Snowboarding is about having fun, being outside and working toward personal goals. But when you’re holed up in the lodge with a cast on your foot while your buddies are out shredding, you’re not experiencing any of these thrills.
When it comes to the sport of snowboarding, safety should always be your first priority. The most important accessories a rider can buy are those that will help him or her stay alive and well out there on the mountain. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
A skull is a terrible thing to waste – so wear a helmet! Despite the misconceptions that helmets aren’t cool, you’ll notice that many of the best riders on the hill are sporting a lid. They know that a concussion or head injury of any kind can be season-ending, and they aren’t willing to take that risk. Neither should you. There are a variety of helmets to choose from, all sorts of shapes, sizes and prices (you can even buy a helmet with built-in speakers and wireless internet for easy iPod access). Next time you crash hard but find your head intact, you’ll be glad you made the investment.
One of the first things you’re taught in a snowboarding lesson is how to fall. But despite the instructors’ best efforts, many of us will still try to break our falls with our hands. In many cases, wrist guards or gloves with internal wrist protection are the only things keeping you from snapping your wrist(s) when this occurs. So be sure to consider some kind of wrist protection as you gear up for the season, because broken bones hurt and casts itch.
Your eyes are your guides, so treat them carefully by buying some decent goggles. They’ll help protect you from the snow, wind, UV rays, ice, and any tree branches that might try to attack you throughout the course of the day. Because of the constant weather variations on a mountain, you’ll need to be ready for any condition: white-outs, cloudy days, sunshine in spring – each requires a certain lens for you to be able to see well. When buying a pair of goggles, make sure that they have an anti-fog system to prevent moisture from being trapped inside and clouding your view. And don’t worry, snowboarding helmets come outfitted with goggle restraints, so you can wear both!
Knee pads, elbow pads, hip pads and butt pads are all designed to keep you from seriously bruising yourself on the slopes. With soft padding and protective sheathing, they offer protection from both the cold and the hardness of the snow (or tree, or rock, or whatever else you hit). Not to mention, these types of pads make learning to snowboard a lot more comfortable, as you’ll likely be sitting on your rump a little more than usual at first.
Snowboarding instructors understand what it is like to be a newbie; it is often frustrating, difficult and can seem hopeless. But they also recognize that if they can just help that person through the initial stages of learning the sport, they will have laid a foundation that the rider can build on for the rest of their life. In order to develop the basic skills that you need, start with a few lessons from a certified instructor, and you’ll be set in the right direction. They’ll help you figure out your stance, they’ll explain how to safely board and exit a ski lift, and they’ll guide you through your first few runs as a snowboarder. It’s an often-overlooked suggestion, but take a lesson and you’ll see the difference it can make.
While it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll suddenly pop out of your bindings, you should still take the precaution of wearing a leash in case of any unforeseen equipment malfunctions. Not only is it a good idea to protect your investment, but also most resorts require the use of a leash to ensure the safety of everyone on their mountain. Runaway boards can be highly dangerous, so leash up and rest assured that you’ll be taking your ride back home with you at the end of the day.
It goes without saying that poorly fitted equipment can lead to an uncomfortable day of snowboarding. But, comfort aside, there are also some safety hazards that go along with bindings, boots or boards that are not properly sized. Your feet should be snug in your boots, your boots should be snug in your bindings and your bindings should fit correctly into your board’s inserts. If not, the wiggle room could lead you to loose control and hurt yourself. So take the time to assess your gear to be sure that you are set up for a safe and comfortable experience
Special note: No matter which safety accessories, services or equipment you employ, remember that there is no substitute for reasoned and careful behavior on the slopes. Act responsibly on the mountain and everyone will have a good time. Safety first, space not speed.