Outerwear Buyers Guide | The Board Basement
If you’re looking towards the new winter season and considering updating your technical snow outerwear, look no further than The Board Basement. Have a read through to make sure you are fully clued up on the techs and specs of all the outerwear we offer, so you can ensure you get the best kit for you. If you’re still unsure after reading, please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We have a large range of technical outerwear in a range of different styles and price categories.
Although the look of outerwear may be key to your on piste style, the most important thing is getting the right gear for you and the conditions you are going to be in. You could look cool as can be, but if you are cold and wet you’re not going to have fun. And really, that’s what it's all about. To enjoy the very best of what the mountain has to offer, it’s well worth considering a few functional points when choosing your outerwear. Technical winter outerwear can often be expensive. We will try and explain why you often find a higher price tag on this type of clothing. For example; We often get the question, “what do these waterproof and breathability numbers mean? “
What is so special about the technical outerwear fabrics?
The first thing which may spring to mind when you’re learning about outerwear tech, is waterproofing and breathability. All outerwear clothing from The Board Basement comes with Waterproof and Breathability ratings. Clothing featuring Gore-tex is considered to be durability waterproof and highly breathable. If you see the Gore-tex logo, Gore-tex say you are guaranteed to stay dry. This doesn’t mean if you buy a non-Gore-tex branded jacket you will be wet. Most brands have their own alternative equally as waterproof membrane. All good outerwear comes with a waterproof/breathability rating, displayed as 5k/5k (5,000/5,000). The numbers display how much water the fabric repels, and how much moisture/sweat it can transport out of the garment.
How waterproof is my snowboard jacket?
For many people, waterproofing is simply an accepted idea, so it’s normal to question how the technology works. What does “5k” actually mean? Essentially, the fabrics used in outerwear production are tested by filling a column with water. The garment is then lowered in and the depth that the water reaches before droplets form on the other side is measured. It is usually measured in millimetres, with anything from 5,000 to 30,000 being normal. Essentially, the higher the number, the more waterproof the garment is. The price tag will also go hand in hand with the rating number.
How breathable is my snowboard jacket?
It is very easy to make a fabric waterproof, but to also allow moisture to escape out of the garment, is when things get technical. As you ride, you will become warm and start to sweat. If that moisture can't escape from the garment you will become wet. Wet and cold is not a good combination in cold conditions. The breathability rating tells you how much moisture can pass through from the inside of the jacket to the outside in grams/square centimetre/24 hours (Or GM). Most garments have a rating of between 5,000 GM and 20,000 GM. Again the higher the number the better the garment "breathes", allowing moisture to escape out of the garment.
5k/5k is regarded as good quality, 20k/20k or higher is extremely good. As a guide we would say anything over 5,000 is regarded as good quality. Generally speaking, we would recommend 10k/10k and above as being the desirable level of waterproofing and breathability for the best snowboarding experience. Any waterproof/breathability index below 5k and you are very likely to get wet and cold quickly.
Why is insulation important?
Warmth is a massive factor in outwear technology. For most people, especially those going to the mountains for the first time, a key concern may be: am I going to get cold? During the winter months in particular, it’s incredibly important to be wearing the right gear. If you know you feel the cold, the last thing you want is for your fun on the mountain to be cut short when you have to head home shivering.
Insulated snow clothing has an integrated moisture-wicking thermal lining. You will often get several layers of insulation fabric inside an outer layer of waterproof material. If you want outerwear that will perform for most conditions through the season then insulated clothing may be the best option for you. Non-insulated clothing is often referred to as a shell garment. These are not super warm, but may have a higher Waterproofing/Breathability rating. These are great for spring or in cold conditions, as long as you layer up underneath. Down (puffer) jackets are really warm and designed to be ridden in the most extreme cold conditions. These jackets often got insulation built into the shell. If you are getting one, make sure it has got good ventilation so you don’t overheat. Of course, insulation works hand in hand with good waterproofing and breathability. There’s no point having a super warm jacket if it’s going to get wet and cold. All of these elements work together in high-quality snowboard outerwear to provide the best comfort for you on the slopes.
How do I know what size to choose and what fit is right for me?
Another crucial factor in outwear buying is the sizing and fit. Provided below is a general scale for measurements of outerwear, however, there are elements of variation brand to brand, so if you’re not sure, check out the brand’s sizing specifically or contact us at The Board Basement for more specific enquiries.
There are several general types of fit for both men’s and women’s snowboard jackets and pants. See our detailed fit guide for a more specific breakdown of the different styles.
(Insert Size Guides here)
What is the benefit of layering?
We love layers! The best way to stay comfortable throughout the day, (and throughout the whole season), is to make sure you have good layering. This is where you can really tailor your clothing to work for you, as everyone has different temperature levels. Some people stay toasty warm all year, others are more susceptible to the cold.
Baselayer: You need to make sure you have got something that is moisture-wicking and fast drying, so you can use for the next day. Avoid cotton as it takes a long time to dry and it will also hold moisture.
Midlayers: If you got a really good insulated jacket, you might not need this. For colder days it can be good to wear a hoodie or sweater made from a synthetic material such as fleece, recycled polyester or Merino wool.
Outerlayer: This is your protection against the outer elements and should be both water resistant and breathable. Please see above (Fabrics and Insulation) for more information.
What other technical features are important on snowboard jackets?
Taped Seams and waterproof zips:
In order to ensure your outerwear is the ultimate waterproof machine, make sure you check out the seams and zips. In higher spec garments, you can find fully taped seams that will stop any moisture getting in through the stitching or fastening of a garment. Critically taped seams is a feature in which the exposed stitches of a jacket or pants are taped to prevent any water leaking in. This is ideal if you’re planning on carving up fresh powder or spending long days out on the mountain. To elongate your time out in the snow, it’s best to take all precautions to ensure you stay dry and comfortable.
Adequate venting will help prevent you from overheating. Most high-quality snowboard outerwear will feature zip vents under the arms and on the inside of the thigh. This allows you to let in some cool air if you’ve been shredding it up in the park, or even just when the sun comes out on the piste. That way you can stay protected from the elements as you don’t have to remove your jacket, whilst still maintaining a comfortable body temperature.
Powder Skirts and Boot Gaiters:
These are two useful features which can help improve your overall riding experience. A powder skirt is an elasticated band, with which you can clip together your jacket and pants, ensuring no snow enters your clothing. This an absolute essential for powder riding, hence the name, helping to keep your inner mid-layers dry and snow free. This feature is often compatible across the brands, but there are brands out there that make their clothing only compatible with their own products. A similar system is applied on the bottom of good quality pants, in small clips called boot gaiters. Again these simply clip together the inner liner of your snow pants to the laces of your boots, preventing snow from riding up into the leg of your trousers.
What is best practice for washing and care, for technical garments?
Washing! Ok, we get it, you want to get out on the mountain, and not think about packing up afterwards. This may not be the most exciting aspect of outerwear technology, but it is very important for the longevity of your kit. And who doesn’t love longevity? There’s nothing worse than wrecking your lovely new jacket by stripping off all the waterproofing when you chuck it in the washing machine on a 1200 spin cycle.
Firstly, to prepare your outerwear for washing, you need to zip up all your zippers and fasten all velcro before washing. If you’re using a washing machine, zippers and teeth can be easily damaged, whilst velcro can get clogged up with fuzz or lint from other clothes, causing it to lose its stickiness. If you have to use a washing machine, make sure its a front load only, as a top-load washer can agitate your outerwear, potentially damaging it. You should use a gentle cycle only and keep the spin cycle low. If you can, use a delicates or synthetics setting, with the lowest temperature possible. It’s also a good idea to track down an outerwear specific detergent or powder, as regular types can clog up the pores of technical fabric, damaging the DWR (durable water repellent) coating. If you strip this, the basic function of your outerwear is compromised.
To dry your outerwear, avoid using excess heat, as this can damage or even melt fabric and/or zippers. Ideally, you should leave your garments somewhere dry and sheltered to dry out naturally. If you have to use a machine, make sure it’s on a low heat until almost dry and then hang dry to complete the process. If you’ve previously had a washing mishap and damaged your waterproofing, you can replenish it with a spray-on waterproofing product such as NikWax TX-Direct. In order to maintain your outerwear’s water resistance for as long as possible, try and keep it away from campfires, smokers, oily substances or any other contaminants in general. All waterproofing will slowly degrade over time, but if your kit is of a good quality and you look after it, it should last several years.
We hope this has been a helpful introduction to snowboarding outerwear technology. There is a lot of technology which goes into crafting the garments which will keep you out riding the mountain all day long. With the right knowledge, you can get the kit that’s right for you, and maintain it season after season. Some brands prioritise fashion over tech, whilst other brands want you to get the best possible technical garment for the money. We can help to point you in the right direction so you get the most value for money. If you have any more questions, give us a call or drop us an email at The Board Basement, and we’d be happy to help out, or even just chat about snowboarding.