Having been snowboarding for around 10 years here in Australia and organised many trips with friends to Japan and Canada I believe that I’m now suitably qualified to provide these simple life hack tips for newbies to enjoy their snow experience the easy way.
These tips will help if you:
- Are planning your first skiing or snowboarding adventure.
- Had a bad experience on snow and are now turned off from going again – don’t be put off, it’s so much fun! Hope this will inspire you to go again!
- Have been tobogganing all your life and curious about more technical snow pursuits. It can be much safer and more fun than tobogganing!
- Are just looking for some inspiration to try something new.
1. Timing is everything
Big crowds, bad snow conditions and expenses can leave a negative impact on your snow experience, so timing your snow trip well makes a big difference.
From my personal experience, the best time is mid-winter where you are likely to experience the best snow conditions. If you go too early or late in the season, the snow/weather conditions may not be as good (rainy, windy, slushy, too sunny) which will ruin the experience. Here in Australia, the best time to head up to the mountains is early to mid-August where there is usually dry powder up on the major resorts. If you’re planning a snow trip to Japan and Canada, the best time to book is early to mid-February where there are fewer crowds, the conditions are stunning and flights/accommodation is generally cheaper (due to families going back to Australia and New Zealand after the school holidays). Time your snow trip the easy way with these simple tips:
Look for early-bird specials
Shop smarter and look for early bird specials during the off-season months for accommodation, lift passes and equipment hire. Most snow resorts offer discounts if you book online for consecutive days. Avoid booking a package with a snow travel agent, they will rip you off. Do the research yourself online using trusted flight/hotel booking search engines and websites:
- Powderhounds – Great place to review snow resorts around the world.
- Booking.com – First place to look for and compare quality snow accommodation.
- Airbnb – Second place to look for value-added snow accommodation.
- SkiBig3 – A one-stop-shop for accommodation and lift passes if you’re planning to go to Banff, Canada.
- Japan Snow Accommodation – A great source for accommodation options if you’re planning a snow trip to Japan.
Sky Scanner – Find and compare the cheapest flights.
Go for at least 3 consecutive days to make it worthwhile
Day trips won’t do you any good unless of course, the mountain is right on your doorstep. Going on consecutive days when you’re learning will help get your confidence up and your legs will get used to the skis or snowboard.
Book in a mid-week snow trip to avoid crowds
I recommending locking in a 3-day snow trip in the middle of the week to avoid the weekend crowds and get the most out of your snow trip.
2. Choosing between skiing or snowboarding
Snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.
In a day you should be able ‘leaf’ down a green run but your thighs and calf muscles will be burning because you are unable to turn. You may have fallen on your backside or on your face a fair few times especially when getting off the chairlift. It’s frustrating but worthwhile or you completely hate it and want to switch over to skiing.
Over time you will start turning which will make it more enjoyable and addictive.
Skiing is easier to learn but harder to master.
In a day you should be able to ride down a green run slowly by taking slow wide turns. You are tired but satisfied that you can ski and get off a chair lift.
Over time you get more technical and take faster/narrower turns down the mountain.
Take your pick and do what feels right for you.
3. Buy these snow essentials
Too many times I’ve seen people go underprepared and hating their day up on the mountain saying that it was cold and windy – it’s because they were underprepared.
It’s therefore critical that you invest in the following essential items, which will keep you warm and comfortable all day on the mountain:
Base layers – warm thermals and compression pants.
Mid layer – warm fleece jumper or hoodie
A good pair of mittens will keep you warmer than gloves and they look way cooler.
These Copozz snow goggles are around $20 more than a cheapo pair, are high quality and it’s easy to switch lenses if the weather turns on you (newbie friendly!).
A thin pair of snow socks.
Thick socks are bad because they get in the way and your feet will get sweaty.
Merino wool balaclava face mask
Nice to haves:
Waterproof slimline backpack
Waterproof slimline backpack to keep a water bottle, snacks and any spares, only $20 from Ali Express (like the one below).
Snow helmet, if you can afford it.
I don’t recommend hiring helmets due to hygiene reasons, i.e. they smell bad and/or there is leftover hair from the person who has used them before. I highly recommend this helmet as it’s got an inbuilt audio feature to keep you relaxed with beats while riding.
I wish I had these when I started snowboarding, it would have less painful.
The Aldi snow sale is highly recommended for cheap good quality snow gear.
Should I buy or hire clothing/snow equipment?
If you’re a complete newbie (first timer) I recommend you hire the jacket, pants, boots and ski/boarding equipment to ensure you don’t over-invest before you try it out.
If you’re getting into the groove then I recommend that you check out these awesome outlets for quality snow gear wherever you are around the world:
4. Hire your snow gear up on the mountain
Hiring your snow gear up on the mountain will give you the flexibility to swap items if something is not right. For instance, boots and bindings are a common disruption when learning how to ski or snowboard. What you think feels right when you try them on in the hire shop can cause problems when you’re actually riding in them – boots are too tight/too loose, bindings are not right, skis are too short and so on.
There’s nothing more frustrating than been stuck with dodgy snow gear from a hire shop far away from the mountain, which you cannot do anything about.
5. Get lessons every day
Getting a ski or snowboarding lesson every day is crucial especially when you’re a newbie. Be sure to secure in a morning lesson so you can practise in the afternoon.
I know people who’ve been taken for a ride by their mates saying ‘you’ll be right’ and taking them straight up the mountain without any lessons. They’ve then had the worst experience and never wanted to go back again. If this is you, put that experience aside and give it another go the easy way using these life hack tips.
6. Set daily goals
As with learning anything new, it’s important to set daily goals when you’re up on the mountain. For example:
- I will go down a green run without falling.
- I will complete a turn.
- I won’t stumble off a chair lift
- I will catch a T-bar
If you don’t achieve your daily goal, don’t be hard on yourself – it’s all part of the ride. It took me 8 days of riding to turn confidently on my snowboard. Some of my mates picked it up in 3 days. Everyone is different!
7. The last run? Don’t overdo it!
It’s important to finish your day on a high so don’t overdo it and do it over. If you are tired, stop! Head to the bar or café and reward yourself with a treat. Your day is done and it’s been a good one. You can easily turn a very good day into a very bad one on your ‘last’ run. There are also many other tired people who push themselves to the limits late in the day so it’s a dangerous time to be out there.
Click here for other ideas for doing things the easy way and feel free to share your snow experiences below.