If you’re hitting the slopes for the first time on a snowboard, you will need to know a few things before you start zipping down the bunny hill. Although it may help to take a few lessons, you will need to know a little bit about boarding before you even lace up your boots.
What foot forward you ride will affect the setup of your gear. If you skate or surf, you will already know what foot forward you are. If not, have a friend give you a shove from behind. Whichever foot you instinctively put forward to catch yourself is your dominant foot and the one you will want to put forward. Left foot forward is called “regular” and right foot forward is “goofy.” Determining your stance gets more complicated the more you ride. You can fine tune your stance based on what feels right after each ride and adjust the distance, angles, or even which foot forward you are (some riders switch it up).
Not only will you need to determine what foot forward you are, you have to decide what angles your feet will be at for maximum comfort. Typically, riders have no fluctuation in the back foot and between 12 and 21 degrees on the front foot. If it’s your first time riding, chances are you won’t be bringing your own board to the slopes. The rental attendants will be able to adjust your board to the right angles based on your experience level and what you tell them. Your feet should be a little further than shoulder width apart, but if your stance doesn’t feel natural, have an attendant adjust the bindings or pick a new board for you.
If your old coat, snowboard pants or even gloves have seen their fair share of rides, they may be in need of a little TLC. Although you could trade out your old gear for a whole new set for the new season, some riders like to stick with their loyal staples that they know work well. After making a connection with your duds, you don’t want to toss them aside at the first sign of soaking up a little moisture. If your gear starts to lose its waterproofing, you can easily re-waterproof it for a more sustainable – and cheaper – alternative to buying a new wardrobe. You can even waterproof your new gear to help extend its life while you’re busy wearing it in.
Before you waterproof whatever article of clothing you want, you will have to wash it first so the solution can permeate the clothing and you won’t be waterproofing in any stains or gunk. There are even waterproofing products that you can throw in the wash with your items on a normal cycle. To apply water proofing products by hand you can either use a sponge or spray the product directly onto the fabric. Be sure to use a product designed for the intended item. There will be different products for leather, down, shells and gloves.
After you have followed the instructions for the specific product you used, you may want to add extra waterproof protection to seams and zippers for good measure. Be sure that your gear is completely dry before you take it out to hit the slopes again and test out its new waterproofing abilities.
When the season starts to hang in that sweet spot between fall and winter, you will want to start getting your board mountain-ready. If you didn’t get your board tuned up at the end of the last season, it will in need of a little TLC. When the slopes open up you don’t want to be the last one out there because you didn’t prep for the upcoming season in your downtime. The season only lasts for so long, so don’t waste any time doing things you could have completed in the off-season. Get your gear together and prep it while you have time to kill.
Once you’re ready to prep your gear, check your board. Any major fixes to it will probably take the longest, so it’s best to start big. Check the bottom of your board for any dents or scratches. If you find any imperfections you’ll want to resurface the bottom. Riding with a bunch of dings on your board will slow down your ride and affect its performance. You can bring your board in to a local shop if you don’t have the tools or experience with resurfacing a board. Don’t try to refinish the base if you have no idea what you’re doing – you could end up further damaging the board. The rest of the tuning you can easily do at home with a tuning kit and save some cash.
Once you know your board is good to go – and all the binding are secured in – you can check the rest of your gear. Make sure any holes in your outerwear are patched and your helmet is up to par. After everything is in order you can start stocking up on all different kinds of snowboard wax. You’ll want to wait to wax your board until right before you hit the slopes so you know what type of snow you’ll be facing. But whatever falls, you’re sure to be ready for it.
We may be in the heat of summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fantasize about carving down that perfect powder next season. Prepare for winter by getting all your gear now. You might even be able to find some better deals since it is such a slow season for boarding companies. One important piece of gear that you may want to reassess is the bindings. With the right snowboard bindings, you can finally nail that trick you’ve been dreaming of and maneuver with precision through the mountains. If you’re revamping all your gear, choose your boats first, bindings second and board last. If you’re just looking to upgrade your bindings, be sure to know what type of bindings are required for your board.
There are two major types of bindings: strap and rear-entry. Strap-in bindings are the most common and are compatible with all brands. These are very secure and can vary with the type of straps used. Rear-entry bindings are a time-saving binding that allows the rider to step right in to the binding through the hinged high back.
When picking out your new snowboard bindings:
- Bring your boots shopping with you. You need to make sure the boots and bindings have compatible flex and fit. Although you can’t match the feel of the mountain, it is smart to try them on together.
- Know your riding style. If you tend to ride off-trail mountains with a lot of powder, you’ll need different bindings than someone who sticks to half-pipes and rails.
- Be prepared to pay more for lighter bindings. Lighter bindings make long rides much easier and take a load off when jumping and doing tricks.
- Know that stiff bindings are for more advanced riders that want precise control, and don’t offer the forgiveness on rough landings that the softer recreational and intermediate bindings.
If you want to showcase your creativity, a custom skate deck may sound like a cool way to stand out from the crowd. There are plenty of skate companies that will work with you to create a custom board, but a custom skate deck definitely sounds like it would take a decent chunk out of your wallet, right? You’ll be happy to know creating your own board isn’t difficult if you go through a DIY customization retailer, and surprisingly you can find some retailers that will do the job for cheap. Pick your board and then you can add whatever images and text you desire. The only drawback is the limitation of board quality. Finding a high quality blank board may be difficult.
If you’d rather save the cash and be more hands-on, you can customize your own deck without the screen printing or fancy equipment. You can simply purchase a blank deck, a minimalistic one, or even revamp your old board, and add your own artwork. Many skaters choose to outfit their boards with stickers, but take it up a level and use grip tape to give it some personality. You can create cut-out designs on the tape with a utility knife or rotate decorative grip tape along the board. If you’re feeling like the next Picasso, you can always paint directly on the deck for a truly unique board. It can be as simple as doodles with permanent marker, or as intricate as taking a brush and acrylic or oil paint to a blank deck. To ensure that you can actually ride your board without worrying about your prized artwork fading, cover it in a wood varnish after you’ve completed the masterpiece.
Whatever method you choose, creating a one-of-a-kind board isn’t only a great way to showcase your skills; it’s an easy way to make your board stand out at the park.
Of course if don’t have the time, energy or creativity to make up a custom skate deck you can always stop by you local skate shop.