Board. Rent first; then, once you're hooked, go for a flexible, beginner-friendly board, with an ample sidecut — the inward-curving waistline designed to carry you through smooth turns. When stood on end, the board should reach roughly to your nose. A good board should run $400 to $500.
Helmet. Surprisingly lightweight and comfortable, hard-plastic helmets made for snow sports should be on every head on the slopes — kids' and adults', skiers' and boarders' alike. $150 adult, $50 kid.
Wrist guard. An inexpensive protection against a leading snowboard injury: when you fall forward on a snowboard (as often happens to beginners), it can be a quick, hard slam. $15.
Clothing. The 18-year-old boarders still dress like Kurt Cobain: baggy pants, flapping plaid shirts. But clothing manufacturers are now catering to adults who want a cleaner look. Go for polypropylene underwear, which insulates and wicks away moisture, polypropylene-wool socks, waterproof mittens or gloves, a fleece vest or lightweight shirt, and a waterproof parka and waterproof pants.
Boots. Beginner boots are usually soft (hard-shell boots are for advanced boarders) and are made of nylon or other synthetics. They should be snug, not allowing a lot of foot movement inside. Again, rent first, then buy: boots should run about $125.