With so many relatively new options on the market today, deciding whether you want to buy a reverse-camber (aka "rockered") snowboard or a more traditional cambered board – not to mention the additional option of a “flat” base – can seem almost impossible.
We hope to make your decision a little easier by breaking down the different options on the market today, by shape, by brand/model, and by riding style, so you can choose the snowboard that will take your riding to the next level. Check out the video below for the visual lowdown, then read on below that for detailed information.
Almost all snowboards have an upturned tip and tail, which allows the board to float over various snow conditions, whether going forward or switch.
The terms “camber,” “rocker,” and “flat” are all used to describe the shape of the snowboard’s base between the upturned tip and tail sections.
Camber refers to the curvature of the base of the snowboard which, for the past 20 years or so, has been the norm. If you lay a cambered board flat on the ground, you will notice that the board rests on two points near the nose and tail of the board, with the center portion of the board between the bindings slightly elevated.
Rocker is essentially curvature in the opposite direction (i.e. reverse camber); however, there are many different forms of rocker in the snowboarding world today, so it’s not quite as simple as that.
Flat bases have no curvature whatsoever – neither camber nor rocker – which produces a feel somewhere in between the two extremes.
Mervin Manufacturing – which makes GNU and Lib Tech brand snowboards – first started playing around with rocker a couple of years ago with the Lib Tech Skate Banana (which is still one of the most popular rockered boards today). Mervin’s “Banana Tech” (aka BTX) rocker features reverse-camber between the bindings, with flat sections from under the feet and to the tip and tail.
K2 Snowboards also jumped on the rocker bandwagon early with the K2 Gyrator model (named in honor of the 20th anniversary of K2’s first-ever snowboard model), which featured a flat base between the bindings and rocker from the bindings out to the tip and tail.
Since those early rockered boards hit the market and riders got a sense of what the technology allows for on the hill, almost every snowboard manufacturer has introduced their own version – sometime many different versions – of rockered or flat snowboards, while still producing plenty of traditional cambered boards as well.
If you’ve been snowboarding before, you probably already know what a cambered board feels like. Camber works with the sidecut of a snowboard to add stability and pop when making turns or ollying. Cambered boards feel especially responsive when carving turns on groomed snow, as the camber stores and returns energy when it is flexed in the process of making a turn.
Rocker does not return the same energy when coming out of a turn as camber, but that might be just what you’re looking for. Rockered boards make buttering easier, and typically float through powder and soft snow with ease (making it unnecessary to set your bindings back toward the tail for added float). Rockered boards can still carve turns because of the sidecut of the board.
A snowboard with a flat base will feel somewhere in between. Buttering will be easier than on a cambered board, and you’ll feel more pop than with a rockered board.
And while it all seems simple enough now, many companies are producing hybrid board designs that feature more than one of the above technologies. For example, Burton’s Flying V board features rocker in between the bindings, cambered sections underneath the bindings, and a rockered shape outside of the bindings, creating a feel that combines the best features of both technologies (at least for certain applications).
Some of the key brands that are making rockered and/or flat boards include: Burton, Lib Tech, GNU, K2, Capita, Ride, Forum, Nitro, Flow, Salomon, Rome, Signal, DC, and Academy.
Unfortunately, each of these brands has invented their own terms for what are often common base profiles, making comparison shopping that much more difficult. In the section below, we’ll try to cut through the confusion and get down to the underlying differences and similarities in different brands’ rocker technologies.
First we’ll break down the different rocker profiles into common categories, with a list of equivalent brand-specific technology names underneath. Then we’ll provide a brand-by-brand breakdown of all the different rocker technologies every manufacturer is now producing.
Below is the list of various different base shape profiles, with the different shapes listed from nose to tail. (Remember that all snowboards feature upturned tips and tails.) We've tried to classify these by the riding style they are mainly aimed at as well.
Underneath each profile is a list of equivalent tech terms that different brands use to describe that specific profile, with the manufacturer’s name in parentheses. And while each manufacturer will tweak their designs a little differently, we hope this breakdown will help you compare base designs that are generally similar.
Of course, nothing beats on-snow experience, so we’d encourage you to demo some of these boards before making any purchasing decisions.
1) Reduced Camber: Traditional snowboards have anywhere between 15 mm and 5 mm of camber underneath. Reduced camber boards have 5 mm or less of camber built in.
• Reduced Camber (Burton) = Low Camber (Nitro)
2) Zero Camber: No curvature on the base whatsoever – neither camber nor rocker.
• Zero Camber (Burton) = Flat Profile (Salomon)
3) Rocker-Flat-Rocker: Zero camber between the bindings, with rocker in the tip and tail from the bindings out.
• Party Rocker (Burton) = LowRize Rocker (Ride) = Jib Rocker (K2) = Powder Rocker (K2) = Bender/BDR (DC & Academy) = FK/Flat Kick (Capita) = Three Stage Park Rocker (Signal) = Reverse-Jib (Rome) = Pow Rocker (Salomon)
4) Flat-Rocker-Flat: Rocker between the bindings, with flat sections underfoot.
• Banana Tech/BTX (Lib Tech & GNU) = Reverse-Mountain Camber (Rome) = All Terrain Rocker (K2) = Reverse-Free Camber (Rome) = I-Rock (Flow)
5) Rocker-Flat-Rocker-Flat-Rocker: Rocker between the bindings, with flat sections underfoot, and additional rockered sections outside the bindings.
• V-Rocker (Burton)
5) Continuous Rocker: Rocker throughout the base of the board.
• Chilly Dog (Forum) = Street Rocker (Arbor) = Pressure Rocker (Salomon)
6) Camber-Rocker-Camber: Rocker between the bindings, with cambered sections underfoot.
• R.C. Tech (Never Summer) = C2BTX (Lib Tech) = Gullwing (Nitro)
7) Rocker-Camber-Rocker-Camber-Rocker: Rocker between the bindings, with cambered sections underfoot, and additional rockered sections outside the bindings.
• Flying V (Burton)
8) Rocker-Camber-Rocker: Camber between the bindings, with rockered tips and tails.
• Hybrid (Rome) = Wavelength (Signal)
9) Directional Rocker: Rocker in the tip of the board, with the rest of the base being either flat or cambered.
• S-Rocker (Burton) = One FK (Capita) = Pow-Rock (Flow) = S-Camber (Rome) = Wavelength (Signal)
Below is the brand-by-brand breakdown of base technologies, with examples of different models of board given for each base technology.
- V-Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Hero, Custom V-Rocker, Joystick, The Social (women's), X8, Custom Smalls V-Rocker Youth, Feelgood Smalls V-Rocker Youth
- Party Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Dominant, Fix, Blender (women's)
- Flying V (Rocker-Camber-Rocker-Camber-Rocker): Easy Livin’ Flying V, Flying V
- S-Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Flat): Fish, Malolo
- Zero Camber (Flat): Jeremy Jones, Chopper Youth, Chicklet Youth
- Reduced Camber: Troop (women's), Feather (women's), Clash
- Banana Tech - aka BTX (Flat-Rocker-Flat): Skate Banana, Skunk Ape, TRS
- C2 Banana Tech - aka C2 BTX (Camber-Rocker-Camber): Travis Rice C2 Power Banana, Dark Series
- Banana Tech - aka BTX (Flat-Rocker-Flat): Park Pickle, Carbon Credit Series, B-Street (women's), B-Pro
- Catch Free (Reduced Camber): Brigade, Anagram, Mini Turbo, Moment, Kando
- Flatline (Flat): Slayblade, Believer, Eco Pop (women's), AirdU (women's)
- Jib Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Parkstar, Jibpan, WWW Rocker, Vandal, Va Va Voom Rocker (women's)
- All Terrain Rocker (Flat-Rocker-Flat): Turbo Dream
- Powder Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Gyrator
- FK – aka Flat Kick (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Sierrascope FK, Ultrafear FK, Indoor Survival FK, Horrorscope FK, Space Metal Fantasy FK (women's), Green Machine FK
- Pow FK (Rocker-Flat-Flat): Charlie Slasher
- LowRize Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Crush, Machete, DH2, Canvas (women's)
- Chilly Dog (Continuous Rocker): Youngblood Chillydog, Scallywag, Destroyer Chillydog, Dreamboat, Spinster Chillydog (women's)
- Gullwing (Camber-Rocker-Camber): Runaway Gullwing (women's), Sub Zero LE, Team Gullwing
- Low Camber (Reduced Camber): Rook, Swindle, Fate (women's), Runaway (women's)
- I-Rock (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Era, Jewel (women's)
- Pow-Rock (Rocker-Flat-Flat): Solitude
- Flat Profile (Zero Camber): Answer
- Pow Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Sick Stick
- Pressure Rocker (Continuous Rocker): Salvatore Sanchez, Gypsy (women's)
- Reverse-Mtn Camber (Flat-Rocker-Flat): Notch 1985
- Reverse-Free Camber (Flat-Rocker-Flat): Pusher
- Reverse-Jib (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Artifact 1985
- S-Camber (Rocker-Camber-Camber): Notch
- Hybrid (Rocker-Camber-Rocker): Anthem SS
- Three Stage Park Rocker (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Park Rocker
- Wavelength (Rocker-Camber-Rocker): Omni, Hammer Rocker
- Bender (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): BDR (aka Bender Done Right)
- Bender (Rocker-Flat-Rocker): Propaganda Reverse Camber