How to choose the camber of a snowboard?
In the process of choosing a snowboard, you will come across the camber options, also known as profiles. Do not confuse them with the snowboard shape.
Shapes are basically what the snowboard looks like from above, it can be twin-tipped, directional or directional twin. If you are not familiar with shapes, you should read our guide about how to choose a snowboard shape.
Cambers are not new to snowboarding but they have become super popular over the last decade. Riders (and manufacturers) began realizing how it could affect the performance of their snowboards and since then dozens of new cambers appeared on the market.
What is a camber? The camber, or profile, is the bend of the snowboard when it sits flat on the ground and you look at it from the side. This bend will give a personality to the board. It can improve its playfulness, it can make it more or less forgiving, catchy or catch-free, more stable or more floaty. There are many different cambers but we will keep things simple and stick with 6 only. These 6 main options will help you understand how snowboard profiles work. Every manufacturer have their own tweaks and names but they are all derived from one of those 6.
- Traditional camber
- TBT or Triple Base Technology
- Reverse camber
- Flat camber
- W camber
- Camber + Rocker
The traditional camber, also called classic camber was born with snowboarding. Long before reverse, banana or W cambers joined the game, the traditional camber was ruling the snowboard industry. It is not the easiest profile to manage but it is the one that delivers the highest performance. If you let your board sit flat on the ground, unweighted, it looks like a long upward arc, running from one contact point to the other, each of these being close to the tips. Cambers are known to offer stability, precision, pop and powerful energy transmissions. They are best suited for carving or riding hard and fast, they handle speed with ease. The downside is, a traditional camber is not forgiving and makes edge-catch more frequent with beginners.
TBT or Triple Base Technology
This is a very specific profile developed and used by two brands, Bataleon and Lobster snowboards. We wanted to explain it as it is quite different from what you can see on the market. It's not really a profile and yet it is a profile. Basically, you get the base of your nose and tail that's divided into 3 distinct zones. It raises on each side which brings the contact points away from the snow when you're going straight, making the board catchfree and forgiving. The midsection of the board (between the bindings) is flat to offer control and response. When you lean on one edge you get the full edge contact giving you the best of both worlds. Control AND forgiveness.
There is no base uplift under or between the bindings. This creates a stable area of control underfoot.
Uplift From Bindings To Widest Point
Sidebase uplift gradually increases outside of the bindings to the contact points. The gradual rise creates smooth transition zones for turning and buttering, and the raised contact points makes the board less susceptible to edge catch.
Side Kick Tip
The amount of base uplift increases dramatically after the effective edge. This draws on ship hull design and creates a planing surface with incredible float in powder, which also helps the board cut through rough terrain.
We know this tech is a bit tricky to understand, watch this video and learn how the Triple Base Technology works.
The reverse camber gave a good shake to the snowboard industry when it was first released. The reverse or banana camber is pretty much the opposite of a traditional camber. Instead of having the center of the board bending upward, it is the opposite. The lowest point of the profile is the center of the board and both tips raise from the snow, making the board look like a banana. There are many benefits of riding such a camber. The contact points raise above the snow and make the board less likely to catch an edge. The board feels more forgiving and pivots easily. Turn initiations are smoother and powder floatation is enhanced. Reverse cambers are also great for freestyling. They boost the playful feel and make pressing and jibbing easy.
But there are downsides of course. Reverse cambers are not as stable and precise as traditional cambers. They are also less responsive and less poppy. Reverse cambers prefer cruising to charging. We are not going to say reverse cambers are better or worse than traditional cambers. They just do different things and it is really up to you to decide what you need most.
The flat camber is the "in-between". Also called zero camber, it is completely flat and intends to provide the best of both worlds. It offers more grip, more reactivity and more stability than a reverse camber and it is more fogiving, more playful and easier to manage than a traditional camber.
The flat camber is a good option if you change terrains often. If you practice your freestyle skills, surf powder and carve groomers all in the same day, the flat camber is a good option for you.
The W Camber, also called hybrid camber, medley camber or mixed camber, is a combination of rockers and cambers. When the flat camber is basically watering down the bad sides of traditional and reverse cambers, the W Camber is enhancing the benefits of them. You have an actual camber under your feet which provides control, response and pop, and you get 3 rockered sections, 1 between the bindings and 1 in the nose and 1 in the tail.
Each of these offer playfulness, forgiveness, floatation and fluidity. The hybrid camber is the best compromise if you want the best of all cambers.
Camber + Rocker
The Camber + Rocker is also known as Camrock. This is the last option of our camber selection and as its name describes, it is made of two rockers in the nose and tail and a section of camber running between the bindings. Unlike the W Camber, you don't get the reverse camber between your feet.
This makes pivots a little more difficult but it offers more control, more response and more pop. The Camrock delivers the loose feel of a rocker with the solid grip of a camber. It is great for riding on and off piste and have fun on all terrains.
This was a brief overview of what's available on the market in terms of camber. As we said in the introduction, there are many more options, each being a tweak of one of the above. You may find asymmetrical profiles for instance, with a camber that is setback towards the tail or with a rocker that is longer in the nose, best suited for surfing powder. The goal of this guide is to help you understand how cambers and rockers really work and what they bring to your board. You need to choose your camber depending on your style and skills. Every rider has his own preference and each camber will compliment a style or another.