A Guide to Snowboard Profiles & How They Impact Your Ride
Overwhelmed by all of the different snowboard profiles out there? Snowboard expert Alex Dolan runs through the differences—and how they'll impact your ride.
With so many options on the market, sometimes it can be a little daunting figuring out where to start. Each snowboard shape has a specific feel and will provide different advantages depending on the terrain you are riding. We've gone ahead and done some of the leg work for you, laying out various snowboard profiles below so you can find the best fit for when you hit the slopes.
Rocker (Reverse Camber, Full Rocker)
Rocker has a looser, more surfy feel that beginner to expert riders can appreciate for a variety of reasons.
Rocker is generally the most forgiving profile and will have a lot of appeal for beginner riders who are mostly sticking to green and blue trails. Because the board’s contact points are at the center of the board, the tip and tail are slightly more lifted off of the snow. This makes them “catch” or “grab” less on the snow, helping to avoid that wipeout that every rider is dreading.
Intermediate to advanced riders can also benefit from a rocker profile, especially in deep powder. Rocker will keep the nose of the board floating above the snow so you can surf the deep fluffy stuff on pow days. Even on the deepest powder day, you will probably have to ride a cat track or a groomed trail to get back to the lift, where you'll want more reliable edges to keep your speed and explore varied terrain. Magnatraction or various versions of it can offer superior edge hold to a full rocker board. Magnatraction essentially puts a serrated edge on your snowboard that cuts into hard snow like a steak knife. Brands like Lib Tech and Gnu are most well known for pioneering rocker magnatraction boards.
It is worth noting that virtually every board on the market has rocker in the tip and tail. When we refer to snowboard profiles, we are generally referencing the shape of the board between the tip and tail.
Camber (Regular Camber, Full Camber)
A full camber board will have a profile in the shape of a rainbow. It provides the rider with twice as many major contact points as a rocker board. Camber generally provides the best edge hold because the contact points are now at the tip and the tail of the board and distribute the rider's weight through the entire length of the board.
When experts talk about a “traditional camber profile” they are referring to one that has symmetrical camber throughout the board. The term 'camber' can also generally refer to the profile arc of any board. This is because camber is the most traditional snowboard profile.
A full camber/traditional camber board's biggest advantage is that it offers the most stable ride, especially at high speeds. Its disadvantages are that the edges may feel more grabby when transitioning from toe edge to heel edge, which is not ideal for beginner riders. This could lead to more faceplants for a rider with poor technique. A camber profile will not float quite as well as rocker in deep powder, however, that doesn't mean it won't shred pow. It will just require more effort to keep the nose above the snow. In fact, many intermediate to advanced all mountain riders still opt for a traditional camber board as their daily driver (the board they choose to ride on most days) because of its superior stability in varied terrain.
Flat (Zero Camber, Flat Camber)
Flat boards can especially benefit newer riders who learn quickly but still may be prone to the occasional mistake. They are few and far between in today’s market, but they can be a great option. A flat board does not have any major contact points but instead features a flat surface that evenly distributes the rider’s pressure throughout the length of the board. It has much better edge hold than a rocker board and is less “catchy” than a camber board, making it a great middle ground for beginner to intermediate riders.
Hybrid profiles are the newest addition to the market. They blend a rocker and camber profile to create a technology with advantages of both. You'll be able to hold an edge on groomers and variable terrain at high speeds and float better in deep powder, making hybrid profiles great for all skill levels.
Now that you understand what a hybrid shape is, we are going to divide hybrid boards into two subcategories: hybrid rocker and hybrid camber.
Hybrid rocker looks like how an artist depicts flying seagulls off in the distance. Or maybe it is easier to imagine two camber profiles that come together in a v-shape in the middle of the board. There ends up being three major contact points at the middle, tip, and tail of the board. Edge hold is improved with the camber under each foot and the edges are lifted by the v-shape to provide a catch free feel.
Hybrid camber looks like a modified version of traditional camber. It will be cambered in between the feet for superior edge hold at high speeds, similar to traditional camber, but it will have additional rocker in the tip and tail for catch free riding, like traditional rocker board.
Keep in mind, the board that is best for you is entirely a matter of personal preference, determined by your own style and where you would like to focus your time on the mountain. What is best for some may feel wrong for others. Remember, snowboarding is all about having fun! As you slippy slide down the mountain on the fluffy white stuff, embrace the smile that it puts on your face. I encourage everyone to experiment and express themselves freely.
So, now you know. The next step? Try them all out, get riding, and let us know how it goes. If you have any questions about what snowboard profile would work best for you and your riding style, chat with me or one of my fellow Snowboard experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. We love hearing from you!