How to Choose Snowboard Pants

How to Choose Snowboard Pants
Choosing snowboard pants is an important decision for any snowboarder. Unlike your jacket, pants are going to spend a lot of time on the ground. Even if you're an experienced snowboarder who doesn't fall much, you still have to sit down and strap in or kneel down to search for your buddy who does fall a lot. With so much direct snow contact, you need a good pair of pants that are waterproof and durable.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to Choose Snowboard Pants

Step 1
Consider the conditions where you ride. If you ride mostly in warm, springlike conditions, you don't want a super heavy insulated pair of pants. On the other hand, you do want a good waterproof pants because the snow will be wetter and heavier. Consider how cold or wet the conditions are where you spend most of your time riding to help determine how much waterproofing and insulation you need.
Step 2
Decide on waterproofing. The main function of your snowboard pants is to provide a solid, waterproof, windproof layer that fully protects from soaking through. This is particularly important if you ride in very wet snow, as you might find in the Sierra Nevadas or Cascades. Pants often contain a waterproof rating that ranges from 5000 mm to 30000 mm or greater. The higher the number, the more waterproof the pants. Remember your pants probably will be spending a lot of time contacting the snow, so higher waterproofing is good even in drier climates. A little extra protection won't hurt.
Step 3
Consider breathability. In addition to keeping water out, you want your pants to allow your moisture to escape to keep you cool and dry. Many pants also display a breathability rating such as 10000 g. Breathability comes in a similar range as waterproofing, from 5000 g to 30000 g. The higher the number, the more breathable the pants are. Breathability is particularly important in warmer, more humid conditions.
Step 4
Determine if you want insulation. Insulated pants are warmer and better for cold temperatures but also heavier and a bit more difficult to maneuver in. A better option would be to get a good pair of light, noninsulated pants and adjust insulation to the temperature by wearing different layering underneath.
Step 5
Pay attention to the build. Look for pants that are crafted from rugged and durable material. Reinforced knees and behind are good features because these are the areas that will spend the most time hitting the ground. Also, look for quality features such as taped seams, boot gaiters and waterproof zippers.
Step 6
When you've found a pair or two that meet your needs, try them on. You want the pants to fit comfortably and allow for room to maneuver. They shouldn't be too snug in any area. You don't want the legs to extend too far where they might get in the way of your bindings. Women might prefer women-specific pants tailored for a woman's anatomy. Perfect fit varies by rider, and some companies offer tighter and looser fits. Find something comfortable for you.
Step 7
Consider additional inclusions. Perhaps you want a couple of pockets for storing things such as a trail map and or goggles case. Venting on the thighs is valuable for warmer days. Overalls can help keep your pants from falling down or riding up.
Step 8
Consider the warranty. Be demanding about your pants' performance, and if they don't perform as advertised, have a good warranty to fall back on. Having a lifetime warranty or at least several years' warranty is a nice assurance that you'll get the most from your purchase.
Step 9
Consider price. Like most snowboard clothing, pants range widely in price from less than $100 to up to $500. The most expensive pants are those that provide the best waterproofing and protection. If you have the money, get a quality pair of Gore-Tex pants that will keep you dry under any conditions. You can't go wrong with high-quality, waterproof pants; you'll be bone-dry while your buddies are swimming. On the other hand, if money is more of an issue, closely consider the conditions where you ride and how much waterproofing you need. Then buy the best pants you can afford. In any event, don't just buy the cheapest pants you can find. Quality pants are quite important and you'll be much more comfortable if you invest a bit more. Skimp on other clothing and equipment if you need to, but get a good pair of pants.

Tips & Warnings

Snowboard pants, along with snowboard gloves, are the most important pieces of apparel for the beginner. You can get away with a generic winter jacket, but nonwaterproof pants will mean you'll quickly become waterlogged and cold. Be sure to get a good pair of waterproof snowboard pants before your first run.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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