What size snowboard do I need?
For a beginning snowboarder, one of the first questions will be what size snowboard do I need to buy? If you are just starting out, your best option may be to rent from your local shop or mountain a couple times to get a feel for different boards and different sizes. In addition, demo days are a great way to try out multiple snowboards before making a buying decision. For those who are ready to buy their first or fifteenth board, read on.
Most generic snowboard size guides just factor in your height and weight or tell you to buy a snowboard that comes up to the bridge of your nose when you sit the tail on the ground. This may have worked well when snowboards were just simple wooden planks but with today’s technological advancements in snowboarding, this is no longer a good rule of thumb. For a better fit and better snowboarding, there are several other factors to take in to consideration when trying to find the correct snowboard size. These include your ability level, riding style and foot size.
Ability level can be broken down into beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginners are those just learning the sport or those who still board mostly green or easy blue terrain. Advanced riders can control their speed easily on black terrain without having to turn the board perpendicular to the slope. Intermediate riders are those who don’t fall into either of these two previous categories and should account for the bulk of riders. Choosing a board that fits your category is very important, use our guide on the side to find a snowboard that fits your ability level.
Riding styles include freeride, freestyle or mixed. Freeride, also known as all mountain, is a person who likes to ride mostly groomed runs or some backcounty terrain. A freestyle or park rider tends to stick to terrain parks or other natural features. A mixed rider will do a combination of these two. There are also specialty boards which are a bit beyond the scope of this article for powder riders and extreme backcounty riders (splitboards). Freeride boarders will generally want a longer board whereas freestyle riders will generally want a shorter board.
Foot size is the last aspect of board selection. If you have large or larger than average feet, you will need to consider purchasing a midwide or wide snowboard. As the name implies, these boards will be wider than normal and prevent heel or toe drag during turns.
Each snowboard manufacturer will provide a sizing chart for their boards and sometimes have a specific guide for each model. This should be the starting point for your selection. Beyond that, you should take into account the three factors we discussed above to fine tune the correct size for you. If the snowboard manufacturer recommends a 155, you may actually want a 157 if you prefer freeriding or a 153 if you stick to the park most days.