Choosing Snowboard length was traditionally considered to be as simple as the length from the ground to your chin. This will sometimes be the right length snowboard but only coincidentally.
Snowboard technology over the years have left this technique obsolete and there a few factors that influence the length of a board, namely:
- Riding Style
- Ability Level; and
Weight is the most important factor in determining the length of the board – the weight of the rider, is certainly more important than the height of the rider.
Why is weight the most important factor?
Snowboards are designed with a certain flex in mind. However that flex is also influenced by the weight of the rider. If you are too heavy or too light compared to the weight the board was designed for, the flex won’t behave in the way it was designed to – and the way you were told it should when you bought it.
If you are too heavy for the board (i.e. the board is too short for your weight) then the board will flex more than it should.
If you are too light for the board (i.e. the board is too long for your weight) you won’t be applying enough pressure to make the board flex how it should.
So try to be within the weight range for any given board. Then you can take into account other factors. A lot of snowboard manufacturers will release the weight range for each size of a particular board.
A good first step is to fit within that range. The range is usually quite high so we need some other factors to narrow it down a bit to get a more accurate length.
Snowboard Companies that show Recommended Weight Ranges
The Table below shows some of the major snowboarding brands and which do and don’t, to the best of my knowledge, provide weight ranges. If you know of any others just leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the table.
|Snowboard Companies||Publish Weight Range|
* via downloadable PDF
It’s not necessary to be right in the middle of the recommended weight range. For example if the range is 110 – 150lbs you don’t have to be 130lbs!
Weight recommendations are helpful, but I would consider them to be general guidelines and not hard and fast rules. Often weight recommendations cover a wide range so aren’t that accurate and brands can change these, year to year, without any real changes to a board.
Typically these days weight recommendations are based on your weight without gear. It used to be based on weight with gear but this has changed. And this makes sense as you are less likely to know what you weight fully loaded with gear.
Note: As you can see in the table above, not all manufacturers release weight range information and they don’t take height into account at all. There are tables further down this post which should help you to get a good idea of the best size for your height and weight.
The ability level of the rider can also influence the length of the board. This is pretty easy though. Generally speaking if you are a beginner then go with a shorter board (3-5cm shorter). Anyone intermediate and up should not take ability level into account when determining length.
A longer board is more difficult to control. Therefore beginners are often recommended to choose a slightly shorter board than a more advanced rider might go with.
Besides influencing factors such as flex of board, set back of stance etc, the rider’s style can also influence the length of board that he/she chooses to ride.
This is also pretty basic though – if you are a freestyle rider then go between 3 and 6 centimetres shorter (depending on preference) and if you are only into free-riding then go a 2-4cm longer (again this will also depend on preference and some rider’s like to go more or less extreme than this).
The length sizing tables further down in this post will show the length for an all-mountain rider. Take off 3-6cm for a freestyle board and add 2-4cm for a freeride board.
If you’re not exactly sure of your style you can check out the article at the following link.
Whilst definitely not as important as weight, height is still somewhat of a factor – partly because a taller rider will weigh more than a shorter rider (with the same build). But also because the taller rider will typically have a wider stance (though not always).
If a tall rider ends up on a board that’s too short for their stance width, then either they won’t be able to set their stance width as wide as they would like – or they will be at the widest possible stance and that may not be the best position on the board for them.
In the same vane, a shorter rider may end up not being able to go as narrow as they would like on a longer board – or they might end up feeling like they have too much board outside the inserts.
The Length Charts
The tables below show estimates for board length based on height and weight. Once you have found that, you have found what we can call the “standard length”. From this you should adjust the length for style preference (and ability level if you are a beginner).
This might be the same as the standard length or different depending on style and ability. This is what I like to call your “real length”.
I like to then choose a range of heights that I am happy with so that I can have the option of a wider range of boards and a couple of centimetres either way isn’t going to affect my riding in any noticeable way.
Choosing Your Length
Right, let’s check out the charts below.
I consider the standard length to be the “all-mountain” “non beginner” length of board. For example if the length in the chart according to your height and weight is 160cm then this is your length if you are an intermediate or above all-mountain rider.
So for example if you’re a freestyle rider you might take 3-6cm off that and go with a 154-157cm board. If you are a beginner you might go with a 155-157 and if you are a dedicated free-rider then you might bump it up to 162, 163 or 164.
Go through the charts below and select the table that fits your height and then scan across until you find your weight.
For example, I am 6 foot tall and weigh 180lbs (81kg). So I find myself on the table and find my “standard length” to be 161cm. I am not a beginner – however I do lean towards freestyle riding so I take 3-6cm off and find my “length range” to be 155-158cm. However I am not a purely freestyle rider – probably a 60% park, 40% downhiller – so I go with the higher end of the range there – 158cm (see how it can be very preferential).
So with my real length at 158cm I now consider any board that is 157-159cm because 1cm either way won’t be noticeable – but will widen the range of boards I can choose from.
Keep in mind that this is a rough guide and if you can find the suggested weight range for the particular board that you are interested in then this is a good gauge too. The above table should find a size that fits somewhere in that range.
Width Sizing Considerations
Keep in mind that you also want to ensure that the width of the board is suitable for your foot length. This is another good reason to choose a range of lengths so that you have more options for width sizes.
What Length do you ride?
I always keen to learn other rider’s set-ups. Please feel free to leave a comment below with the length board you ride, plus your height, weight and riding style.
Any other comments or questions always welcome too.