What Size Skis Do Kids Need?

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Looking to get some new kid’s skis, but have no idea what size to get?  I’m here to help!  As a former professional ski instructor and mom of 5, I’ve helped hundreds of parents figure out the right size of skis for their kids.  While the size of your kids’ skis can be pretty important, the good news is that it’s easy to figure out the best size of kids skis for your child!

little kid carrying skis

This article gets right to the point because there’s a lot of confusion around the subject of kids skis. Just recently, I got a phone call from a friend asking me what size skis I thought her daughter needed. I told her and she said that they had just left a ski shop and the employee there insisted that their 4-year-old daughter needed skis that were about 30cm longer than they should have been. Getting kids the right size of skis not only makes it easier for them to learn to ski, but they’ll get less tired during the day and figure out new skills more easily.

Does Kids Ski Length Matter?

Yes, kid’s ski length is really important…up to a certain point.  When we’re figuring out the best ski size for a child, there’s always a little bit of a range that could fit them best.  Skis that are on the longer end of the range tend to be more aggressive and suitable for more advanced skiers and skis on the shorter end are more conservative and better for lower ski levels.  To figure out the right size of skis for kids, you’ll need to factor in their age, weight, height, and experience level.  

kids skis

Using Kids’ Height to Determine Ski Length

Using a child’s height to determine ski length is one of the best measures that you can use to figure out the right size of kid’s skis.  Height is one of the most important factors to consider with ski length.  

The ideal size for most kid’s skis is somewhere between their neck and their nose.  It doesn’t have to be exact. 

upright ski carry

All you have to do is stand the ski up next to your child and if the skis are somewhere between their neck and their nose, then it’s a good size for them. Don’t worry about being exact here, as long as the ski falls somewhere within this area then you should be fine.

It’s generally accepted that smaller skis that fall closer to the neck area are best for younger and inexperienced skiers.  For toddlers and really young kids, their skis can be as short as their upper chest (though it can sometimes to hard to find them that small).   If you aren’t sure when your child should start skiing, read our article on the best age to teach kids to ski. Naturally then, if you’re child has a few years skiing under their belts and is a more advanced skier, you can go for longer skis that end in the forehead area.  

kids skiing at Nordic Valley
Notice that our little 4-yare-old has skis that are about shoulder height, and his older brothers have skis that are about nose height. Age, height, and skill all make a big difference in choosing the best size.

Using Kid’s Ski Ability To Determine Ski Length

Different ability levels of skiers need different lengths of skis.  Here are our general rules for picking a kid’s ski length, based on ability. 

Beginner skiers will always have an easier time learning how to ski with a shorter ski.  For kids who are just learning how to ski, their skis should be around shoulder-to-neck height.  The one major exception is that kids who are 4 or under should have skis that are chest-to-shoulder height to cut down on weight. Once your kids start skiing intermediate terrain, they can move onto a longer length if they really need it.

Little boy skiing in the mountains

Intermediate skiers will start to benefit from having somewhat longer skis.  Longer skis allow them to make bigger more controlled turns, and will help them to be more stable.  We recommend that intermediate skiers have skis that are neck-to-nose height.

stopping on the side of the trail on skis

Advanced skiers can ski all conditions and are starting to pick up speed.  While they will usually have the ability to ski a longer ski, it’s not always necessary.  For kids who do a lot of mogul skiing, they’ll probably want a shorter ski.  Kids who like to race fast down the mountain will want a longer ski.  At this skill level, it’s a great idea to try out a few different lengths in the terrain that your kids like to ski, and then choose which ones are the best fit.   

Honeycomb Canyon Solitude Utah

Should I Consider Kid’s Weight When Choosing Skis?

When adults are choosing the best skis, their weight can play a major role.  However, with kids, it’s a less important factor, since there is less variability between kids.  As a general rule, here’s what we recommend considering when it comes to kids weight and skis:

For kids who are significantly lighter weight than average, a shorter ski can help because they generally have less muscle strength.  You also will want to set the DIN on their ski bindings to a lower number.

For kids who weigh significantly more than average, a longer ski might give them a little more stability.  You will also want to set the DIN on their ski bindings to a higher number.  

used kids skis

Using Kid’s Age to Figure Out Ski Length

Determining a kids ski length by their age is probably the worst metric out there.  I have people reach out to me all the time and ask things like “we’re going on our first family ski trip – should my 5-year- old ski in a siz 90cm or 100cm ski”.  Truthfully without knowing more about the child, there’s no good way to answer that.  

The reason is that there is so much difference in kid sizes that there’s no possible way to say “this is the best ski size for a 6-year-old”.  In fact, out of my own 5 kids, we have a huge range in what age they wear each pair of skis at our house (after 5 kids, we have practically every size in storage).  We all know that ll kids come in all shapes and sizes, so factors like weight and height are better to use to figure out the best kid’s ski sizes.  

The one major exception to this is that I think that all kids who are 4 or under should ski with skis that are shoulder length or shorter.  This is because the extra weight of a longer ski is just so much for their tiny bodies, so if you’ve got a really tiny skier, the shorter their skis are, the less worn out they’ll get.  

Kids ski sizes

When Is It Okay For Kids To Ski With Longer Skis?

At some point, you’ll want to get your kids some longer skis when their skills really start to improve.  Our teens love to ski FAST and are advanced skiers, so their skis hit right around their eyebrows, and it’s great for both their height and their ability level.  If a beginner had a ski that was that long, it would be more of a struggle for them since longer skis are harder to control.  

teen girl skiing steep

Longer skis also go much faster, so longer skis should only be used by skiers who have the skills to control them.  We’ve seen plenty of little kids skiing in skis that are too big for them, and it just makes learning to ski unnecessarily difficult.  

teen ski racer

ou generally get around 80 to 100 uses out of a set of skis but kids skis tend to last a bit longer. We buy a majority of our kids skis used, and then pass them down through all 5 of our kids and then usually onto friends after that.  Kids skids last A LONG TIME!  Even with growth spurts, all of our kids have been able to use the same pair of skis for an entire season, and often, they can use the same pair for two seasons (it will just be shorter on them the second season).  

How To Tell When Kids Need Longer Skis??

You’ll know that your child needs new skis when they seem to be outpacing how fast the skis will allow them to move.  If your child seems to always be lagging behind, give their skis a good coat of wax, and if that doesn’t do the trick, consider the next size up. 

toddler carrying skis

It can be somewhat hard to determine the best size skis for kids but generally putting your kids in the correct size of skis will help them improve their skills.  If they’re getting better, it could easily be time for new skis.

utah ski bus route
As an advanced adult, my personal preference is for ski lengths between my nose and eyebrow.

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!