snowboard protective gear

7 Must-Have Pieces Of Snowboard Protective Gear!

by Fraser

With the season fast approaching, it’s time to choose your gear!

Now, you might be thinking, “I’ve got my board, bindings, and badass outerwear, what more do I need?”

Well, my friend, that’s where snowboard protective gear comes in…

The unsung hero of the slopes, the silent guardian that always has your back, literally. 

But amidst a sea of products, what gear should you invest in? Helmets, goggles, guards, pads… the list goes on.

But worry not, I’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at this years best snowboard protective gear. 

1. Helmets

First things first, the noggin protector, the skull saver, the brain bucket… your helmet! They say “safety starts at the top”, and they aren’t kidding. 

Gone are they days when it was acceptable to ride in your trusty beanie. In fact, over 80% of riders are wearing helmets these days. 

Top Pick
Smith Vantage MIPS
  • Weight: 500g
  • Construction: Hybrid In-Mold
  • Vents: 21 (Adjustable)
  • MIPS: Yes
  • Price: $270

When it comes to helmets, the best ones are lightweight, comfortable, and, above all, certified safe. Look for helmets with MIPS technology for added protection. 

They may not be the coolest accessory, but a helmet makes all the difference when you’re eating snow. 

Of course, the most important feature of helmets is the fit. Make sure to try them on for a while before hitting the slopes.

For the full breakdown, head to the 13 best snowboard helmets of the season

Top Pick
Smith Vantage MIPS

Smith Vantage MIPS

  • Weight: 500g
  • Construction: Hybrid In-Mold
  • Vents: 21 (Adjustable)
  • MIPS: Yes
  • Price: $270
Budget Pick
Smith Holt

Smith Holt

  • Weight: 550g
  • Construction: ABS
  • Vents: 14 (fixed)
    MIPS: No
  • Price: $80
Freestyle Pick
Giro Emerge Spherical MIPS

Giro Emerge Spherical MIPS

  • Weight: 500g
  • Construction: ABS
  • Vents: 10 (Fixed)
  • MIPS: Yes (Spherical)
  • Price: $159
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2. Wrist Guards

Next up on the list, wrist guards.

When you bail out (don’t worry, it happens to everyone), your instinct is to stretch out your hands to break the fall.

That’s where wrist guards come in handy. They support your wrists, reducing the risk of fractures or sprains. Slide ’em on under your gloves, and you’re good to go.

There are also a few pairs of gloves with in-built wrist guards. I discussed the best pair here

Top Pick
Flexmeter D30 Wrist Guards

Flexmeter D30 Wrist Guards

  • The best wrist guards for snowboarding!
  • Physician developed, patented wrist protective technology
  • Easily fits under gloves
     
Best Value!
Burton Impact Wrist Guards

Burton Impact Wrist Guards

  • The best value wrist guards for snowboarding!
  • A great balance between performance and price
  • Good range of sizes
Budget Pick
Dakine Wrist Guards

Dakine Wrist Guards

  • Extremely budget friendly 
  • Super slimline

3. Impact Shorts

Now to save your ass (I’m talking about impact shorts).

These come with extra padding to protect your tailbone and hips from those inevitable tumbles. Whether you’re just learning to snowboard or trying out new tricks, impact shorts are an essential piece of snowboard protective gear

Editor's Choice
Rippl Impact Shorts
  • Great bang for your butt protection
  • Comfortable and not too bulky 
  • Breathable and flexible 

10% Discount code: SNOWBOARDINGDAYS

Impact shorts, also known as padded shorts, rarely get the recognition they deserve. However, they’re incredibly important, especially for beginners or those who like to push the envelope. 

Even the pros take some spills. When you fall, it’s often your tailbone and hips that take the brunt of the impact. Impact shorts can help to absorb some of this impact, turning a hospital trip into some minor bruising. 

I wrote a separate article with the full list of top impact shorts for snowboarding. Alternatively, click below for the top 3 options, 

Top Pick
Rippl Impact Shorts

Rippl Impact Shorts

  • Excellent value for money 
  • Comfortable and flexible 
  • 10% off with code: snowboardingdays
Premium Option
Triple Eight Bumsavers

Triple Eight Bumsavers

  • Exceptional shorts
  • Removable padding
Most Affordable
Bodyprox Protective Shorts

Bodyprox Protective Shorts

  • The best budget option 
  • An Amazon topseller!

4. Knee Pads

If you’ve ever slammed your knee on a hard-packed slope, you know it’s not fun. That’s where knee pads come in. They offer much-needed cushioning and can be a real day-saver, especially if you’re into freestyle or halfpipe snowboarding.

Most riders overlook knee protection, but it’s worth considering, especially if you have a pre-existing injury (or weak-ass knees like me).

Top Choice
Burton Basic
  • Awesome value for money ($28)
  • Low profile - fit great under pants
  • Made for snowboarding

When looking for knee pads for snowboarding, you want solid protection but they should also be comfortable and unrestrictive. 

Look for knee pads that are lightweight and flexible. Breathable material that wicks away sweat is a bonus. And of course, they need to fit well under your snowboard pants.

Top Pick
Burton Basics

Burton Basics

  • Great value for money 
  • Built for snowboarders
  • Low profile
Premium Option
POC Joint VPD System Knee Pads

POC Joint VPD System Knee Pads

  • Extremely premium build-quality
  • Dual-purpose: mountain bike and snowboard protective gear
Best Lateral Support
Dakine Anthem Knee Pad

Dakine Anthem Knee Pad

  • Uses 3D molded protection
  • Improved lateral protection
     

5. Back Protectors

Nope, we’re not done yet. Have you ever heard of back protectors? They might seem like overkill, but if you’re shredding some particularly gnarly terrain or a rusty-ass rail, they are lifesavers.

In fact, they’re now mandatory in the Freeride World Tour.

Back protectors shield your spine from impacts and falls, giving you the extra confidence to push your limits (safely).

You should especially consider back protection if you have a pre-existing injury or chronic back pain. 

If you’re looking for more info, check out my full article on snowboard back protectors

Top Pick
POC VPD System Back Armor

POC VPD System Back Armor

  • Form-fitting
  • Low-profile
  • Premium quality
Best Value
Rippl Impact SPINESHIELD™

Rippl Impact SPINESHIELD™

  • Natural flexion pattern 
  • Money-back guarantee
Most Comfortable
BenKen Anti-Collision Body Armor

BenKen Anti-Collision Body Armor

  • Super comfortable
  • Bonus chest, shoulder and rib protection

6. Goggles

Now let’s talk vision. The sun glaring off the white snow can be blinding, and snow blindness is a real thing. That’s why you need a good pair of goggles. They protect your eyes from UV rays, keep out the wind and snow, and help you see the terrain more clearly.

The best goggles offer fast lens-change technology, multiple lenses, contrast tech (like ChromaPop), excellent anti-fog properties and a super comfortable fit. 

Top Pick
Smith I/O Mag
  • Exceptional lens tech
  • ChromaPop improves clarity
  • Offers the I/O Mag XL for larger faces

Obviously premium goggles come with a more premium price-tag. If money is a little tight, head to our list of the best budget snowboard goggles

Top Pick
Smith I/O Mag

Smith I/O Mag

  • Exceptional lens tech
  • ChromaPop improves clarity
  • Choose the I/O Mag XL for larger faces
Best Value
OutdoorMaster Ultra

OutdoorMaster Ultra

  • Extremely good value for money
  • Magnetic lens tech at a fraction of the price
  • 15% off with code: SBDAYS15
Most Aesthetic
Dragon X2

Dragon X2

  • Super clean frameless design
  • Lumalens tech for improved contrast
  • Uses Dragon’s Swiftlock lens changing system 

7. Gloves

Last but definitely not least, gloves! I’m not just talking about any gloves. You need ones specifically designed for snowboarding.

Good gloves will keep your hands warm, dry, and comfortable, even in the coldest conditions. Plus, many come with built-in wrist guards for added protection.

Personally, I prefer mittens for their added warmth and comfort. Plus you don’t need perfect dexterity whilst snowboarding (as discussed in “gloves vs mittens“). However, the choice is yours!

Top Pick
Burton Gore-Tex Gloves

Burton Gore-Tex Gloves

  • Perfect combination of price and performance
  • Screen Grab® synthetic leather palm
  • Gore-Tex liner and excellent insulation
Best Mittens
Dakine Baron Gore-Tex Mitt

Dakine Baron Gore-Tex Mitt

  • Super warm Primaloft insulation
  • Gore-Tex liner and Gore Grip palms
  • My mitten of choice – super toasty
Best of Both
Hestra Fall Line 3-Finger Mittens

Hestra Fall Line 3-Finger Mittens

  • Best trigger finger snowboard mittens
  • The warmth of a mitten, the dexterity of a glove

Best Snowboard Protective Gear

What Protective Gear Do You Need For Snowboarding?

I know what you’re thinking, “do I really need all this protective gear just to go snowboarding?”

After all, we used to hit the slopes with no more than a thick beanie and a strong coffee!

old school snowboarding

The honest answer is, it’s up to you. Protective gear is always a balance between comfort, mobility and safety. Consider your ability level, risk tolerance and any pre-existing injuries. 

Ultimately, the following pieces of protective gear are essential:

  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves

The remaining items are personal preference. However, I strongly recommend that beginners wear wrist guards. Wrist injuries are extremely common (28% of all injuries) and can often be avoided.

Impact shorts would be my next choice after that.

Remember Risk Compensation Theory?

Risk compensation theory suggests that people adjust their behavior in response to perceived levels of risk; they become more cautious where they sense greater risk and less cautious if they feel more protected.

In the context of snowboarding, risk compensation theory suggests that a snowboarder wearing full protective gear may take more risks, possibly leading to more severe accidents than they would have otherwise.

I’m certainly guilty of this one. When I’m kitted out in full snowboard protective gear, I get the immediate urge to backflip!

It’s crucial to remember that while protective gear reduces the risk of injury, it doesn’t make you invincible. Snowboard protective gear isn’t a free pass for reckless behavior!

Do Pro Snowboarders Wear Protective Gear?

Yes, professional snowboarders do wear protective gear. Even the most experienced riders recognize the inherent risks of snowboarding. 

At the most basic level, all pro snowboarders wear helmets and goggles (in competitions at least). Many pros also wear other types of protective gear, based on the type of snowboarding they’re doing.

pro snowboarder mark mcmorris wearing snowboard protective gear
Mark McMorris flying high

For example, when practicing for halfpipe or big air, pros might wear impact shorts to protect their hips and tailbone, and wrist guards to help prevent fractures.

Some might also wear back protection, especially when snowboarding in the backcountry. In fact, back protectors are mandatory in most freeride competitions, including the Freeride World Tour. 

Final Thoughts

Your snowboard protective gear is the first line of defense against potential injury. It’s certainly saved my sorry ass enough times!

But while protective gear can significantly reduce the risk of injury, remember, it’s not an invincibility cloak. Don’t let your gear lull you into a false sense of security. Be smart, know your limits, and let your gear do its job.

So gear up, respect the mountain, and have a great season of safe and epic snowboarding!

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