Choosing the right pair of skis seems easy, but there are a few intricacies you need to consider before you rent your next pair of skis – or go all out and make a big purchase. Check out our Ski Size Chart and Ski Size Guide below to help you find the best pair of skis based on your level of ability, riding style and personal terrain preferences.
Picking the best skis for you starts with knowing what length is appropriate for you. Length of skis is determined by your current height, weight, skiing ability and skiing style. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, there are some general guidelines to follow.
Basically, the correct ski length is somewhere between your chin and the top of your head when the skis are standing up in front of you. If the skis come to your chin, that’s considered on the shorter side. If the skis extend up to your forehead or the top of your head, it’s a little longer. Middle ground would be somewhere in the nose/eye area.
Using this principle, the proper ski length for someone 6 feet tall would be somewhere between 170 centimeters (cm) and 190 centimeters (cm).
Generally, beginner skiers will want shorter skis, while more advanced skiers should consider longer skis. (This is mainly because shorter skis are more maneuverable while longer ski improve performance on the mountain.)
Based on the above, the following ski size chart shows the appropriate length of skis for beginners and intermediate/advanced skiers based on their height.
If you have skied before and remember your ski size, or if you have your own skis, consider if you like the length or would prefer a shorter or longer ski. Keep in mind that a 2-3cm length change won’t make a significant difference on the mountain. When you begin to adjust 5cm or more (plus or minus), you should begin to feel a difference when you cruise. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking at Volkl or any other brand. The formula is the same.
As a ski sizing guide, you may want to consider a longer ski if you want to ski faster with an improved float. “Floating” occurs in high performance skiing when the energy generated between turns creates a sense of weightlessness. Heavier skiers who need more stability should consider longer skis to improve balance. Aggressive, expert skiers prefer longer skis for their stability and performance in big powder. Longer skis are also good if you want to go fast, or simply feel like your skis are too short. (Think of it like having shirt sleeves that are too short, or a shirt tail that doesn’t go down far enough. It can be persistently annoying!)
Skiers who might want skis on the shorter side might think their current skis are just too long and clunky. Shorter skis are easier to make short, quick turns but not as stable as a longer ski that’s needed to go fast. Shorter skis are more maneuverable and ideal for beginners and casual skiers, as well as individuals who are below average weight for their height.
When using this ski sizing guide, remember, ski size can play an important role for skiers who are getting their legs under them. Typically, newer skiers prefer shorter skis because they are easier to handle and make turns. Beginner skis are usually crafted from lighter materials like foam, softer woods and composites – and are made more narrow in the waist – so they are not such a strain on the rider. (We all remember how gassed our legs get when we’re just starting out!) Recent technological advances like rocker tips help make skis easier to handle, too… even on the long runs found at Vail.
Intermediate and advanced skiers often prefer longer skis for their ability to carve up groomers and crush powder stashes on the front and back side of the mountain. Longer skis have a stronger wood core, sandwich sidewall construction, and a full camber, rocker, or both to improve performance. High performance skis are made with state-of-the-art materials like Titanal, carbon and flax to deliver peak performance to aggressive skiers, even in the most demanding conditions.
When shopping for skis, you’re likely to see a three-number measurement sticker or labeling on them – something like 115/90/107mm. This is a common measurement description based on the tip width (115mm), waist width (90mm) and tail width (107mm). The tip of the ski is the top part, or the part that extends out in front of you when you ski. The waist is more in the middle of the ski and the tail is the back, or the part that extends behind you as you ride.
The waist width plays a large role in how easy the ski turns and how it handles in powder and non-groomed snow conditions. A waist that is narrower allows for quicker turns edge to edge. A wider waist gives better flotation on powder and rough snow.
You may want to size your skis based on the type of terrain you plan to ski.