According to Snow Sports Retail TRAK's trends to watch in
2011/12, rocker/reverse camber snowboard sales continue to rise to
where "now 70% of all snowboards sold are rocker." Rocker snowboard
sales account for more than 70% of all in-season snowboard sales
this season. Sales of rocker boards increased 13% in units and 11%
in dollars sold through December.
Several weeks ago I spent the afternoon at the Burton factory in
Burlington, Vt., discussing the various products for 2012 and
trying to get straight all of the variations of the latest
snowboard construction modes: rocker, springloaded, and camber.
Camber is the easiest to define as it's what we've always
understood. Easier to see visually on a ski, this is the slightly
rising central area which, upon pressure, goes into reverse camber
helping create the turn. Ski guru Georges Joubert
writes in his book Skiing: An art…A Technique, that "The
distribution of pressure exerted against the snow over the length
of the ski is a function of the ski's stiffness and camber: a. the
force necessary to flatten the camber is transmitted to the snow
equally by the two extremities of the ski; b. the softer the
central part of the ski is, the more localized under the foot will
be the pressure exerted by the weight of the skier against the
snow." With such a complicated explanation, it was a pleasure to
read the Burton catalog's very simple statement that "camber
distributes weight evenly over the entire length of the board
allowing for smooth continuous control from tip to tail."
For side view, imagine a snowboard with slight rise of camber
throughout except for those final non-contact points at tip and
tail. That's the "traditional" camber board.
To make things more complicated, there is also now a flat camber
shape. Yes, it's simply flat. There is no camber at all. Such a
board may seem more stable and easier to work when doing tricks as
the reaction area to moves is stable and consistent
throughout. K2 refers to this as "Flatline Technology."
A rocker board, (Burton calls this their "V rocker") is sort of
the opposite of camber. It could have three sections of this
shape called rocker: towards the tip, towards the tail, and dead
center, under the binding area. Some companies describe this as a
reverse camber board with subtle rises either at the ends or
blended throughout which is why the shape outline in profile it can
look like a gentle arc curving upward. It's great in powder because
it loves to float, and it's good on hardpack as the rocker area is
easily balanced. For that reason, it's also a great board for
Then there is the rocker camber (reverse) board, which Burton
also refers to as
"Springloaded." The side view of the board looks totally rippled
with only the three contact areas and that is where it is rocker:
near the tip, near the tail, and under the binding or it can also
vary from what Transworld Snowboarding defines as "a small rise in
the tips or drastic bends throughout the entire length of the
board." Then, just to confuse you, they also refer to this
shape as a camber humps board. This is described as "contact zones
between and outside the feet [which] deliver stability with the
snappy suspension of camber underfoot for pre-loaded pop. Rocker in
the tip and tail…"
Here, in Vermont, we rarely have the advantage of the board's
ability to float in powder, but the Burton design includes a
construction area sandwich between the tip and tail rocker sections
which they describe as frostbite and camber.
Perhaps Burton developed this from their special Burton teaching
boards as used in our LTR program as the "frostbite" edges are
extended "slightly for edge hold on hard icy conditions." In
discussing this with Chuck Janisse, he pointed out that his Lib
Tech board specifically has such an unusual edge cut which is
outstanding for its ability to hold on icy surfaces.
Yes, the pun is obvious that this seems to be the cutting edge of
As to the ride, it's all how you define "playfulness" as this
can also be described as squirrley or unstable. Burton describes it
as "catch-free" playfulness. A test ride on Burton's Feel Good
Flying V (which is not to be confused with the V- rockers but
instead in the category of "Springloaded" due to the blend of
rocker and frostbite/camber) helped me determine my latest purchase
of a snowboard this season.
From tip to tail it reads as follows: nose of board; rocker tip
section; frostbite/camber; binding area is V-rocker;
frostbite/camber; rocker tail; then final tail section of the
board. Sideview is a wiggly worm look! The board was very
active, yet held closely on the hard pack. I felt as if the rocker
aspect was insisting that I make a lot of quality turns. It seemed
to me that this was the best of both worlds, despite the fact that
the balance point will take some getting used to.
Sound confusing? It certainly is, which means that the best way
to understand any of this to check it out with a demo. Good
luck and have a sweet ride!
Chickie Rosenberg is a AASI Level II Snowboard Instructor at
Killington Resort, author of Snowboarding for Women: a guide for
the Betty Shred wannabe and Snowboarding for Men: a guide for