Snowboarding For Beginners: What Is Snowboarding And What Gear Do I Need?
Are you a snowboarding beginner? Not sure what snowboarding gear you need? Read our complete guide
Snowboarding is a popular winter sport that involves sliding downhill on snow with a snowboard strapped to your feet. The sport is said to have been inspired by surfing and skateboarding, as an alternative to alpine skiing.
Many people have debated over when snowboarding was officially ‘invented’. The most popular story is that an American man named Sherman Poppen invented a toy for his daughters called the ‘snurfer’. He tied two skis together and attached a rope to one end to control the board.
The design became so popular that Sherman started his own company, Brunswick Corporation in 1966, and began selling his Snurfers across the United States.
Tom Sims was another early pioneer of snowboarding. He made his first snowboard in woodwork classes at school by gluing carpet to the top of a piece of wood and aluminium sheeting to the bottom. By the 1970s, he was making commercial snowboards to sell across the world.
In 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter, a fan of the snurfer, decided to attach his feet to his snurfer using bindings. He set up Burton Snowboards and went on to become the biggest snowboarding company in the world.
As the sport grew in popularity over the 1970s and 1980s, snowboard designs flourished and the sport became more accepted by the masses. 1982 marked the first USA National Snowboard race, held at Suicide Six resort in Vermont, USA. By 1985, snowboarding had its first World Cup event at Zurs, Austria.
It wasn’t until 1998, however, that snowboarding was finally accepted into the Olympic Games. Since then, the sport has become almost equal to skiing in popularity across mountains worldwide.
WHAT SNOWBOARDING GEAR DO I NEED?
While skiing requires two skis and two poles, snowboarding is far less cumbersome. You just need a snowboard with bindings attached and snowboarding boots.
Snowboarding beginners should start by renting gear. It might seem expensive, but it is a good idea when you are first starting out.
There are dozens of different snowboards to choose from. We would recommend telling the hire shop that you are a beginner and they will choose the best snowboard for you. This will probably be a basic flat profile board with slight rocker on either end. Bindings will come already attached to the board.
Snowboarding boots are necessary to make sure your feet fit into your snowboard bindings properly.
When trying these on, snowboarding beginners should note that your toes should not be squished in the end of your snowboarding boots. You should just barely touch the end of your boot with your big toe when you are standing up with your knees bent.
Your heel should stay firmly flat on the bottom of the boot when you lift it. Make sure they are laced up tightly.
Clothing wise, you should ideally wear proper snowboarding gear, including a snowboarding jacket and trousers. Jeans won’t cut the mustard I’m afraid. They will get wet quickly and make you very, very cold.
WHERE CAN I TAKE SNOWBOARDING BEGINNERS LESSONS IN THE UK?
While snowboarding is a popular sport with Great Britons, we unfortunately don’t have much snowfall in our own country.
Snow domes can be found all over the country. They are indoor artificial ski slopes with imitation snow created by snow makers. Dry slopes are often found outdoors. They are man-made hills covered in carpet that imitates the friction of snow.
If you want to learn to snowboard on real snow, you can either head up to Scotland for your first lesson or over to Europe. France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy are all popular places to learn to snowboard.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO GO ON A BEGINNERS SNOWBOARDING HOLIDAY?
Once you’ve nailed the basics, you will probably want to go on a snowboarding holiday. Your destination entirely depends on how much you want to spend.
Europe has some of the cheapest snowboarding resorts in the world (and also some of the most expensive). France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy are all popular places to go on snowboarding beginners holiday. Austria and Italy tend to be cheaper destinations than their neighbours.
The best way to choose is to ask your friends. Where have they been before? Did they enjoy it? You can also take a look at our guides to the best snowboarding resorts in Europe, the best snowboarding resorts in the world and the cheapest resorts in the world.
5 TOP SNOWBOARDING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
TAKE A LESSON WITH AN INSTRUCTOR
Lots of snowboarding beginners think they can teach themselves. While it’s possible, you will save a lot of time and stress if you book onto a beginners snowboarding lesson. They will teach you the basic skills to standing up on a snowboard, how to turn and stop.
WEAR PROPER SNOWBOARDING CLOTHES
While trackies and hoodie might feel comfortable, you’ll regret wearing them on the mountain. Trust us. The mountains can be cold, hostile environments and you want to be wearing the right clothes up there.
Even in a snow dome, it’s cold and you want to protect your skin from the snow when you inevitably fall over. Make sure you have a snowboarding jacket and trousers. It's not hard to find cheap snowboarding gear. Gloves are essential. If you are riding on the mountain, wear goggles. We would also recommend wearing a helmet to protect that noggin.
WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR
Snowboarding beginners fall over. A lot. It sounds kind of obvious, but you can buy a lot of gear to protect your body when you are learning to snowboard.
Helmet is the most obvious one. While many people still ride without a snowboarding helmet, they are becoming much more prevalent among skiers and snowboarders. You can rent one with your board or buy your own.
Broken wrists are one of the main injuries snowboarder encounter. You can buy wristguards from any good snowboarding shop. Wear mittens as they are tricky to fit under snug gloves.
Impact shorts are great. They are shorts with protective padding around your tailbone, cushioning your butt when you fall. I found these a lifesaver when I was learning to ride.
Also make sure you buy snowboarding insurance before you go abroad.
LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
It’s tempting as a snowboarding beginner to look at the floor. Don’t do this. Keep your eyes looking forward where you want to go. Your eyes lead the rest of your body. This is the foundation for learning to control and turn your board.
Snowboarding is meant to be fun, so make sure you are enjoying yourself. While you’ll find the first few days tricky and sometimes frustrating, stick with the tips your instructor has given you and practice, practice, practice. With time, you will finally get there. Once it clicks, you’ll never look back!
Take a look at our top 10 tips for snowboarding beginners.