By: Brad McNally
There are a lot of things that can happen if you use equipment that is the wrong size for your build. For example, it can go terribly wrong. Just think of a child riding an adult sized bicycle; they can’t touch the ground when they stop, they can’t reach the handlebars to steer, and they wobble around until they fall over. It can also go well. Imagine an adult sized person on a child sized BMX bike. It can be more responsive and they can have great control over every aspect of how the bike moves, allowing them to do some amazing tricks. The same could be said of snowboards, but the size issues come down to mere centimeters along the length and could make all the difference between having a good day on the slopes or not. Here are a few factors that can help you find the board best suited to your needs.
For the first part of this post, we can assume you are looking for an All Mountain style board. If you aren’t sure what style, read about different styles of snowboards. For a general idea of what board to use, typically the answer would be to stand it upright and find something that hits between your chin and nose. This will give you an idea, but much more than your height comes into play when picking a board.
This is another area that will give you an idea, but there is still the possibility of a range. Basically, using your weight and height together gives an idea of center of gravity. The idea here would be that two people that are 5’9” may have a weight difference of 60 pounds. The larger may prefer a bigger board that gives some more support, and the lighter may feel that the bigger board is unresponsive and clunky. The best way to get a range is to combine the two measurements, similar to this size chart from Whitelines.com, at least as a starting point.
The way you intend on using your board will also lead to a difference in size. For example, general riding might mean that you need to stick with a range close to that for your size. If you plan on jumping around in the terrain park but only on occasion, go down a size. If you will ride the lift one time, make it over to the terrain park, and not leave until sundown, go down two sizes. This board should be small and easy to move around. If you are going to head out into deep powder and plan on not entering the world of terrain parks and rails, bump up a size (or two). The bigger board will allow you to float over powder instead of sinking in.
Why it may not matter
By all means, consider these things before you sink your next paycheck into a new board. At the same time, rent a few sizes to try out before you make a decision. Personally, I bought a 156cm board and have loved it, even though it might not have been the right length for my height or weight when I first purchased it. It still is at least a size too small now that I’ve lost weight, but it still feels right to me. Find what feels right to you, and ride it as much as you can.
What size board do you use? Is it close to the recommended or are you an outlier? Let us know in the comments.