Understanding Snowboard Accessories
Optimizing your ride goes beyond the board, boots, bindings and outerwear. Here is a breakdown of some snowboarding accessories to take your setup to the next level.
The right snowboard accessories are the perfect icing on the cake to a more enjoyable time when you go out snowboarding. Having a solid snowboard board bag to lug your board(s) around, a comfortable fitting snowboard helmet and pads and the right tuning tools keep your board tuned up can make a huge difference in how happy you are when you approach a day of riding. For some, the right accessories in your set up can make a difference of feeling confinent or even willing going out or not. Here is a breakdown of some key snowboarding accessories for the season.
Snowboard bags are the first of the essential snowboard accessories and help keeping your board in good condition over the long haul and all your other accessories neat and tidy in the same place as you travel. There are a few different levels of snowboard bags you’ll find out on the market. We’ll break it down into basic, padded and wheeled.
Basic Bag – A basic bag will have minimal to no padding. It simply holds the bag. Good for storage or car trips if you don’t want it laying out in your car.
Padded Bag – The next level of bag introduces some padding to protect the bag and possibly the addition of some extra storage. This type of bag can usually fit your boots and probably a few other pieces of gear and includes an over the shoulder strap to carry it.
Wheeled Bag – These bags have wheels and a handle like rolling luggage. The higher end bags will have room for multiple boards, boot bags, and plenty of extra storage. If you fly a lot you really can’t beat these. It will save your shoulder a lot of pain with the smooth roll the wheels provide.
When you are looking to buy a snowboard bag be sure your board can fit in the bag. Some brands make one size that will fit up to a certain size, typically around 164. Other brands will offer 3-4 different sizes of brands that are measured in centimeters just like your board. Remember that your snowboard bag doesn’t have to match your board size exactly. It is always better to be a little longer than your board. This way if you have extra space for gear or if you get a longer board down the road it will fit.
A brain bucket is always a wise choice when snowboarding. You don’t have to be dropping cliffs or hitting kickers to need a snowboard helmet. Head injuries can happen even on the small hills just cruising. Helmets have come a long way in look and comfort over the years. Like finding the perfect pair of boots, you want to find the right fit for your helmet. Features can also vary greatly from brand to brand. Two main components are:
- Shell – This is the outer layer of the helmet. They are generally made out of ABS high impact plastic.
- Inner Liner – Usually made from an EPS foam that is designed to absorb impact.
There are two basic types of helmet construction:
- In-Mold – These helmets have the shell and foam liner attached in a single molding process. This creates a light and sleep helmet.
- Injected Molded – In this case the foam is attached to a separate outer shell. This offers a little more durability.
It is important to get a helmet that fits well. You want it to be snug without being constricting to the point that it will cause headaches. To find the right size you can take a tape measure and wrap it around your head just above your eyebrows. Most helmets are measured in centimeters so you can look at the specific size chart on the product page for that helmet to see what size your head fits best with. Everyones head is shaped differently and some brands differ in size so you might have to try one on to get an exact fit.
In addition to size, you’ll want to check the fit between your goggles and your helmet. Ideally there should not be any. Reaching out to an expert here at Windward that can match them up for you before you make a desiccation or getting to any other local shop with your goggles to try them on is the best way to insure this.
Finally, make sure the chin strap can also be adjusted to fit snuggly. You want to be sure it won’t allow the helmet to fall off if you have a big fall but also don’t want it choking you.
Different helmets often pack in lots of different features on them. Here are some of the core features to keep an eye out for:
- Vents – It can get warm under a helmet and vents can release heat and moisture. Some options will be permanently open, come with plugs to close, or have sliding closures.
- Audio – More people are listening to music on the mountain and it is safer to have it built into your helmet than have ear buds in your ears. Some helmets come with built in speakers and many you could add them if you would like.
- Liners – Some liners are removable. This allows you to take them out on the warmer days and also clean them if they are getting a little nasty from sweating too much.
- Safety Certification – Most major brands have their helmets certified by ASTM or CE certification standards. Helmets that are not generally are not made for high impact.
when to replace
There are no specific rules on when to replace your helmet. Most helmets are rated for only one strong impact but after multiple low impacts you may want to start to consider a new one. These impacts can start to wear down the integrity of the helmet and not offer as much protection on a future impact as they should. Any dents or cracks are a sure sign you should look into a replacement. It is always better to be on the safe side.
Tailbone injuries are among the most common snowboarding injuries for beginners and advanced riders alike, so riding with snowboard pads is never a bad idea. Especially if you are getting into the park or back country and trying some tricks. Here are some of the different types of snowboarding pads you can pick up for some extra protection:
- Knee: Can go either hardshell or softshell. The hard shell will have a hard ABS plastic while the soft will have some sort of foam padding. The hardshell can take more impact but are bulkier and weigh more. The softshell do not protect as well but are lighter and more stream lined.
- Elbow: Pretty much same as knee pads. Can go either hardshell or softshell. The hard shell will have a hard ABS plastic while the soft will have some sort of foam padding. The hardshell can take more impact but are bulkier and weigh more. The softshell do not protect as well but are lighter and more stream lined.
- Wrist Guards: It is never fun to break your wrist. These can help prevent that. You want to be sure to try them on to see if they fit under your gloves. Some brands like Burton make gloves with wrist guards build into them.
- Impact Shorts: The hips and tailbone can take a beating when learning to snowboard. Even after that a little protection never hurts. These shorts are designed to wear under your snow pants and have padding built in to protect the key areas.
Of all the snowboard accessories, the snowboard lock might be the best low cost investment you can make. Nothing is worse than buying your fancy fresh new snowboard, leaving it out when you go in the lodge and coming back to realize that someone just jacked it. Unfortunately people do this so the best way to prevent it is to carry a snowboard cable lock on you. You wire this through the bindings and then attach to the snowboard rack before going in. While it is not fool proof, it usually enough to persuade a thief move on to the next board.
snowboard wax and irons
You can always get your board tuned at a local shop (Windward has the lowest cost tune in Chicago for $30 bucks 🙂 or the resort, but investing in snowboard tuning equipment will save you some serious coin over time if you learn to tune your own board.
Don’t take Mom’s iron and try to hot wax your board. Household irons have holes that the wax will go into and ruin the iron. Burton, Dakine and many other brands make snowboard specific irons. They have a solid surface and the temperature ranges are ideal for snowboard wax. Be sure to keep your iron clean. Wax and dirt can build up and you don’t want to be ironing that into the board every time.
Wax is what keeps your board moving fast. A general rule of thumb is to get your board waxed every 5-7 times you go out. You can always do it more often. The more you do it the faster it will go. There are different options of wax that you can use:
- Rub On – Just like it sounds. A bar of wax your rub on the bottom of your board. Quick and easy way. Won’t last very long but good if you are at the mountain and have no other options. You can use either hard or paste waxes for this.
- Melt On (hot wax) – This is where that iron mentioned above comes in handy.
The world of snowboard wax offers many different flavors. We won’t go total science geek on you but it can get fairly technical. Here are basics to understand.
- Hydrocarbon Wax: The main component in this is paraffin which is a hydrocarbon petroleum byproduct. This is then combined with some synthetic waxes. This helps create a durable wax that absorbs best when melted on with an iron.
- Fluorocarbon Wax: Fluorocarbons are hydrocarbons where part or all of the hydrogen atoms are replaced with fluorine atoms. This helps repel water and keep the base faster.
Waxes can also be rated for different temperatures:
- Cold Weather: Brands will note what temperature they are optimal for. Cold is usually around 25 F and lower. These are more durable and abrasion resistant to the hard sharp snow crystals.
- Warm Weather: This is generally for 30 F and above. This is a softer wax that will be more water resistant to combat friction with the wet snow.
- All-Temp: For most people this is a safe bet if you don’t know what the conditions will be. It is versatile and inexpensive. Its where durability meets the extra glide.