Reverse camber technology continues to evolve.
It’s hard not to notice more people rocking out on the ski slopes these days.
Over the past decade, rocker and reverse camber equipment has steadily taken over the ski and snowboard industry. The new technology — with its raised tip and tail — has its pros and cons but without doubt has opened doors for riders of all levels and made the mountain more accessible for the weekend warrior. Rocker is beginner-friendly, park fun and powder-slashing ready.
“If your average skier is skiing powder or chop and they don’t have a bunch of days to burn, this early rise (rocker) is a real equalizer,” Sports LTD manager Eric Bickert said. “They rip. Are all my skis rocker? No, but they have a place.”
Understanding rocker’s place and recognizing individual riding needs are crucial to finding the right fit. There are an overwhelming number of choices out there. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it all, understand this: Rocker or reverse camber means a raised tip and tail in one manner or another.
Regular camber or reverse?
There is no simple answer to the question that was on most riders’ lips during the past decade. It all depends on individual style and day-to-day conditions.
Since it all began with regular camber, let’s start there. When a regular camber ski or snowboard lies flat, the center arches up and the outside contact points are pushed into the snow. Think of a low rainbow.
With pushed down contact points, regular camber generally offers more stability and edge control. This is all good when a rider is looking for consistent landings and reliable stability at high speeds, but more edge also means a tougher learning curve for beginners who are face-planting while picking up the basics.
When a ski or board has reverse camber, flip that rainbow upside down. The tip and tail are now raised out of the snow. There are many variations on this, of course, but let’s not jump ahead.
Obviously, raised tip and tail means less edge catch for beginners as they start linking turns. It also provides a looser, skateboard feel on the snow. Not hard to connect that this equals a good time in the park and more float in the powder.
“When there’s powder, it allows you to go enjoy yourself because you put less energy in and get more out of it,” Bicket said.
Riders who aren’t into powder or park and already know the basics should probably stick to regular camber. Regular camber was made for those who love cutting hard and fast on fresh corduroy runs.
“If it’s a hard-pack day, don’t take your rockers out. If it’s a chop or mashed potato, or just plain old knee-deep, that’s when you take the rockers out,” Bicket said.
Strip it down and reverse camber is good for beginners, advanced powder hounds looking for cruise control and riders trying to up style points in the park.
Rocking park performance
Since regular camber isn’t as fluid or loose, new tricks are easier to learn on reverse camber, especially on rails and boxes (jibbing) where edges are the enemy.
While reverse definitely has the edge on rails, or lack thereof, an argument can be made that regular camber has better pop. Riders can load up on those pushed-down contact points before launching. Reverse camber combats this with increased carbon stringers and usually a stiffer flex to complement the degree of reverse camber. So hypothetically, riders should be able to get sufficient pop out of either.
Consistent landings, however, are absolutely brought to you by regular camber. While it’s easier to grab an extra rotation on reverse, it’s also easier to wash out on landings. Without that extra edge bite, sometimes skis and boards just keep spinning. It takes skills to truly master the reverse camber landing, but it can be done.