So your friends want to go “shred the gnar” and after some Google searching you found out that what they’re really saying is “let’s go skiing”. Great, but how are you going to find the best skis for you? You stand a head above everyone you know and there’s no way finding the right snowboard or skis is going to be easy.
Don’t worry, it’s really not difficult to identify the best skis and snowboards for taller individuals so whether you’re buying for yourself or as a gift for a tall person you know, this article will help you decide which skis are right for your height.
What Makes Skis or Boards Good for Taller People?
We’re going to cover a few of the most important criteria that should be your focal specifications for purchasing considerations when looking for the perfect skis or boards for that taller person.
Don’t be intimidated by all the technical jargon, just focus on what we’re about to cover and you’ll be in the clear for that next ski trip!
Whether you’re buying skis or a snowboard, length is one of the most important factors when choosing your new equipment. Remember, weight is important also – if you’re light for your height, then you may want to go a bit shorter, if you’re a little heavier for your height then go a bit longer.
New skiers: size your skis by measuring the distance from your chin to the ground in centimeters. This is a good length to get started.
Advanced Skiers: your skis can vary from shorter than chin length to taller than head height depending on what you want to do. Shorter skis will be quicker and more agile, longer skis will be more stable at speed and float better in powder.
New Boarders: Measure your board in the same way as new skiers – from chin to ground in centimeters.
Advanced Boarders: You’ll want to consider things like riding style and snow conditions. Deeper and softer snow means a longer (or fatter) board for more float may be necessary.
There are many factors which may impact length choice, but for general ballpark the following is true:
- Easier to turn
- Shorter, snappier turns
- Less stable at speed
- Less float in powder
- More stable at speed
- More effort to turn
- Larger turn radius
- Better float in soft snow
Width and Sidecut
Skis and snowboards today are hourglass shaped, the difference in width between the middle section (underfoot) and the tip / tail is known as the sidecut. The more sidecut, the more easily your ski or board is going to want to turn on edge. Aggressive sidecut is ideal for ripping tight, carved turns on edge with your skis or board.
Generally, when addressing the width of your skis or board, pros will talk about the most narrow width. This is usually sufficient to understand the general characteristics of your tool.
Here are the types of skiing or boarding in which each width and sidecut excel:
- Aggressive Sidecut
- Narrow Underfoot Width
- Wider is better!
- Less sidecut
Crud and Ice (East Coast Skiing)
- Moderate sidecut for turning power
- Moderate width for stability
- Generally, minimal sidecut
- Generally, moderate width
A wider ski is going to support the taller, or heavier skier more easily. With snowboards the same rule of thumb holds true – you’ll probably want something a little wider than your shorter friends. You’ll notice the effects of this more when skiing off-piste than on groomers.
Bindings and DIN Settings
For taller skiers you’ll want a binding which is capable of DIN settings from about 6-12. Talk to the pros at your local ski shop for the details on DIN settings. These are really important to your safety and health as a skier so don’t attempt to choose your own DIN settings.
Whenever possible, look for bindings which feature lateral heal release. This is a relatively new feature and only available on a few bindings right now but it can save you from some nasty knee injuries. The extra money is well worth the safety!
Ski Boots and Snowboard Boots
These are definitely something you’ll need to go to the outfitter to get fitted properly. There’s no good way to size your own ski boots and sizing varies depending on skill level and often between manufacturers.
I would advise the new skier or boarder to go in and get fitted properly for the right pair of boots. Most boot shops will even adjust your boots for you after purchasing so go ski for a day and make sure they fit right. If not, go revisit the pro shop and have them make a few modifications so you can get just the right fit!
Hot tip: You wouldn’t tuck your tall hoodie in to your pants so don’t be a goose by tucking your pants in to your boots!
Camber or Rocker?
This is a relatively new trend in skis and boards since about 2000. Camber versus rocker is another consideration in choosing the best skis or boards but it’s something which is largely unaffected by your height.
Generally speaking, the beginner skier or boarder should look for a traditional rockered ski or board.
Don’t let the decision weigh you down, however, because rockered skis and boards don’t see much use outside of freestyle and park skiing.
Ski Poles for Tall People
Size your poles for skiing by heading over to the pro shop and grabbing the poles with a closed fist where the basket comes to rest on top of your fist and the handle hangs down toward the ground. With the top of the ski pole touching the floor, you want your arm to hang at a right angle with your fist under the basket.
Now, if you’re just getting started, save yourself some money and just get the cheapest pair of fiberglass poles you can find. I bought my first pair for something like $15 and despite entering my fifth year of full time professional ski instruction, that pair of poles is the only pair which has survived!
Expensive poles have a nasty tendency of being stolen, misplaced, or destroyed.
Ultimately each person must choose a ski or board based entirely upon your weight, height, ability level, and preferred ski or ride style.
The one-ski-quiver is a myth. There is no one single board or ski which will adequately cover all abilities or riding styles.
Taller or heavier generally means longer and / or wider skis and boards. This can be countered, however, if your preferred riding style is frontside carving or if your ability level is quite good.
It’s never a bad idea to rent your skis for a while until you get a sense of how you like to ski and how rapidly your skills are developing.
An industry insider secret – ask your local resort if they have a demo program, often times resorts partner with ski brands to offer free hour-long demo testing of skis. This is a great way to try half a dozen different skis in a single day, totally free!