionally comfortable and soft next to your skin, this is perfect for throwing on after a day on the slopes. However, don’t let that comfort fool you, this is a genuinely capable performance piece too. While I have put this in the cabin section, this also performed well as a snowboarding mid-layer on the mountain. It is highly breathable, odor-resistant, and bloody comfortable. Oh, and did I mention that it is completely renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable? In fact, Houdini asks that you send worn-out items back to them so that they can close the loop. That’s an ethos I can get behind. The Alto series is available in both a half zip or houdi.
The Best Sport Crewneck – Tracksmith Fynnsen Sweater
Tracksmith’s designs are always inspired by the collegiate athlete from yesteryear, but with a modern twist. This sweater is no different, and while it might look like a standard crewneck sweater, it is anything but. The performance upgrade of a merino/acrylic blend makes this feel like a terry cloth sweater. But it performs like a base layer – moisture-wicking, temperature regulating, and odor resistant. All in a timeless style. Perfect for post-shower IPA sipping.
The Best Sweatpant – Western Rise Spectrum Jogger
You can’t relax properly if you aren’t in sweatpants, right? There is something about the super stretchy and cozy pants that make you feel better after a long day! These joggers are different though. Made by the fabric fiends at Western Rise, these are exceptionally versatile. Fundamentally they are both performance and relaxation pants. Essentially they’ve upgraded the traditional pants we all know and love. These are breathable, moisture-wicking, and stain resistant. Not only that, these are stretchiness defined thanks to the four-way construction. They are constructed in a rather unique fashion, using a technique called warp knit that they describe as “somewhere between knitting and weaving”. Day to day, this means that you get the comfort and flexibility of a knitted pair of pants, merged with the robust lightweight properties of a woven pair. I can’t take these off.
The Best Insulated Shirt – Western Rise AirLoft Shirt Jacket
The ultimate insulated shirt. It’s as simple as that. I’ve been a big fan of Western Rise’s AirLoft line since I got to review the prototype of their AirLoft Jacket. The love affair continues with this stylish performance shirt. My favorite thing about this shirt jacket is that it covers every activity I could have on a weekend away at the mountain. It is great for travel as it doesn’t wrinkle easily, it stretches every which way, and is very breathable. Want to stroll around town looking good but staying warm? It is insulated with 40g of Toray 3DeFX+® which provides excellent warmth without the bulk/restriction of traditional sheet insulation. Perfect for throwing on back at the car, or at the cabin, the temperature regulation makes this my favorite insulated piece. I’ve even worn it on the slopes and it performed excellently both downhill and uphill.
The Best All-rounder Pants – Western Rise Diversion Pant
The Diversion Pant is a perfect all-rounder for your trip. It basically covers all the bases if you like to pack light. With four-way stretch, an extra gusset for even more movement, a comfortable soft lining, and being super breathable, these came on hikes with me, about town, and of course traveling. If you had to bring only one pair of pants with you, these would be my choice. Oh, and they are water and stain-resistant too, perfect for winter adventures at the bar or in the wild.
I’ve always wanted the comfort of a onesie, without having to dress up like a cartoon character. Now I can have it! Designed by a couple of hungover students, the Onepiece onesie is the epitome of lounging. The comfort is unrivaled as you get swallowed by plush materials. You can choose from wool or fleece, lightweight or heavyweight, patterned or plain. OnePiece have some incredible Nordic-inspired designs, as well as pop culture pieces too. Two-way zippers make them easy to get in and out of, whether for the bathroom or bed. Though to be honest, you might just want to keep it on.
Onepiece has taken the stress out of Après. Now you don’t need to worry about bringing a hoodie and sweatpants, it’s all here for you. There is something about putting on a onesie that makes the snowboarding aches and pains seem a little less prominent. The perfect way to stay in and relax.
The Best Winter Sneakers
Comfortable shoes are a must for winter. They’ve got to keep you warm and offer protection from the elements! I found Vans give me all of those things in the two pairs I’ve been using. For those of you who like a high ankle sneaker, the UltraRange EXO Hi MTE is an excellent sneaker boot, with UltraCush foam and serious traction from their MTE lug outsole. These are really comfortable sneaker boots that stand up to some abuse. They also make a GORE-TEX® version if you want ultimate weather protection, although I haven’t found myself with wet feet yet!
If you like a lower shoe, you’ll love their Mid Slip SF MTE. Featuring the same outsole as the boot above, you’ll be surefooted! These became my mountain-to-home shoe thanks to their quick on-off nature. Pro tip: Go up half a size so you can slide your ski-sock-wrapped feet in and out with no worries. These also have 100g insulation, and a nice pile inside to keep those digits toasty!
The Best Winter Boots – Danner Mountain Pass Arctic Night
Danner have adorned my feet for over five years now, and they are my go-to do-it-all boot. The Mountain Pass range is my favorite as it is the perfect blend of outdoor performance and everyday style. You can imagine how excited I was when I learned they had winterized them with 200g of Thinsulate lining and a Vibram® Arctic Grip AT outsole. Add these new refinements to the already excellent GORE-TEX® lining, out-of-box comfort, and leather upper and you have the perfect winter boot. These are warm, dry, and steady underfoot, and USA-made. A heritage piece that with good care will keep you going for many winters to come.
The Best Slippers – Glerups Denim Wool Ankle Boot/Slipper
For lounging/recovery after a day on the snow, look no further than the Danish folk at Glerups. These indoor slippers are made from 100% natural wool. Plus they have a natural rubber sole should you need to run outside! The wool forms to your foot after a few wears. It’s like having a bespoke pair made for you at a fraction of the cost. These keep your feet warm, dry, and odor-free thanks to the natural properties of the wool. It’s hard to take your feet out of these! Easy to slip on and off, they’ll live by your bed forevermore. They also come in a range of heights, so you can keep those ankles in or out!
The Best Snowboarding Accessories
There are some items, and I usually find them to be accessories, that you didn’t know you needed until you use them. Almost all of these choices below have made my snowboarding season safer (in more ways than one) and more enjoyable. With the car being the new lodge in this COVID era, these should help make your lunch breaks and snack stops all the more enjoyable.
This USA-made board shield is a worthwhile investment when it comes to looking after your precious shredder. Fitting boards 154-164, this is essentially like a dri-fit sleeve for your board that minimizes rusting and damage to your edges. When you’re riding regularly, tuning-up can be an expensive part of the hobby. Since using this, I’ve found myself having to do that considerably less. The Zuke wicks away any excess moisture, as well as protecting your board from the inevitable nicks and scrapes that come with travel. This is great for the days when you are hitting a local mountain, without having to take the whole board bag. And it fits in a trunk or roof box with ease.
The ends are reinforced with Cordura to stop any cut-through. And the simple elastic cinch allows you to adjust to any size or preferred tightness. I got asked about this a lot this winter, and I think it’s a really worthwhile investment. My wife is just waiting for the ski versions!
Your car deserves some love too during the winter. And there is nothing worse than nicking or scratching your paintwork as you prepare to hit the mountain. We’ve all been there – you’re rushing to get to the lift as quick as you can, putting on your helmet, your goggles, your boots, etc. You rest your snowboard/skis against the wheel arch of your car, only to hear a crashing sound moments later. You’ve either scratched your car, dented your skis/board, or maybe even both. The SnoStrip eliminates this concern.
Slap it on the side of your car (magnet magic!) when you arrive at the mountain, and at 16 inches long, it has enough grooves to hold a snowboard and a couple of pairs of skis. Or if you’re just a ski party, it can hold 4-6 pairs. While this is designed for ski-season, I can easily see this being a great tool for adventure in other seasons – fishing poles, hiking sticks, you name it.
We spend all winter praying for “pow” and “freshies” so that we can have fun out there. But when those prayers are answered, it is a double-edged sword! Great for the snowboarding adventure, not so good for the gravel-pitted parking lot. There have been a few 30″ storms this winter, and even on the smaller storms, I’ve come back to a car that is buried in snow and hard to get out. You know how it is, when the wheels start to spin and you aren’t getting anywhere. Your wife refusing to get out and push *sigh*. This problem is only exacerbated the more rural your location. You don’t always have the luxury of a team of helpers to push you out. Enter GoTreads, in my opinion, the ultimate car accessory.
Simply unpack this pair of 46″ traction treads, push them into the snow (or sand, or mud!) in front of your wheel, and slowly accelerate – you’re free! These are absolutely ingenious and an excellent insurance policy. Not only do they work for your extra traction needs, their fold-up design allows them to be used as lifting blocks too. I’m seriously impressed by these, the design, the size, and the ease of use. If you’re an adventurer of any kind, these should live in your car all year round.
This YETI tote is just plain useful in a variety of different ways. It has become a “must bring” item. The ThickSkin shell is close to indestructible (as with most YETI products) and can take a beating. This was dragged, stuffed, and squashed throughout my testing. I found it a handy mountain-to-house bag for dirty items (it fit both a pair of snowboard boots and ski boots) as it helped prevent my car from getting gritty and dirty with salt/snow/debris from the mountain. Get home, rinse it out with a tap or hose, and it’s good to go the next day.
It also pulled double duty as a beer hauler and grocery bag for those longer trips. You can attach useful items to the HitchPoint Grid (YETI’s version of MOLLE/PALS webbing). I found this a great spot for a small knife and a bottle opener. It has a small zip pocket on the inside, perfect for a wallet and car keys, and a useful G-hook closure to keep your items inside. A definitely worthwhile addition to my snowboarding adventure kit.
Spending your day on the mountain is hungry work. This year, eating might look a little different. Well, that suits me fine! We all love a lodge break. But sometimes I feel like a fool spending $15 on a beer, and remortgaging my house for a burger. With these two items, you are set. If you want to run and gun, eat on the go, the Daytrip Lunch Box is your champion. Built in true YETI style, this robust lunchbox is easy to clean, keeps your food in good shape, and looks great too! It fitted sandwiches/snacks for two/three with ease (or four 16oz’s if you’re a liquid lunch type!).
It does work just as well keeping food hot too! If you’re a panini, quesadilla, pizza slice, hot sub, or other warm food fiend, heat it up before you go, zip her up and you’re ready for your feed later on. Easy to clean, this is a really useful item. While you could leave it in the car, if you want to eat on the mountain or chairlift as you go, it easily fitted in my backpack and prevented squashed sandwiches when I leaned back on the lift.
Alternatively, YETI’s Rambler Half Gallon Jug has you covered for feeding or hydrating a slightly bigger crowd. The half-gallon size is perfect for piping-hot chili or soup at lunch, or Hot Toddies fit well too! These two are great additions to your car base camp!
A flask is a mountain essential, particularly on the freezing resorts of the east coast! This gem from Snow Peak is a work of art as much as it is a flask. The curved titanium flask holds a healthy 6.4floz, enough to get you through a day at least! Weighing only 95g (!!!) it is a no-brainer, whether in your pocket or bag. The titanium metal is chemically inert so you don’t lose any flavor from your tipple of choice, or gain any metallic undertones from the flask itself. It comes with a handy pouch (with leather accents!) and a funnel for filling. A great way to keep the cold at bay!
It’s always good to have a simple knife multi-tool on you when outdoors, even at the resort. If you’re going to bring one, you might as well do it in style. The James Brand makes beautiful carry products and the Ellis is no exception. With a user-friendly lockback style, three essential tools are at your service at a moment’s notice. A simple 2.6″ partially serrated blade is enough to cut any old day tickets free from your jacket or pants or cut your wife’s sandwich in half without her noticing. The flip-out bottle opener is ready to party when you are, and the multitype screwdriver is PERFECT for adjusting your bindings on the fly! It’s a slender knife that slips into a pocket easily, or you can attach it to a bag with the Hardin carabiner.
The Hardin is exceptionally light, made from anodized aluminum with a spring-loaded latch. Both worked so nicely in tandem, and I had the Ellis and my keys attached to the Harden, then clipped to the hydration loop inside my backpack, ready to work all the time.
The Best Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) – VSSL First Aid Mini
It’s good practice whenever you’re out and about to have a first aid kit, least of all when throwing yourself down a mountain! That said, no one wants to lug a big kit with them, and what you do bring should be user-friendly. Enter VSSL, the Canadian team who give you 41 expertly curated first aid items, in a 6.75″, 10oz, watertight aluminum tube. Thankfully I haven’t had to use it yet, but it gives me peace of mind without any hassle. If you want, you can get the LED flashlight cap, which doubles its usefulness!
The Best Casual Camp Chair – Big Agnes Chair
You can’t have a base camp without a comfortable seat! This 300lb capacity packable chair is an ingenious piece of engineering. Weighing in at 3lbs 3oz this lightweight chair is made with 300D ripstop, 100D Robic nylon, and a lightweight aluminum frame. It packs down into a stuff sack not much longer than a can of Pringles and is exceptionally quick to set up and pack away. I like how little space this takes up in the car, particularly when your trunk or roof box is already full of all manner of snowboarding gear! It’s comfortable too, and perfect for taking a load off while you refuel.
The Best Action Camera – Insta360 ONE R 1-Inch Edition
This is definitely a bonus item, and not a snowboarding gear necessity to enjoy your days on the slopes. However, it is a magnificent piece of equipment, and one worth considering. The Insta360 takes all that is good about action cameras (rugged, touch screen, waterproof, small form factor) and then adds a whole layer of wizardry to it.
The modular design is excellent, easy to use, and allows you to pick and choose how you create your content. The 5.7k (30fps) footage that comes out of such a small camera is incredibly crisp and color-accurate. You can even video footage shoot in varying LOG/Profiles if you want more control in post-production (there is a desktop app that allows you to plugin to Adobe Premiere Pro). The Flowstate stabilization (thanks to a 6 axis gyroscope) means that your videos are actually watchable, while the mobile app is simple to use and has some great quick edit options if you want to share with friends and family! The 360 Mod (two 180 lenses that record simultaneously) is truly fun and gives you some unique perspectives of your adventures.
However, for my money, the best option is the 1-Inch Mod, which was developed with Leica. As the collaboration would suggest, this sensor (f3.2 – fixed) is a magnificent tool that allows you to take 19MP RAW photos, 5.3k video footage at 30fps, 4k at 60fps, and 1080p at 120fps. Once you add in starlapses, HDR brackets, voice control, and a whole other array of modes, it is hard to ignore this as a very capable piece of technology, at a very fair price. In fact, it is so good that I decided to take all of the photos in this article with it. They are a mix of screen grabs from the video footage and RAW edits from the 1-Inch sensor.
There are two things that make this stand out for me as a great camera, particularly for action sports. One, the modularity; you can pick and choose what you need sensor-wise on the go. Each mod is small enough to carry in your backpack or pocket. Two, the 360 capture is incredible for being on the go – you don’t need to worry about framing it perfectly, or making sure it’s facing the right way. You can choose your shot directly in the app after the fact. Reframe, change perspective, whatever you need to do, the choice is yours.
The software and the hardware are true industry leaders. In my 10 weeks of use, I haven’t looked back to my other action cam, and I don’t think I will. This camera affords me more flexibility, gives me better quality, and allows me to be more creative. It’ll be in my toolkit for a long time to come.
This is an odd time for all of us, and it’s important to find adventure when you can. The mountains are calling and this season it feels vital to enjoy it! So be safe, follow the protocols at your mountain and hopefully, some of these snowboarding gear choices will make your days on the slopes even better!