How to Choose Skis and Ski Length Chart

Carol Ching

Choosing skis can be daunting, but we're here to help you. Picking the right skis begins at the most basic level by knowing what length is appropriate for you. This is strongly influenced by your ability level but also by your riding style and terrain choice. Let us guide you through the process below!
How to Choose Skis and Ski Length Chart

What Length Should My Skis Be?

The length of your ski depends on your height, weight, skiing style & ability. There isn't an exact formula for determining the right size but in general the proper ski length should be between your chin and the top of your head. For example, a skier that is 6' tall will want to look for a skis between 170 - 190 cm. The xact right size for you will depend on your skiing ability and style. Some things to consider as well are the ski category, type of terrain and snow you'll be skiing in. Beginner skiers will tend to want a shorter ski for easier turn initiation and stability, whereas an advance skier will want longer skis.

Ski Sizing Chart

Skier Height (ft) Skier Height (cm) Suggested Ski Lengths (cm) Shop Ski Lengths
4'4" 132 115-130 130-139
4'6" 137 125-140
4'8" 142 130-145 140-149
4'10" 147 135-150
5 152 135-155 150-159
5'2" 158 145-165
5'4" 163 150-170 160-169
5'6" 168 155-175
5'8" 173 160-180 170-179
5'10" 178 165-185
6' 183 170-190 180-189
6'2" 188 175-195
6'4" 193 180-200 190-199

When to Size Up or Size Down your skis

There are several reasons to choose a shorter or longer ski within your size range. A shorter ski provides easier turn initiations however the trade off is less stability at higher speeds. Rockered skis are easier to pivot between turns can be skied slightly longer than camber skis.

Reasons to size shorter

- You are a beginner or intermediate skier

-You weight less than average for your height.

-You like to make short, quick turns, and seldom ski fast.

- You want a carving ski with only camber, no rocker

Reasons to size longer

- You are skiing fast and aggressively.

- You weigh more than average for your height.

- You plan to do the majority of your skiing off the trail.

- You plan to ski a twin-tip ski.

- You want a ski that has a lot of rocker.

Note that different ski brands will measure their lengths differently so there is a possibility that sizing will vary brand to brand.


Skis by Ability Level

Ability level has become somewhat less relevant for choosing skis as ski technology has made it possible for a beginner to ski a much wider variety of skis. Still, there are certainly features that differentiate skis, making them better suited to skiers of different ability levels.

Beginners / Intermediate

Someone who is new to skiing or a skier working on linking smoother turns falls into this ability level. Typical beginner ski qualities include: softer flex, narrower widths, composite, foam or softer wood cores, and capped constructions. The idea is to create a ski that is easy to turn and very forgiving if you do make a mistake. The addition of rocker in the tip and tail tends to make a ski less "hooky" as well as aiding turn initiation.

Shop Beginner Skis



Intermediate / Advance

The majority of skiers and skis fall into this level, whether you like to carve on groomers or venture into the powder. These skis are generally somewhat wider than beginner-intermediate skis, with a stronger wood core and sandwich sidewall construction. Depending on the type of ski, intermediate-advanced level skis may have full camber, rocker, or some combination of the two.

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Advance / Expert

Regardless of terrain choice, advanced to expert level skis are for the more aggressive and skilled skier. You will often find layers of Titanal, carbon, flax, or other materials meant to deliver better performance at speed or in demanding conditions. Advanced-expert skis are generally stiffer both longitudinally and torsionally than intermediate level skis and can be challenging at slower speeds. You'll find expert level carving, park, all-mountain and powder skis with a wide variety of rocker configurations.

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Ski Style, Dimensions & Feel

There are many factors that contribute to the way a ski feels and performs, with a couple of common measurements used to describe them. You will usually see ski dimensions specified by a 3-number measurement for the tip/waist/tail, like 115/90/107mm. In this example 115mm refers to the tip width, 90mm refers to the waist width, and 107mm refers to the tail width. Other factors like flex and feel are more subjective.

Ski Waist Width

The waist width is one of the most commonly referred to specs outside of length. This is the measurement at a ski’s width at the middle (waist) of the ski, which is usually the narrowest point. Waist width has a large influence on how easy the ski is to turn, and how it will handle powder and non-grommed snow. Narrower waist widths are quicker edge to edge during turns, while wider waist widths provide better flotation in powder and choppy snow.



Shop by Ski Waist Width


Ski Turning Radius
Turn radius is the shape of a ski determined by its tip, waist, and tail width, usually expressed in meters. The narrower a ski’s waist is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter the turn radius and therefore the deeper the sidecut. A ski with a deep sidecut (short turn radius) will make quicker turns, while a ski with a subtle sidecut (long turn radius) will turn more slowly and is typically more stable at high speeds. Some modern skis combine two or more radii on a single edge.


Turning Radius Turn Type Ski Type and Ability
<16m Short Carving Skis and All-Mountain/Powder Skis with Tapered Tips and Tails
17-22m Medium All-Mountain Skis, Park & Pipe Skis
>22m Long Powder & Big-Mountain Skis

Ski Rocker & Camber


Camber This is the traditional profile for skis and snowboards. Camber is a slight upward curve in the middle of a ski or board, with the contact points - where an unweighted ski or board contacts the snow - close to the ends. Camber requires more precise turn initiation and offers superb precision with plenty of power on groomed terrain and harder snow. The rider's weight puts an even and concentrated pressure on the edge from tip to tail, resulting in increased edgehold and better "pop." Racers and high level park riders often prefer camber.




Rocker Rocker (also called reverse-camber) is just as it sounds – camber turned upside down. All skis and snowboards, rockered or cambered, when put on edge and weighted in a turn achieve reverse-camber. Cambered skis and boards produce more pressure on the snow at the tip and tail since they have to flex further to achieve this curve. The term rocker is borrowed from watersports where rocker is common. Rocker skis and snowboards offer superior float in the soft snow and increased ease of turn initiation with less chance of "catching" an edge. As skis in general get wider, rocker helps keep the new shapes maneuverable for a wider range of skiers. Wide ski and board shapes designed primarily for powder are often rockered.




Rocker/Flat/Rocker

Rocker/Flat/Rocker is another variation on the rocker theme that seeks to provide a little more hard snow edgehold and pop than full rocker while retaining ease of turning and float. Performance is between a fully rockered ski and a rocker/camber/rocker ski.

Choosing Skis by Terrain Type

It’s important to consider the type of terrain that you will be skiing most often when choosing a pair of skis. Different styles of skis will excel on different areas of the mountain. You will find that the lines between different types of skis are more and more blurred these days so that many skis fall under more than one category.


All-Mountain Skis
As the name suggests, all mountain skis are for skiing the entire mountain. They are designed to handle anything you throw at them including powder, ice, groomers, steeps, heavy snow, and everything in between, but they aren’t necessarily a master of any one terrain or snow type. If you’re only going to own one ski to do it all, this is what you want. That said, all-mountain skis come in a range of shapes and widths to match the specific needs of different skiers. All-mountain skis generally have what we call mid-fat waists that range from 80-110mm. The key is to figure out where you will be spending the majority of your time on the mountain and what type of terrain you like to ski most. Remember, it’s not just about what you ski now but what you aspire to; trust us, today's skis can help you make leaps in ability that will blow you away.

Shop All Mountain Skis


Powder Skis
These skis are for the deep days. If you like to find powder stashes at your local resort, go on backcountry missions for the freshest of fresh or heli ski trips to BC, powder skis are what you need to stay afloat. Skis in the powder category are wide (115 mm or more in the waist) and most often have some form of rocker or early rise plus a relatively soft flex. Some have unique sidecut shapes like reverse sidecut; the tip and tail are not always the widest parts of the ski. Many powder skis today are versatile enough to handle mixed conditions and harder snow.

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Carving Skis
For those that like the classic feeling of laying a ski over on edge and arcing a perfect turn, carving skis are what you want. These skis have narrower waists and shorter turn radii for edge to edge quickness and responsive turn initiation and exit on groomed runs and hard pack. The beginner-intermediate skis in this category are designed to make learning how to turn as easy as going from pizza to French fries.

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Park, Pipe & Jib Skis
Park and pipe skis, often called freestyle skis, are for skiers who spend the majority of their time in the terrain park. If jumps, rails, and jibs of all kinds are your thing then check out this category. Though traditionally park and pipe skis have narrower waists with full camber profiles, this category is incorporating more rocker patterns and different shapes. You will almost always find these skis with twin tips as well as other park specific features like thicker, more durable edges, dense extruded bases, and butter zones.

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Women's Specific Skis
Skis designed specifically for women are typically lighter, softer, and shorter. Women usually have a lower center of gravity and less body mass than men of the same height and therefore exert less leverage and force on their skis. Women’s skis require less force to power and turn; this is accomplished by using thinner, softer cores and less laminate layers in the construction. Also, to tailor the performance to women, mounting positions are often a centimeter or so further forward on these skis. There are plenty of hard charging skis built for women these days and the graphics often feature fewer trucks, skulls and blood than men’s graphics. Of course there is no reason a female skier cannot ski well on a men’s ski, and vice versa.

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