How Do You Know if Your Snowboard Is the Wrong Size?

Riding the right size snowboard ensures you will have the most control and fun while on the slopes! Here are a few tips to ensure you have the right size board!

Several snowboards in a line at a store.

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

When it comes to snowboarding, getting the right board is imperative to your success. You’ve probably read a ton of articles on choosing the right size snowboard, and as you might already know that there are plenty of factors to consider like your height, weight, boot size, skill level, and riding style.

But since you clicked on this article, perhaps you’re in a different position. Maybe you already own a snowboard and you’re wondering whether you picked the right size. Or questioning if you’re unintentionally sabotaging yourself by riding an incorrectly sized snowboard. Luckily, there are a few tell-tale signs that you’re riding an improperly sized board.

While riding the incorrect length of snowboard is the most common issue, and therefore the factor most people are focused on, there is a second sizing mistake that can be made—the width. Don’t worry, I’ll thoroughly explore what it might look like if you’re riding the wrong size in either of these dimensions, starting with the length!

Length Issues

Long gone are the days when the proper snowboard size was determined by simply trying to find a snowboard that, when standing up, reached roughly chin height on a rider. While a person’s height is still a prominent factor in determining proper length, their weight is just as important, if not more so. The other factors I mentioned previously (boot size, skill level, riding style) also all play a role. Therefore, instead of simply explaining size ranges and telling you what size is “too long” or “too short” as many other articles do, I’ll instead explain issues that could arise if your board sizing is unsuitable, and suggest some possible remedies!

It’s Difficult to Maneuver

A snowboarder falling down a run.

Is this snowboarder falling because their board was too long and they couldn’t control it? The world may never know! Photo by J3SSL33

If a snowboard is difficult to maneuver, it means the length is too long for your height, your weight, or in all likelihood both. Difficulty controlling your board can mean several things. Among other things, it could be: struggling to initiate holds, trouble holding turns, or your board taking you for a ride. This happens because you don’t have enough physical mass to put the necessary power into controlling your board. Can you get the hang of riding a board that’s too long for your height and weight? Yes, but you’re wasting a lot of necessary energy—it’s better to invest in a smaller board!

It Feels Unstable

If you’re cruising down the hill, (especially at higher speeds) and you start to feel unstable or wobbly, it is likely that you might be too heavy for your snowboard. While other factors play a role in a board’s stability such as its flex rating and profile, being over the recommended weight range for your board’s length is going to cause it to feel quite loose and out of control when riding at speed. You might also notice that the board washes out on you sporadically through turns (washing out is when you lose traction randomly and therefore lose control). The remedy to an unstable ride could just be a longer board with more surface area that’ll distribute your weight better!

Width Issues

Graphic of a snowboard's waist width.

Visual of a snowboard’s waist width. Graphic by Gaelen Mast

As I alluded to earlier, riding a snowboard that is the incorrect length isn’t the only sizing issue, riding one that’s the wrong width is also something to be vigilant about. Snowboard widths are defined by the measurement at the narrowest point of the board, which is most commonly directly in the center of the board. This is called the “waist width” and is measured in millimeters (mm). In the same way you can have issues with a snowboard that is too long or too short for you, you can also have problems that arise from a board being either too narrow or too wide. Here are some of the most common width-related snowboard issues, and how to fix them:

Catching Your Toes Or Heels

This is the most obvious and most annoying issue that might arise from having a snowboard that is too narrow for your boots. If you ever find yourself making a turn and your toes or your heels (although most commonly the toes) of your boots dig into the snow, then your board is too narrow. Sometimes this can be a mild issue where you simply feel your boots brush the snow while riding. However, sometimes your boots dig into the snow enough that it actually causes you to take an unnecessary tumble. Either scenario is less than ideal and you should consider getting a board with a wider width.

Solution

Close up a snowboarders boots attached to bindings on a snowboard.

A small amount of toe overhang won’t affect your riding, pictured above is a perfectly acceptable amount! Photo by Gaelen Mast

Typically people with boot sizes under 11 US men don’t have to worry about this issue unless they’re riding an incredibly narrow board. If you’ve got a bigger foot (11+ US men) you should consider boards that are specifically designated as “wide”. These snowboards are extra wide and usually have a waist width of 260mm or more, which is wide enough to accommodate larger boots (usually up to size 14 US men). If you’re feeling unsure, there are plenty of charts on manufacturer websites that’ll advise riders on the best waist width to select based on their boot size. Alternatively, you can easily Google your board’s make and model to find out whether it is an appropriate width for your dimensions.

Slow Response Time

On the opposite side of things, if your snowboard is too wide for your boots, it’s going to affect the response time when trying to go from edge to edge (for example going from your heel edge to your toe edge, or vice versa). This is going to be true of all wide boards because there’s simply more surface area between edges, and naturally response time is going to be a tad slower. Bigger riders who these wide boards are designed for aren’t going to have a problem with this larger surface area because they have the mass to easily push the board from one edge to the other. However, issues can arise when a smaller rider ends up on a wide board. Since they don’t have as much mass as bigger riders, they won’t be able to make these turns as easily. This is going to use a lot of energy while also causing the board to react slower.

Solution

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell if a snowboard is too wide for you. The next time you strap into your board, take a close look at your boots when they’re fully strapped into the bindings. The toe of your boot should more or less line up with the edge of your snowboard. If there’s more than half an inch between your toes and the edge of the board, it’s almost certainly too wide for you!

Make Things Easy For Yourself

As I mentioned before, there are plenty of charts all over the internet that recommend an appropriate length and width based on your height, weight, skill level, and other factors. However, instead of spending your time searching, trying to interpret, and cross-referencing all the various pre-made resources out there, why not make it easy for yourself and simply ask an expert?

On Curated, you can connect with a Snowboarding Expert in real time, ask them all the snowboard questions you can think of (either via chat or phone), and receive personalized advice and suggestions—all for free! What’s even better is that Curated Experts can recommend gear that would be well-suited for you, and available for purchase directly from the site. It’s the easiest way to get the right gear the first time.

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Written By
Heya! my name is Gaelen and I've been snowboarding for longer than I haven't! I was practically raised by the mountain resort industry, my mother and father were both full-time "snowboard bums" when I was young and so I've been around ski resorts since I was a kid! As soon as I was legally able to w...

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