A Brief History of Snowboarding via the Medium of Headwear

There was a time when men were men and only needed headbands in the Alpine. Regis Rolland rocking the brainsqueezer in Apocalypse Snow.

Headwear and snowboarding. Two things as inextricably linked as any human centipede has ever been, and at least hats are more fashionable than having your mouth surgically attached to someones anus. Snowboarding? The jury seems to be out on that one at this point in time, but what with Skynet now attacking skiers at random, we’ll hopefully see more kids coming over from the dark side again.

Regardless, we love hats here – and snowboarding too! – and thought it would pass the time admirably to view our sport’s history through the prism of headwear fashion.

Let’s start at the beginning, back where it all began…

1. The Bobble Hat

The original, and still the best form of mountain headwear that’s stood the test of time. No wonder Shermen Poppen chose a boss-dog kid rocking one to market his Snurfer, widely acknowledged as the precursor of modern day snowboards.

2. The None

Tom Sims didn’t need no hat in the 80s coz he was badaasss!

When Jake Burton and Tom Sims started beating the drum that would eventually draw legions of people into their emerging cult, much like that weird bit in Avatar with the tree that I never quite understood, they were so punk rock that they thought ‘To hell with Snurfing and their bobbles. We’re young and will fight the power by not wearing hats in the mountains! Behold our flowing locks and weep at their sheen!’

3. The Headband

The only thing more impressive than Damian Sanders’ neon headband is that he’s pulling this invert in HARDBOOTS.

Of course, after a winter or two of frostbitten ears and near-death ice cream heads, snowboarders realised that keeping at least some part of the upper extremities insulated in sub-zero temperatures might be a smart thing to do. Hair in the 80s was awesome, yo, so they needed to let at least some of it shine and hence the headband became de rigeur. In neon, naturally.

4. The Snapback

Terje rocking the snapback.

Of course, as everyone knows, in sideways cool there is a Pyramid of Power. The basement dwellers are kitesurfers, SUPers, mountainboarders… sorry, getting off track there. The point is those occupying the penthouse suite in said pyramid have always been, and will continue to always be, skateboarders. And as a lot of skateboarders saw snowboarding as a fun thing to do in winter (not to mention a bunch of other snowboarders who just ape skateboarding), so the snapback became the headwear of choice for the early 90s freestylers. They were more stylish, but as equally unsuited to the mountains, as headbands.

5. The Twat Hat

This is Tim Eddy: he’s not a twat.

Perhaps spurned by the likes of Shaun Palmer, who lest we forget rocked a pre-Prodigy guy clown haircut, weird jester-styled hats or hyper-long radical elf ones were commonplace for a season or two in the early 90s. Interestingly, half of the tourists in Austria are still stranded in this time period when it comes to headwear. That said, Tim Eddy loves to rock one these days, seems to be a cool guy, and can certainly wield a snowboard in an entertaining manner, so who knows… they could be mad hype once more in 2017.

6. The Regular Beanie

Here’s Jamie Lynn at the legendary Covent Garden Big Air. Though why Normski has a Maglite tucked in his beanie we’ll never know. Hey, it was the mid-90s!

Around the mid-90s snowboarding seemed to have had a word with itself, bucked its ideas up, and shaken off the angst and need to find one’s place in the cosmos that makes teenagers since the dawn of time dress like wizards for a year or two. Hence it was at this time that just your common-or-garden, no nonsense beanie became the go-to snowboard headwear. Sure, they were a little tighter than today, but nevertheless a classic. As a bonus, the bobble came back into play around this time too.

7. The Peaked Beanie

Just because JP Walker did something, it doesn’t mean you should.

In 1997, Mack Dawg Productions released Simple Pleasures and ushered into the mainstream something that had been bubbling under the surface for a season or two: urban jibbing. At the forefront of this movement were JP Walker and Jeremy Jones, so when they rocked something you could bet your bottom dollar that you would follow, even though you probably shouldn’t have. Peaked beanies are in this category.

8. The Do-Rag

Jeremy and JP. Brothaz from otha mothaz.

Also in this category, but infinitely worse, is the do-rag. The late 90s to early 2000s were when Walker, Jones et al were in their pomp. I’m guessing they were listening to a lot of hip-hop and got it into their heads that because they hung out on the streets and listened to rap, then it was a logical step to appropriate the look of G-childs from the inner city. Straight chilling to some Mormon-Funk and that. Again, legions followed their lead and parks from Park City to Laax to Tamworth were clogged with young, white, over-privileged snow-males pretending to be from the ‘Hood’.

9. The Ear Flap Beanie

Nico gets his flaps out.

Popularised by native south Americans and Nicolas Müller, these took the regular beanie, extended it south over the ears, occasionally added questionable dangly bits off the ear flaps and, if they had good sense, a bobble too. Nicolas was right in the midst of his come-up back in the late-early-pre-mid-2000s and seeing him pulling his deft tweaks with his nouveau-Swisse style made me want one. And I got one. And I was stoked. The Burton one with the headphones built in was a bit much, mind.

10. The Audio Beanie

This is what is known as ‘a bit much’.

Around the time ear flaps were on fleek, some companies decided to start integrating cutting-edge audio technology made in China for a song into – and sometimes worryingly ON to – beanies. This was back in the days when every thugged out park rat had started riding with huge ear cans (no doubt in part due to Trevor Andrew, Kier Dillon and co.) but weird as that was at least you could take them off when you hit the afterski; with these you were reduced to necking Jäger and looking for a potential mate at the outdoor bar, but failing miserably as you looked like an extra from Star Wars. And not the new one, the Episode 1-3 shit ones.

11. The Hyper-Extended Deflated Bobble

It’s hard to see from this, but we’re pretty sure Roope is rocking one here. Plus it’s a good excuse to show Roope before he discovered sunscreen.

You might have guessed already, but the bobble beanie is – in my humble opinion – the greatest bit of cold-weather headwear ever created (unless you live in a major metropolis; it could very well get you knifed there). But what is not great is when it became fashionable, for at least two seasons around 2004, to take one, unfurl the ear-warming fold, pull the whole thing up, and having the bobble sit in some weird saggy crater at the top. That was just shit.

12. The Condom

Col Mytton rocking one of the OG Dalikfodda head johnnies.

My memory of the time is cloudy – I’d just started working for Onboard and was thrown headfirst into the ‘all night party/all day ride and pretend to report on snowboarding’ thing. But it was just before the Hyper-Extended Deflated Bobble, at the same time, or shortly after, that the trend was to don a rather tight, long beanie that unfortunately ended up looking like you were wearing a johnny on your bonce. It was only in hindsight that I realised that wearing one made you look like that lad from East 17, or a sheathed penis.

13. The Jacques Cousteau

The OG JC.

Geoff Rowley and his skateboarding friends had been rolling up the nether regions of their beanies in the fashion of the original boss, Monsieur Cousteau, for several years but it was only around 2008 that snowboarders had the balls to tuck up the lower couple of inches of faux-wool acrylic. The rest, as they say, is history and nigh-on 8 years later it’s still the headwear look of choice for anyone whose ever watched a snowboard movie… damn, those are dead now. I mean snowboard edit.

14. The Balaclava

Jamie Nicholls won’t know where Crimea is, but he loves a balaclava. Photo: Red Bull

Those Crimeans know what’s up when it comes to bleak weather attire. As do bank robbers the world over. Keeps your head warm, keeps your face warm. Sorted. Jed Anderson and a bunch of other slick-ass cats started rocking these around 2010 and as such they were aped across the globe for a few winters, until, we guess, people grew tired of being arrested for trying to pick up some beers at the gas station wearing one.

15. The Fishing/Bucket Hats

Halldor Helgason laps up the awesome sauce at Windells in his fisherman’s hat. Sadly the knickerbocker trend never caught on.
P: Erik Hoffman

First spotted adorning some hesh hipster kids going mental in the slush of Mt Hood, such headwear is naturally predominantly a spring/summer thing (though teaming it up with a balaclava… hell, why not?!). Over a couple of seasons the size of these hats’ brims reduced, till today when you’ll find all manner of buckets adorning the brain boxes of on-message park rats the world over once the sun comes out.


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