What kind of snowboarding stuff should I buy?
February 21, 2007 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I've started to get into snowboarding and I need suggestions for what kind of gear to buy.

I've been snowboarding for a while now, mostly on rented or borrowed equipment. I'm looking into buying my own. Is it worth it? If I am a 5'5 120 pound female, what kind of board am I looking for? Should I buy boots too, or just rent them?
posted by Suparnova to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How experienced are you? Are you linking turns yet?

I recently got into boarding and I bought all my own gear after renting 4 times. My board is a Salomon Radiant, 148 cm. It's a little short (I'm 5'6", 120 lbs, female) but it's great for learning. I recommend getting your own boots. Boots take the shape of your foot and the rentals never fit right! You should get boots that fit a little bit tighter because they do pack out a bit.

The best advice you can get is from the people at a ski/snowboard store. You don't need the most expensive gear but having your own is key. There should be good deals this time of year. I absolutely love having my own equipment. All my friends have starting boarding as well and those of us that have our own equipment have improved much faster.
posted by hooper4 at 7:51 AM on February 21, 2007

Second buying your own boots. Speaking from skiing rather than boarding experience but buying boots early on was a good move.
posted by jontyjago at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2007

If you're going to buy ANYTHING, buy your own boots. The rental boots are always broken down and will hurt your feet. I recommend you buy the most comfortable women's boots you can find (not Burtons, they're overpriced), then rent boards 'til you find one you like. Most hills have frequent "demo days" where you can try out all kinds of nifty equipment for free.

I am 5'9", 135lb, and I wear K2 boots (about 3 years old now) and ride a really old Elan Aurora board. I've seen tons of women riding K2 boards and Salomon boards.

FYI re: Burton - I have seen tons of bindings break on the hill and EVERY SINGLE TIME they were Burton bindings. I have cheap Anthem bindings and they've been with me since I started boarding 4 years ago.
posted by some chick at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2007

I would also recommend a helmet and wrist guards. Nothing like catching that toe edge and sticking your hands out to catch yourself, or catching a heel edge and whipping the back of your head into the ground.

I am on my second helmet, and my first pair of No Gomers, and I wouldn't go play in the snow without them.

Bonus for me: my goggles tend to fog much less wearing a helmet.
posted by procrastination at 8:34 AM on February 21, 2007

Yep, get boots before you worry about picking a board. This season's turning, so you can wait a month or two and pick up one of this season's boards cheap later, and try demos till then.

What kind of riding you think you're into? if you're planning to do tricks in the park you'll want a different length and shape of board than if you're going to carve backcountry powder.

Wrist guards are an excellent recommendation; knee pads are nice too if you're on packed snow a lot.

I got these sweet goggles this season and am loving them.
posted by nicwolff at 8:50 AM on February 21, 2007

Wrist guards wrist guards wrist guards. Broken wrists are depressingly common.
posted by blag at 9:58 AM on February 21, 2007

If you're serious about riding just buy the whole setup: board, boots, bindings, and a helmet.

Specific brands definitely get into preference issues and it has been some time since I've bought equipment.

Board: I'm a guy your height but heavier. I ride on a 157 cm board which might be just a bit long for you. I think about a 154 cm would be just right, for your height and weight. My board and my brother's board are Burtons, which I think are a pretty safe bet, but there are lots of good boards these days.

Boots: I like a really stiff boot, not quite ski boot stiff but pretty stiff. I find a stiff boot is easier on my feet and makes for better control. Of course they aren't as comfy to walk around in. My boots are Airwalk, and I think my brother's are as well.

Bindings: We've both got Sims; they are strap in bindings and have held up for years without problems, aside from a couple screws I had to replace. To learn more about binding types here is Wikipedia's entry. There are lots of different binding styles these days but I think strap in are still the best and I think that's still what most pros use, unless they're running hardboots (like ski boots) for Alpine racing or similar. The downside of strap ins are they are slower to get into at the top of the lift, but I think they offer more comfort, more control, less side to side movement. There may come a day when there's a better binding than strap ins but it's not today, as far as I know.

Helmet: An absolute necessity; head injuries are not to be taken lightly. I've got a Leedom but wouldn't actually recommend it, because it they've designed it for their goggles and other brands don't fit well. I started wearing a helmet after a hard fall. I didn't have a concussion but my head hurt for a bit and I thought "this is stupid not to wear one."

Wrist guards: I don't wear them, though I had a pair. If you want wrist guards make sure you buy them before you buy your mittens, so you can get mittens big enough to fit comfortably over them. Mittens are generally preferable to gloves because they keep your hands warmer.
posted by 6550 at 10:40 AM on February 21, 2007

I have been snowboarding 10 years, and one of the best things I have bought is Level snowboarding gloves. I don't like wearing wrist guards, but these have a built in protection called biomex that works great for me.
posted by ill3 at 11:05 AM on February 21, 2007

Burton's womens boots used to be only okay but in the past 2-3 years they got AWESOME!

I'd suggest that you demo a bunch of different stuff and then decide what you'd like.

There are often deals on eBay for used gear. Jump on that!

PS, don't forget a helmet!
posted by k8t at 1:03 PM on February 21, 2007

Buy boots for sure, they're the most important part of the mix for influencing how much fun you have.

I have more experience with ski equipment, but have been boarding for about 10 years. In my opinion, your board will make very little difference at your stage (as long as it's not complete crap). For that reason, I would buy used if you can. There's no need to waste tons of money, you're better off buying something cheap now and then getting something better in a few years. Not sure about where you are, but Craigslist has loads of snowboard equipment.

As for bindings, I just bought the Flows and love them. They are so much quicker to strap on and off at the top (or when stuck on flats) and the fit is great.

A few people I know have gotten great deals off the interwebs after picking out what they wanted in a store.
posted by dripdripdrop at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2007

Allow me echo the sentiments about boots: buy your own boots, and don't skimp. Your boots are the most important part of your setup - if your riding bulletproof bindings and the best board money can buy, but your feet are getting pins & needs and you can't feel your toes, you are going to have a terrible experience on the slopes.

Aside from that, I agree with 6550 when he says that if you're serious you should go out and buy your own complete setup. I bought my own board after 3 times out. At that point I knew I could ride, knew I liked the sport and knew I wanted to keep at it. Having my own gear provided even more motivation to keep working at improving.

Helmet: I wear a helmet every time I ride as well. Your head is the most important part of your body. Protect it.

Pants: They sell pants with padding sewn in. You might look into a pair with padding around the areas that you fall on. I'll never forget the time I caught an edge and dropped to my knees on an granular, icy trail. That was an awful experience, and I'm lucky I didn't break anything.

Goggles: A good pair of Goggles is a must, and not just in precipitation. After a while your eyes get tired from looking at blankets of white, reflective snow and start to play tricks on you.

Board: Go to a reputable ski/snowboard shop to buy your board. If it's a serious place, you'll be custom fit to the gear that matches you by a salesman who knows what he's doing.

Board width and length are determined by the type of board and the size of the rider. I'm a big guy, so I ride a big board (K2 Illusion Wide 163 to be exact). You're a small girl, so you'll be fit with something significantly smaller and thinner than that.

This is a god time to buy a board. This season is nearly over, so you'll be able to get good deals on this season's models, and great deals on anything left over from last season.

If you get out a lot, think about carrying around a "multi-tool". After having to treck down to the lodge twice to look for a screwdriver after my bindings came loose mid-run, I went out and picked up one for myself. It's basically a swiss-army screwdriver with many different size bits that you can whip out and use for quick repairs.
posted by tomorama at 5:35 PM on February 21, 2007

may i recommend against buying your gear from a big huge multi-sport store. canadian examples of this include sport check and sport mart. they may have a big selection of gear, but the staff simply don't have the specialized knowledge that you need.

another piece of gear that i HEARTILY recommend is impact shorts. these are hard to find in north america, but almost everyone wears them in japan. they're shorts padded around the thighs and particularly at the tailbone to cusion your falls. it makes a big difference in the amount of pain you feel -- but also in how fast you progress, because your fear of falling will be lessened when you're wearing them.

another piece of advice, which may be controversial to some here:

try not to buy stuff other than the snowboard itself sight unseen over the internet. fit is everything -- i've learned the hard way about that. even something as seemingly simple as a pair of bindings comes in multiple sizes, and not getting it right the first time when you order online is hassle.

good luck! and remember, it's not an expensive sport compared to luxury yacht racing or polo!
posted by graytona at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2007

I'm your size, and I ride a Burton 149. If you're an aggressive rider and you're going to be mostly in powder, you might want something a touch bigger. Be careful when buying women's boards- if the board is too light and flimsy, they chatter on the snow and are just generally squirrely and annoying. It's definitely worth it to have your own equipment. It's hard to go wrong with Burton stuff- they have a good range of boards and boots for women. Even the cheapest Burton line is generally better than almost everything else, IMO.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2007

Looking like a snowboarder is just as important as actually being able to ride. The jackets from japanese Burton offshoot iDiom, designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara, are completely awesome. You can pick them up at some online stores.
posted by roofus at 5:04 AM on February 22, 2007

Be careful when buying women's boards- if the board is too light and flimsy, they chatter on the snow and are just generally squirrely and annoying.

I wouldn't recommend a board specifically aimed towards women if that's the case, unless you just really like the colors they come in over men's boards. I can't even really think of a good reason why snowboard lines should be divided into mens and womens; the only difference women would need in a board is a somewhat smaller average size.

For a specific place to shop I like Colorado Ski and Golf. There website was down so I don't know if you've got one nearby.
posted by 6550 at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2007

6550, women's boards are usually smaller in the waist because women's feet are generally smaller. Having a super wide board sucks just about as much as having a floppy one. There are quite a few high end board makers that do a good job with the women's boards.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:31 PM on February 24, 2007

As your brother, I'd advise you to try skiing next season. You can totally swap for the day with someone else at CTA. You might like it.
posted by blasdelf at 3:10 PM on May 29, 2007

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