Sandboarding and sand sledding do not require much in terms of equipment, besides the sandboard or sand sled itself and the sandboard wax you will need to apply regularly to keep it smooth. There are then a few things that you should keep in mind in regards to clothing, footwear and accessories when going sandboarding, and the types of equipment you will need depends highly on the location you will be visiting.
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What clothes to wear for sandboarding
Sandboarding is a casualwear sport, and you definitely do not want to bring anything less than casual on a sandboarding session: everything that you wear will be subject to large amounts of sand, sweat, and extreme weather conditions. Old clothes that you don’t care too much about are actually perfect as they are likely to get ruined and worn out in no time. And if you can, avoid pockets. You’ll thank me later.
How to dress appropriately for sandboarding highly depends on your location, which in most cases will feature the scorching sun, a lot of sand, and not much else. If you are in a desert location, such as the popular Huacachina in Peru, you should opt for breathable, loose-fitting clothing. Because of the heat, you might be tempted to wear as little as possible, but long sleeves and long trousers will protect you both from the sun rays and hot sand in case of a fall. Temperature in the desert also tends to vary greatly within a couple of hours, so it may end up feeling chilly in the mornings and evenings – make sure to plan for that as well!
Can you go sandboarding bare chested?
Some people go sandboarding topless in beach locations, and that is generally fine as long as the weather is not extremely hot. While not wearing a shirt will certainly help you get a tan, it will also hurt like hell if you fall from a tall dune at high speed into the scorching sand. Overall, we do not recommend sandboarding bare chested at the beach during peak hours when the sun is stronger. In the desert, always wear a shirt when sandboarding or sand sledding, ideally long sleeve.
It is best to wear an old pair of closed-toe tennis shoes and woolen socks whenever you are sliding down a dune. Sandboarding usually involves a lot of hiking and sweating in the sun so you will want to wear something comfy and moisture wicking that can be safely tied onto your board with some type of sandboard bindings.
Best shoes for sandboarding
The type of shoes you will need highly depends on your location and weather. If you are in the desert, you better opt for some outdoor hiking shoes like Merrell’s that are sturdy enough yet not too fancy (never take your favorite shoes on a sandboarding trip…). If you are a fan of barefoot shoes, make sure that they are meant for trail running and hiking and have a thick bottom layer with no openings, most Xero shoes meet these criteria. If you are planning long hikes in the desert, then it’s worth to invest in a high-quality pair of desert boots.
Socks for sandboarding
Socks are just as important as shoes when it comes to hiking in the desert, and most sandboarding sessions will require for a lot of climbing up (and down!) sand dunes. A comfortable pair of socks will not only protect your feet from hot sand but also absorb sweat and ensure proper perspiration, helping to prevent blisters and other foot problems. The best desert hiking socks for hot, dry climates are made in large percentage from Merino wool, a special type of material which is especially good at absorbing moisture from sweat and keeping your feet fresh.
Can you go sandboarding barefoot?
If your board is equipped with foot straps, no footwear at all is required when sandboarding. If you are using sandboard bindings, or if you are in a desert location with very hot sand, you will then need to protect your feet by wearing closed toe shoes or boots. It is best to only go sandboarding bare feet in beach location with small dunes when the weather is not too hot. You can also compromise by wearing barefoot shoes or socks.
The best types of goggles for sand dunes are dust proof, wind proof and offer protection from UV ray. How much level of protection you need highly depends on the location and types of dunes that you will be riding and environmental conditions of your location (you will want eyewear if you are in the desert on a windy day, or sandboarding down a volcano slope filled with ash). We can highly recommend Scott Recoil goggles for most sand sports and activities in the desert, or the Oakley Sand Goggles which are designed specifically to protect you from sand.
Should you wear goggles or glasses when sandboarding?
Eye protection can be a good idea if sandboarding outdoors, to avoid ending up with sand in your eyes as well as for protection from sun. You especially should not underestimate the importance of wearing goggles if you are in a desert with very fine moving sand or a windy beach, and they are essential for your safety if you are volcanoboarding. Finding yourself with tiny rock particles in your eyes is not fun.
Other sandboarding gear and accessories
Protecting your mouth and face
While face masks have become somewhat of a trend in 2020 as they can prevent you from catching nasty viruses (please wear one!), sadly they won’t be as effective against sand. For better protection in the desert, wear a scarf around the bottom half of your face, covering both your nose and mouth, or get your hands on a trendy balaclava. There is a reason people who live in the desert wear Shemagh scarves / Keffiyeh, and you don’t want to end up with sand in your lungs. It’s not essential to cover your mouth on smaller beach dunes, but it’s not a bad idea nonetheless.
Elbow and Knee Pads
It can be a good idea especially on steeper dunes to wear protective gear set for your knees and elbows. Once again, this extra layer of protection is needed for desert dunes where the sand can get really hot and for any type of terrain other than soft sand (e.g. land boarding, volcano boarding).
In 2016, the use of a helmet has become mandatory in sandboarding and sand skiing competitions and events hosted by InterSands, including the Sandboard World Cup that is held every year in Peru. The best helmets for sand surfing are lightweight and optimized for ventilation – a Smith Powersports helmet or a TeamObsidian Airflow helmet, for example.
What else should you bring with you when sandboarding?
When it comes to clothing the rule of thumb is: the less, the better. Everything that you will be wearing or carrying with you will end up being covered in sand, so don’t bring any valuables with you unless you are okay with that. There are a few other desert hiking essentials you will need to have available when hitting the dunes, namely high-energy snacks and plenty of water. If you are an independent sandboarder in a remote area, an outdoor sports first-aid kit is also a must, and is a travel insurance that covers sandboarding.