14 REI products perfect for snowboarding, according to a pro
Don't hit the slopes without this essential gear
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When you live in New England, pretty much everyone you know is into winter sports—namely, skiing and snowboarding. Personally, it’s never been my scene. I don’t love the cold, heights, or moving quickly down an icy mountain with my feet rendered immobile, but my boyfriend Nate, on the other hand, has been on skis since he could walk. What can I say? Opposites attract.
He transitioned to snowboarding in his early teen years, and ever since, he eagerly awaits the first snowfall of the year when he can head up to the mountains to ride in the fresh powder. He even loves the icy conditions that New England is known for—they call it the Ice Coast for a reason, or so I’m told.
After close to 20 years of snowboarding, he’s developed some pretty strong opinions on which products are (and aren’t) worth the investment—here are 14 snowboarding products he highly recommends, all of which you can buy at REI.
1. His newest board: The Salomon Assassin
At the beginning of the winter, Nate started looking for a new snowboard to use this season. He wanted something that could handle the icy New England conditions, ride through glades with ease, and even hold its own in the park.
After much research, he settled on the Salomon Assassin, an all-mountain board that’s described as “a cross between progressive powder and freestyle boards.” He’s used it several times to date and couldn’t be happier with its performance. He says it’s extremely reliable, no matter what terrain you’re riding.
2. A slim backpack to carry your board
Even if your snow pants have several pockets, chances are there’s not enough room in them for all the gear you need when heading up the mountain. That’s why serious skiers and snowboarders like to wear backpacks, such as the DAKINE Poacher. This slim backpack has compartments for all your snow tools, and it even features a fleece-lined pocket for goggles.
“This bag is the right size to hold all your gear without being overly bulky, even with a water reservoir inside,” Nate explains. Plus, it can can carry skis diagonally or a snowboard vertically on the exterior!
3. And a hydration reservoir
A water reservoir is a must-have if you’re planning on spending all day on the mountain, and Nate recommends the Platypus Big Zip EVO Reservoir. Instead of taking off your gloves to open a water bottle, you can just fill up the 2-liter reservoir and sip water through the mouthpiece, which threads out through the backpack’s strap. The DAKINE backpack even has an insulated compartment for the reservoir’s tube so the water doesn’t freeze in cold conditions.
4. Wireless helmet speakers and walkie-talkies
While he doesn’t own the Outdoor Tech Wireless Chips just yet, they’re definitely on Nate's wish list. These in-helmet speakers connect to your phone via Bluetooth so you can play music as your cruise down the mountain, and they also serve as walkie-talkies and have a built-in microphone for calls. You can get 10 hours of audio per battery charge, and the two-button control system makes it easy to adjust the volume, change tracks, pause music, and more.
5. Impact shorts to protect your butt
Know what hurts? Wiping out while cruising down an icy slope. Or wiping out while trying to master a new trick. Really any kind of wiping out.
Luckily, there are impact shorts like these that will absorb the impact of falls both on your butt and hips. The shorts are low-profile and lightweight, so they won’t inhibit your movement, but you’ll know they’re there the next time you take a tumble.
6. Warm, ergonomic gloves with phone-friendly liners
High-quality gloves are an absolute essential when you’re snowboarding, and Nate particularly likes these Burton GORE-TEX Gloves. They’re warm, windproof, waterproof, and breathable, and the fleece liners are touch-screen compatible.
“The wrist leashes are my favorite aspect of these gloves,” he says. “They make it possible to take off the outer shell—when you’re on the lift, for example—without worrying about dropping your gloves. There’s also a little pocket on the top for your ski pass.”
7. A hinged ‘balaclava’ aka facemask
Nate swears by hinged facemasks, as they’re more versatile and provide more coverage than regular ones. The Hood Balaclava Facemask from BlackStrap has a dual-layer front hinge that covers you from ear to ear, keeping your face and throat warm, and its single-layer top still fits comfortably under a helmet.
8. Spacious snowboard racks for your car
If you’re going snowboarding with a group, your ride to the mountain will be pretty cramped if everyone’s gear is in the car. A snowboard rack, such as the Thule SnowPack, is a good investment for anyone who hits the slopes regularly, as it lets you securely transport up to four snowboards or six pairs of skis on the roof of your car.
However, keep in mind that you also need compatible roof racks, like the Thule WingBar Evo Load Bars, which Nate uses.
- Get the Thule SnowPack 6 Ski/Snowboard Rack from REI for $259.95
- Get the Thule WingBar Evo Load Bars from REI for $219.95
9. The latest GoPro to capture all your best rides
How are you going to relive the epicness of your best runs if you don’t capture it on camera? Nate never hits the slopes without his trusty GoPro, which he either attaches to his helmet or carries on an extension pole.
The latest GoPro HERO8 is great for snowboarding thanks to its hi-definition video and HyperSmooth technology, which predicts your movements to reduce camera shake. You can even use it to live stream in 1080p, right from the mountain!
10. And an extension pole to go with it
When he doesn’t have the GoPro mounted on his helmet, my boyfriend carries it with the El Grande Extension Pole, which extends up to 38 inches long. It’s compatible with all GoPro cameras and collapses down to 15 inches for storage.
“I use the pole for taking ‘follow shots,’ which look like someone is following close by you with the camera,” he says. “There are a lot of knock-off brands, but the GoPro version is more stable that any other option I’ve tried.”
11. A lift ticket to one of his favorite mountains
As I mentioned, we live in New England, so there are a number of great mountains around us, and one of Nate’s favorites is Mount Snow in Vermont. Since he’s an REI member, he often purchases discounted lift tickets through their website to save a few bucks. They have passes to Mount Snow, Killington, Attitash, and so many more, including mountains all over the country.
12. Easy-to-use wall mounts for your favorite board(s)
Boards like the Salomon Assassin feature cool graphics, and you can show off your board when it’s not in use with these Burton Wall Mounts. The three-point mounting system fits any snowboard, and the mounts swivel to give you easy access to your board when it’s time to ride.
13. A comprehensive tuning kit, complete with waxing iron
A tuning kit is key to maintaining the performance of your snowboard or skis, and Nate is partial to this all-in-one kit from North. It contains eight of the most frequently used tuning and waxing items, such as a special waxing iron, a Diamond Stone side edger, a bronze/nylon combo brush, and more.
14. Toe warmers for those super-cold days
There are all sorts of hand and foot warmers available, but Nate actually prefers the inexpensive ones from Grabber. You can get large packs of them for just a few dollars, and the air-activated warmers usually last for around six hours.
“The directions say to put the warmers under your toes, but I find it makes it harder to carve that way,” says Nate. “So instead, I stick them to the top of the boot.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.