Likely the most commonly asked question when shopping for a snowboard is, "what size board do I need?" No doubt you have heard a variety of answers to this question, but the honest answer to this question is determined by several factors, all of which are outlined below, and all of which we hope you have heard before. If not, we encourage you to read through this sizing guide to help clear up any confusion you may have on your snowboard sizes debate.
- Boot Size & Snowboard Waist Width
- Rider Weight
- Chart: Rider Weight to Snowboard Size
- Snowboard Type
To determine proper snowboard sizes that you will need you must look at three separate variables: boot size (snowboard waist width), weight, and the type of snowboard you will be purchasing/using. It may come as a surprise to you that we will begin with your snowboard boot size when making a determination for a snowboard size, but it is an essential factor in board sizing.
We begin with boot sizing because it is an easy way to determine if you will need to look at standard width snowboards or wide width snowboards right-off-the-bat. The waist width of the snowboard is an important determining factor because of the effect it can have on your ride. The stance on a snowboard is like that of a skateboard, where your feet ride perpendicular to the edges of the snowboard. When your boots are properly aligned with the edge of the snowboard, you are going to have superb edge-to-edge performance. You will have maximum leverage, quick transitions from one turn into the next, and excellent energy transfer.
However, if your boots are hanging too far over the edge of your snowboard you will be in for a world of disappointment and frustration. Understand that as you turn on a snowboard your edge begins to dig into the snow to gain hold. If your boots are extended beyond the width of your snowboard your boots will quickly hit the snow, cause something known as, "boot-out," and sending you tumbling. This issue is far less prevelant if your boots are smaller than the width of your board. The only drawback is that you will have slower transitions from one turn to the next, a sluggish feeling board, and find your board more difficult to control.
At this point, you probably understand the importance of width, now you're asking, "how do I use my boots to determine the proper waist width I need?" Find your boot size and see what snowboard width measurement you should be looking for. Please also take note of the widths that are designated as wide boards. Snowboard boot sizes in these categories will need Wide specific snowboards. In layman's terms if you have a boot a size 10.5 or above you should be in a wide board; if you are in a boot smaller than 10.5 you can use the the below chart as a general guide for waist width but keep in mind you will need a regular width snowboard.
If you're unfamiliar with wide snowboards, or unsure of their purpose, please review the video tutorial provided below.
In addition to waist width, your weight is a critical determining factor for choosing the appropriate snowboard sizes. Fortunately your weight will offer you a variety of boards in a somewhat lengthy size range. This is beneficial because it won't limit you to just a few boards to choose from. Once you determine your size range, you can then begin looking at the different snowboard types, as outlined below. To determine your appropriate size range, please review the chart below.
Rider weight is important because it will factor into your ability, or inability, to maneuver the snowboard when on the mountain. If you get a board that is the right size for your height, that's all well-and-good, but if your too heavy or too light for the board size, you will struggle. When you use your weight to select your board size, you will almost definitely get a board that you can maneuver easily, which has an effect on your ability to progress as a rider, initiate turns, and transfer energy.
Now that you have determine what size your weight falls into, you can now assess your riding style to make your final sizing determination. The two most commonly used categories for snowboards are Freestyle and Freeride. Depending on the style of riding that you plan on doing as well as your skill level, you may want to add or subtract a few centimeters from the board size you determined above. For example, if you are an advanced, aggressive, all-mountain rider, then you can safely add a few centimeters in length. In contrast, if you are seeking maneuverability for freestyle/park riding, then you can safely subtract a few centimeters.
Finally, it is important to know that all boards are generally manufactured in the appropriate length for the intended use. A 152cm Freestyle board may not be manufactured in a 155cm, thus the 152 would be the length you would use.
A freestyle board is also commonly referred to as a "Twin Tip" snowboard. This means that the dimensions are identical (or very close) for both the tip and tail of the snowboard. If you want maximum maneuverability and flex for all of your freestyle needs (park, pipe, etc), this is the board type you'd want to look for.
Also known as All-Mountain boards, Freeride boards are intended for the nose (tip of the board) to always be leading the way. With boards of this type, you can ride the entire mountain. In fact, you'll probably pass by the park without a second glance. You love powder, steep inclines, and speed. If you desire to ride fakie (backwards) this isn't going to be the best option for you. Freeride boards encompass more than this, but this is enough for you to know if this board type is the one for you. For additional information, please review the following video tutorial on the different types of snowboards.
Please review the following video tutorial on how to select the right size snowboard for additional information on making your determination.
Snowboard sizes are fairly universal between snowboard manufacturers, which is why you can simply use boot size, snowboard waist width, and rider weight to determine your size. However, not all manufacturers will make the same sizes, nor will any model be available be offered in every single size available. But, for the most part, you can be assured the size board that you need will be available within a few centimeters.
One notable board type that you will need to compensate for are snowboards with reverse-camber. Reverse camber will be represented by different names by each manufacturer, K2 calls it Rocker Technology, LibTech and GNU refer to it as Banana Technology, but bottom line is that reverse-camber boards will also create size variances from what was determined using the determining factors above.
In a nutshell, boards with reverse-camber are going to ride shorter than the actual size stated. This is because the tip and tail of the board rise up off the snow at shorter points than traditional boards. The purpose is to create a board that rises to the surface in powder, although recent changes have now created reverse-camber boards for both Freeride and Freestyle riders. Basically what we're trying to say is that you will need to compensate for the contact points on reverse-camber boards. For additional information, please review the following video tutorial on Rocker technology.
It is our commitment to provide you with the most complete, accurate, and thorough information possible to help you make an informed decision. We encourage you to check out these additional pieces of media to help guide you to the best snowboard for you.