Getting the Right Snowboard Size for You

What size snowboard should you get? It’s a question that comes up so often. Why? Because there are many factors that influence the length of snowboard you should go for. And, if you haven’t bought a board before, you’ve got no previous experience to help with the decision. When you also consider that snowboards are expensive, it’s easy to see why the issue of snowboard sizing is a popular one. People don’t want to get it wrong!

And rightly so. If you have a board that is too long for you, it will feel unwieldy; you won’t be able to flex the board naturally, in order to engage turning. It will be a chore to ride. On the other hand, if the board is too short, it will be skittish under foot, washed-out. You will have less stability at higher speeds and the boards flex may be overwhelmed by your weight.

So how do you choose the right length? Does that age-old metric of “somewhere between your chin and your nose still apply”? What guidance is there?

Working out the best size for you

Well first off, your weight is the primary body-characteristic that determines how a board will ride with you on it. Almost all boards have a suggested rider-weight-range for the different lengths on offer. This is really helpful information, because you can see at a glance if you’re in the right ballpark.

However, that doesn’t mean you should start with your weight. Different riding styles demand different styles and lengths of board. For example, shorter boards are useful for beginners and freestyle’rs, whereas longer boards are used for freeriding.

Therefore you should start by thinking about what type of riding you’re most bothered about and consequently what style of board you need. Once you know that, you can start to match personal-factors like weight with different board lengths. Remember, the application for a board will be reflected in the manufacturers weight range guide for the board’s available lengths, so that’s always going to be a useful place to look.

  1. Decide on your riding style, e.g. beginner, freestyle, all-mountain, freeride/powder
  2. Look at boards and compare your weight with the length guide on the sticker
  3. Consider your height, are you tall for your height, short for your height? Your weight is still most important, but taller may move you up a bit, and likewise shorter down a bit
  4. Check your boot size, you may need a wide-board

If you’ve bought a board before, or used a hire board for long enough to get a feel for how the length matches with your riding, you’ll have a much better idea of what length is good for you. Experience helps a lot, and removes the anxiety.

That doesn’t help is this is your first board and you’re still fresh. If you’re still unsure after investigating by yourself, which is reasonable if it’s your first board, take advantage of experienced shop staff. It’s not guaranteed, but most of time your snowboard shop will have some people working there who know about snowboarding. They can help you with selecting the right board and the right length. Just remember, they are there to sell stuff to you, so there’s an element of salesmanship mixed in with what they say. So know what type of board you want, and check size charts first, so you know roughly what length is good for you.

Within the shop environment, there might be the opportunity to demo a board. This can be invaluable if you’re really unsure about length. Even if it’s not the exact board you’re interested in, if it’s close, you can still learn about the length.

Alternatively, you can look more online…

Online resources: sizing charts, guides and calculators

There are numerous sizing charts and calculators out there on the Internet. They can certainly be helpful, but be wary of looking at numbers only. You still have to consider:

  • Riding style & riding ability
  • How your weight compares to your height (tall/short for your heigth?)
  • Boot size
  • Board specific design (check the label)
  • Gender?

Gender has a question mark because it’s typically just an indication of height and weight. However, there are full ranges of women’s boards now, and kids for that matter, and these boards are designed with specific body characteristics in mind.

Be aware of board-specific designs. For example, the Burton Fish is a powder board, which you would normally have you riding a longer board. However, The Fish has an agressive taper at the tail and a mighty setback for the stance: it’s designed to be ridden at your ‘regular’ length whilst still giving excellent float.

Both The House and Dogfunk have decent sizing guides. The House opens with an equation based on rider height; it’s interesting, but they cover the other aspects too. I prefer Dogfunk’s guide as it reinforces the need to think about your riding style first. If you still want to read more, they’re worth checking out for sure.

Here’s a video from Sierra Snowboard that does a decent job of covering all the things you need to think about, a lot of them mentioned above:

Still hungry, there’s another video from The House. Whilst it is based around the general idea of height: chin to nose, shoulder to chin, etc. It’s not bad as a rough guide.

Anything to add?

When it comes to choosing a board length, I have a fairly rough guide that I’m happy to stick to. My go-to board will be a freestyle-oriented board, to be used all-round. Anything in the range of 151 – 155cm is good, lower if I fancy trying something jibby, longer if I want something with a bit more response.

As for a powder board, something in the range of 156 – 160cm. 156 seems quite short for this specific use, but some powder boards are designed to be ridden at a shorter length. Anything longer than 160cm feels too unwieldly, to slow…

What about you? Are you struggling with choosing a board size at the moment? Are there unanswered questions? Or do you just ‘know’ the right size? Add a comment with your views or questions…

Looking to buy a snowboard? Dogfunk.com has an excellent selection of boards and excellent customer service!

8 Comments

  • Reply November 13, 2010

    Reneator

    Hey Gave,

    Really nice post so, really collects all informations to know about the sizing, and all the sources, so really good work mate!
    So here i’m still missing the like button, to show you my appreciation for that post! 😀 (but i dont want to stress you in this aspect)

    Peace and love
    Reneator

  • Reply November 16, 2010

    Gavin

    Hey Rene,

    glad you like the post – so what guidelines do you use for picking the length of board? You just bought some new gear, right?

    I was hoping to put some social-media buttons up tonight, but kinda ran out of time. Soon 🙂

    Cheers, Gavin

  • Reply January 20, 2011

    Jimmy

    Great post I like that you point out to check the weight chart on the snowboard. For some reason most people that work at Sports Outlets forget that and always tell people (including me) that if it’s between your chin and nose you’re good. Check out SnowboardSizingGuide.com they have a general sizing chart that goes by a riders weight not height.

  • Reply January 26, 2011

    Gavin

    Thanks Jimmy, I’ll check that out.

  • Reply March 24, 2011

    Snowboard Size

    Great article and advice! You should also add this snowboard size calculator to the list of tool. It includes a lot of factors that effect snowboard size choices. Try it here: http://www.snowboardsizing.org/snowboard-size-calculator/

  • Reply March 31, 2011

    Gavin

    Hey SS, thanks!

    I took a look at the calculator, very interesting 😉 I think it got me just about where I like it! Cheers, Gav

  • Reply December 8, 2011

    Chris D

    Great Advice,

    But as a female i’m 5’4 130lbs with a size 10 boot. I’m torn between 145 and 148? don’t know which is best as i don’t want my boot to end up hanging too far over a 145 board. Which size would be best for me?

  • Reply December 8, 2011

    Gavin

    Hey,

    excessive toe and heel overhang isn’t great. Do you have a specific board in mind? Or can you consider boards with a wide option?

    Also – for the board you’re looking at, have you checked the waist width statistics? Is there a significant difference between the 145 and 148?

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