During the past few years, snowboarding has become one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Up to now, it continues to get bigger and its appeal has also reached other foreign nations who are also experiencing the winter season. Developed in the United States during the 1960s, snowboarding evolved from skateboarding and surfing. It makes use of a piece of equipment called a snowboard, which resembles a wide ski, with the ability to glide on snow. Snowboarding has established itself as a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998. With this, many winter sports enthusiasts have started trying out this relatively new extreme sport.
Before one begins snowboarding, there are quite a few important things to know about the basic snowboarding equipment.
The board is snowboarding's primary piece of equipment. Snowboards come in several different styles, depending on the type of riding intended. A size and shape variance in the boards accommodates different people, skill levels, snow types, and riding styles. There are three basic types of snowboards.
Freestyle Snowboards - short, wide, and flexible. They are very responsive to the rider and are the best choice for beginners. Freestyle snowboards are designed for half-pipes and terrain parks and most are symmetrical and have shovels on both ends.
Carving, Alpine, or Race Boards - stiff, straight, and designed for speed. The nose (or front) of an alpine board is curved while the tail (back) is flat. Alpine boards are designed for clean curves, sharp turns, and are stable at high speed. Because of their stiffness, they are usually reserved for advanced riders who are looking for a snowboard built for downhill.
Freeride or All Mountain Boards - combine some aspects both of alpine snowboards and freestyle snowboards. They have a directional shape, with the tail thinner than the nose, and are meant to be ridden primarily in one direction. They are more rigid than freestyle boards and good for carving long turns.
Just like any footwear, a good fit is the most important thing when selecting snowboard boots.
Snowboard boots protect your feet and ankles from the twists and torque of snowboarding, as well as the cold. There are three main types of snowboard boots available.
Soft boots - have a non-rigid outer and treaded sole. They're flexible and good for a range of skill levels and boarding styles. They are comfortable to ride and walk in, making them a popular choice for beginners and freestylers.
Hard snowboard boots - like ski boots, have a hard outer shell and rigid sole, but allow lateral ankle movement. These give supreme support for racing and freecarving on hard-packed powder. Downhill racers prefer these boots because they allow for quick turns and precise cornering. Hard boots are used with plate bindings.
Hybrid snowboard boots - combine the best aspects of soft and hard snowboard boots.
Bindings are separate components from the snowboard deck and are very important in holding the rider's boot in place tightly so the rider can transfer their energy to the board.
Strap snowboard bindings - best for soft boots and either freestyle or all-mountain boarders. The highback on these bindings ranges from small (for freestyle mobility) to large (for all-mountain support). A major advantage of these bindings is that they can fit almost any boot.
Step-in snowboard bindings - fasten boot to board without straps, has a backplate and a step-in mechanism that locks your snowboard boot in place. They are only compatible with specific boots, so they must match up with boots you already have.
Flow-in snowboard bindings - offer the comfort of soft boots, the control of strap bindings, and the speed and ease of step-in bindings, thanks to the combination of one strap and a backplate. The drawback is that they can't be adjusted as easily as strap bindings.
Plate snowboard bindings - require hard boots. This binding style is used most often by downhill (alpine) snowboarders who want the extra leverage that plate bindings offer.
Baseless snowboard bindings - preferred by snowboarders who ride terrain parks and pipes due to their responsiveness. The base of the binding is removed, so the rider's feet sit directly on the board, giving them a better sense of the board's flexion.
Considering the type of environment where snowboarding is done, it is important to be well-protected in terms of clothing. Extreme cold conditions are very harmful that is why the need of proper clothing is mandated. One must remember that staying warm and dry is the basic principle of choosing clothing for snowboarding. Generally, snowboarders dress in three layers.
Base/Bottom Layer - generally comprises of a synthetic and moisture-wicking cloth. Cotton products are not recommended as they are not quick-dry and will not keep you warm when wet. Instead use a synthetic material, synthetic polyester, or even a thin wool layer. The base layer usually includes a thermal body shirt, thermal underwear, and snowboarding socks.
Second/Middle Layer - insulating layer for the cold. A fleece jacket or vest will go perfect.
Layers should be added as the temperature requires and cotton should again be avoided.
Aside from a jacket or sweater, thermal pants should also be worn over the base layer.
Outer/Top Layer - wind and waterproof layer, generally takes the form of a snowboarding jacket and pants. Snowboarding and skiing jackets and pants will either be treated with a waterproof layer, or be made out of a lightweight, windproof, and waterproof material such as Gore-tex.
Gloves - protect your hands from snow, ice and impacts with padded gloves. Choose gloves that are durable, waterproof, and have fleece or other synthetic-based insulated glove liners. Also, make sure they have built-in reinforcements for the palm and the undersides of the fingers as they keep these areas from wearing through.
Helmets - more and more snowboarders are now wisely using helmets. Besides adding comfort and boosting performance on the slopes, helmets provide an all-important safety element. Good snowboard helmets will give you maximum protection from head injuries without getting in the way of your snowboarding fun.
Goggles - seeing well and protecting your eyes is key to an enjoyable snowboarding experience. The right pair of goggles will protect your eyes from snow, UV-rays, and other physical objects that might get into your eyes. Goggles also reduce the reflection and glare from the snow. When choosing a pair of goggles, you should consider its fit and if it is compatible with your helmet when you are using one.
Stomp Pads - are designed to offer traction to your rear foot when it isn't secured in the binding, such as when you are exiting a chairlift. They easily mount as an add-on, and are standard equipment on some boards.