Camber vs. Rocker Snowboards: What's the Difference?

Up until six years ago, you could put a board down on the snow, look at it sideways and they would all look quite similar. Most board profiles had remained pretty much the same since the late eighties when camber was introduced. Prior to this, the early years of snowboarding were rife with experimentation and all kind of wacky designs.

It’s only in recent years that this experimental feel has been revived. In 2007, Lib Tech brought out the Skate Banana and K2 introduced the Gyrator. These reverse camber, or rocker, sticks marked the start of a board shape revolution.

So, what’s the difference between a cambered board and rocker board? And how does it affect the way you ride?

camber

Camber

What does it look like?
When you look at a cambered boards sideways on, it has four contact points with the snow near the tip and the tail, and it arches up at the centre between the bindings.

What does it do?
Cambered boards have more flex for carving and bend allowing more of the effective edge to touch the snow. The extra springy resistance of the concave profile gives it that extra pop. These boards are built for charging hard, riding pipes or hitting big booters.

ROCKER

Rocker

What does it look like?
These boards curve upwards towards the nose and tail in a kind of banana shape. The angle of the reverse camber and the point at which it starts varies from brand to brand.

What does it do?
The upturned tip and tail gives a more loose, playful ride and gives you extra float in powder. The downside is it isn’t as fast and doesn’t hold an edge like a cambered board. Jibbers and rail riders will often opt for a rockered board, as they’re more manoeuvrable and less likely to catch an edge.

FLAT BASE

Flat Base

What does it look like?
These boards sit completely flat on the snow, apart from a slight turn up at the nose and tail.

What does it do?
This keeps your effective edge in contact with the snow at all times. As your weight is more evenly spread along the edge, it actually makes it harder to catch an edge compared to a conventional camber board. However, flat boards do lack pop and springiness out of turns.

Camber-Rocker Combo

Combo

What does it look like?
They combines elements from camber and rocker boards, in the hope of creating an all-rounder. Different brands take a variety of approaches to this. The Burton Easy Living, for example, uses the Burton’s Flying V shape of rocker between the feet before transitioning into camber in the tail and nose.

What does it do?
These boards get the benefits of both profiles but obviously don’t have the same flex or solidity as either extreme.

As a final tip…
It can be confusing when you’re trying to decide what kind of profile you want your board to have. We’d recommend really thinking about what you want to use your board for. Are you going to be hitting big kickers or jibbing most of the time? Or do you just want something that’s an all-rounder? Once you’ve worked that out, then it should be easier to decide which kind of profile will suit your style of riding.

  1. adrianb

    C2BTX all the way – You not ridden a T.Rice Pro? WTF!

  2. Milly

    Lib Tech invented rocker? Really? Give over!

    1. tristan

      No, but alongside K2 they were the first brand to bring out a reverse camber board in the modern era (as in, this side of 1995).

    2. tristan

      The article talks about the experimental shapes being “revived” not invented by Lib and K2 – implying that they were there before.

  3. Rog

    The way I see it, you need 2 boards from 3 general riding styles. Shape comes after that. A) Pow Board B) Kicker/Pipe C) Rail/Jib. I went for a Pow Board(Salomon Sick Stick – Camber) and a Kicker/Park Board – (DC PLY)Camber due to price, but I’d love a rocker board too. Jack of all trades, master of none. 2 Boards all the way :)

  4. warwick

    camber all the way. Gotta rocker for a season loved it for powder and how easy it was making the board do what you want but as you get better and wanna do bigger tricks camber is the way forward. And bollocks to those bit of rocker bit of camber boards.

  5. James Findlay

    TBT all the way!

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