Rocker vs. Camber: Snowboard Profiles & How They Impact Your RidePublished on 05/29/2023 · 6 min readOverwhelmed 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 to figure out where to start. Each snowboard shape has a specific feel and will provide different advantages depending on the type of terrain you are riding. We've gone ahead and done some of the leg work for you, laying out various snowboard profile categories below so you can find the best fit for when you hit the slopes.
Rocker (Reverse Camber, Full Rocker)
Rocker has a looser, surfier 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.
A board with full rocker or flat camber will also have less pop than a traditional camber board or even a hybrid rocker board. More pop with allow you to load up the flex on the board and ollie higher. Rocker and flat snowboard profiles, however, will make buttering easier and more forgiving, especially on a board with a softer flex. Rocker and flat profiles can also be more forgiving for low-speed jibs and switch tricks where you might want to spin out of your landing or just freeride at lower speeds. Dedicated park riders who often ride in a smaller terrain park tend to like a board with rocker and a low flex rating.
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 and on a board with a stiff flex. 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. Many freeride boards and most carving boards feature a camber profile. A "freestyle" board designed for bigger terrain parks, bigger jumps, and halfpipe is often a camber snowboard.
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 a 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 boards look 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 a 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.
This article has strictly covered snowboard profiles, which is what the "bend," "curve," or "arch" of the the board looks like from a side view. If you would like to discuss what size snowboard you need, extruded base vs sintered base, binding inserts, snowboard width, directional board vs directional twin vs true twin shape, snowboard flexes, snowboard boots, boot size, or bindings, you can message me directly or check out some of our other articles in the Expert Journal like this one about snowboard profiles.
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 one of my fellow Snowboard Experts here on Curated or me for free advice and recommendations. We love hearing from you!