Snowboard Cambers Explained

The profile of a snowboard is an important design consideration that will affect its performance in the snow. Beginners may not know a thing about profile, while advanced riders will know exactly what elements of camber and rocker they prefer. 

I’m a certified snowboarding instructor who has been riding for most of my life. I have ridden on dozens of boards over the years and have first-hand experience with nearly every type of camber that’s been created. 

In this post, I’ll dive into everything relating to camber as it relates to snowboards. 

The goal is to help you better understand how camber can affect a board’s performance and allow you to pick an option that meets your needs or preferences in the snow. 

Let’s jump in. 

What is Camber? 

The profile of a snowboard is how it is shaped when you are looking at it from the side. The two main profile shapes are camber and rocker. 

Rocker is somewhat easier to imagine and is the classic banana shape with the tip and tail raised up and off the snow. This is sometimes called ‘reverse rocker,’ which I’ll explain in detail later on in the article. 

Camber is just the opposite and is a shape where the middle of a snowboard sits up off the snow when no weight is on the board. It’s the original profile shape and a design that has been used for decades. 

The boards you will find today are not entirely rockered or cambered and have a blend of both profile shapes. Various combinations of the two will give you different performance characteristics, and I’ll explain all of that below. 

The Different Types of Camber

There are a few different types of snowboard camber. While each model will have a fairly unique profile, the main classifications of camber including the following. 

1. Traditional Camber

Traditional camber is the original snowboard profile design. If you look at a board from the side while lying flat, this camber will have the center of the board up off of the snow. The tip and tail are still off the snow as well. 

Traditional camber was made to help generate more power and response when you ride. This shape takes a little more effort to control, but the advantage is that you’ll be able to perform more aggressive maneuvers as a result. 

The nature of reverse camber requires the rider to use more force to push the board into the snow and initiate turns. This can come in handy when making technical turns and riding through steep terrain. 

After you push down on a board with traditional camber, it will have a natural tendency to snap back up off the snow. This is a subtle feeling more than a noticeable ‘snap,’ but either way, it allows for more response that a lot of riders enjoy.

Traditional camber is also very stable at high speeds, which is another benefit. You won’t experience much chatter or wobble with traditional camber. It can also be fun to use in powder because of its responsive nature. 

Traditional camber is also called positive camber or regular camber. All of the other camber shapes have been derived from this one, and it’s a design that helped shape snowboarding into the amazing sport that it is today.   

2. Reverse Camber

Reverse camber is more commonly called rocker. You can picture this type of profile by basically thinking of a banana shape for a snowboard. The tip and tail will be considerably off the snow, with the center touching the ground. 

Most freestyle boards have a heavy amount of rocker to them. Reverse camber can be fun and playful, which are great attributes to have when riding in the park. It’s kind of a free-flowing type of feel that definitely has its place. 

Boards with this type of camber are also very easy to turn. You don’t get as much power and response, but you’ll be able to initiate turns with minimal effort. That can make them the ideal board for beginners or anyone who wants an effortless experience. 

Reverse camber is also good in the terrain park because it makes performing some tricks a lot easier. If you like hitting rails, heavy rocker is a must. You can also do presses and butters because the board already has a natural bend to it.

Beginners will also like reverse camber because they are very easy to turn and control. They don’t perform as great when you are going really fast or in technical terrain, but the ease of use is alluring if you are just learning the basics of the sport.  

Some riders also look for reverse camber for powder riding because of the fun and floaty vibe that this profile shape has. I like to have a little bit of camber and reverse camber in a powder board, but I know some people who love full reverse camber in powder. 

3. Hybrid Camber

Hybrid camber utilizes both traditional camber and reverse camber to give you versatile performance in a range of different conditions. This is becoming a more popular profile and is found on many types of all mountain snowboards. 

Hybrid camber has a rockered tip and tail with traditional camber underfoot. You won’t have as much camber underfoot or as much rocker, but the combination of the two makes for a very capable board. 

These types of boards can be utilized in a variety of situations. They are good for intermediate riders because they will allow you to ride comfortably and push your abilities in new situations. You don’t have many limitations with a hybrid camber board. 

The versatile nature of hybrid camber makes these boards extremely popular and common. They are stable at speeds, can hold their own in the park, and even excel in the backcountry. I like having a hybrid camber board in my quiver. 

The only real downside with a hybrid camber board is that it doesn’t excel in one particular area. You’ll get decent performance all over the mountain, sure. But you don’t get a specialized type of board. If you love freestyle or freeriding, you might want to think about a different profile.   

4. Zero Camber

Another profile camber that you’ll see is zero camber. This is basically a flat board that sits directly on the snow over nearly its entire length except for some slight rocker in the tip and tail. It’s not as common to see but is still a profile shape worth considering. 

Flat camber can give you a good blend of a stable ride and a fun and playful feel. You’ll get solid edge control because you have so much of the board touching the ground, but it will still be pretty loose with no camber. 

This board can be ridden in many different situations, and many riders like to use them as powder boards because they are floaty and have a surf-like level of performance. These are also a decent choice for beginners because they are easy to ride. 

The downside to not having any camber is that you won’t really generate any pop if you want to ride aggressively. That’s usually only an issue for advanced riders, but it still is something to consider.   

FAQs

Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to snowboard cambers. 

What snowboard camber is best?

The type of camber that is best depends on your riding style or what you are looking for in a board. If you want aggressive performance that will give you a lot of control and power, go for traditional camber. If you want a park board, go with reverse camber. 

What is a snowboard camber good for?

Snowboard camber plays a significant role in how a board will perform in different conditions. The profile shape of a board gives it different characteristics in various situations. Matching camber to the style or conditions you like to ride in is a good idea. 

How do I choose a camber for my snowboard?

The best way to choose a camber for your snowboard is to match your preferred riding style to your profile shape. If you like to ride hard and fast, traditional camber is excellent. If you want to have a freestyle board, reverse camber is best. 

What is a hybrid snowboard?

A hybrid snowboard will combine elements of both camber and rocker (or reverse camber) profile shapes. This gives the board versatile performance abilities that can work in a wide range of situations and conditions. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a good idea of the different types of camber, you can better understand how they can affect the performance of a snowboard. Changes in camber will give you the ability to adapt to your riding style or preferred conditions. 

If you plan to become a serious snowboarder, it’s a good idea to try out various boards to figure out what you like the best. Pay attention to its camber, and this will let you find future boards that match your preferences.  

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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  • Jose Da Silva

    Nice info about board cambers. Too bad that I purchased my first board before reading this based on a salesperson specialized in snowboards. Do you have an Instagram handle to follow you? Thanks

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Jose, I don’t play Instagram at the moment.

      Reply