How to Choose Ski Length: Making Sure you Get it Right

September 27, 2019 by Nadine |  0 Comments

How to Choose Ski LengthWhen picking a soulmate pair of skis, the first step in the process is finding the right length ski. Ski length is influenced by several factors. This post will help to show you how to choose ski length – or at least point you in the right direction.

The first factor to establish is what type of skiing enjoy the most. The other factors include your height, weight, and skiing ability level.

Ski technology is so advanced that finding your most personalized ski length can get pretty exact. The tricky part is pinpointing all of the factors that go into the equation for the perfect length.

Our Method

Whilst there are lot of factors, and it’s a relatively complex topic, we have provided a method you can use to pinpoint a good ski length range for you. If you want to block out all the extra info, you can use the beginner, intermediate and expert ski charts below and add and subtract length, by following the guidelines under those charts. Reading the example is helpful too. Do this and you should find a ski length that will help you to ski/progress at your best.

Ski Length Charts

The following charts in this article are meant to act as a guideline to help you get in the range of which length of ski is best for you. We start with your weight and height and as your read on, add up the additional points (given in centimeters) that will factor into the adjustment of the length to fit your personal preferences.

But first let’s look at a couple of charts. The first one based on weight and the second based on height.

Weight

Weight Length (cm)
>100lbs (47kg) 140
105-115lbs (48-52kg) 145
115-130lbs (53-58kg) 150
130-145lbs (59-65kg) 155
145-160lbs (66-73kg) 160
160-180lbs (74-82kg) 165
180lbs< (83kg) 170

*Chart and point system borrowed from FreeRide.

Height

Height Length (cm)
>60in (>152cm) 145
60-62in (152-158cm) 150
62-64in (158-163cm) 155
64-66in (163-168cm) 160
66-68in (168-173cm) 165
68-70in (173-178cm)< 175
70-74in (178-188cm) 185
74in (188cm)< 195

*Chart borrowed from Backcountry.com.

These are useful starting points, but what if you’re 183cm tall and weigh 160lbs (75kg). One chart says to go 185cm and the other says to go 165. So which do you use as your starting point?

That’s why we developed the following tables for an easier/more accurate way to get your starting point based on your weight and height. There are 3 charts below:

  • Beginner;
  • Intermediate; and
  • Advanced/Expert

So first decide what your ability level – use this to help you discover it, then once you have your starting point, read on to further fine tune your length according to your style, the terrain you typically ski and how aggressive/playfully you like to ski.

Beginner Ski Length Charts

The left colum shows height in feet/inches with the 2nd column showing the equivalent height in cms. The Top row shows weight in pounds (with the equivalent weight in kilograms in the brackets)

100lb (45kg) 110lb (50kg) 120lb (54kg) 130lb  (59kg) 140lb (64kg) 150lb  (68kg) 160lb (73kg) 170lb (77kg) 180lb  (81kg)
5′ 0″ 152cm 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143
5′ 1″ 155cm 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146
5′ 2″ 157cm 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148
5′ 3″ 160cm 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151
5′ 4″ 163cm 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153
5′ 5″ 165cm 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156
5′ 6″ 168cm 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158
5′ 7″ 170cm 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161
5′ 8″ 173cm 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164
5′ 9″ 175cm 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166
5′ 10″ 178cm 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
5′ 11″ 180cm 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171
6′ 0″ 183cm 168 169 170 171 172 173 174
6′ 1″ 185cm 171 172 173 174 175 176
6′ 2″ 188cm 175 176 177 178 179
6′ 3″ 191cm 178 179 180 181
6′ 4″ 193cm 182 183 184
190 (86) 200 (91) 210 (95) 220 (100) 230 (104) 240 (109) 250 (113) 260 (118) 270 (122)
5′ 0″ 152 144 145 146 147
5′ 1″ 155 147 148 149 150
5′ 2″ 157 149 150 151 152 152
5′ 3″ 160 152 153 154 155 155 156
5′ 4″ 163 154 155 156 157 157 158 158
5′ 5″ 165 157 158 159 160 160 161 161 162
5′ 6″ 168 159 160 161 162 162 163 163 164
5′ 7″ 170 162 163 164 165 165 166 166 167 167
5′ 8″ 173 165 166 167 168 168 169 169 170 170
5′ 9″ 175 167 168 169 170 170 171 171 172 172
5′ 10″ 178 170 171 172 173 173 174 174 175 175
5′ 11″ 180 172 173 174 175 175 176 176 177 177
6′ 0″ 183 175 176 177 178 178 179 179 180 180
6′ 1″ 185 177 178 179 180 180 181 181 182 182
6′ 2″ 188 180 181 182 183 183 184 184 185 185
6′ 3″ 191 182 183 184 185 185 186 186 187 187
6′ 4″ 193 185 186 187 188 188 189 189 190 190

Intermediate Ski Length Charts

100 (45) 110 (50) 120 (54) 130 (59) 140 (64) 150 (68) 160 (73) 170 (77) 180 (81)
5′ 0″ 152 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147
5′ 1″ 155 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150
5′ 2″ 157 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152
5′ 3″ 160 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155
5′ 4″ 163 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157
5′ 5″ 165 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160
5′ 6″ 168 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162
5′ 7″ 170 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165
5′ 8″ 173 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
5′ 9″ 175 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170
5′ 10″ 178 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173
5′ 11″ 180 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175
6′ 0″ 183 172 173 174 175 176 177 178
6′ 1″ 185 175 176 177 178 179 180
6′ 2″ 188 179 180 181 182 183
6′ 3″ 191 182 183 184 185
6′ 4″ 193 186 187 188
190 (86) 200 (91) 210 (95) 220 (100) 230 (104) 240 (109) 250 (113) 260 (118) 270 (122)
5′ 0″ 152 148 149 150 151
5′ 1″ 155 151 152 153 154
5′ 2″ 157 153 154 155 156 156
5′ 3″ 160 156 157 158 159 159 160
5′ 4″ 163 158 159 160 161 161 162 162
5′ 5″ 165 161 162 163 164 164 165 165 166
5′ 6″ 168 163 164 165 166 166 167 167 168
5′ 7″ 170 166 167 168 169 169 170 170 171 171
5′ 8″ 173 169 170 171 172 172 173 173 174 174
5′ 9″ 175 171 172 173 174 174 175 175 176 176
5′ 10″ 178 174 175 176 177 177 178 178 179 179
5′ 11″ 180 176 177 178 179 179 180 180 181 181
6′ 0″ 183 179 180 181 182 182 183 183 184 184
6′ 1″ 185 181 182 183 184 184 185 185 186 186
6′ 2″ 188 184 185 186 187 187 188 188 189 189
6′ 3″ 191 186 187 188 189 189 190 190 191 191
6′ 4″ 193 189 190 191 192 192 193 193 194 194

Advanced to Expert Ski Length Chart

100 (45) 110 (50) 120 (54) 130 (59) 140 (64) 150 (68) 160 (73) 170 (77) 180 (81)
5′ 0″ 152 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151
5′ 1″ 155 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154
5′ 2″ 157 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156
5′ 3″ 160 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159
5′ 4″ 163 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161
5′ 5″ 165 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164
5′ 6″ 168 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166
5′ 7″ 170 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
5′ 8″ 173 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172
5′ 9″ 175 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174
5′ 10″ 178 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177
5′ 11″ 180 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179
6′ 0″ 183 176 177 178 179 180 181 182
6′ 1″ 185 179 180 181 182 183 184
6′ 2″ 188 183 184 185 186 187
6′ 3″ 191 186 187 188 189
6′ 4″ 193 190 191 192
190 (86) 200 (91) 210 (95) 220 (100) 230 (104) 240 (109) 250 (113) 260 (118) 270 (122)
5′ 0″ 152 152 153 154 155
5′ 1″ 155 155 156 157 158
5′ 2″ 157 157 158 159 160 160
5′ 3″ 160 160 161 162 163 163 164
5′ 4″ 163 162 163 164 165 165 166 166
5′ 5″ 165 165 166 167 168 168 169 169 170
5′ 6″ 168 167 168 169 170 170 171 171 172
5′ 7″ 170 170 171 172 173 173 174 174 175 175
5′ 8″ 173 173 174 175 176 176 177 177 178 178
5′ 9″ 175 175 176 177 178 178 179 179 180 180
5′ 10″ 178 178 179 180 181 181 182 182 183 183
5′ 11″ 180 180 181 182 183 183 184 184 185 185
6′ 0″ 183 183 184 185 186 186 187 187 188 188
6′ 1″ 185 185 186 187 188 188 189 189 190 190
6′ 2″ 188 188 189 190 191 191 192 192 193 193
6′ 3″ 191 190 191 192 193 193 194 194 195 195
6′ 4″ 193 193 194 195 196 196 197 197 198 198

The above charts are based on a skier that is in the middle of playful and aggressive, that skis all varieties of terrain and doesn’t have any existing preferences for going shorter or longer. It might be that the size you gain from these charts is the size that you go with – but there are some other things to factor in that will help to fine tune that length decision.

Also, we will look at using a ski length range as well (see example below), rather than a fixed number. More on that below.

Note: Women specific skis are lighter, softer, and shorter because the ski industry assumes women have a lower center of gravity and less body mass than men of the same height. Those with less body mass typically exert less leverage and force down upon their skis. In addition, women’s ski bindings are mounted further forward on the skis. All that said, if you fit better or feel more comfortable on a men’s ski, or if you are a man and fit better on a women’s ski, you do you and ride the ski that works best for you!

Ski Style/Terrain

Next, decide what style of skiing you enjoy most. Each style will have optimal performance at a particular length, which coordinates with the other factors listed in this article.

Most skiers enjoy many types of skiing and not just limiting themselves to one. Either they buy separate skis for each style they enjoy, or they will opt for the all-mountain style of ski so they can easily accommodate multiple ski styles. But even an all-mountain ski will lack the ability to perform at maximum capacity for all the disciplines, so there will still be some compromises.

Below, find the style of skiing you enjoy and add the appropriate length to your base number or range:

Ski Racing: +5-10cm

Powder/Off Groomer: +2-5cm

Touring: +2-5cm

All-Mountain: +2cm

Hard packed/Groomers/Carving: -2cm

Terrain Park: -2-5cm

Ski Ability Level

Ski ability level is less relevant today than it used to be for determining ski length. Today, the technology can make up for any faults in the ski which would have made it more difficult for a beginner to learn on a certain style or type of ski. However, a beginner ski should still include the basic beginner qualities: a softer flex, narrow width, and a shorter ski. Beginners will appreciate a ski that turns easier and will forgive the small mistakes without catching a ski edge and causing a frustrating and unnecessary fall.

See the 3 charts above (beginner, intermediate and advanced/expert) to help determine your length based on ability.

Related: >>Top 10 Men’s Beginner Skis

Related: >>Top 10 Women’s Beginner Skis

How Playful/Aggressive are you?

Depending on how you like to ski, you might want to add or subtract some length from the length you found in the charts:

Playful: -2cm

In Between: +0cm

Aggressive: +2cm

An Example to Tie it All Together

OK, so let’s take a look at an example so we can look at this more clearly. Let’s say you are:

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 170lbs

Ability: Expert

Style/Terrain: All-Mountain

Aggressive/Playful: Aggressive

OK taking this info, we can see on the chart, as an expert skier at 5’10” and 170lbs, that you get 176cm as your starting point.

Now we add +2cm as an all-mountain skier and +2cm as an aggressive skier. So you now have a length of 180cm. 

Length Range

This of course doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy skis that are 180cm long. That might restrict the type of skis/brand/model that you want to buy. Instead it makes more sense to look at a range. So instead of just looking at skis that are 180cm long, look at:

  •  a range between 177 & 183cm

Some Additional Things

Here are some additional things to consider as well.

When to Make Additional Sizing Adjustments

After weighing all of the factors, there may still be additional reasons to size your ski shorter or longer. For example, a long skinny ski can have the same bearing surface as a short and fat ski, thereby throwing our guideline out the window almost entirely. Additional sizing adjustments can be made to accommodate a particular width, ski flexibility, rocker and camber, and even the design materials.

Generally though, stiffer skis suit individuals of heavier weight and those more aggressive skiers. More flexible skis cater to individuals of lighter weight and beginner ski ability. A ski with a more rocker in the rocker/camber profile, by definition, has a short effective edge. With this type of shorter edge, you may prefer to ski a longer ski, thereby allowing yourself more room for a longer effective edge. Different design materials effect the weight and flex of a pair of skis and may change the length calculations.

A Note on Brands

Model to model of the same ski brand will have different ski features and similar models of different brands will not have comparable features. Different brands may also measure length in different ways, so when switching from brand to brand, make sure to find your proper ski length size. Once you find the right ski length, you will find that skiing will become easier and you will be more proficient in all snow conditions.


In Conclusion

There are many factors to consider:

Shorter skis will be easier to turn while longer skis will have more stability at higher speeds. If you are a more experienced and aggressive skier, lean towards the longer ski size. If you are a less aggressive and more of a beginner or intermediate skier, air towards a shorter length.

You may consider a shorter ski if:

  • You are a beginner skier or on the lower end of the immediate skier range.
  • If your weight is less than average for your height.
  • If your skiing movement, aside from your ski style, are short and quick turns at high speeds.

You may consider a longer ski if:

  • You prefer to ski fast and aggressively.
  • Your weight is more than average for your height.
  • You ski off groomers and hard pack snow and prefer skiing in the woods or off-piste majority of the time.
  • If you want skis with a lot of rocker.

As with anything in life, there are always exceptions to the rules. And, since these are more of guidelines anyway, note that whatever works for you is what is best. Our guideline is meant to help you find the perfect combination of factors to determine the ski length that will allow you to ski at your best.

If you want the easiest way to do it and your really not sure, follow through the example above, using the charts and the various adjustments to find your best ski length range.


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choosing ski length, How to Choose Ski Length, how to choose the right sized skis


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