The single most important factor in your mountain boarding adventures, far more important than finding new terrain and zooming down the slopes, is keeping yourself and others safe.
Keeping others safe is mainly a matter of being keenly aware of your surroundings, making yourself easily visible and using common sense to only mountain board when the area is clear.
Keeping yourself safe is obviously a somewhat different proposition and does require some investment in mountain board safety equipment, so let’s have a look at some of the stuff you’re going to need as far as pretty much all mountain board safety gear goes, the same equipment that snow boarders use can be used for mountain boarding.
A head injury can be one of the most devastating occurrences that can happen to anyone and this is why cyclists and snow boarders etc. all wear the appropriate headgear. If you already have a cycling helmet you can use that when you’re just starting out but the added protection at the back of a boarding helmet and the fact that those helmets can take multiple impacts without needing to be replaced means that you’ll probably want to upgrade as you progress.
It’s really important to get the right size helmet, badly fitted mountainboard safety gear can be worse than none at all and the helmet is no exception.
To get the right size you’ll need to measure the circumference of your head with a tape measure, take the tape measure and wrap it around the forehead, it should rest just above the ears and eyebrows just as your helmet would.
If a tape measure isn’t available you could use a piece of string and then measure that against a ruler. Sizes available go from small to extra large, ranging from 19 inches to a maximum of around 24 inches.
Your elbows are joints and ones that can severely limit your activities if it’s damaged! It makes sense, therefore, to protect them as much as you possibly can, I’ve had a swollen elbow, or ‘swellbow’ and believe me, it ain’t much fun!
Elbow pads are available in various sizes ranging from extra small to extra large and in a variety of different materials.
At the lower end of the price range you can get your elbow pads in a set along with the knee pads and wrist guards, these sets will provide at least some protection and are very affordable in most cases.
As you progress your mountain board skills you’ll probably want to upgrade your equipment and at the higher end of the elbow pad range there are some that are slimline, soft to the touch (but harden on impact with the ground) and will fit under most items of clothing.
Just as important as the elbow pads are the wrist guards, as mentioned above, these are available in a set or ‘starter pack’ along with the rest of the pads you’ll need.
Alternatively you can buy them separately and there’s quite a selection available if you choose that route. There are two main types available – ones that incorporate a glove into their design and ones that are for the protection of the wrist alone.
When doing any form of boarding your knees can be prone to injury, they can often be the first thing to hit the gorund and sliding along the ground on pure skin and bones can be somewhat uncomfortable!
It makes sense therefore to put something in between your knees and the floor, particularly for the rider still learning as they need to be able to take a number of hits to the ground, it’s necessary in order for them to advance their skills – ‘if you’re not falling, you’re not learning’ – as the age-old saying goes.
If you’ve chosen to buy a starter pack then you’ll obviously have to use what comes within the pack but as with the other items of protective mountain board safety gear there is a myriad of different products available. You can get ones with replaceable pads along with a strap system to keep the pads in place.
This is the alternative name used for convenience to describe the padded shorts or long trousers available to protect the butt/lower back, groin and thigh area in the case of the shorts with the added benefit of integral knee protection in the long trouser version. Obviously if you choose the longer trouser then there should be no need to purchase separate knee pads.
Both long and short versions are available in outer and under garment styles and there’s some available that can be used as either. The more you spend the better protection you’ll get, broadly speaking anyway.
Have fun but stay safe
Having all the mountain board protective equipment will enhance your mountain board experience massively and increase your confidence in your ability rapidly, you won’t be as worried about falling off as you’ll know you have protection.
When you do so it won’t hurt anywhere near as much. This is even more important for those of us of more ‘advanced years’ – I’ve found that the older I’ve got the less well I bounce!
If you’re strapped for cash and can’t possibly afford all the protective gear please at least invest in a reasonably decent helmet before taking to the slopes, it’s of the utmost importance for all levels of boarders but even more so for those just starting out.