Shred the gnar — 7 snowboarding essentials I pack for an epic day of mountain fun

Key items to bring for snowboarding fun include a disposable camera, cheap sunglasses and more.
From hydration solutions to maintenance tools. (Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

If you’re lucky enough to have a snowboarding trip on the horizon, heck yeah! Before you head out, it’s a good idea to tune up the old ride — the DIY approach to waxing a board is both straightforward and fun.

You no doubt already have the basics covered when it comes to the gear needed for a full day of mountain fun: A decent helmet, waterproof gloves, a quality jacket, and so on. But what are the best extras to pack along? 

As someone who writes about outdoor gear for a living, with two decades of amateur gnar-shredding experience — from the icy, crowded slopes of North America's East, to the fine, fluffy inclines of the great Northwest — I’ve learned a thing or two about what you need for a, “best day ever,” scenario. And it ain't much. 

These are the seven snowboarding essentials I pack for an epic day of mountain enjoyment. Note: all of this is applicable to skiers, too. 

1. A solid cross-body pack: Timbuk2 Chest Pack 

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Timbuk2 chest pack.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

Snowboarding with a backpack is a less-than-ideal affair. The weight throws off your center of gravity. Plus, backpacks are recipes for incurring the burden of carrying your riding mates' extra crap — I mean gear. Best to avoid that.

On the other hand, jamming your pockets full of valuables is a recipe for losing something important. This is why I take the middle ground and use a cross-body sling to carry my core essentials or those I want easy access to. Carried on the chest, these items are less likely to get crushed getting on or off the lift or during heelside falls — just don't scorpion

Any decent single-strap pack will do, but I’m a fan of the Timbuk2 Slacker Check Pack. The strap is thick and durable, the pack is fairly water-resistant, and the zipper is high-quality. It’s also wicked stylish. 

2. Roll-up water bottle: CamelBak Quick Stow Flask

Camelbak Quick Stow Flask.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

Staying hydrated is the key to keeping the good times rolling, and the turns tasty. This $22 water bottle from CamelBak is feather-light and super-soft, so it shouldn't weigh you down or hurt too much to fall on. 

The Stow Flask holds 17 ounces of liquid and features a leakproof design with a soft bite valve for easy sipping. Once empty, the whole thing rolls up small enough to fit in a pocket — there's nothing to recycle or toss. Hydration doesn't get much easier than that!

3. A quality fitness smartwatch: Polar Vantage V3

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch on a wrist.

(Image credit: Future)

Tracking stats via a wrist-based fitness watch is a great way to compete with friends or just gain insights into your riding abilities. 

My current go-to for resort riding is the Polar Vantage V3 because it has a dedicated snowboard tracking mode, built-in GPS, altimeter and solid battery life. It’s also fairly lightweight, and the AMOLED screen is easy to see, even in bright daylight. 

4. A disposable camera: Kodak Funsaver 35mm camera 

Kodak Funsaver camera.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

You don’t need me to tell you that the mountains are beautiful. And while the best smartphone cameras can snap lovely landscapes, winter wonderlands simply look better on film. No need to invest in or lug around a heavy analog camera. A basic plastic disposal from Kodak or Fujifilm will do just fine. 

These bad boys are surprisingly capable, not to mention lightweight and durable. And hey, even if you do end up smashing one during an epic yard sale, you’re only out $16. 

5. A wool gaiter: Ridge Merino Wool Neck Gaiter 

Ridge Merino wool neck gaiter.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

This one may be obvious, but I couldn’t help but include it. A quality Merino wool neck gaiter is my secret weapon for surviving and thriving in winter’s wrath. Warm, soft and breathable, Merino wool is an excellent material for variable mountain conditions. Even when wet, it provides a solid amount of warmth.

The best Merino wool neck gaiters are extra long for added versatility. These can be worn around the neck, face, nose, or up over your head for maximum insulation and protection from the elements. This method works especially well under a helmet. 

6. Cheap sunglasses or clip-on shades: Wangly Unisex Clip-on Sunglasses

Cheap clip-on shades.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

“Beat the masses... get yourself some cheap sunglasses.” You don’t need anything fancy here — any old gas station pair under $20 will do. Toss ‘em in a pocket — if they get lost or broken, it ain’t no thing. 

For my prescription glasses people, consider an inexpensive pair of clip-on shades — the same principles apply. You'll thank me come Après-ski time. 

7. Liquid Wax: Swix Universal Glide Wax 

Swix speed wax.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

Are you moving a little slow? This handy liquid wax can be applied, dried and buffed in a matter of minutes, even slopeside. It’s no substitute for a proper snowboard wax and tuning job. But it can certainly hold you over. Bonus: It also works on skis. 

The top of the Swix Wax deodorant-like packaging features an applicator tip with a soft foam sponge for spreading the good stuff around. The bottom hides a felt pad for buffing out the wax after five minutes of drying time. Never get stuck on flat spots again!

Bonus: A cheeky flask 

A stainless steel flask.

(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia / Future)

Who doesn’t appreciate the warming nectar of their favorite spirit in between runs, especially when shared between friends? Just don’t overindulge! A classic 8-ounce hip flask works great. 

The last word on snowboarding essentials

There you have it, all the key items I bring along for a long, exhilarating day on the slopes. This is by no means an exhaustive list but a starting place. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and any other fun things to share with your fellow mountain-goers. 

Is there anything I missed? Let us know in the comments below. Want more outdoor gear recommendations? Check out these great deals on Patagonia and Arc’teryx jackets. And don’t miss out on these fab Carhartt savings.  

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.