What Size Skis Do I Need

Kate Bailey
Ski Size Chart

With the dizzying array of skis on the market, the most important question you need to ask yourself is: what size skis do I need? While it is easy to leave this decision up to the guy or gal at your local ski shop, there are many discounts online, so it is wise to know exactly what size skis you need before investing in a new pair.

Determing the Right Ski Size for You

First ask yourself a few important questions so you know what will perfectly fit your skill level, height and weight.

Skill Level

This is an incredibly important factor when determining the size and shape of ski you need. General skill categories include:

  • Beginner/intermediate
  • Intermediate/advanced
  • Advanced/expert

Don't try to overestimate your ability or you will end up with skis that are difficult to maneuver.

Surface

You can choose from an all-mountain ski that can handle everything from expert steeps and bumps to groomers. If you are a back-country powder hound then your ski size will vary greatly from someone who is a beginner/intermediate skier. Again, be honest with yourself because the right ski will help you master any type of terrain.

Gender Specific

There are so many women's skis on the market that it is worth looking at the various options. These skis are specifically designed with an emphasis on a woman's body, size, shape and lower center of mass. Because women weigh less compared to their height, their skis need to be more flexible than a man's to have the same optimum turn capacity. They are also lighter in weight and more flexible.

Shape

When asking yourself, what size skis do I need, consider also the shape of the ski. With all of the latest technology, you can choose from an incredible variety of shapes, including double cambered skis, sidecut, hourglass, etc. The shape you choose depends on the purpose of the ski. One with more sidecut will make it easier to carve turns. However, if you choose a deeper sidecut ski, you will also need to make sure your ski is shorter so that you can execute quicker turns. Double cambered skis, which have recently appeared on the market, are specifically designed for powder and are much longer than shaped skis.

Length

There is no "right size" when it comes to your height and weight, but one basic rule is to choose a ski that hits somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. Pro and expert skiers traditionally choose skis that are a little taller than their height, while beginner/intermediate can choose a length that is closer to their chin.

Keep in mind a couple of basic rules when picking the right ski length.

  1. If you weigh more, look for longer skis
  2. The better skier you are, the longer your skis should be because you will likely ski faster and the longer skis deal with vibration better
  3. Shaped skis with a significant sidecut should be shorter than straight versions

Using a printable ski size chart that you can take with you shopping is a great option. Also, online ski length calculators can do the math quickly for you!

Choose Shorter Skis If:

  • You are a beginner or intermediate skier
  • You are a lighter weight than average for your height
  • You like to make short, quick turns, such as bump skiing
  • You like a stiff ski

Choose Longer Skis If:

  • You ski fast and aggressively
  • You weigh more than average for your height
  • You do a lot of backcountry skiing, or prefer difficult, expert terrain
  • You like a softer ski

Do Your Homework

The most important thing to remember when choosing skis is to do a lot of homework. This is a big investment and the right size, shape and quality of skis you choose will greatly enhance your skiing experience, no matter how long you have been swishing down the slopes.

What Size Skis Do I Need