How to Choose Snowboard Clothing

We take clothing seriously here at Ellis Brigham because it doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on a shiny new hardware set-up, if your clothing sucks, so will your riding day. In fabric technology, waterproof is easy (plastic bags are waterproof), breathable is easy (cotton is very breathable) but waterproof & breathable is more complex. Remember that without good breathability, body vapour condenses on the inside of a waterproof jacket and you will quickly become wet and stay wet.

Waterproofing or water resistance is rated using a ‘hydrostatic head’ test where a fabric’s resistance to water pressure from a vertical column of water is rated in millimetres… giving a water resistance rating of, for example, 10,000mm. Some call fabrics with a hydrostatic head of 1,000mm waterproof but in a real world environment wear and pressure would make such fabrics leak quickly.

Breathability or MVTR (Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate) is measured by the rate at which water vapour passes through a square metre of fabric over a 24 hour period. This gives a breathability rating of, for example, 10,000g/m2/24 (often abbreviated to 10,000g). You will see us abbreviate fabric performance further to 10k/10k for example… but you will get what this means now won’t you!

At Ellis Brigham, entry-level clothing will have minimum waterproof/breathable values of 5,000mm and 5,000g, mid range clothing fabrics rate 10,000mm/10,000g with the best performing fabrics delivering 20,000mm/20,000g. GORE-TEX test their fabrics using a different method but they outperform most on the market and deliver waterproof and breathable levels far above 20,000mm/20,000g. Note that sewing a garment together puts holes in the  waterproofing! Manufacturers combat this by factory sealing the inside face of the seams using narrow waterproof tape. Mid range clothing will have all critical seams sealed whilst top end clothing will be fully taped.

If you spend a lot of time riding deep snow in variable and wet conditions and hike in the backcountry a lot then you need a fabric with a high waterproof & breathable rating. Look to wear a layered clothing system of wicking base layers to drive moisture away from your skin and out through your outer layers, mid layer fleece or in coldest weather Primaloft or down fill jacket, topped with a high performance waterproof and breathable outer layer. GORE-TEX fabrics rule in this high-end outerwear category.

If your aspirations are less extreme and you rock the resorts a couple of times a season and play on the pistes and lift accessible off piste, then you can rely on any of the clothing in our range to deliver the performance and looks that you’ll want. Under your outerwear a clothing system is still the best way to go, wicking base layers (thermal underwear) are always better than a cotton tee and a thin fleece mid layer is much better than a cotton hoodie.

Other than all of this waterproof/breathable performance and layering systems tech talk, there are some basic features to look out for:

On your jacket a hood is a welcome feature when the wind howls on a long lift. Pit zips are great for dumping hot moist air when you are hiking or overheating your way through your first lessons! An inner snowskirt can stop snow shovelling up your back when you slam. Inner security pockets and stash pockets help you keep things safe and sorted, whereas outer pockets keep things handy but make sure they have good flaps or water resistant zips.

Pants should fit well but be roomy enough for snowboarding’s all day rigours… and they don’t necessarily have to fit beneath your buttocks! Pockets are good but don’t overload them. Make sure the inner snow gaiters fit comfortably over your boots. A nice feature on some pants allows the hems to be cinched up so the bottoms of the pants don’t get trashed in the après-ride bar floor soup or muddy car park.