|By: Jakob Jelling|
Do you remember the days of having to put a snowsuit on in order to go out sledding or skiing? No matter what you did the snowsuit would always climb, let snow in, get wet and usually was uncomfortable because your pants where bunched up inside. Fortunately for those of us who can remember that, those days are long gone.
Modern snowboarding pants, and even regular snow pants, have vastly improved over what we might remember. Snowboarding pants are now worn like regular pants, thinner, lighter, tougher and warmer than ever before. Of course this is only possible thanks to demand and technological advances.
When thinking about snowboarding pants it helps to understand how they work. Generally snowboarding pants use a three-layer system. Some may only have two layers and are either inteended for very mild climates or to be worn over some type of underpants.
The first layer is the base layer and it is in direct contact with your skin. When riding outside you will heat up very quickly and then cool down while on the lift before repeating the process. The purpose of the base layer is to ensure that this can be done without you getting cold. The main reason you get too cold is because your sweat gets caught in the base layer against your skin and begins to freeze. A modern base material will prevent this by wicking the moisture away while providing some temperature balancing benefits.
The next layer is the insulation layer. The purpose of the insulation layer is to retain your body heat and the best way to do so is by trapping a layer of air around your body. This air will greatly decrease the heat exchange between your body and the outside world.
Generally the insulation layer mostly consists of polyesters. The most popular materials are fleece, bunting and pile. Fleece is the most common material and is a dense fabric that has been raked on one side to make the ends of the fibers stand up and trap the air. Bunting is a fleece that has been raked on both sides creating a tight solid weave with wooly air retaining surfaces on both sides. Pile is a single-sided fleece that has undergone more raking and has been processed further to create a much thicker open fabric.
The final layer is the outer shell, which is the only layer with direct contact to the outside world. The purpose of this layer is to protect against wind, rain and snow while letting moisture escape and protect the wearer from cuts, scrapes and chaffing. This layer is made from a material, such as Gore-Tex, which has holes that allow water vapor from your body to escape but are too small to allow a large drop of water in.
Now that you know how the products works you can begin shopping. After determining the number of layers you require you must look for other features. If you like to ride at night or in the dusk you may want reflective strips. For security you may wish to have inside zippered pockets. Large pockets are great for packing around food and water and a see through pocket is great for you lift pass.
If you keep in mind your snowboarding style, needs and what products are available you are sure to get the correct snowboarding pants. Having the correct gear goes a long ways towards maximizing your comfort and enjoyment while snowboarding. Have fun and stay warm.