So, you want to learn how to snowboard? Well, cheers to you as you embark on one of the most addictive adventures the sporting world can offer, one which will certainly have you daydreaming until your next sojourn to the slopes –and the next, and the next. Yep, it’s like that.
But hold on there, Sparky. Before you have visions of Olympic glory, you need to consider many important details before you book your maiden migration to the mountains. And to be perfectly frank, most of these pointers below involve your wallet, so that pocket change you saved up for something special may need to see the light of day at this point.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t a few intangibles you’ll need to know as you’ll see below:
1. Bring your positive attitude
Let’s start off with setting the goal to simply have fun before you even hit the road.
It’s right to get excited because snowboarding is fun! Be very aware that you will fall like Bambi on ice and that you will eat some snow several times along the way as you find you are not the second coming of Shaun White. But that shouldn’t discourage you.
We all learn to crawl before we walk and bruises are like badges of honor, especially when they have a good story attached.
2. Groups are always better
Life’s celebrations are obviously best when among friends and family.
Group trips are strongly encouraged, especially if you have some experienced shredders among your buds and bloodlines which translate to free lessons. Trips to the resorts will inevitably bring people together, so the bonding factor rates high and good times will surely follow.
You may also even find snowboarding or ski groups online in case your pals can’t make the trip. Meetup.com is an easy start in your search for a local group or if you’re travelling.
And finally, you should know there’s no shame in snowboarding solo as the snowboarding community is typically very approachable and even helpful to a newbie finding his/her legs.
It is not recommended to do this on your first trip, maybe even your second. So, make sure you’ve carved a few notches on belt before going it alone.
3. Snowboarding is not cheap
A little dose of truth here, but it is what it is.
This is one major reason why forays with family and friends or group trips are recommended, especially with regard to parking, lodging, meals and transportation.
Let’s take a look below at the typical cost averages and some tips to getting started arming your equipment arsenal:
- Depending on the resort, an adult daily weekday pass can run between $40-100 in the Northeastern region of the United States and $50-$125 on the West Coast. If you need to get a little thrifty, checking on the local Groupon.com pages or RetailMeNot.com for an online coupon code may feature some deals nearby.
After you gauge your interest and make the commitment to embrace a snowboarding lifestyle, a season pass makes more fiscal sense after the initial sticker shock of a $1000-1200 price tag wears off.
- Lodging is always more expensive the further you are removed from society and ski resorts are no exception.The closer you are to the mountain, the higher the price. For example, booking a one-bedroom townhouse at The Appalachian at Mountain Creek in New Jersey will run you around $290. Book the same location with a handful of your buddies in a three-bedroom townhouse (with sofa bed) and it’s $400. This clearly backs-up the benefit of traveling with a group.
Exploring lodging options away from resort premises on AirBnB.com or another hotel within reasonable distance are two ways you can save some more, but keep in mind the potential for additional costs of transportation and parking en route to the resort.
- Snowboarding is a serious financial commitment, especially when it comes to buying gear and equipment.
Probably not the best idea to buy everything new especially since you haven’t even established which kind of boarder you are or how committed you will be. New snowboards alone cost anywhere from $200-800.
The best alternative options may be pursuing used equipment on Craigslist, eBay or even dedicated snowboarding sites, where you can find the best bang for your buck. See our guide here on the latest jackets and bindings (but this page for all-mountain bindings).
The safest and probably least expensive option would be to rent your equipment at the resort. Most mountains offer rental boards on-site and some even offer an online opportunity to rent a board before you get there.
In addition, you should also be prepared to rent at least a helmet, goggles, snowboarding boots and board bindings.
You will find most resorts will offer package deals on equipment rentals with some even including lessons in the pricing, either individual or in a group. This type of deal reduces the a la carte rental costs drastically.
4. Snow is cold, and over time, cold things become colder
That’s just science.
All kidding aside, this part is pretty darn serious and where money should be no object.
Snowboarding sessions involve hours spent on the hills, not minutes, so your exposure to the frigid elements will be lengthy and their effect on you may be camouflaged by the fun you’re having. For your protection, It is most advisable to visit a local sporting goods store and actually try on your snowboarding cold weather gear for two reasons: safety and comfort.
When shopping, build from the inside-out. Thermal socks, long underwear, thin gloves and even hand warmers are essential. These items should be purchased with the sound idea that you can never have enough of each, especially when you consider the sweat factor.
Next is your choice of snowboarding pants and jacket. They’re already built for repelling the ice and snow with most being waterproof, so you really want to measure your comfort level by taking a walk around the store. If it’s too bulky or cumbersome, you will be uncomfortable and ultimately, your performance and the overall enjoyment of the snowboarding experience plummets.
Finish your shopping with at least two well-constructed wool hats, two sets of snowboarding gloves and a protective ski mask (either half or full-face, your choice). It’s best to prepare for the worst conditions with a “have/not need vs need/not have” philosophy when it comes to your wardrobe.
Last but not least, it’s best to pack your luggage the night before. Having equipment or gear anxiety when approaching the resort isn’t any kind of fun at all.
5. It’s the little things that matter
These items usually reveal their importance after forgetting them the first time.
Knowing is half the battle, especially for the little things that may go a long way when you actually have ‘em. The list that follows are items which usually end up with most fitting in…
- …A good backpack. This is the real MVP here. Money well spent on a sturdy, durable and multi-compartment backpack is never overrated. Personally, I’m a fan of Arc’Teryx as they offer a wide range of high-quality backpacks to match any need.
- First and foremost, find a safe compartment for your photo ID and any emergency contact information. This should preferably in its own clear plastic sleeve, even better if it can be tethered to the interior of that compartment.
- Turning another compartment of your backpack into a mini-pharmacy is a very responsible move. Band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, q-tips, examination gloves, hand sanitizer, blister kits, pain meds gauze, a small towel, etc. and /or simply buy something like this.
- The essential non-emergency pharmacy items should include lip balm, sunscreen, Vaseline (for skin cracking), eye drops, nasal spray. A “bunchable” baseball mesh trucker cap for when you need to remove your helmet or wool hat for some sweaty-head relief.
- Snacks like granola/candy bars, a banana or two, bottled water or sports drinks with squeeze spout or in a slender thermos. Basically, it’s strongly encouraged to bring any form of nourishment you can handle with your gloves on.
- Some smaller tools are recommended like one pair of pliers, one each Phillip’s head and flat head screwdrivers, a small roll of duct or electrical tape and maybe even a small safety flare because you never can be too careful in the wilderness.
It’s understood that you will most likely find a few additional items of your own to bring along as we all have different needs and preferences. The name of the game is preparation with each snowboarding adventure you embark upon.
The more buttoned-up you are overall when in conjunction with serious consideration for your safety and the safety of others, the more enjoyable your experience will be.