Size Up: An in Depth Look at Snowboard Sizing

Introduction – Snowboard Sizing 101

Are you anxiously awaiting the start of the Snowboarding Portion of the X Games? If you answered yes, then you are by definition a Boarder regardless of your experience level.

If you are looking to replace a board, or are new to the sport, you want to choose the right size snowboard for you.

Below I have put everything you need to know about snowboard sizing so you have the best ride possible.

What You Need to Know About Snowboard Sizing

There are several multiple factors that go into choosing a snowboard. It is not as easy as I am this tall and weight this much. To find the right board for you, you need to consider how each factor relates to your size, experience, and the type of terrain you will boarding most of the time. Finally, as you get ready to make your final decision, read the manufacturers technical specifications.

Step 1- Snowboard Length

The first step in terming your board length is to stand it on its tail (the back of the board) and measure where the nose (the front of the board) ends. Your board should stop someplace between your nose and chin.

Board Length by Weight

Matching your weight to your type of board will improve your ability to control the board at high rates of speed. 

If you are into tricks, you may want a lighter board, it allows you to nail bigger tricks and control the board with a more skate-inspired style. 

If you live for the Pow, then you may want a longer board so you can float versus sink as you ride. 

Board Length by Height

This method has its pros and cons, but you want to take this measurement into consideration.

The Traditional Method uses the nose ending between your collar bone and chin. Freestylers and beginners can benefit from a shorter board. If you prefer powder and speed you might want a longer board. 

The method mentioned above is also common, board nose ending between the nose and chin.

Finally, if you are into crunching the numbers you can use this formula: Your Height (in inches) X 2.54 X 0.88 = Your Recommended Board Length. 

With all of these numbers, you will end up with a range for your board length. Use this number as a starting not ending point.

Step 2 – Snowboard Type

Your choices include all-mountain, freestyle, freeride, powder, and split boards. The type of snowboard is based on your riding style (the terrain you ride the most) and the board type.

Beginners can benefit from an all-mountain board until they develop a specific preference in riding style.

All-Mountain

This is the most common board. It is perfect for beginners but also those that like all the terrain the mountains and backcountry offer. 

Freestyle

Are you a park rat? If yes, then you need a board designed for freestyle riding. For a freestyle, you will need, a shorter, light board, with a softer flex. This allows you more control when performing tricks.  

Freeride

If the park and tricks are not your thing, but you love everything else the mountain has to offer, you are probably a free-rider.

These boards are longer and have a stiffer flex. This allows you to float on the powder and cruise, in control, at higher rates of speed. 

Freeride boards are most often directional shaped boards but could also be a directional twin shape. 

Splitboarding

Are you a backcountry boarder and love hiking in to find fresh POW, you might want to consider a split board. The board is made from two pieces that detach to function as alpine (downhill) skis. Then with a simple connection, you rejoin the parts into a board that allows for extreme freestyling.  

Step 3 – Snowboard Width

Choosing the right width will prevent your toes from hanging too far over the board.  Unfortunately, this measurement is often ignored. 

Snowboards curve in near the middle of the board, you measure the width of a board at its narrowest point. This measurement is linked directly to the size of your snowboard.

While your toes will hang over the edge with the proper fit, if they hang over too much they impede your ability to achieve maximum edge control and avoiding toe and heel drag.

Toe and heel drag will not only slow you down but could also affect your ability to stay on your board. No one wants to hit the snow due to poor board fit.  

The solution is not always to go with a larger width board. It could be as easy as adjusting the angle of your bindings or choosing a snowboard boot with a smaller profile. 

Keep in mind, snowboard boot fitting is a process all in its self, but you should consider buying your board, boots, and bindings all about the same time. This ensures the pieces of your ride work well together. 

Step 4 – Snowboard Shape

Choose a directional board for high-speed carving, a true twin board for park and pipe use, or a directional twin for all-mountain riding.

The feel of a snowboard is heavy determined by the board’s shape.  

Directional

Directional boards have a specific nose and tail, they are not symmetrical. This is the most common type of board with freeride snowboards, but can also be found on all-mountain boards.

The limitation of this shape is that it is designed to always be rode in the same direction. 

The tail on a directional board is typically stiffer than the nose which results in a smoother ride when cruising downhill. The bindings on this type of board are also set to the back of the center. 

True Twin

True twin or twin tip boards are the choice of those into freestyle riding. This board, unlike a directional board, is symmetrical. Depending on your trick or maneuvers either side of the board can lead the way.

You can find this shape on other types of boards as well. If you are a beginner who has freestyle aspirations, look for a true twin board shape. 

Directional Twin

You see a direction twin board on most all-mountain boards. A directional twin board has a nose and tail that are different in construction like, the directional boards. However, its twin shape allows for multi-directional riding. 

Variations of a directional twin include having a longer nose than tail, softer nose than tail or a combination of the two. 

Having a longer nose helps to float on powder. The stiffer tail increases your stability on the board at higher speeds. 

Directional twin boards often have a slightly longer nose than the tail and could also have a softer nose than tail or a combination of the two. The added length to the nose gives you an edge when riding powder and a stiffer tail will create more stability when riding at a higher speed.

Step 5 -Snowboard Size by Ability Level

The worse thing you can do is buy a board that does not match your skill level. The best way to improve your skill is to periodically take lessons from your favorite hill. 

Beginners benefit from lessons by progressing quickly and minimizing the time spent on your butt and face. Advanced boarders can quickly master tricks and carving with just a single lesson with a certified Freestyle Snowboard Instructor.

Beginner

If you’re still learning how to link turns, you’re a beginner.  Beginners should abide by the standard weight, length, and width requirements for snowboards, but you might want to check out some softer boards on the shorter side of your size range. This will make learning easier and won’t impact your shredding ability. 

Intermediate

You have developed some skill, now it is time to upgrade your ride. You should stay in standard size and weight ranges, but you should focus your purchase towards the type of riding you do most or would like to improve upon.

Advanced

Your experience is hard-earned, but now it is time to look at the technical specs of your ride.  Start looking at things like sidecut, profile shape, fiberglass, and carbon/kevlar bars.  These topics are considered irrelevant by most novice riders.

Step 6 – Flex

The flex of your board is its ability to bend and twist at the rider’s direction.

A longitudinal flex is a bend along the boards’ length. Longitudinal flex is important in turn initiation and more complicated maneuvers.

Torsional flex is the flexing along the width of the board. The amount of torsional flex determines how much edge holding your board has. Torsional flex is will help you carve up the mountain. 

There are several different varieties of flexibility in the snowboards: stiff flex, medium flex, and soft flex 

All mountain, backcountry, and halfpipe riders need a little stiffer boards. A stiffer board tends to increase the grip of your board in turns and at high rates of speeds. Heavier and more advanced riders also prefer a stiffer board. 

Medium flex goes hand in hand with all-mountain snowboards. It has just the right about of stiffness for the backcountry while still allowing you to play in the park.

Freestylers love a softer board. The flex allows for a better grip on park equipment. It also gives you a little more control at slower speeds when attempting technical maneuvers. Lighter riders and beginners prefer a softer flex. 

Step 7 – Gender and Age Differences in Sizing

Women can ride men’s boards and men can ride women’s boards. The unique functionality in women’s boards may improve your ride. Kids should not ride adult boards.

If you have a small food, women’s boards have a narrower waist width, this allows you to apply the appropriate amount of pressure to turn and stay in control. If you are a taller woman with feet in the 9+ size range, you might need a men’s board so your toes don’t drag in a frontside turn. Women’s boards also tend to be softer with a thinner profile and lighter frame.

For children, the sizing process is the same, but your child should not ride an adult board. Adult sized boards are often harder for your child to control and therefore learn to ride. This increases their frustration with the sport. 

The first step in outfitting yourself for snowboarding is to purchase a board. This guide will get you the basics on choosing the right board based on your size, riding and terrain preference. Consider, renting different board types when you are on the hill. This will help you to better understand how each factor functions. 

Also, talk to your friends and see if they will loan you their board for a run or two. There are many options when it comes to snowboards so your goal should be to get educated and narrow down your choices before you purchase. 

Now, you can focus on the right bindings and snowboard boots.

Summary – Are You Ready to Purchase a New Snowboard?

At Backcountry Gear our goal is to educate our customers on the gear and trip preparation for enjoying sports outside in nature. I am passionate about outdoor sports and want to experience all that nature has to offer.

We know that it is hard to sort through all the technical information on all the gear available for your outdoor adventures. We aim to provide you with all the information you need, before, you make your purchase. 

If you have questions about your gear choice, contact us, we are always happy to talk with you. 

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