You may have heard or seen terms like hybrid rocker, traditional camber or flat-to-rocker camber profiles but may not fully understand them.
So I thought I’d put together this post to help people understand the different snowboard camber types.
First we’ll take a look at what a camber profile is and then look at the different types and what ability and style each one is suited to.
Why Learn About Camber Profiles?
If you have a personal preference or are used to a certain type of camber profile (and have tried others and don’t like them) you may want to stick to what you know.
However, if you are in the market for your first snowboard or are looking for a change then you may want to consider which profile will be the best choice for your next snowboard. And if you’ve always used the same profile and haven’t experimented, it’s worth trying some others to see if they are more suited to your riding.
Different camber profiles tend to have different feels on the snow. For example a rocker profile has a looser feel. Different camber profiles are also more or less suited to different riding styles – and to different ability levels.
What is a Camber Profile?
A camber profile is essentially the shape of your board when looking at it side on (images below will give you a better picture) and this affects the feel of the board on the snow.
Looking at a board side on, a camber in the board is a convex shape (like an arch or the letter “n”) and a rocker in the board is a concave shape (like an upside down arch or the letter “u”). See illustration below.
Of course this is more subtle on a real board. There are several different combinations of camber and rocker and camber and rocker sections can be more or less exaggerated and the length of the camber and rocker sections can differ a lot too.
What are the Camber Profile Types?
Snowboarding manufacturers are always coming up with new types – though I think most of the time they just come up with new names for them!
It’s important to note that the illustrations below are exaggerated and also once you step on the board it takes on a whole new shape, when weighted.
The main combinations are as follows:
This is known as traditional camber because once upon a time pretty much all snowboards were made with this profile.
Basically there is camber under the board which runs from the contact point near the tail (where the board makes contact with the snow) to the contact point near the nose (where the board makes contact with the snow) – or said an easier way, camber from tip to tail!
This type of camber profile typically provides good for pop for ollies and jumps, improves edge-hold, adds to spring out of a turn and helps with stability at speed.
The trade off? (there’s always a trade off) – it can be easier for beginners to catch an edge with this style of camber. It is also more difficult in deep powder where you want more float – and it’s harder to butter and press (typically).
This is typically the most aggressive style of camber – though how aggressive depends on how exaggerated the camber is. If it’s very subtle, then it will feel less aggressive – and the factors above will be less pronounced – if there is quite an exaggerated camber, those things will be more pronounced.
Continuous Rocker/Reverse Camber:
This has many names – rocker, reverse camber, anti camber, banana and continuous rocker come to mind. But essentially it is the opposite of traditional camber. There is a continuous concave (“rocker”) shape between the tip and tail contact points.
Reverse camber boards were traditionally recommended for beginners because it makes turn initiation easier and you are less likely to catch an edge. These things are still the case. However, it also provides a looser feel, which may not be the easiest for a beginner to control, particularly one-footing it off the lift. And with hybrid profiles around these days, you can get the best of both worlds for a beginner.
The continuous rocker profile has a very playful feel, is great for butters and floats well in powder.
The trade off is that there is less pop, they feel loose (which is only a bad thing if you don’t want a loose feeling board), doesn’t hold an edge as well as other profiles, and it is more difficult to stomp landings from big air.
Just like it sounds this profile has no camber or rocker – it’s flat between the contact points.
This camber style gives a stable ride, without being too aggressive, meaning it could be a good option for beginners except that, like the traditional camber, it’s prone to catching an edge.
It makes it good for landing big air and is good for hitting jibs. It is typically fairly quick from edge to edge so is great for riding through trees and tighter areas and provides decent of edge-hold.
The trade off is that, due to having so much contact with the ground, this style will be a slower ride. So if speed is your thing this may not be the way to go. Also for beginners it will be easier to catch an edge than a rocker board but is more stable. Flat profiles aren’t that common. A flat-to-rocker on the other hand is much more common, and is a very popular choice for beginner boards. The flat-to-rocker profiles, as it sounds, has rocker sections before the contact points, helping to make it less catchy and easier to initiate a turn.
Like the name suggests, hybrid profiles are a mix of camber, flat and rocker. There are heaps of different combinations of this employed by snowboard manufacturers. The most common hybrids are rocker/camber/rocker (hybrid camber), camber/rocker/camber (hybrid rocker) and rocker/flat/rocker (flat-to-rocker). Some examples are shown in the illustrations below.
Rocker/Camber/Rocker (aka Hybrid Camber)
The rocker in the tip and tail are great for turn initiation and float in powder, whilst the camber underfoot adds stability, pop, speed and increased edge-hold.
The length of the camber section, and the rocker sections often varies. And how pronounced the rocker and camber are differs too, depending on the board. And those variations can lead to a very different feeling ride. A board with longer rocker sections – or very subtle amounts of camber in the camber sections are often good for beginners – with the camber offering stability and the rocker sections helping to make it a catch-free ride and for ease of turn initiation. Hybrid rocker profiles that are mostly camber – or where the camber in the camber sections is highly pronounced – aren’t as suitable for beginners.
Hybrid rockers can also sometimes be directional – and this is usually done by having more camber towards the tail and more rocker towards the nose – often with camber right back to the tail and rocker starting just after the front insert (where the bindings go). A Directional Hybrid Camber is often used on freeride boards.
Camber/Rocker/Camber (aka Hybrid Rocker)
The camber towards the tip and tail produces the kind of pop you get out of camber whilst the rocker between the feet give it a looser feel and better float in powder than a traditional camber ride, and allows for easier turn initiation. It will butter well and land well. This is a great all round profile for the park and mountain.
Hybrid Rocker profiles tend to produce a slightly looser feel than Hybrid Camber profiles, due to that rocker being between the feet – and Hybrid Rockers as a rule tend to be very quick edge-to-edge – all else being equal. Of course, like Hybrid Cambers, there are lots of variations, both in terms of the length of the rocker and camber sections and how pronounced those sections are. There are also Directional Hybrid Rocker profiles too.
These are just a few of the combinations used. Within each combination different levels of camber and rocker can be used and the lengths (amounts) of the rocker, flat and camber sections can be tweaked. This leads to almost endless combinations.
Best Profile for the Beginner
Beginner: The rocker/flat/rocker (Flat-to-Rocker) or rocker/camber/rocker (Hybrid Camber) profiles are great for beginners as they feel more stable due to the flat or camber sections underfoot and the rocker sections towards the tip and tail reduce the likelihood of catching an edge and make turn initiation easier. Of course with Hybrid Camber it depends on how much camber and how much rocker is involved. Hybrid Rocker profiles are also good options, if you don’t mind a looser feel.
For more on how to choose the best beginner snowboards check out the link below.
Best Profiles for Different Styles
In terms of styles I’ve put together this quick table. I looked at a couple of hundred boards for their camber profile and found that different camber styles are used across all board styles but some profiles are preferred over others for certain categories of board.
Overall 87% of the 2016-2019 models I analysed had some form of Hybrid profile, with 7% traditional camber, 5% Rocker/Reverse Camber and 1% flat, making up the other 13%. If you compare this with the table for 2015 models, which was originally used with this post – Hybrid models are even more dominant now vs 2015. That said, of the Hybrid models, 17% were predominantly camber and 16% were directional hybrids (which typically have plenty of camber). So the trend is towards hybrids, but it’s also towards more camber dominant hybrids. (I haven’t completed my search for this and will update once I have – and will update for 2020 models too, once I’ve analyzed those).
|Freestyle||All Mtn Freestyle||All Mountain||Freeride||Powder||TOTAL|
|Traditional Camber||4 (8%)||6 (8%)||7 (10%)||5 (8%)||3 (6%)||25 (7%)|
|Continuous Rocker/Reverse Camber||7 (15%)||4 (5%)||2 (3%)||0 (0%)||4 (8%)||17 (5%)|
|Flat||1 (2%)||1 (1%)||0 (0%)||0 (0%)||0 (0%)||2 (1%)|
|Hybrid Camber||17 (35%)||31 (41%)||42 (58%)||47 (72%)||19 (36%)||202 (56%)|
|Hybrid Rocker||10 (21%)||27 (36%)||18 (25%)||9 (14%)||10 (19%)||74 (21%)|
|Flat-to-Rocker||9 (19%)||6 (8%)||4 (5%)||4 (6%)||17 (32%)||40 (11%)|
When I first looked at this is was for 2015 models, and these were the percentages then.
Overall 76% of the boards I analysed had some form of Hybrid profile, with 9% traditional camber, 13% Rocker/Reverse Camber and 2% flat, making up the other 24%.
|Street/Jib||Freestyle||Freestyle-All Mountain||All Mountain||Freeride||Powder||TOTAL|
|Traditional Camber||1 (5%)||6 (12%)||4 (8%)||1 (3%)||5 (14%)||1 (3%)||18 (8%)|
|Continuous Rocker/Reverse Camber||4 (20%)||11 (22%)||8 (15%)||1 (3%)||2 (6%)||3 (9%)||29 (13%)|
|Flat||2 (10%)||2 (4%)||2 (4%)||0 (0%)||0 (0%)||0 (0%)||6 (3%)|
|Hybrid Camber||1 (5%)||10 (20%)||12 (23%)||13 (33%)||18 (50%)||16 (47%)||70 (30%)|
|Hybrid Rocker||0 (0%)||11 (22%)||17 (32%)||15 (38%)||6 (17%)||3 (9%)||52 (22%)|
|Flat-to-Rocker||12 (60%)||9 (18%)||10 (19%)||10 (25%)||5 (14%)||11 (32%)||57 (25%)|
If you want a more detailed page about the different camber profiles and the styles they suit check out my snowboard camber profiles explained post. It breaks down the different styles of snowboarding and which camber profiles are best suited and most common to each.
What Camber Profile Do You Prefer?
Do you know the camber style of your board? And if you do what camber style is it and how do you think it affects your riding?