Regardless if you are a skier or a snowboarder camber and rocker are two words that have been introduced into your vocabulary. In this week’s post we take a long, hard look to define what they are and to help you determine which is better? First things first… Let’s begin with what it means.
Camber – The Traditional Style
Before Lib Tech introduced Rocker there was only one shape for all and that was camber. Supposedly, camber along with a more extreme sidecut that was seen in snowboarding was introduced to skiing and brought the sport back from the “dead.” These were called at the time Parabolic skis which were invented by Elan. This may or may not be true, but regardless it did affect the sport of skiing and introduced a whole new way of sliding down the mountain that two plankers didn’t have before. So, what is camber then? Think of it as a hump when looking at your board or skis laying flat on their base. From the side skis or snowboards are shaped to resemble what looks like a reverse arc. This provides increased contact against the snow and springiness between your feet. In turn it allows you to make the perfect arc when carving. It also gives the rider or skier a natural “pop” when ollieing. As a beginner a bigger camber and/or sidecut could cause you to get frustrated. This allows for a more responsive ride, which means you could easily catch an edge.
Rocker – The New Style
In other words reverse camber was the polar opposite of Camber. The rocker shape was introduced by Shane McConkey on the skier side with his Volant Spatula Skis and Lib Tech with their “banana” board which resembled a u-shape. When introduced the terms that were used were “fun”, “easy”, and saviors to the sports of skiing/snowboarding. This “banana” shape made it extremely easy to ride fresh powder when it was deep due to the natural arc already formed.
So, what’s better Rocker or Camber?
After the dust has settled with rocker and camber shapes there has been an explosion of all kinds of other designated shapes from a “flat” board to other hybrid versions which mix all of these shapes together into one deck. The question is, which shape is better? Unfortunately, it isn’t an easy answer. For those with the money a “quiver” might be your best option. This means a set of decks that you can pick and choose from depending on the conditions that are put in front of you. For example, if you are going heli-skiing, heli-boarding, or wake up to 3 feet of fresh snow then floating in the bottomless snow is VERY critical. The best choice then is the Rocker. The natural “U” shape allows you to float easily through the snow without having to lean back to get through it. It will provide effortless float. On the other hand, if you are going to skiing/snowboarding on groomers for the most part or shredding through resort powder that is only a knee deep at best then the camber board might be your best. As a purist, the ability to make a perfect carve and explode out of your turn allowing you to come out going faster than before you went in.
Finally, if you are a person that does spend time in the pow, and are more prown to huck off of a cliff or hit the park then a hybrid deck might be the best choice. Unless you land right on the “bolts” of the snowboard meaning perfectly balanced then there is a high likelihood you’ll wash out on a rocker board even in Powder while the camber board can make it difficult to keep your nose up when slashing through the deep pow. Surprisingly, most Pros you see in films either ride a hybrid deck or go the traditional route and select a camber board for themselves. Jamie Lynn is a good example of a purist. Riding only camber regardless of how deep the snow. This allows for the most control and ability to ride away hits in the deep snow.
Now that you have a better understanding, get out there and demo some new rides and let us know what you think! In our next review we will go into “magne-traction” and normal “sidecut” and what they do for you. There are many choices when it comes to brands. We recommend supporting a local snowboard company. For some options, check out our series on local manufacturers found here and here.