As I was struggling to learn to snowboard there were kids all around me whizzing down the hill with no fear, having a grand old time. If they fall, they bounce right back up. And I kept thinking-too bad I didn’t think to try this when I was a kid!
Almost everything is easier to learn when you are young. Everything is new and fun and it doesn’t hurt as much when you fall…closer to the ground and all. The other day a man told me his friend bought a house at Loon before he had kids so that when he did have them, that would just be normal to them. His kids would be outside, learning to snowboard, hike, and just be outside. He didn’t want his kids to ever know a life of being glued to the tv, video games and fast food.
In light of all of the reports about the decline of snowboarding and the increasing age of the average snowboarder, here are some things to think about if you have little ones that you want to get started in the sport.
A lot of people start their kids off skiing. It’s supposedly easier to learn (never tried it myself), and it’s easier to find programs for little tikes. But there are lots of programs out there to get them snowboarding too. And there are a few snowboard companies who make snowboarding accessible for kids. Burton is the first company that comes to mind. but when it comes to kids’ snowboards…Burton offers a board and bindings in a box for pretty cheap. All ready to go in a variety of sizes from tiny to small human sized. So if you want to start them very small, here’s a way to go if you don’t want to rent.
If you are looking for something a little nicer and that will work for several years as the child grows, most companies make “mini” versions of some of their adult boards for kids starting at about 35 lbs. These tend to cost more, but once you know your child likes snowboarding, a board that will take you from 40-90 lbs or 60-130 is a pretty big range and does not result in having to upsize every year. Your local snowboard shop should be able to match you up with the right gear.
Bindings will cover a few boot sizes so they should last for a few years too. There are bindings for kids (and adults) with the . Once you get them set up all they have to do is slide their foot in and pull the back up. These are great for getting kids going quickly off the lift and do not require as much motor function as traditional bindings which can be tough with cold hands.
Good boot fit is really important for snowboarding. You don’t want your heels to lift, which will make riding tougher, and they need to be comfortable. But kids feet grow SO fast…what do you do? That’s a tough call. Boots are arguably the most important part of your setup. So if you can get boots that fit your child, it’s probably worth it. Most kids boots aren’t chock full of features, they are pretty basic, so they are also usually relatively inexpensive. Boa closures can be a really nice option for kids too. They are easy to tighten and loosen, even with mittened hands.
As for mittens…we all know that mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves. So get some nice mittens or trigger mitts, which are the best of all worlds. You still get use of your thumb and index finger, but the rest of your fingers are hanging out together all toasty-like.
Then there’s outerwear….one of the most important parts of an enjoyable snowboarding session is remaining warm and dry. And there are LOTS of options for kids’ outerwear that will do just that and look really cool too! You can get one piece outfits or separates and it doesn’t have to be like back in the day when you have so many layers on that you can’t even put your arms down by your side. Nice jackets and insulated pants make getting dress for the day on the mountain a whole lot easier. A nice snowboarding coat is also a perfect winter coat for school and every day. Win, win!
It’s nice to think of the opportunities that kids just learning to snowboard have today. They will get to enjoy the sport for the rest of their lives…can’t beat that. Renting equipment can get expensive over time, so some key pieces of their own that can grow with them, are definitely worth checking out! Visit your local snowboard shop to help get them outfitted.
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