I am a relative newbie to snowboarding. While I’m a really outgoing and don’t mind asking a kajillion questions – I know that skiing and snowboarding can be overwhelming and at times seem a bit elitist in that it is hard to jump in and get the information you need to get started. I recently went to SIA (Snowsports Industry Association) tradeshow in Denver. I visited several ski and snowboard apparel manufacturers what was the most important thing that I should spend money on when it comes to skiing and snowboard equipment. Here are what some of their answers were – and some of my personal opinions interjected.
- Get A Lesson. Overwhelmingly, most people I asked said spend your money getting a lesson. Get started by someone who knows what they are doing. This also will help eliminate injury and a good instructor will also teach you the “rules of the mountain.”
- Don’t Be Afraid To Ask.Don’t be intimidated by all the people who seemingly know what they’re doing. They may know now – but that has not always been the case – they started as a newbie too. It’s OK to have to stop and ask directions or to ask how to get out of your snowboard binding or back on your ski after you fell out of the binding. Believe it or not, most snowsports enthusiasts don’t really want to seem elitist and they are usually more than happy to “talk shop” with you telling you their opinions and simply wanting you to try the sport they adore.
- Don’t Buy The Most Expensive Equipment. Get the hang of the sport first. Rent equipment. When you rent from a reputable location they will outfit you with the correct size for your height/weight/skill level and what type of skiing/boarding you want to do. Seriously, I’m cheap! The reality is that there are other things that you should spend your money on first – like lessons and lift tickets. One of the reasons that snow sports seem so elitist is that the equipment can be very expensive. So take it easy. Don’t buy everything at once. Get the essentials and build from there.
- Do Invest Some Money In Certain Items. While the hard equipment like the ski boots, skis, poles, snowboard, snowboard boots, and bindings can be rented. There are some items that you should invest some of your money in. These include: Socks – if you have well fitting warm socks it will make your day more enjoyable – you just need 1 good pair of wool socks cotton will get sopping wet and more than one pair will just fit weird; Gloves – make sure that you have gloves that will keep your fingers warm, Base-layer – base-layer is the fancy term for long-johns. Your base-layer is what is directly against your body. You want to make sure that you get something that is going to keep you warm (meaning no cotton – because cotton just soaks up the wetness of the snow) but also feel comfortable as those YOGA pants you wear around – oh wait, maybe that is just me; and get or borrow a snow coat and snow pants.
- A Few Other Tips. There are a few tips that I picked up as I was learning…you shouldn’t wear jeans under your snow pants. I know sounds sort of weird but really all you will need under you snow pants are a base-layer (aka long-johns). The first time I went I wore jeans. They limit your movement and actually make you colder (since they are cotton based).
I’m sure that everyone has their own opinions. These are mine based on the fact that I’ve only really been doing this for three years. In a future post I will post a must have, nice to have and cool extras list. Because there really is some great stuff out there – but if you’re just getting started – understanding what you really need and what you should spend your money on is important. I know that I didn’t just hit the lotto or rob a bank so that I could snowboard and get my kids on the hill too!