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How to Dress for Spring Snowboarding

Thinking of snowboarding in shorts and t-shirt? Think again.


Photo © Matt Gibson

Spring riding typically means warmer mountain temperatures and long bluebird days, but it also means switching up your gear to suit the weather and snow conditions, which are much different from the much-colder peak season riding.

Pile on the Layers

We often think of those days you’ve spent riding in a t-shirt and shorts and, over-eager for that idyllic spring day, head to the mountain with minimal clothing. Spring conditions , however, can be misleading. The bottom of the mountain may feel like a warm summer day, but the peak may still be bitterly cold and whipped by wind. Layers enable you combat the varying temperatures of a mountain in spring.

A long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirt for your base layer is ideal for keeping moisture off your body and, when it’s your only layer,protecting your upper body from the sun, which is twice as likely burn you (because it’s bouncing off the snow) than on a day at the beach. Layer something a bit warmer -- like a thin fleece, jacket, or sweatshirt -- over your base layer, and top your gear off with a water and windproof shell. Always bring a couple of additional layers to the mountain in case it’s colder than expected.

Your Bottom Half

Choose a thin moisture-wicking base layer for the lower half of your body. If the temperatures are high enough, go without a base layer at all. It’s likely that the insulation of your snow pants will keep your legs comfortable on warm spring riding days.

Lather on the Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the most critical spring skiing accessories because riders often wear less clothing in the warmer temperatures. Not only does the sun reflect off of the white snow and onto your skin, but the sun’s rays are much stronger at high elevations, meaning you’ll burn easier than you would on an average day at the beach. Even if your body is covered, it’s important to at least protect your face (or risk spending a summer with google tanlines).

Resist Shorts and T-Shirts

While riding in shorts and a t-shirt can seem like an exciting way to celebrate the warmer spring temperatures, stripping down to minimal clothing can result in unexpected injuries. The snow tends to be more crisp during the late-season riding months, which can cause painful scrapes and cuts when you fall (or an inexperienced skier or rider runs into you).

Bring Your Shades

Sunglasses or tinted goggles are essential for spring riding because the sun’s reflection off of the stark white snow is extra bright. Make sure your goggles or sunglasses give you UV protection for those sunny spring days. If you’re not a fan of riding in goggles or sunglasses. a winter hat, helmet, or baseball cap with a brim can help shade your eyes from the harmful rays (though you really should wear something over your eyes, really).

Bust Out the Pipe Gloves

Ditch the liners and hand warmers for a thinner pair of gloves on warm spring days. A number of major snowboard clothing brands sell thin pipe gloves that provide the warmth and protection you need on spring days without unnecessary insulation.

Stay Hydrated

It’s essential to drink plenty of water when you’re out riding on those hot and sunny spring days.  Proper hydration helps fight altitude sickness, muscle soreness, and fatigue. A variety of lightweight hydration options (such as small hydration backpacks and bladders) are available to help riders stay hydrated without adding too much weight or bulk to their spring riding gear.

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