What board should you ride?

Despite what those sizing charts on the back of snowboards say, snowboard sizing is preference based and many factors go into picking the right board length. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself...

What size is my foot? 

Toe drag is a drag. Maybe the most disappointing feeling is laying hard into a toe side edge in soft and feeling that sudden loss of grip. You skid on your stomach, people on the chair laugh, and you're buddies riding behind spray you when your down. This could all have been avoided by a few millimeters more of waist width. The waist width of a board is no doubt the first factor I turn to when determining which board to buy. Riders who want that quick cut prefer a slightly narrower board. A narrower board will initiate turns quicker, spin off jumps faster, but it will also be harder to land clean and not revert (spin around). A wider board will float in deep snow better, clean up some of the wobbles in the terrain park and track straighter. My rule for getting the right waist width is to add or subtract 5mm from 250mm for each US men's foot size away from a men's 10/11. This is all relative! If you ride deeper snow and bigger mountains, you'll probably prefer something wider. If you're looking for that quick cut, then error on the narrower side.

Boot Size (US)
5 - 6 6 - 7 7 - 8 8 - 9
9 - 10 10 - 11
11 - 12
12 - 13
Waist Width
225mm 230mm 235mm 240mm 245mm 250mm 255mm 260mm

Where am I riding?

If you are riding smaller Midwest hills, your going to want to be near the end of just about any weight range. You need to remember that the Manufacture is not going to account for the reduced forces being applied to your board. manufacturers focus on where the volume is: The Colorado Rockies. Conversely, if you are riding the steep faces of Washington mountains, then you probably want to go for a stiffer/longer board. You're snowboard has no idea how much you weigh or how tall you are; it only responds to forces being applied to it. A lightweight person charging down a hill fast could easily be applying more force or flex to a board than a heavier person crawling down a green run. Following this logic, a heavier person can ride a shorter board with a stiffer core. What feels stiff to a 130lb person might feels soft and playful to a 180lb person. This also means the stiffness scale is relative as well. furthermore, what is soft and playful on a particular manufacture's scale, might be more like the middle of the scale in another brand. There are no rules here because there is no standards using objective measuring tools. This is why you'll notice brands like Capita leaving weight ranges off of the size chart. Weight Ranges are an over-simplification of a complex concept.

How am I riding?

If all you want to do is hit rails and ride your snowboard like a skateboard, you are going to ride a dramatically shorter board. The Snowboard Industry has turned what many high-level snowboarders have know for years into a marketing idiom: SIZE DOWN.

If you're just looking to cruise, length is only going to help you. Think of a longer effective edge like a wider car tire, you get more grip. The problem is: as length increases, so does core stiffness. Adjust for this by picking a softer board in a longer length 
November 13, 2012 — Bejamin Clarke

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