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Exploring Camber and Rocker in Skis and Snowboards

During the early 2000s, conventional camber profiles dominated the design of both ski and snowboards. However, a new technology called rocker emerged, reshaping the design of ski and snowboard construction. Rocker became extremely popular and led to the development of many different variations, all of them focused on improving performance on various snow conditions.

Camber and Rocker Explained

Camber and rocker refer to the curve you see when looking at the ski or snowboard from the side view. Skis and snowboards with camber have a slight arch in the center with ground contact points near the tip and tail. Rocker, also known as reverse camber, is the opposite of camber. The rocker is when the midsection rests flat on the ground and has curved-up tips and tails. These critical differences between camber and rocker are simple, but understanding the benefits of each will help you choose which option is best for you.

Ski and Snowboard Camber

Camber adds “pop” to skis and snowboards, providing riders with good edge control when laying down turns. It is the go-to design for many years and remains a popular choice. When a cambered ski or board is placed on a flat surface, the middle section is lifted while the ground contact points near the tips and tails rest on the snow. This lifted portion is called the camber. As skiers or boarders apply their weight and press into the skis or board, the camber flattens, ensuring continuous contact between the edges and the snow. Here’s a few key advantages that camber offers to your riding:

  • High-speed control: The shape of cambered skis and snowboards offers exceptional edge control, resulting in precise turns and impressive power delivery.
  • Stability during turns: The reliable edge hold of camber adds stability throughout turns.
  • Strong grip on firm snow: Camber’s continuous edge contact creates excellent grip and stability on the hard groomers
Traditional camber profile picture

Ski and Snowboard Rocker

Think of rocker to be the opposite of camber, forming a smooth continuous curve that lifts up from the center of the ski or board. Sometimes rocker is also referred to as alternate camber, negative camber, or reverse camber. With rocker, the contact area is located beneath the rider, near the feet. In most cases, rockered skis and snowboards are less likely to catch an edge while riding due to the shorter effective edge on the snow. Here’s a few key advantages that rocker offers to your riding:

  • Improved mobility: With a shorter effective edge, fully rockered skis and snowboards allow quicker turns.
  • Glide through powder: The design of rocker boards makes pow riding easier and more enjoyable. Imagine you are floating or gliding through the powder, rather than pushing through it with a camber setup.
Full rocker profile picture

Choosing Between Camber and Rocker

When it comes to choosing between camber and rocker for skis and snowboards, it’s not a matter of picking one over the other. Ski and snowboard manufacturers have discovered that combining camber and rocker can meet specific performance requirements. Nowadays, most skis and snowboards utilize a combination of camber underfoot and rocker on the tip and tail. Since everyone has different riding styles and snow conditions are constantly changing, it’s important to understand how rocker and camber will affect your riding. Keep in mind these factors when choosing between rocker and camber for your next setup:

Preferred Terrain

If you have a specific terrain that you prefer, it becomes easier to choose the right snowboard or ski for a smooth ride. Riding on soft snow/powder is better with a rocker profile. The lifted edges don’t touch the snow, making it easier to glide through deep powder and snow without getting stuck. Have you ever felt a floating sensation? Gliding on top of powder with a rocker setup will give you exactly that same feeling.

On the other hand, for hard snow, traditional camber styles are recommended. The pressure on each contact point (where the ski or board touches the snow) provides the crucial grip you need for maintaining on the mountain.

Experience Level

If you have a lot of experience in skiing or snowboarding, you’re probably looking for features that can help you perform at a higher level, like technical carving or jumps. Camber offers excellent control and a springy/pop feel that is well-suited for experienced riders.

Rocker profiles are especially beneficial for riders who are still progressing and need a bit of a boost. As a beginner, you are less likely to catch an edge with a rocker setup due to having less effective edge touching the snow.

Both rocker and camber profiles have advantages for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. It’s also worth exploring the world of hybrid profiles. You get the best of both worlds!