Buying a snowboard in the 1980s was a piece of cake. With such a new technology, most boards were pretty much the same. You didn’t have a wide range of snowboard camber types to choose from. Perhaps there was some variance in binding styles or slight differences in shape, but for the most part, early snowboards were simple, and well, to be direct, they were flat.
In the early 2000s, snowboard manufacturers started to change the shape of their boards. With the sport increasing in popularity and snowboard manufacturers better understanding the physics of the ride, the shape, and profile of snowboards began to develop.
New technologies in shaping and manufacturing, combined with riders that wanted to have more versatility and a product that better fit their style, resulted in the development of boards with a bend, otherwise known as a rocker and camber.
In this article, we’re going to breakdown some of the most common snowboard camber types so you understand what they mean, and how they affect your riding experience. We’ll give you hints about where they perform best, and what you should avoid with each profile. We’ll round out our discussion with the basics on snowboard profiles, and give you some hints on what to look for in profiles when you’re picking your next board.
So what does this all mean for you, the rider who’s looking for the right board? Well, it means that you have a bunch of profile options, and you need to know which is going to be best for your riding style. The problem is that there are so many different board profiles, and it seems like board makers are coming up with new ones each season, so it can be confusing to find the right board for you.
Flat Camber Snowboard
This old-school style of snowboard camber type is still around and it still works great for many riders. This board profile lacks any significant camber or rocker, with the exception of the upturn at the very end of the tip and tail. This tried and true profile has been hitting the slopes since the 1980s and it is still as great today as it was then. However, flat camber boards aren’t as common anymore, so you might find this profile more difficult to find than hybrid profiles or traditional rocker or camber boards.
The flat camber profile is a great starter board for many riders. Extensive contact with the snow means that riders are stable, and don’t have to worry about managing the bounce of rocker and camber when learning the basics. Flat camber boards are great for bombing down groomed runs, and are exceptionally stable and well-balanced when riding rails. If you love catching big air and stomping solid landings or hitting jibs, this is a great profile for you. Experienced riders like this profile because it is quick turning, thanks to the lack of rocker and camber, makes this a fun board to ride through trees and terrain parks.
If you’re not riding groomed runs, this board is going to be a bummer. The flat profile means that it drags in powder. And, while this board provides excellent stability for the new rider, there is less edge control with this profile, and many new riders struggle with catching edges when learning on this style of board.
Traditional Camber Snowboard
After the flat board, came the traditional camber board. For years, this was the profile that every board maker used. It is still a popular board profile for some riders, however, hybrid styles are quickly becoming a preference over traditional camber boards.
The traditional camber board is easy to identify by its pronounced rise at the center of the board. Traditional camber boards tend to be the most aggressive of the board profiles, though that depends highly on how big the curve of the camber is. If the curve is modest, the traditional camber will feel more stable and be a bit more forgiving. Traditional camber boards are great on ice and hard-pack snow because it provides exceptional edge control. Traditional camber also provides good pop and spring which is great for ollies, jumps and turn stability at higher speeds.
While this is a great board profile for a lot of riders, many beginners are starting to move away from the traditional camber board. Aggressive edges are great for experienced riders looking for control on ice, but they aren’t great for first-time riders. Catching an edge is a common complaint about traditional camber boards and beginner riders. This is also not the profile you’re looking for if you like deep powder. You’ll find it difficult to press and butter through powder on this profile, which means slower speeds and less float.
Rocker (Reverse Camber) Snowboard
The reverse camber snowboard, also known as a rocker board (the name “rocker” actually refers to the rocker rails on old-fashioned rocking chairs), negative camber or alternate camber board. This is one of the three most basic boards that you can buy, but surprisingly, one of the most versatile, and forgiving board profiles on the market. The reverse camber snowboard, when viewed from the side, looks like a “U”, a long stretched-out, “U”.
The contact point, on the snow for this board profile, is located nearly at the center of the board, just below the rider’s feet. This gives the rider a lot of contact with the snow, which for beginners can provide good stability and confidence.
Reverse camber boards are often recommended for beginner riders because they have good turn initiation and with raised tips, they are less likely to catch an edge. Reverse camber boards are also good for riding rails and floating through deep, fresh powder. Their “U” shape keeps tips up and helps you avoid getting stuck in deep powder.
Reverse camber boards aren’t great for riders that want a lot of control. The shape of these boards can feel loose and may challenge new riders, especially when one-footing off the lift. Rocker boards are also challenging to stomp big landings with, so they aren’t an ideal choice for the rider that loves to spend the day catching big air.
Hybrid Camber Snowboard
Hybrid profiles are a combination of rocker, camber, and flat. There are tons of combinations of hybrid profiles. Each has its own pros and cons and works well for particular riding styles.
The general hybrid camber board profile has a central section of camber with rockers near the tip and tail. However, this is where the generality ends. There is a multitude of different hybrid profiles with varying combinations of camber and rocker sizes. When shopping for hybrid camber boards, you really need to understand your riding style, so that you get the right amount of each profile in your board.
Beginners will find that hybrid camber boards with more length to the rocker sections, provide stability, easy turning, and good edge control. Park riders will like the pop that hybrid camber boards give at the tip and tail. Backcountry riders will benefit from the float that this hybrid style gives through deep powder. And for the rider that loves speed, the hybrid camber board is the perfect balance of speed and stability. This is a highly versatile board, and with the right combinations, it is the ideal board for just about any riding style.
On the flip side, if you are a new rider, avoid hybrid snowboard camber types with a highly pronounced camber, or with a long camber section. These can feel washy, and unstable. Inexperienced riders will find these boards hard to control.
Hybrid Rocker Snowboard
The opposite of the hybrid camber board, the hybrid rocker board places the rocker at the center of the board with the camber sections at tip and tail, or in some cases just under the binding mounts.
This style is great for the more experienced rider. While it turns easily in a variety of conditions, including powder and groomed slopes, the rocker in the center does give a loose feel to the ride, which is not ideal for beginners. This style gives more pop than a full rocker board, so it is also a great option for the terrain park. Experienced riders that like to spend their day switching between runs and the park will get the most benefit from the hybrid rocker style.
While a great all-mountain profile, this board profile can be challenging from time to time when riding rails. The center rocker profile can make the board feel unbalanced, however, practiced riders will find this challenge easy to overcome.
V-rockers are a play on the hybrid rocker style of board. This profile type is distinguished by three sections of rocker distributed across the length of the board. Depending on the maker or the intended riding style of the board, the rocker sections may be more or less aggressive.
The v-rocker style of board is actually a relatively versatile board that is as fun on the slopes as it is in the terrain park. The added sections of rocker, almost seem to flatten out the board, which provides good stability and balance for most riders. V-rockers give good pop and have a loose, fun feel. They transition easily from groomed runs to powder and on to the rails in the park. This profile tends to be less catchy, so it can be a good option for new riders that want enough control to be stable, but still have fun.
Backseat Camber (Powder Camber)
Backseat camber is a modified traditional camber profile that has a shortened camber section shifted toward the tail of the board. The board is a directional design that does not ride well switch. The camber section is typically centered under your back foot and allows for tight turns. The longer rockered nose provides for exceptional float in powder which is why it is sometimes referred to as powder camber. This tight turning snowboard camber type is ideal for tighter areas like when working through tree sections in deep powder.
Which snowboard camber type is right for you?
So, now that you know a bit more about some of the different board profiles and styles, which one is right for you? Here are our suggestions for the right board profile for different types of riders and conditions.
- Beginner – Beginners will definitely benefit from using a rocker/flat/rocker board profile. This profile gives a new rider a ton of stability, and enough lift at the tip and tail, to make initiating turns easier, reducing the likelihood of catching an edge. Hybrid camber boards are good too, just look for a model that has a modest camber to avoid edges that are too aggressive. For more check out our article on the Best Beginner Snowboards.
- All-Mountain – If you want to move from groomed slopes, to the backcountry, to the terrain park or pipe, you’re going to want a board that gives you a little of everything. Traditional rocker boards are a great board for easy transitions or go with a hybrid rocker board that gives good float but with less catchy edges. Read Best All Mountain Snowboards for our picks
- Terrain Park/Pipe – You can’t lose in the park or the pipe with a traditional camber board. You get plenty of pop for hitting big air, and the camber is generally more balanced on rails. Traditional camber will also allow you to stomp out big landings in the pipe.
- Groomed/Hard-pack Snow/Ice – Look for aggressive camber boards if you spend a lot of time shredding hard-pack or are on groomed resort runs. Traditional camber boards have excellent edge control and will help you manage speed while also feeling stable and in control. Good control is especially helpful for busy resort days, and added safety.
- Backcountry/Deep Powder – If you live for powder days and the freedom of backcountry riding, the traditional, full rocker board is your choice. Rocker boards give you plenty of float through soft powder, and with raised tips and tails, you don’t have to worry about slow speeds and getting stuck in tree wells and holes. Rocker boards keep you centered over the board which also reduces leg fatigue when working through deep powder. Another great powder choice is the backseat camber profile.
Check out the video embedded below for more information on snowboard camber types:
There you have it, our take on snowboard camber types. While this guide has touched on some of the most common snowboard styles and profiles, it isn’t meant to replace the benefits of testing out a board before you buy.
Do you have thoughts on snowboard camber that we might have missed? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.