How To Size a Snowboard: The Essential Guide


Are you looking for your first snowboard? The question I hear most often is, “What size snowboard do I need?” You want to make sure you’re getting the right size so that you don’t run into problems going down the mountain, as the wrong size can negatively impact your steering abilities.

Here’s what you need to know to size your snowboard:

  1. Consider your weight.
  2. Consider your height.
  3. Shoe size matters.
  4. Know your ability level.
  5. Know your riding style.

While all of those above factors are very important in sizing your snowboard, your weight will impact your board requirements the most. So you want to get a board that you can control. Keep reading as I elaborate more on this and how to size a snowboard the right way.

How Do You Know What Size Snowboard You Need?

Your height and weight can help determine the size of snowboard you need. Once you have those measurements, consider other factors to size the board up or down, like sizing down if you enjoy freestyle riding. Doing so gives you a bit more control over the board and allows you to go faster.

If this is your first board, you want to consider your ability level as well. It wouldn’t be good for you to get a board that’s difficult to control since you may develop some bad riding habits. 

Below, I’ll break down the most important factors to consider when choosing your snowboard size.

Consider Your Weight

Your weight determines what length of the board is best for you. If a board suits your weight, you won’t have to worry about losing control on the hill. 

For example, if you get a board that’s too short for your weight, you’ll have a tough time steering at high speeds. A board that’s too short for your weight will turn sharply, which could cause you to wipe out!

Overall, your weight is going to impact what size of board you need the most. You want to make sure to spend some time thinking about it.

Rushing may cause you to accidentally size up or down, making the snowboard much more challenging to control.

The YouTube video below talks about why you should choose the snowboard size according to your weight:

Why Weight is the Most Important Factor

When companies build a snowboard, they make it with a certain level of “flex” in mind. Flex refers to how the rider influences the board while in motion. If you’re out of the weight range on the board, you won’t get the flex levels that the brand advertised.

If you’re heavier, the board will flex too much. If you’re too light, the board won’t flex enough. That’s why it’s best to choose a board that falls into your weight range. However, brands usually give you a pretty wide weight range for a snowboard.

Once you find a few boards that have your weight in their ranges, you can narrow your choices down even further by using the steps below.

Consider Your Height

Next, you’ll want to consider your height. 

Using your height isn’t as accurate as using your weight, so you’ll want to use height as a secondary measuring option. Traditionally, people chose their board based on where it reached their face when standing on end.

A board is short if it reaches between your shoulders and chin, but it’s long if it reaches between your chin and nose. This method has a lot of room for error, but it can point you in the right direction.

Beginners and those who ride freestyle benefit from a shorter board, as it’ll give you some more control at normal speeds.

You also can use a snowboard sizing calculator to determine what options are best for you. Most start by asking for your height and weight.

Most professional snowboarders consider that using height alone to determine your board size is outdated. However, you can still use this measurement alongside your weight, allowing you to find the best size board for your body.

Know Your Ability Level

Beginners should choose boards that are slightly on the shorter end of their size range. Smaller boards are a bit more flexible, making it easier to learn to link your turns and control the board. Plus, you’re just starting to build muscle in new places—a longboard takes a lot more energy and power.

However, if you’re more experienced, you’ll want to choose boards that suit your ability. 

You can find boards specified for your riding style or ones designed with tricks in mind, or you can consider sizing your board up or down, depending on what you want from it.

For instance, if you ride on powder snow often, a longer board is better. The additional size helps you keep the front of the board out of the snow, although the size requires more strength and precision to control.

In short, you want to stay in your comfort zone with your first board, as you don’t want to choose anything you think you’ll have trouble steering. That way, you can focus on improving your skills. 

Once you’re more experienced, you can experiment with different sizes of snowboards.

Know Your Riding Style

Finally, your riding style will change the types of boards that work the best for you. The most popular style is all-mountain, which usually features riding through trails in the woods or down an open hill. 

If you love exploring, then you’re likely an all-mountain rider and should choose an all-mountain board. You can use them for everything, even tricks, making them a good option for beginners.

Freestyle riders enjoy the parks the most. 

You probably don’t spend much time sitting in the chairlift if you’re a freestyle rider. To get a good freestyle board, figure out your size, then choose one size smaller. Doing so gives you more control and makes it easier to perform stunts. 

Plus, a freestyle board is more durable than the other types so that you won’t wear it out at the park.

Does the Width of the Board Matter?

The width of the snowboard matters. You must consider your boot size because boards that are too narrow cause edge control problems, which causes your heels and toes not to stop as quickly. Your boots may catch debris or objects more easily, too.

It’s also not good to have a board that’s wider than your boots. You’ll run into control issues as well since you’ll feel like it takes a lot more pressure to turn your board. Overall, the width of your board should match as close to your heel and toe as possible.

How Width Impacts Control

When your feet align with the board’s edges, you have more control because you can apply pressure in the right places. If you’re lighter, you’re going to want to consider the board’s width much more than a heavier person will. 

A heavier person can easily apply more pressure to the board’s edges, even if the width is a little bit off. 

Additionally, if your feet go over the board’s edges, they should go over the heel edge rather than the toe edge. When your toes hang over, you’re more likely to draw them through the snow, slowing yourself down or possibly causing you to wipe out!

So, if you can’t align your feet precisely, make sure that your heels overhang more than your toes. You’ll feel more responsiveness and control if you do this.

Does 2 cm Make a Difference in a Snowboard?

Even something as small as 2 cm (0.787 inches) can make a significant difference in the flex and control you have over your snowboard. Often, freestyle riders will get a board that’s about 2 cm (0.787 inches) smaller than their recommended size.

Freestylers do this to receive better flex, allowing them to perform more tricks and sharper turns. On the other hand, you can add 2 cm (0.787 inches) to your board size to obtain more stability. 

Although, doing so can take away some of the board’s flex.

So, even something as small as a 2 cm (0.787 inches) difference can really change how your board controls. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting a snowboard that has flex levels that work with you, and not against you.

How Noticeable Is a 2 cm Difference?

For most people, 2 cm (0.787 inches) isn’t going to be that noticeable. However, the differences are always going to be present. If you want to learn and improve your skills at your best, you should still try to get as close to the perfect size as possible.

More experienced riders and professional snowboarders will likely notice the difference. 

You may not have to worry about the size impacting you as much if you’re heavier since you can apply more pressure to the board’s edges for edge control.

Overall, the difference isn’t that noticeable to many people, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It would be best if you considered all of your options before buying a board that’s not the right size for you.

What Happens if a Snowboard Is Too Long?

A snowboard that’s too long for your weight can cause a lot of problems. The board will be hard to control, making it difficult to stop and turn. You don’t want to restrict your movement on a snowboard for your own safety, as well as the safety of the other riders on the mountain.

Boards that are too long are tough to move, especially for beginners. You’ll find that they take a lot more strength, which could wear you out very quickly.

That doesn’t mean that you want a very shortboard. Shortboards are harder to control when your speed gets higher, and if you’re not comfortable moving at fast speeds yet, it’s best to ensure your board isn’t too small for your weight.

Can a Snowboard Be Too Wide/Long/Short?

A snowboard can be too wide, long, or short. You can’t have good control over an overly wide snowboard. That applies to snowboards that are too long as well, as it’s harder to improve your skills with them. Snowboards that are too short are easier to control but become hard to steer at high speeds.

Snowboards That Are Too Wide

A snowboard can be too wide. If the edges stick out way past your heels and toes, it’s too broad. You won’t have as much control and might even find it hard to stop, and it’ll feel like the board isn’t responding to you. 

For beginners, this makes it harder to learn and can even feel discouraging.

You can still ride a wide board, but it’ll take some getting used to. For the best width, you want the board’s edges to align with your heels and toes. If not, get as close to them as possible.

However, most people don’t need a wide snowboard. You’ll want to consider a wider board if you have a men’s boot size of 10.5 or higher, which is a size 13 in women’s boots. 

If you want to learn more, this video explains how wide your snowboard should be:

Snowboards That Are Too Long

Your snowboard might be too long for your height and weight. If that happens, it becomes very challenging to move the board where you want. Snowboards that are too long make it harder for new riders to improve their skills.

You don’t need to avoid longboards altogether, but you should know how little flex they offer. Many people ride longboards and spend a lot of time considering what sizes will work the best for them.

You should only go up one size, however, because sizing up too far can cause a lot of complications for beginners.

If your board feels really slow, it also might be time to wax it. Waxing is essential since it increases the lifespan of your board and makes it easier to maneuver on the hill. 

I recommend that you try Demon United All Season Ski & Snowboard Wax available on Amazon, which comes in a kit offering warm, cold, and hydrocarbon wax. You’ll be able to experiment with the products and determine which one works the best for your riding style.

Snowboards That Are Too Short

Snowboards that are too short have the opposite problem as longer boards. 

While they’re easier to control at first, shortboards become hard to steer at high speeds. You should only consider them for parks or have a lot of experience. 

They work best with freestyle riders.

You may want to try moving the boot bindings closer together on a board that’s too short for you. Doing so will help move your stance in, giving you a bit more control. However, it’s still for the best that you learn to ride on a board appropriately sized for you.

To summarize, you can have problems with boards that are too small or too long for your height and weight. You want something that’s suitable for you.

Final Thoughts

When choosing the size of your new snowboard, make sure to consider your weight first. This measurement impacts the flex from the board, which gives you control. From there, you can factor in your height, ability level, and riding style. 

Beginners should choose a slightly shorter board until they start improving.

Overall, there are many sizing factors to consider when buying a new snowboard. You want to make sure you’re getting something you won’t have to fight with on the hill. Many experienced riders will size up or down depending on their needs—don’t be afraid to experiment!

Sources

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

Recent Posts