Rocker vs. Camber - What type of snowboard should I get?

The way a snowboard rides can be heavily influenced by its overall shape and profile. These are two different things which need to be considered. The shape refers to the actual physical outline shape of the board and when we nerd out on it, we can take a closer look at these variations in a dedicated board shape article. What we’re looking at specifically in this article is the profile. This refers to the type of camber the board has. If you lay a snowboard on a flat surface (without any weight on it) and look at it from the side, you will be able to see the curvature, or lack of, it has from nose to tail. This is what we’ll take a deeper dive into in this article to find out more about each one.

Camber (a.k.a traditional, positive, regular, micro, true)

This is how all snowboards used to be made before circa 2009/10. Put simply, a traditionally cambered snowboard is arc shaped, just like a rainbow. Of course it is not that severe but, the board arcs between the contact points between the nose and tail. When you stand on a cambered board, you flatten the arc and the contact points (either end of the arc) are continually pressured into the snow. Overall, it’s a stable, predictable and reliable profile. It’s a myth that cambered boards are only for advanced riders and how stiff the board is will play into how suitable it is for beginner and intermediate riders. For example, a softer, cambered board can be a great option for beginners. To get an idea of how playful a cambered board can be, you should check out the torsional stiffness too - the softer the better for agility and forgiveness.

Rocker (a.k.a banana, negative, reverse)

Rocker is simply a reverse of traditional camber. It’s easy to picture this as a banana. Depending on how much rocker it has, when laid on a flat surface, the centre of the board will be on the ground and somewhere between the bindings and the contact points (closer to the nose and tail) the shape will begin to curve upward off the ground. A true, full rockered board can be spun in a circle when laying on a flat surface as its only contact point (when unweighted) is the boards’ centre. When you stand on a rockered board, you will flatten the board and press the tip and tail toward the ground. Overall, it’s a playful, generally softer flexing and can be described as “catch free”. This refers to the feeling when you start turns, as the tip and tail in a rocker board are naturally curving up, off the ground which keeps the contact points closer to the centre of the board, as opposed to closer to the nose and tail in a cambered board. It is a myth that rockered boards are only for beginners. They can be enjoyed by any rider at any level.

Flat (a.k.a neutral, zero, no camber)

Introduced as a “best of both worlds” between traditional camber and rocker. A flat cambered board is exactly that…completely flat. For as many riders that enjoy the “best of both worlds” referring to the benefits of both traditional cambered and rockered boards, there’s also as many that steer clear with a mindset of the “worst of both worlds” too.

Hybrid Camber (a.k.a too many to list)

We decided to put all of the other options in one category - the hybrid camber boards. We need to be careful in this section, as there are a lot of different variations within this category and each brand has their own jargon/technical name for their version of hybrid cambers. Basically, a hybrid cambered board has both traditional cambered and rockered sections throughout the board. This is why board selection has become a more difficult decision in recent years as more options are being added. All you can do is educate yourself with what companies have on offer and start to understand the benefits of traditional camber and benefits of rocker, so when you see a hybrid cambered board you can understand more about the benefits you may feel when riding.

Directional Camber (a.k.a freeride)

This is a relatively new style of camber and usually revolves around a cambered section between the feet and favouring the rear of the snowboard. This is also paired with an extended nose which will usually have a flatter, or gentle rocker profile to it. This promotes the stability of camber under where you stand on the board with lots of capability at the nose of the board to keep it above the snow in deeper and choppier snow.

Camber vs Rocker snowboard profiles with Focus Snowboards.

So now you have a better idea of what a snowboard profile is, you can start to determine what you think might suit your riding best. At the end of the day there is no “bad” snowboard or “wrong” camber option. There are simply riding preferences. If possible, you should find a multi-brand demo day at your local resort and ride a bunch of different boards, or even swap boards with your friends for a few laps to see what all the fuss is about.

What profiles do Focus Snowboards use?

Being believers in the quality of the rider, we know that any almost any board can be used for almost anything. With that said, in all of our boards, you will find some form of traditional camber. From experience all over the world, on many different mountains and snow conditions, from the world’s best terrain parks and halfpipes to steep and deep days, we want to make sure we have some stability and reliability under our feet. You’ll find our flagship board, The Reason, with a traditional cambered profile (paired with a forgiving torsional flex to keep it agile). We know that this camber profile will stand the test of time and allow riders to progress their skills all over the mountain.

Still having trouble deciding what board profile is for you? Feel free to send us a quick message and let’s see if we can help tip the scales in either direction!

Happy sliding,

Leo & Kahli