Looking for snowboarding outerwear? Here’s what to look for

So you are looking for new snowboarding clothes this season…maybe you are not quite sure what you should be looking for and what all the technical jargon is that goes along with some items you find on the racks of your local stores.

snowboarding outerwear
We are going to try to make things a little easier for you.

There are several factors to consider when choosing new snowboard outerwear

  • Fit & Style
  • Technical Stuff
  • Features and Functionality
  • Cost

Fit & Style

This is probably the most important thing about your outerwear.  The last thing you want is clothing that restricts your movement or gets hung up on your equipment which can be dangerous.  Along with this, most of us are looking for stuff that looks good on us.  If you don’t like the cut, color or general style, you risk finding yourself uncomfortable and that’s never good.


Technical stuff

The primary technical features of snowboarding outerwear are the waterproof and breathability ratings.  They are usually expressed as mm/g respectively.  How these ratings are determined could be a whole article in and of itself.  In a nutshell…the higher the first number, the more waterproof the item and the higher the second number, the more breathable it is (that is the amount of water vapor that can escape the garment in a specified period of time)

snowboarding outerwear

How much waterproofing and breathability do you really need?

If you ride in mostly clear, cold conditions and you take regular breaks you should look at a minimum of 5,000mm/5,000g.

Spending long days out in most any weather, you will probably benefit from a waterproof rating of 5,000-10,000mm and a breathability rating of 5,000-8,000g

For those of you in wetter climates, or for more die-hard riders you will probably appreciate 10,000-20,000mm waterproof, and if you are a very active rider who breaks a sweat on most runs you should think about a breathability rating of 10,000-15,000g.

If the Backcountry is where you like to be, hiking or skinning up mountains, breathability becomes much more important and you should be looking for waterproof and breathability ratings 20,000 or higher.  Out in the backcountry you don’t have the luxury of a lodge where you can take a break and recover, so your gear becomes much more important.

At the high end of the market are a number of fabrics (most of them are proprietary) that have waterproof membranes.  GORE-TEX is probably the best known of these  fabrics. These are a typically the best materials, for waterproofness and breathability, but may be more tech than you need for your style of riding.

Most fabrics are treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR).  These treatments will eventually wear off and the garments will need to be retreated with an aftermarket DWR product such as Nikwax.

Insulated or not?

Another consideration is whether you want your snowboarding outerwear insulated of you would rather layer underneath of it.  You can get both snowboard jackets and snowboard pants either way.

snowboarding outerwear

Features and Functionality

Some things you might want to consider…pick the features that are important to you and keep an eye out for them


  • Does it have adequate pockets for what you like to carry
  • Are the zippers waterproof or do you risk water getting into pockets (that could affect where you store your iPod or phone)
  • Does it have a goggle pocket
  • Does it have a powder skirt?  Is it removable?  Do you need it to be?
  • Is the hood helmet compatible? Is it removable?  Do you need it to be?
  • Key or pass clip
  • Hand warmer pockets
  • Wrist gaiters to help keep the snow from going up your sleeves
  • Pit Zips to allow you to shed heat when necessary
  • Media pocket for your iPod or phone
  • Velcro or snap cuffs to keep them tight around your gloves also helping to keep snow out
  • Waist cinch to tighten the coat to your body.  If you lack a powder skirt or choose not to use it, tightening the waist can help keep the snow out
  • Helmet compatible hood with 3-way adjustment system


  • Key or pass clip
  • Does it have adequate pockets for what you like to carry
  • Do they have gaiters to secure them around your boots preventing snow from getting up your pants
  • Do they have adjustment tabs in the waist to make it tighter or looser?
  • Do they have a way to hook up the bottoms to prevent them from dragging in the parking lot mud?
  • Do they have vent zips to shed heat?
  • Do they have insulation mapping in the areas you most need it-i.e. the butt and knees
snowboarding outerwear


Generally speaking the more tech and features something has, the more it costs.  It is true with snowboarding clothes just like everything else that sometimes you are paying for a name brand.  But usually higher priced items reflect more attention to detail and better waterproof and breathability ratings.  Some pieces are just really well thought out and everything seems to be exactly where you need it and there’s nothing extraneous.

There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when choosing snowboarding clothes.  They need to be functional and fit your budget.  If you buy appropriate gear for the type of riding you do, you will have a warmer and drier day out on the mountain which means you can have more fun!



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