Our ski size calculator is designed to help you choose the perfect gear to make one of the most popular winter activities even more enjoyable. Knowing how to size skis can make a real difference to your experience. As you probably know, they're not just some strips of plastic that you can randomly wear.

Read on to find out how to find the ski length for your height, experience level, and different types of skis (there are more than you'd expect!) and terrain. We have a built-in ski size chart in our tool just for that reason.

How do ski sizes work?

Believe it or not, some of us aren't so fond of summer and count days left until winter instead. Indeed, it's cold, and the days are shorter, but there are several fun activities limited to this season (or snowy places), such as building a snowman, sledding or skiing. The latter is split into various types - even more the reason to implement sizing to account for different types of skis to know exactly what size skis should I buy.

Now that we know why, let's find out how to determine ski size.

You usually pick the ski length for height. Some people choose their gear based on that, but we recommend considering other variables for more accuracy. Weight, experience, terrain, and style all affect the final size. For instance, racing skis tend to be the longest in order to reach high speeds but also lack versatility.

Ski sizes are typically given in centimeters. That's also the case in our ski size calculator, but you can easily convert it to another unit if you prefer.

What size skis do I need? How to size skis?

One thing is knowing how ski sizes work, another is choosing the right ski length for yourself. We'll show you step by step how this number is found:

  1. Find your height in centimeters.

  2. Estimate your weight, ideally in pounds to simplify the calculations. If it's between 100 - 119 lbs (45.4 - 54 kg), it won't change the ski size. Otherwise, add 1 cm to your height for every additional 10 lbs from that range or subtract it if you weigh less.

  3. Determine your ability level:

    • Beginner - Beginner ski length should be shorter as they're easier to control and more forgiving if you make a mistake. Subtract 17 cm.
    • Intermediate - Feeling confident, but not enough to call yourself an expert? If you can ski on groomed slopes at different paces and remain in control, you can afford a bit longer ski length for your height. Subtract 13 cm.
    • Advanced - Although there are many definitions, generally, advanced skiers are confident on various terrains and under all snow conditions. Subtract 9 cm - longer skis will allow you to enjoy higher paces and offer more stability.
  4. Think about your skiing style:

    • Easy-going - This applies if your pace is relaxed and you opt for smooth slopes. Subtract 2 cm.
    • Average - This is you if you still choose a recreational setting, but with more variety of speeds and terrains. Most people fall into this category, so it doesn't change the ski length.
    • Aggressive - If you like to go fast and to have a go at steep slopes, that's you. You may want to add 2 cm so that you can reach higher speeds more easily.
  5. Consider what you'll use the skis for:

    • All-Mountain - As the name suggests, they're the most versatile and should serve you well on every terrain on the mountain. This will probably be your choice if you don't want to limit yourself to one application but don't wish to invest in multiple different types of skis either. Add 2 cm.
    • Groomers and carving - This type is the most popular amongst recreational skiers. They're narrower than all-mountain skis, responsive, easy to turn, and suitable for all levels. Subtract 2 cm.
    • Off groomer (powder) - These are meant to keep you afloat if you want to ski despite powder stashes at the resort, prefer the wilderness of the backcountry, or enjoy heli-ski trips. Add 2 - 5 cm.
    • (Alpine) Touring - It's similar to backcountry skiing but excludes the use of any lift, so your gear needs to allow you to also go uphill (a good way to burn more calories, too). If you're not sure, it's better to go shorter, so the skis are more maneuverable - better safe than sorry! Add 2 - 5 cm.
    • Racing - They're typically the longest skis, resulting in a longer turn radius. Stiffness allows them to handle high speeds and a lot of pressure but makes them difficult to work with for inexperienced skiers. Add 5 - 10 cm.
    • Terrain parks - Terrain parks are like skateparks but snowy. If you want to perform tricks, the more control you have, the better. Shorter skis will give you that and allow for quick turns with a small radius - subtract 2 - 5 cm.
  6. Congratulations! You've found the answer to "what size skis do I need?"!

Bear in mind that this number isn't fixed and there is no definite answer to the question how to know what size skis to buy. Any pair within the range +/- 3 cm should be suitable. Sizing may also vary between different brands, similarly to clothes.

Choosing the right ski length with ski size calculator - an example of the ski size chart

There are many variables to consider when it comes to how to determine ski size; it's easy to get confused. We appreciate it, so we've prepared an example to make this decision easier and hopefully clarify how the ski size calculator works.

If you're going to ski for the first time, you probably won't buy anything just yet, but knowing your size should still be helpful. You may have the chance to borrow the gear from someone, but would it be suitable for you? Perhaps it's better to rent?

In this scenario, we're looking for a beginner ski length. You'll want to be easy-going, or cautious, to begin with, and it's unlikely that you'll go off the main slope, so carving ski should be the right choice. Let's assume that you're 5' 6" (170 cm) and weigh 133 lbs (60.3 kg). How to know what size skis to buy or borrow?

Inputting this into the ski size calculator tells us that the ideal size lies within the range 149 - 155 cm. Borrowing skis from someone intermediate may not be the best idea unless they're shorter or lighter.

FAQ

How to size cross-country skis?

Slightly different rules govern cross-country skis. To find your size:

  1. Find your height in centimeters.

  2. Specify the use:

    • For classic cross-country, add 20 - 30 cm; and
    • For skating, add 10 - 15 cm.

    The less experience you have, the shorter your skis should be.

  3. The result is your ski size.

How to size skis for youth?

The general rule is that junior skis should measure between the child's chest and nose.

Choose shorter skis if your child is a novice, weighs less than the average for their height, or is learning how to turn. Longer skis are suitable if your child weighs a bit more or is advanced and likes to keep the fast pace.

Can a man use women's skis?

Absolutely. Men's skis are usually heavier and wider; they also come in different size ranges. If your build is small, skis advertised for women might be a better choice. It also works the other way round.

What is the ski size for a 5' 8", 150-lb female?

A 5' 8", 150-lb female should look for skis 163-cm long if we assume that she's just a casual skier on a beginner level.

Michael Darcy
Height
ft
in
Weight
lb
Ability level
Beginner
Skiing style
Easy-going
Use
All-Mountain
Size
cm
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