Picture this.

You’re pulling into the parking lot of your favorite mountain for a killer day of snowboarding (or skiing).

Everyone gets out of the car and starts getting their gear on, when all of a sudden, you hear a little voice.

“I can’t find my gloves. Can you help me?”

You look through the trunk. Nope, not there.

You look under the seats. Not there either.

Are they in the wrong bag? Nope, not in any of those.

Lovely. You head into the shop and buy a pair of over-priced gloves that you really didn’t want to buy, but had no choice, and finally get out to the mountain.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if you knew exactly what you needed for each person? And that it was IN THE CAR?

Well, my friend, that’s precisely what we’re going to talk about today.

boy snowboarding in park at Eagle Crest in Juneau

Snowboarding Gear Guide

Gear Essentials

Snowboards, Boots, and Bindings (or Skis)

You can easily rent these from your local ski shop or mountain if you don’t have your own, but in order to ride, each person in your group will need their own.

Tuning Kit and Brush

If you’ve got your own gear, it’s always a good idea to toss in your own tuning kit. You never know when you might need to make repairs or adjustments on the fly. We also like to include a Rub-On Wax with ours in case we need a little extra speed mid-day.

If you’ve rented from the mountain, just take your board back to them if you need any repairs or adjustments, and they’ll have you back out on the slopes in no time.

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Personal Care Items

Lip Balm & Sunscreen

When you’re going to be out in the cold, you want to protect your skin. That means lip balm to keep your lips from getting chapped and dry. On sunny days, don’t forget the sunscreen – that snow reflects more than you think it does, and you can end up burnt (ask me how I know).

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Eye Drops

If you’re a contact lens wearer (or even if you’re not), consider tucking some eye drops in your pocket. They can be a lifesaver on a cold, dry, windy day when you feel like scratching your eyes out.

Identification, Money, and Ticket

You’ll also want to make sure that you have your ID and cash or credit card handy for any purchases you need to make on the mountain. And, don’t forget to toss in your season pass or lift ticket if you already have them.

Clothing: Layers and Outerwear

You probably already know that you need some sort of outer layer to keep you warm and dry, but there’s a little more to it. The two things that I would not compromise on are 1) comfort and 2) staying dry.

Nothing, and I mean, NOTHING will ruin your day more than being wet and cold or having gear that doesn’t fit properly. Trust me when I say, ignore the sizes on the labels, buy what feels right, gives you plenty of movement, and room to layer. It is infinitely more important than having the perfect style or tailored fit.


A quality baselayer can make or break your day. You want something that will keep you warm, but also, will wick any moisture away from your body (wet = cold). Cotton thermals, while inexpensive, are not what you’re looking for here. You want to consider something synthetic that is designed to wick moisture or wool. We love Airblaster Ninja Suits for all four of us, and they come in both a synthetic and a wool option.

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Depending on the weather and the outwear we are wearing, we may also wear a midlayer. Because the boys’ outerwear is insulated and less breathable (meaning it keeps more of their heat in), they don’t always use a midlayer. However, John and I have uninsulated shells and almost always ride with one. Fleece, wool, or technical midlayers are great options here. On freezing days, I’ll also wear my Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer puffy.

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When it comes to outerwear, there are a lot of factors that go into our choices, and it could be a post all on its own. (Maybe it will be!) You’ll need to start by choosing whether you prefer snow pants or bibs and a jacket or a one-piece if it’s more your style. You’ll also want to decide between insulated outerwear or uninsulated shells.

But, the biggest thing to consider is whether your outerwear is going to keep you dry. If you choose to go without insulation, you can adjust your layers, but insulated outerwear will definitely keep you warmer. We like to look for GORE-TEX and/or a waterproof rating of 15K or higher for riding here in the Pacific Northwest.

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Snowboard Socks

“Can’t I just wear regular tall socks? I’ll just take two pairs, so I’ll be warmer.”

Well, I guess you can. I’m not the snowboarding police. I won’t stop you. But, I will tell you that your day will be 1000% better if you have a warm sock, designed to keep you dry, and made specifically for snowboarding.

Personally, I’ve even found a difference sometimes in “winter sport” socks that are marketed to both skiers and snowboarders and the snowboard specific socks. Snowboard boots and skiing boots have different pressure points, and choosing a sock that is specific to your sport can make you and your feet so much happier.

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Gloves are something I often see looked at as less important than other gear. But, I’m here to tell you that the moment the kids’ hands or mine (not John’s – he’s got superhuman hot hands) get too cold or wet, we’re out. It will literally ruin the day if your hands are not warm. So, please buy a quality pair.

If you’ve read our post on 10 Must-Haves for Snowboarding with Kids, then you know that we suggest you consider an inexpensive pair at first for kids. Especially when they are spending 30 minutes-1 hour outside before they are finished. But, I definitely recommend if you go super cheap, that you buy two pairs so you can swap if one gets too wet (or lost). Once the kids are at the point that your risk of loss or destruction goes down (but, does it really ever?!) and they are staying outside for hours at a time, you may want to invest in a better pair.

When you’re looking for gloves, I would, again, look for GORE-TEX and also make sure that you have wrist straps. It’s saved us from losing gloves sooooo many times.

For the icy cold days (or if you just run cold), you may want to consider adding a glove liner. These can go a long way to making sure your fingers stay nice and toasty.

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Balaclava or Buff (a.k.a. Face Masks)

There are a ton of options for keeping your face warm. Everything from buffs to balaclavas to airholes. The main feature you want here is something that will shield your face from wind and snow and is comfortable to wear. It’s nice to have at least two options – a thinner option for days where it isn’t as frigid and a thicker option for the days that are more snowy and windy.

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You’ll never regret protecting your brains. Just get one. Seriously. Do it.

You may see a lot of people wearing a beanie and goggles instead. And we get it. A helmet isn’t as comfy and doesn’t look as cool. But, it’s just not worth the risk to us anymore.

We suggest you find one that feels lightweight and comfortable, first and foremost. MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection) and vents with the option to close are excellent add-ons to consider.

ProTip: Buy your kids bright colors. They’ll love it, and you’ll be able to spot them from across the slope.

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We find it handy to have beanies to put on for warmth after we are done for the day and take off our helmets. Often times, we will head back into the lodge for one last bathroom stop or to dinner in town, and they’re just convenient to have.

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Food and Water


Last, but not least is food and water. If your kids are anything like ours, the moment they get hungry, all bets are off. So, we always have snacks with us on the mountain. Trail mix, jerky, protein bars, and nut butter make excellent “Pocket Snacks,” but never underestimate the power of a Skittle or two to encourage them (or you) to keep at it. 😉


When you’re at a resort, you’ll have the option to eat lunch there or take it with you. In our experience, most mountains have a spot that you can warm up the food you brought from home if you like. It’s not as convenient as eating there, but it’s definitely cheaper!


Having water with you can help minimize the stops you need to make. Depending on the day and how far from the lodge we are venturing, we don’t always carry it. However, we have found that having a collapsible water bottle that we can fill as needed is super helpful. Or, if you really want to be one of the cool kids, get the new 686 Hydrastash Jacket with a built-in water reservoir.

Staying Organized

Okay, now I know that’s a lot of info I just threw at you. And, when you start thinking about it, it seems like a TON to remember. And, you don’t want to be in the scenario at the top. I get it. I hate that scenario, too.

So, here are the two steps you need to do to stay organized and have what you need the next time you head up to the mountain.

1) Personal Bags

Get a gear bag for everyone in your family. We love the Dakine Boot Locker DLX 55L, but it could even be a cheap duffle bag you have lying around the house. Whatever it is, grab one for each person in your family. This is where you put each person’s individual gear.

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Yes, you can put all the gloves in one bag, all the boots in a bin, etc. And that works if you always go together. In fact, I have a friend who does it this way amazingly!

But, we split off occasionally – sometimes John will go alone. Or, we will go, and the kids will hang out with family. So, for us, it’s just easier to have individual bags that are ready to go.

2) Grab a Checklist

Make a checklist of every item you need to have for snowboarding. Or, better yet, grab ours! It’s already done for you and you can print it out or use a PDF reader – whichever works best for you!

snowboard checklist on ipad laying on white background

Every time you get ready to go snowboarding, pull out your printed copy of the checklist (or pull it up on your device) and make sure you have everything you need.

Voila! Glove crisis averted. You’ve got this!

Final Thoughts on the Snowboarding Gear You Need

It may sound like a lot, but once you actually work though it, you’ll realize that it’s really not so bad. And, that having the right gear can make you enjoy your time on the mountain ten times more!

What about you? Do you have an item you consider a must-have for snowboarding?

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  1. Great list of essentials, it’s so easy to forget some of the things you’ll need for a day on the slopes. I couldn’t agree more that a helmet is a must have, safety first, always!

    1. Yes! I see so many people riding without them. We just choose not to take the risk anymore. For a family of four, it can add up. But every time we thought about saving the money, we kept saying how we would never regret protecting our brains, but one mishap and we might regret not spending the money.

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