Snowboard width sizing is very important and I will outline why in more detail below.
It can seem difficult to get this right but this post should help to make it easier.
There will be width sizing charts further down in this post.
However, anyone can just post a width sizing chart and you wouldn’t know how accurate it is or what the reasoning behind it is.
So before looking at the charts I suggest you read the rest of the article first.
How to define the ideal width
There are two schools of thought on the best width of a snowboard.
School of thought #1: The best width for you is where your boots overhang on both the heel edge and toe edge by anywhere between 1 & 2 centimetres (1/4 to 3/4 inch).
School of thought #2: The best width for you is when your feet are roughly exactly the width of the board at the inserts (where the feet will be on the board – i.e. where the bindings are). In other words, in bare feet your heel would be right on the heel edge and your toes right on the toe edge (at the right binding angle).
It should also be noted that this should be measured using the “underside of the board” as this is the side of the board that makes contact with the snow. The top side of the board is typically narrower due to the angle on the edges of a snowboard.
……………..So which one is correct?
Yes they are actually both right and are actually essentially the same thing. This is because when your feet take up the width of the board edge to edge then your boots are likely to hang over 1-2cm (1/4 to 3/4 inches) – depending on the profile of the boots.
Both schools of thought are the same for the same reasons too. Which brings me to the importance of getting the width right.
Why Does Width Matter?
School of thought number 2 suggests that the feet should be edge to edge as it is your feet that apply pressure to the edges when you’re turning the board.
Whilst there is a bit of leeway (a little bit off and you won’t notice it at all), if your feet are too small for the board (i.e. don’t reach the edges) then it is going to be harder to apply pressure to the edges which will make turn initiation more arduous and the board will feel heavy and unresponsive.
But too much overhang would violate school of thought number 1. The reason there is an upper limit on the overhang in school of thought 1 is that too much overhang and you risk dragging a boot in the snow on hard turns – obviously not what you want!
As a rule, 5mm overhang of feet on both toe and heel edge should be maximum overhang and 5mm inside the edge of board on both toe and heel edge should be the maximum “underhang”.
This translates to boot overhang of around 20mm (2cm – 3/4 inch) as the maximum and 10mm (1cm – 1/4 inch) as the minimum overhang (depending on boot profile of course – a low profile boot means your feet will have the freedom to overhang further).
You could probably get away with up to 2.5cm (1 inch) of overhang but that may be pushing it so to be on the safe side it is better to stay between 1cm and 2cm (1/4 to 3/4 inch).
Width Sizing Tables
Unfortunately the width at the inserts (where the bindings go) of snowboards is not something that snowboard companies publish when they release the board specs. This would certainly make it a lot easier and I can only speculate as to why this information isn’t released.
What is published is the waist width, so this is what we have to go with to make an estimation of the right width.
Due to brand variances, differences in side cut, stance width variations and binding angles it is difficult to get this completely accurate in a chart. However as a general guideline the following tables should get you there or there about.
If you would like to know more about these variances and how much impact they can have check out the “extra reading” section below.
Factors such as boot profile, thickness of base plate and bevel of boots will also play a part.
Remember that we do have a bit of room to play with and you don’t need to get this exact, so if you follow the charts below you should be fine.
The further away from the average foot size (i.e. the narrower or wider compared to the “normal” your feet are), the less accurate it will be – and the less board options there will be.
The following charts were created by compiling information from various width sizing charts in addition to intensive research into the average side cuts, reference stances and waist width of hundreds of different boards (by creating diagrams of those boards and measuring different feet sizes against those diagrams).
Men’s Waist Width Chart
|Waist Width range||240-245mm||245-250mm||250-255mm||255 – 265mm||265mm+|
|US Men’s Boot Size||6.0 to 8.0||8.0 to 9.5||9.5 to 10.5||10.5 to 12.5||12.5+|
Refer to the “what If I don’t own boots yet” chart further down for foot sizes in inches + other boot measurements (UK, Euro).
Women’s Waist Width Chart
|Waist Width range||<235mm||235-240mm||240-245mm||245mm+|
|US Women’s Boot Size||<6.0||6.0 to 7.5||7.5 to 8.5||8.5+|
If you think you are going to need something bigger than a 250mm waist width then you will probably have more options in the men’s snowboards.
The Following Charts break it down a bit further but are still rough estimates and are based on the charts above – so the same variances still apply.
|Mens US Boot size||Men’s Foot Size (CM)||Waist Width Range||Ideal Waist Width|
|7.0||25.00cm||238 to 244||242mm|
|7.5||25.50cm||240 to 246||243mm|
|8.0||26.00cm||242 to 248||245mm|
|8.5||26.50cm||244 to 250||247mm|
|9.0||27.00cm||246 to 252||249mm|
|9.5||27.50cm||247 to 253||250mm|
|10.0||28.00cm||249 to 255||252mm|
|10.5||28.50cm||252 to 258||255mm|
|11.0||29.00cm||254 to 260||257mm|
|11.5||29.50cm||257 to 263||260mm|
|12.0||30.00cm||260 to 266||263mm|
|12.5||30.50cm||262 to 268||265mm|
|13.0||31.00cm||265 to 271||268mm|
|13.5||31.50cm||268 to 274||271mm|
|14.0||32.00cm||270 to 276||273mm|
|Womens US Boot size||Women’s Foot Size (CM)||Waist Width Range||Ideal Waist Width|
|6.0||23.00cm||232 to 238||235mm|
|6.5||23.50cm||233 to 239||236mm|
|7.0||24.00cm||235 to 241||238mm|
|7.5||24.50cm||237 to 243||240mm|
|8.0||25.00cm||239 to 245||242mm|
|8.5||25.50cm||242 to 248||245mm|
|9.0||26.00cm||244 to 250||247mm|
|9.5||26.50cm||245 to 251||248mm|
|10.0||27.00cm||247 to 253||250mm|
What If I don’t Own Boots Yet or Don’t know my Size?
If you do not own boots yet, don’t know your boot size or need to convert into US sizes for the charts above, then you can measure your feet and compare them to the table below to get your boot size.
Snowboard boots are made with a foot length in mind and as well as having sizing such as US 10, EUR 45 etc they also have something called a mondo-print which is the foot length that the boot was intended for – more on this here.
|Foot length (cms)||Foot length (inches)||Men’s Boot Size (US)||Women’s Boot Size (US)||Euro Boot Size||UK Boot Size|
To measure your foot length, place your heel flat against the wall and measure along the floor from the wall to your big toe.
Alternatively place your foot on a piece of paper and mark each end of the foot on the piece of paper and then measure between the marks.
NB: Your snowboarding boot size may not be the same as your normal shoe size – and sizing may vary.
Want more Accuracy?
If you want to be completely sure you are getting the right width before you buy and are fussier about this, there are a couple of other options. i.e. if you have narrowed down your choice to a particular board but want to make sure the waist is fine before you buy.
Option #1: You could try measuring your foot and contact a store and ask them to measure your foot length against the width of the board at the inserts and at your preferred binding angles if you know them (if you don’t know your binding angles use this as a guide).
I haven’t tried this so not sure how accommodating they would be – but assuming they want your sale they should do this I would imagine.
Option #2: Go into a physical snowboarding shop and place your feet on the board at the angles you think they will be at. If the run from edge to edge (on the underside of the board) give or take 5mm at both heel and toe edge then your good.
Option 2 would be the most accurate way of knowing, of course, it just requires you going into a store physically. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to buy in store if you can find a cheaper price on line (and can resist the sales staff’s charms!)
Option #3: Contact me using the comments below (I won’t publish the comment if you ask for it not to be published, I will just send you an email with what I think) and I will create a diagram of the particular board you are interested in based on the side cut, waist width and reference stance.
This won’t be millimetre perfect but should be slightly more accurate than your average width sizing chart.
As the average snowboard boot size for a male is between 8.5 and 10.0 US Men’s (remember snow board boot size can differ to normal shoe sizes (generally snowboard boots are roughly a size smaller), the most common waist widths are going to accommodate for those sizes.
Hence, the largest number of men’s snowboard options fall within the waist width range of around 248 to 252. So there are more options for those waist width ranges than others. And the further from those “normal” ranges you get the fewer the options become.
But there are still plenty of options for those with smaller and larger feet.
Similarly for women’s boards – the more common sizes are more catered for.
How Much Margin for Error?
Fortunately there is a bit of room for error in width sizing of snowboards as has been mentioned. In fact there is at least 10mm (1/4 inch) of room for error (5mm on both toe and heel edge). Whilst this doesn’t sound like much it does work out to be a reasonable amount when dealing with board widths.
This is a good thing because it’s always going to be hard to tell exactly what the width at the inserts is. This information isn’t generally published and waist width (narrowest point of the board at the centre of the board) measurements (which are published) don’t give you the exact picture.
There are several variances that can affect the width at insert compared to the waist width, namely
Thankfully none of these things makes too much difference.
I compared the difference at insert for a board with a waist width of 252 and a side cut radius of 6.5m and one with 9m.
252 waist width at 6.5 sidcut radius = 263 at insert
252 waist with a 9 sidecut = 260mm at insert
So that’s a difference of 3mm. This is starting to become significant however this is an extreme case. As boards are designed with a certain width in mind the difference in side cut between boards with a 252 waist width would seldom be this wide.
In fact, out of 175 men’s freestyle boards I analyzed, the largest variance of side cut radii at any given waist width, was 1.25metres and the average variance was only 0.57 metres.
The variance of 1.25 metres was on boards with waist widths of 264mm. The difference in width at insert even at 1.25 metres of variance was only 1.5mm (difference between the width at insert in relation to waist width, caused by side cut variances).
In most cases the difference would be much less (and I suspect with a larger sample size that the variance at waist width 264mm would move closer to the average) – probably less than half of this in most cases. So we’re looking at around a 0.5mm to 0.75mm difference not too much to worry about there.
For freeride boards the side cut variances between different boards may be more extreme.
I’m a total geek with this stuff and I know it!
Even a whole inch wider or narrower than the reference stance width (and it’s unlikely that you will be that far off the reference width if you have the right length of board) only increases or decreases the width by 1.5mm with a 6.5metre side cut radius – so that’s with a sharper than average curve.
The lower the radius the sharper the curve and 6.5 is on the lower side. The higher the side cut radius the less difference the variance from reference stance will make.
Side cut radius tend to be a smaller number (so a sharper curve angle and therefore make more difference for stance widths) on shorter length boards and women’s boards. But they shouldn’t make any more difference than 1.5mm per inch (25.4mm) of stance width variance, given that the experiment above was conducted using a 6.5m side cut, and very few boards will have a side cut smaller than that.
This probably makes the biggest difference and is particularly the case for certain binding angle set ups.
For example if you have front foot 15 degrees and back foot 0 degrees, as a lot of beginners start out with, the back foot is going to be flat on the board meaning that it will essentially be longer than the front foot.
i.e. if the front foot (at 15 degrees) was to span the board perfectly from edge to edge then the back foot (at zero degrees) would have overhang of up to 4-5mm at each end of the foot.
In this case the best way to go is to have a slightly higher overhang than ideal average on the back foot and slightly more underhang than ideal on the front foot (averaged out).
This is mostly an issue for freeriders, beginners and some all mountaineers. Some common binding angles include +18/+3, +21/+6, +15/+0 etc.
In a setback stance the back binding (always on less of an angle than the front binding) moves closer to a wider part of the board and the front binding moves closer to a narrower part of the board (closer to the waist width) and this somewhat offsets the differences made by the differing binding angles.
Freestylers tend to use more of a duck stance (meaning that the front and back feet are on the same angles) – like +15/-15, (or a slight duck stance) so this is not so much of a problem for them.
Boot bevel, the profile of the boot, and how thick your base plate is (i.e. how high off the snowboard you are) will also have some effect on how wide your snowboard will need to be.
Width sizing is definitely the most complicated part of snowboard sizing and the hardest part to get accurate – but it is also an important part. The width sizing charts earlier in this post can give you some idea but they will never be entirely accurate.
Usually, however, they don’t need to be entirely accurate and you should be able find something that works for you fairly easily that fits within the margin of error.