Snowboarding, just like any other sport, has a language all its own. There are words like, “jib”, “rails”, “half-pipe”, “butter” and “press” that all describe some part of the snowboarding experience. Two such words, which sound very technical, and can make a huge difference in your riding experience are camber vs. rocker.
Camber and rocker simply put, refer to the shape profile of each snowboard. Having a complete understanding of these shapes and how they impact your ride can mean the difference between stomping big landings or spending your day on the ground. For each snowboarding style, there is a profile that will enhance the ride. And of course, personal preference plays a big part in what your snowboard’s shape profile looks like.
In this article, we’ll look at the basics of camber vs. rocker and what they mean for your ride. We’ll also give you some general examples of common board profiles, and where you’ll have the most success with each.
What are camber and rocker?
Knowing what these two variations in snowboard profile mean, can enhance your ride, or leave you with an exceptionally frustrating day on the mountain.
Convex bend in the profile of the board (looks like an arch or an “n”). Camber allows the board to “bounce” or “pop”. When stepped on, the camber or bend will flatten out and allows the bottom of the board to contact the snow. Camber is most often found in the center of the board, though there are some exceptions to this. Camber snowboards generally are good for free-riding and powerful carving. They also have some advantages for new snowboarders with some patience that want to have good control, easy turning and solid edges.
A concave bend in the profile of the board (looks like a “u”). Rocker may also be called reverse, negative, or alternate camber. Rocker is useful for providing float to your board and flat ground spins. Rocker boards are very versatile and are good options for riders of varying skill levels and riding styles.
This is the absence or bend in the profile of the board. Before rocker and camber were possible in the manufacturing of boards, all snowboards were flat. This profile was common, with little variation until the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Flat boards are also referred to as “zero rocker” or “zero camber” boards.
Traditional rocker and traditional camber were the original board profiles. They were the first attempts by snowboard makers to create a board that provided more flex and allowed for easy maneuverability in a variety of terrains.
Adding some bend to the profile also allowed riders to have more control of their board with less work. Camber and rocker give more grab to edges in strategic locations, making stopping and slowing, even on icy or snow-packed conditions more reliable.
Camber vs. Rocker: Know where to use them to your advantage
Rocker and camber provide different benefits to riders of varying skill and style preferences. Knowing which best suits your experience level or the place on the mountain you prefer will make your day on the slopes more enjoyable.
Traditional camber boards are the most common profile found in rental shops. When pressed, the camber flattens and provides tons of good contact with the snow. This makes the camber profile very stable and easy to control. The camber also creates good, catchy edges, which is great for quick stops and control. Many terrain park riders like traditional camber boards because they have better balance on the rails. If you’re spending most of your riding time on groomed resort slopes, a traditional camber board is your pick.
If you want to know more about camber and other profiles as well then check out our snowboard camber types article.
Traditional rocker boards are great for all-mountain riders. It is a very versatile board profile for the experienced rider. If you like to move easily from powder to the terrain park, the traditional rocker board is a great choice. Traditional rocker boards float well through deep powder. With the tip and nose turned up, you maintain speed even if the snow is deep. This same bend will also allow you to easily ride the rails and stick landings out of the half-pipe.
If you’re shopping for a new all mountain board then check out our picks for this year’s best all-mountain boards.
Hybrid boards are boards that have some combination of both rocker and camber. A combination of the two profiles creates a bit more versatility in where a board can be used with the most success. Most snowboard manufacturers today, fill their product lines with boards of varying combinations of rocker and camber.
For most riders, the combination of camber and rocker will provide both stability and control with the pop needed for big air, and boosting from the ground to terrain park features. Lots of beginner riders will find better stability and easier to manage edges on a hybrid board.
If you are shopping for a hybrid board, it is helpful to know where you want to spend your days riding. Most manufacturers create hybrid profiles with a specific terrain type in mind. Do your research before you buy, and if you can, test out hybrid profiles before you drop your cash on a board.
Need more help understanding the difference between camber vs. rocker then check out this video:
Camber vs. rocker are among the most essential words in the snowboarding lingo that you should know. Understanding how these simple bends in the profile of your snowboard, change the feel of your ride, can make every day on the mountain just a little bit better.
And, remember, as your skills and experience progress, the profile that works best for you may change. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of camber and rocker, to find what works best for you.