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.
- Decide on your riding style, e.g. beginner, freestyle, all-mountain, freeride/powder
- Look at boards and compare your weight with the length guide on the sticker
- 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
- 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 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.
The House have decent sizing guides. The House opens with an equation based on rider height; it’s interesting, but they cover the other aspects too. We have some gear discounts for them if you head over to that page.
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…