Snowboarding Gear Explained

Skiing and snowboarding are two quite different sports. Yet, it seems that many people at first glance, don’t recognise much of a difference between the gear and clothing used by snowboarders and skiers. Other than snowboarding jackets being ‘slightly bigger’, it seems everyone is dressed to their eyeballs in waterproofs. We’ve already looked at skiing gear, so this post now looks at the materials, clothing, and kit that snowboarders use.

What is the Difference Between Ski Pants And Snow Pants?

There is a difference! Ski pants have a tighter fit, whilst snowboarding pants are looser and baggier. Snowboarding pants also have different construction around the knee joint, and reinforced materials on the bum and knees.  This is because snowboarding requires a lot more rotation and movement. Compare this to the average on-piste skier, whose body will not make as many vigorous twists turns. Additionally, snowboarding requires your legs to be strapped apart, so there must automatically be additional material and to prevent any awkward pant-splitting moments.

What are Snowboarding Pants Made Of?

With the perfect pair of snowboarding pants, you’ll feel warm, dry, comfortable, and protected from the elements whilst out doing your thing. All snowboard pants are made of synthetic materials that are either polyester or nylon. Polyester is a cracking material, as its strong, quick-drying and resists stretching and shrinking. It can also become waterproof when knitted together in the right way. Add a layer of Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to the fabric, and you’ve got a pretty tight seal.

Like polyester, nylon is strong, but its feature characteristic is its elastic nature. It also takes dyes easily, perfect if a snowboarder is looking to rock some neon shapes on the piste.

GoreTex is the wonder material that is both breathable and waterproof. It has literally millions of tiny holes that allow water vapor like sweat to pass through keeping the skin dry. All these fabrics make for some pretty technical pants that are waterproof, breathable, and windproof.

What Makes A Good Snowboarding Jacket?

Snowboarding jackets are made with several layers. From inside to outside, you will have the lining of the jacket, an insulation layer, GoreTex or a similar smart material, and an outer layer which will be waterproof. 

Jackets for snowboarders tend to be slightly looser and larger than the snug fitting style worn by skiers. Hoods on snowboarding jackets may be attachable or fixed. Whatever style you choose, make sure that you can adjust it so that it stays on your head, and keeps wind and snow out. Usually there is a chin guard, which is essentially a raised collar designed to keep your neck and chin protected when the zipper is yanked to the top. 

Like skiing jackets, snowboarding jackets usually have a special pocket just for the ski pass. That means you can simply wave your arm, or pass through the barrier and the barrier system will register your pass.

Look for a jacket with a solid and chunky zip, so you won’t be fiddling about with gloves on, when you’re on the mountain.

Key Features of Snowboarding Gear

Articulated Elbows and Knees

Around the elbow and knee joints, the materials are constructed in a way that allows for a full range of motion. At no point should your snow pants or your jacket prevent you from being able to make a turn, or reach around and grab your board.


Found at the end of your sleeve or bottom of the trouser leg are cuffs. They stop, or at least are designed to prevent, snow or rain from getting inside your jacket or pants. They usually have velcro or cinches to ensure they are closed properly.


These clever creations are designed to protect your ankles and wrists from cold, wind, wet, and snow. They extend outward from both the pant leg or the sleeve.

Powder Skirts

For riders who are likely to be boarding off-piste or in the backcountry, powder skirts are a vital piece of kit. They attach underneath the jacket, above the hips, and they stop snow, or wild weather, from shooting up the bottom of the jacket, or down the top of the pants.

Reinforced knees and seats

On snowboarding pants, the knees and the seat of the pants are reinforced. This is because these are the two areas that have most of the contact with snow. Additional material with more durable waterproof qualities ensure riders stay dry after sitting or kneeling for a few minutes.


Crucial to snowboarding gear is the waterproof element of the kit. Seams have to be correctly covered, as a stitched seam will let water through. Waterproof tape is used to seal all seams. Fully taped seams cover every single stitch on the garment, giving complete protection. Critically taped seams mean that only seams that are exposed will be sealed. 

Storm Flaps

Zippers present another opportunity for water to sneak into your clothing. Storm flaps can sit on both the inside and outside of a zipper, and create an extra barrier to fight the wet.


Snowboarding clothes now usually offer up special pockets. Pockets are created for unique purposes such as storage of goggles, ski passes (as mentioned before), and ‘media’, like phones and music players. There are also large pockets for storage of general bits and pieces like hats, suncream, wallet, and gloves.

Ventilation Systems

Aply named ‘pit zips’, snowboarding jackets have zippers in the armpit that you can undo and get some good old fresh air circulating. There are also usually ventilation systems across the chest and back of the jacket, to help keep things cool.

Heading Off to A Snowboarding Trip this Winter?

So, there you have it, snowboarding gear explained as simply as we could. Although it did get a bit technical there. Sorry about that.

Half of the WeSki team are crazy about snowboarding, so the talk in the office is never far from “where are you off to next?” We’ve fangirled hard over these French resorts that deliver amazing snowboarding holidays, and we do trips to most of them too. If you’re thinking about trying snowboarding or are looking to book your next trip, WeSki can help. We’re an online travel platform that enables people to create their own winter trip from start to finish. Discover more and have a go at creating your own trip now.

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