Should My Snowboard Come Up To My Chin? | Measurement Method


Most new snowboarders remember picking out their gear on their very first day of snowboarding. You turn up at the rental shop, and the employee looks you up and down, grabs a board, and stands it beside you. If the board reaches somewhere around the lower half of your face, they give a quick nod and send you on your way. Is this the best way to size up a snowboard?

Using your chin to determine your snowboard length isn’t a particularly accurate way of choosing a board. Board length is determined by more factors than height, and going by length alone won’t guarantee you will end up riding the best board for your level of experience and riding style.

So why do so many people still insist on using the chin as a reference point for working out the correct snowboard size? If it’s not the right way to figure it out, what is?

Where Should My Snowboard Come Up To?

Back in the day, when snowboarding was in its infancy, most new riders would grab a board, stand it on its tail and check how high up it came in relation to their own height.

If the board came up between their nose and chin, it would probably do the trick. And truthfully, for the most part, this was probably an accurate enough system.

Snowboards have evolved dramatically since their inception in the late seventies, starting as little more than a plank of wood with a pointed end and a rope attached to the nose so you wouldn’t lose the thing down the side of a mountain.

It was in the late eighties that anything resembling modern-day bindings arrived on the scene, and board-makers started to think about base flexibility and cambered profiles.

Therefore, picking a board based on where it came up to you on your body was a suitable method at the time.

Other Measurement Methods

As snowboard manufacturers started paying more attention to how different materials and shapes affect board performance, snowboarders embraced the change and took a more “scientific” approach to choosing their board length.

Assuming that most folks need a board between 85-92% of their height, you could multiply a rider’s height by 0.88 and get an accurate length.

If the height measurement was in inches, you’d also need to multiply your figure by 2.54 to convert it into metric measurements. Therefore:

Rider height (inches) x 2.54 x 0.88 = Recommended board length (centimeters) While this might seem more accurate for working out the best snowboard length, don’t let the mathematical approach fool you.

It’s not that the figure won’t give you a rough idea of where to start looking, but it shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

Why? Because although many snowboarders insist on basing board length on body height, it’s not the first metric you should look at.

How Should I Pick My Snowboard Length?

So if your height isn’t the main factor in picking your snowboard length, what do you need to consider when choosing the right base?

1. Flex

Nowadays, snowboard construction is far more complex, with every aspect of a board being painstakingly designed with a specific purpose in mind.

Rather than being made of a single piece of wood, snowboard bases are made from a variety of materials.

Strips of wood usually make up the core, although specialized foam or aluminum honeycombs can also play a part. This is to give the snowboard flexibility.

Snowboards need enough flex to be able to turn and carve in the snow, and your ability to make the board flex enough is dependent on your weight rather than your height.

For this reason, if you visit a snowboard manufacturer’s website and check out their sizing guide, their length recommendations will be based on weight.

If you’re the average weight for your height, using the chin method or the length formula will be relatively accurate, but if you’re over or underweight for your height, it may not give you a reliable outcome.

Flex

2. Ability

Another thing to think about when picking your board length is your ability level. Shorter snowboards make executing quick, sharp turns on the slopes much easier.

For beginners, this can be a huge advantage as learning to link turns is part of the sport’s steep learning curve, and being able to come to a stop quickly is also a big benefit.

While shorter boards lack stability at high speeds, it’s unlikely a beginner will reach that velocity when starting out, so it shouldn’t pose much of a problem.

On the other hand, longer boards are more difficult to turn but let the rider carve far more smoothly and provide that much-needed stability when racing down the mountain.

Many riders start with a slightly shorter board than required and then gradually increase the length as their skills develop.

3. Type Of Riding

The last factor that plays a huge part in determining the correct board length is the type of snowboarding you plan on doing.

If you intend to spend most of your time in the park, high-speed carving isn’t a necessity, and you’re going to want a board that’s easier to get into the air and spin, making a shorter board a more suitable choice.

The easier turning provided by a shorter board also makes them a preferable pick if you like to spend your time riding through forests and need to maneuver between trees and other obstacles at short notice.

If you aim to get as much speed as possible by bombing down groomed slopes, a longer board will give you the stability we mentioned above and let you pick up that extra speed through drawn-out, smooth carves.

A longer snowboard is also better if you’re going to be surfing through deep powder, as the greater surface area of the base helps the board float and prevents it from sinking into the snow.

A longer snowboard also means you can move your binding setup further back over the board’s tail to make it even easier to stay on top of the powder.

What Else Should I Factor In?

Once you’ve settled on your perfect board length, you can look at some of the other key features that will affect your riding experience.

1. Width

The width of your snowboard will affect its surface area, which plays an important part in flotation if you’re riding in deep snow.

The width of a base will also impact the depth of the arcs on the side of a snowboard, which affects how quickly you can turn.

However, your boot size is arguably the most important factor in choosing the correct width. If your feet are too small for your board, you’ll have to work a lot harder to engage the edges.

If your feet are too big, you’re at risk of catching your heels and toes in the snow when you turn, which, at best, will slow you down and, at worst, cause you to trip over and may result in an injury.

2. Profile

The profile of a board is the shape the base makes when you look at it side-on.

Old-school flat camber profiles are hard to come by in modern boards; they’re great for groomed slopes and beginners but drag too much for riding powder.

A traditional camber is a solid all-mountain option that provides aggressive edge control and good pop for tricks but can be a little too much for beginners.

A rocker profile is more forgiving and can help with flotation on deep snow, but it lacks the stability for racing and sticking the landings of tricks.

While these are the three main types of snowboard profiles, modern bases come in various hybrid options to let riders fine-tune their performance.

Profile

3. Flex

While the flex of a board is generally determined by a snowboard’s length, modern construction techniques and materials mean manufacturers can provide a range of flex options regardless of length.

Freestyle riders who love buttery tricks and street-style jibbing are more likely to go for a super-flexible board, whereas a stiffer board is better for quick, off-piste riding.

A softer flex also makes turning easier for beginners.

Conclusion

While using your chin, or any facial feature, as a method of determining the right snowboard length may give you a reasonable size recommendation, it’s generally seen as an archaic way of picking a board.

The main issue is that it implies you’re choosing your board length based on your height, which isn’t the best metric for selecting a suitable board size and suggests you may be picking a board based on its length alone.

By looking at each aspect of board design and thinking about what you want from your snowboard, you will have a much better time out on the mountain.

Snowboarding Help

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not digging my head deep into the world of snowboarding, tricks, techniques, and related safety measures.

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