72 Hours Only — Free 2-Day Shipping on Orders Over $50* — Sept. 14-16

What Ski Size to Use

Q: ”I haven’t bought a pair of skis in five years, and they have changed so much that I don’t know how to pick the right size. Everyone seems to have shorter skis than before. Is this what I should do, or should I stay with longer planks since that’s what I am used to?”

Thanks,

Judy

A: Growing up with only straight skis, it used to be simple to decide ski length by standing next to the skis. For beginners, you usually wanted the ski tips to reach your nose; the more experienced you were, the longer you could go. The general rule was never to exceed 20cm above your head. However, since the dawn of shaped, fat, and twintip skis, things have changed. If you can find a sizing chart for the specific ski that you’re looking at, it will be the best source for information as each ski is different. If that fails, here are some simple considerations and guidelines to follow:

Start by sizing a ski for your specific weight, then adjust the length based on your ability and the type of skiing that you like to do. This chart below shows the length ski for an “average” skier, before anything else is taken into consideration:

Weight (lb) <100 110-125 125-136 136-150 151-165 165-180 180-190 190-200
Ski Length (cm) 140 145 150 155 160 165 175 185

Now think about what level of skier you are. In general, more experienced skiers prefer longer skis for stability, while beginners tend to like shorter skis because they turn easily.

Skier's Ability Level Centimeters to Add to or Subtract from Ski Length
Beginner: Just learning to ski or skiing in wedge or skiing only green runs -10
Intermediate: Ski green and blue runs in many conditions; ski parallel; prefer moderate speeds -5
Advanced: Ski all runs, including black, in good conditions; ski at various speeds and use various shapes 0
Expert: Ski all runs in all conditions at high speeds with various turn shapes +5
Specialist: Ski often or every day; ski all runs in all conditions at high speeds +10

The last thing to think about is the type of skiing you like to do: all-mountain/freeride, big-mountain, freestyle, racing/alpine. For big-mountain and fat skis, longer, wider skis will increase your stability at high speeds and float much better in deeper snow. Don’t get too carried away, though. Sizing big, stiff skis more than 5cm above your suggested all-mountain length leads to less maneuverability. Slalom racers and bump skiers usually go with a shorter ski. World Cup slalom racers are carving around on skis between 150cm and 160cm. Throwing down laps in the terrain park? Shorten those puppies up. Most people will take about 10cm off the length if they’re spending their days jibbin’. This reduces swing weight for spins and makes them easier to handle on the rails. Female-specific skis are usually lighter and more flexible, but the size should be measured with the same considerations as listed above. The manufacturer has already adjusted their sizing charts to accommodate the ski and skier. True alpine touring skis will tend to size about 5cm shorter than all-mountain rides, but with the advent of DIN releasable touring bindings, many skiers are traveling into the backcountry on their big boards.

Almost all ski brands have their own weight and size charts for each model. Look for a link to it on the right side of each product page. If the chart for the ski you’re looking at shows different information than the ones above, use the chart for the specific ski. When in doubt, give our Customer Service reps a call, and they’ll help you find the perfect planks for your next snow session.

See ya out there,

Backcountry Bob