Camber Vs Rocker Snowboards - What Is The Difference?

Skilled snowboarder mid-jump during scenic sunset on the mountains
James Shaffer
By James Shaffer
Last updated on December 15, 2021
Table of Contents

Like any other sport, snowboarding and skiing have a lingo that will probably sound like a foreign language to new 'boarders. But just like your Spanish greetings and goodbyes, there are two words you MUST know - camber and rocker. But what do they mean?

The camber vs. rocker snowboard debate is an important one, so read on to find out the key differences between these styles and find the right board for you.

Camber And Rocker Explained

Camber and rocker are simply names for the side profile of skis or snowboards and the curve that they have. When you look at an unweighted snowboard or pair of skis, you will see how they are shaped differently for different purposes and ski conditions.

The traditional camber, born alongside snowboarding, arches up at the center, and its contact points with the snow are near the tail.

Snowboard Profile - Camber

Rocker, also referred to as the reverse camber, came almost thirty years later and is almost the exact opposite (as the name suggests). This has a midsection that rests on the snow and a tail that lifts away from it.

snowboard profile - rocker

But what does this mean, and when would a camber or rocker be more appropriate to use?

Camber: Pros And Cons

Just like anything, there are pros and cons to opting for camber skis or snowboards. When the upward curve in the middle of the camber is weighed down, pressure is applied to each contact point at either end of the board.

Benefits

The camber offers greater control at high speeds; therefore, it is a good option for experienced riders. Due to its shape, cambered skis and snowboards have excellent edge grip and suspension, which thus allow for precise turns and high power.

The extra pressure on the contact points (where the snowboard or skis meet the snow) makes for optimum control, even in high-speed conditions.

This can be extra beneficial to advanced snowboarders or skiers and those who perform jumps or ride on more groomed terrain.

Potential drawbacks

Ironically - the camber's positives are also its negatives.

Due to the camber underfoot and the grip that it provides, it is extremely easy for riders to catch the edges of their board in the snow. This is a problem, especially for beginners, as it leaves more room for the possibility of falling.

More skilled riders don't often feel that this is much of a problem when weighing out the pros and cons.

But where the camber lacks, the rocker makes up for it...

Rocker: Pros And Cons

The reverse camber or rocker shape is, essentially, the camber flipped onto its head. This can benefit snowboarders and skiers differently than the camber, as this shape is less of a catch risk.

Benefits

With the rocker board, due to the loose tail, there is a reduced risk of catching edges on the snow. Just as a surfboard glides on the water, the rocker works in a similar way.

Skiing in deep powder is much easier with rocker skis and snowboards as their shape allows them to glide easily. Although losing speed is a big problem in these conditions, this snowboard shape allows a lighter feel, making it easier to turn and maintain momentum under challenging conditions.

Unlike the camber, this profile also prevents painful legs after riding due to it allowing you to ride much more centered and without a setback stance.

Potential drawbacks

Although it thrives in soft snow, a reverse camber is a no-no when it comes to hard snow.

The shape of rockered skis and snowboards allows for a lightweight ride but consequently lack control and edge hold. Therefore, they are not as beneficial for those who like to ride fast and favor precision when skiing and snowboarding.

For the same reason, the rocker isn't the most stable profile when it comes to turning. It also requires more energy when turning and doesn't have the same solid structural feel as the traditional camber.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Rocker and Camber Snowboards

Skilled snowboarder mid-jump during scenic sunset on the mountains

Intended terrain

If you're looking for something that rides smoothly on a particular terrain, then you can easily narrow down the type of snowboard or skis that will work best for you.

Skiing or snowboarding on soft snow favors the reverse camber/ rocker profile. Due to the edges that lift off the ground and do not meet the snow, it is much easier to glide through deep powder and snow. This prevents catch and allows you to 'float' through.

Hard snow requires traditional camber styles as the pressure on each contact point allows for superior grip. This is essential on this type of terrain as it prevents sloppy turns and decreases the chance of falling over.

Experience level 

Consider your experience in snowboarding or skiing. If you're more experienced, you might be looking for features that help you execute advanced turns or jumps in your skis or snowboard.

Camber types that offer ultimate control and springiness are suitable for more experienced riders. However, the constant evolution of hybrid profiles is worth considering too.

Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels can benefit from both rocker and camber profiles. Rocker is great for progressing riders who require a boost. Again, one of the ever-evolving hybrid rocker and camber profiles might be the perfect combination for your experience level.

Personal preference

Personal preference will likely link to many things that have already been covered, such as terrain and experience level. These factors will heavily influence a rider's personal preferences, as well as riding styles.

For riders who enjoy freestyling, the rocker will provide a playful aspect with a lightweight feel. In addition, more advanced tricks such as pressing and jibbing are also executed effortlessly with a rocker.

And though the traditional camber is not the easiest style to manage when riding, this is a small cost for the high performance that it can deliver. Powerful is a word that floats around often to describe the camber- as the rider's weight is evenly distributed on each contact point, the energy transmission is unmatched.

The camber also delivers precision like no other, and if you're someone who likes speed, the camber can definitely provide. It's excellent for carving, too!

Compare Camber And Rocker Boards With Snowlink

Overwhelmed by all of the choices out there? Have no idea where to start on buying a new snowboard or pair of skis? Do you really have to pay ridiculous prices to get a high-quality, high-performance board? We've got you covered.

With the hundreds of ski and snowboard manufacturers out there, we understand it can be daunting, especially if you're a beginner.

At Snowlink, we carry out extensive research to ensure we present the best selection of camber and rocker snowboard and ski choices. Providing you with some top-of-the-range options at all price ranges, we understand what you need.

We analyze some of the most important features such as ability levels, board types, flex ratings, and shape. This will help you quickly narrow down the best options for you without aimlessly searching through thousands of choices.

FAQs

Is camber or rocker better for beginners?

Rocker skis and snowboards, although for all skill levels, are a much better option for beginners. They provide an easier ride, require less patience, and carry less risk of catching the board on the snow due to the rockered tip.

Although, beginners with a lot of patience can benefit from the camber too. If you're looking for something with good control that will allow easy turning, then the traditional camber might be more for you.

What snowboard should I buy beginner?

As mentioned, personal preference is the most significant factor when it comes to looking for the right snowboard.

Although the camber vs. rocker debate makes it seem like these are the only snowboard options to consider, this isn't the case. Instead, the hybrid camber and hybrid rocker are popular choices and draw from the positive features of each snowboard profile.

However, there is a general consensus that the rocker profile provides the most straightforward ride for a beginner. The rocker tip means that it is more difficult to catch your board, and it also rides well in ungroomed terrain and deep snow.

Is camber or rocker better for jumps?

Both a rocker and camber profile can be good for ski and snowboarding jumps for different reasons.

Yes, the reverse camber can be beneficial for a landing by easily transitioning from tip to tail.

On the other hand, camber profiles provide excellent suspension due to the arched midsection, which is essential for a comfortable jump and landing. In addition, the efficient edge control and stability provide the safe and simple execution of snowboard and ski jumps.

James Shaffer

James Shaffer

James is a veteran snowboarder and skier. His passion for snow sport dates back to his early life growing up in Colorado. He spent his early adulthood as a ski instructor around popular locations in Europe but is now back in Colorado.
Published December 15, 2021
Last updated December 15, 2021
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