Let’s be honest: there are still times when snowboarders are frowned upon by skiers. You get those ‘You ruined our snow’-type of glances.
However, 40 years ago, we were not even allowed in most winter sports resorts. Consequently, snowboarders spent their days riding powder in the backcountry. They were using flat boards, which allowed maneuvering in deep snow.
When the acceptance rate started to grow, it came with the need to diversify the snowboarding gear for various conditions found on the slopes.
Then came snow parks. It made even more sense to have different approaches to the snowboard riding style.
Having gone a long way from those skis fastened together by Sherman Poppen back in the day, Camber and Rocker snowboards were developed. With hybrid profiles created between them, it became easier for riders to find their approach and the best piece of equipment to go with it.
What is Camber?
There isn’t any ‘The chicken or the egg?’ causality when dealing with Rocker and Camber snowboards. The Camber snowboard was born first, allowing more contact points with the snow during those turns on hard snow. It did imitate the race skis of those days.
For powder days and even slushy conditions, the Rocker snowboard started to be regularly used.
Let’s dig deeper into the two styles covered by these board bends. In the end, it all depends on the contact points, the tip/nose, and the tail.
If we look at a snowboard from the side, a Camber snowboard has an upward curve, between the tip and tail. While Camber snowboards are generally optimal for all riders and styles, they are the choice of aggressive snowboarders for carving skiing at high speeds.
When depressed or flexed, the profile of Camber boards snaps back to its initial shape. This generates energy that is useful for having an edge control.
What is Rocker?
If we look at the profile of a Camber snowboard and then compare it to the profile of a Rocker snowboard, it is almost like looking at an item and its reflection in the mirror. The curve defining cambered boards and running between tip and tail was reversed to create the Rocker snowboard.
This downward curve between the feet, with the nose and tail raised, allows the sidecut of the rockered board to depress fully when the snowboarder is up on edge. What follows? Deep carves that riders love.
There are surfing influences behind the creation of this Rocker board. In the end, snow is still water, isn’t it? And we love to float! Remember that the playfulness of Rocker snowboards is due to the fact that, being already curved, they do not build that much energy between transitions. They also make the best buttering snowboards.
With Camber and Rocker pinned on the map of snowboarding, was there a need for more?
Rocker vs. Camber snowboard– Can you spot the differences?
Let’s do a recap!
The most significant difference of Camber vs Rocker boards lies in their snowboard profile. A cambered board has an upward curve, while a Rocker board has a downward one.
The terrain is another factor differentiating between the two board profiles: hard snow in the case of cambered boards and deep best powder board (even slush!) in the case of Rocker boards.
If talking about the setting, park riders prefer Camber snowboards. Their board profiles provide a higher degree of control and a snappy flex for precise maneuvers. You need that when dealing with jumps, halfpipe snowboarding walls, and jibs.
Already curved, Rocker snowboards are perfect for natural settings. They are not as precise and stable as the Camber boards, which is ok. When you’re out and about on a new mountain, you just let go and enjoy the ride.
Riding styles are also different! While suited for all riders, Camber boards are best for aggressive riding and better carving at high speed. Snowboarders also love the ‘poppy’ feeling while linking turns.
Rocker snowboards are preferred for slow rides in powder. So, watch out for those pow days and have your Rocker ready!
Last but not least, when discussing the level, while cambered boards are for intermediate to advanced riders, rockered boards are easier to ride. They can be a great fit for beginner to intermediate riders. That’s why, most snowboards for beginners have rocker profiles.
Many riders disagree, especially regarding this last difference between the two boards, so let’s examine their features more thoroughly. Also, it is important to have a look at the hybrid boards stemming from them.
There is a camber under the board – and it goes from the contact point near the tail to the contact point near the nose. Put more simply: this camber underfoot board has a camber from tip to tail. And it’s the most aggressive of all cambers!
It is a good profile for jumps and can improve the edge grip, helping with stability at high speed. For beginners, catching an edge control with this type of camber could be easier, but it can prove more challenging with deeper powder, where you need more float.
Also known as Continuous Rocker, Banana, and Anti-Camber, this Rocker profile is the opposite of the Traditional Camber. Why these names for the Reverse Camber? Because there’s a continuous rocker shape between the nose and the tail, namely between contact points.
Recommended for beginners, these boards make turn initiation easier. You’ll probably not be catching edges! On the other hand, the Reverse Camber feels loose and hard to control for a beginner, with more difficult landings, but still great for extra float.
This board is flat between the contact points, which provides stability for the rider. It is great for beginners if we disregard the fact that it can and will occasionally catch one of the edges.
Great for narrow corridors in between trees and steady at landing, it is not for speedsters (there is much contact with the ground) but guarantees fun throughout the snow day through this flat board’s uncommon design.
The camber lies towards the tip and the tail. It is a successful combination between the pop of the camber and the looseness of the rocker. This hybrid profile makes precise turn initiation easier.
It is a great all-around snowboard for the park and the mountain alike because it lands and butters well. Another lovely combination!
Which Goes Best for You: Camber or Rocker?
As usually in my articles, the first question comes with several others.
What Is Your Level?
Have you just started, or are you an experienced rider? If you are a beginner, consider purchasing a Rocker snowboard; it is a bit easier to handle. Go for a Camber board if you have some experience riding.
Where Do You like Spending Your Riding Days?
Is it in a snow park or a winter sports resort? Then, you would go with a Camber snowboard.
If, on the other hand, you like to ride off-piste in soft snow, choose a Rocker snowboard.
What Is Your Style?
Do you enjoy high speeds and a lot of carving or love to ride powder? Get a Camber board for tricks and a Rocker snowboard to savor your snow day.
Wrapping up Different Snowboard Profiles
There are no ‘correct’ or ‘right’ profiles when it comes to skis and snowboards. There are only profiles that are right for you. Of course, you can embrace one or several and test various skis and snowboards until you decide which best fits your experience and goals. Rocker, Camber, it’s up to you!
Whichever one you choose, learn how to wax your snowboard without iron to keep it hydrated.
While talking of skiing, the rockered skis are the happy medium between full cambered skis and a reverse camber skis. You also need to know what is ski rocker.
In the end, as corny as it may sound, it is not about the destination but the journey. And your journey ultimately means enjoying snowboarding to the full, in a way in which it enriches your life.