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Camber Comparison

Snowboard Magazine's camber comparison in Snowboard Magazine Buyer’s Guide is so comprehensive and complete; we knew we needed to provide it to you online. Seriously – the boys at Snowboard Magazine know their stuff. The below article written by Mike Basher lays down the story on the different camber styles flooding the snowboard racks this year.

Tech Files: Camber or Reverse Camber?

Over the past couple years, you've probably asked, "Rocker or camber - what's the difference? Which one will make me a better rider? Which will I have more fun on?"

Well, the answer to those questions might not be as simple as you'd hoped. What will help you figure out which choice you should make in a board depends more on ability and riding style than the technology itself. Here are a few points that you should address while staring at a shelf full of boards at your local shop. (or at Eternalsnow.com)

Beginner or novice?

Be honest with yourself here, because assessing your abilities realistically will help you get better at snowboarding more quickly. If you answered, 'beginner or novice," chances are, reverse camber is a better choice for you.  Across the board (no pun intended), reverse camber is a smarter choice for beginners. Since each tip of the board isn't loaded into the snow's surface by camber, a reverse-cambered board will release from the snow's grasp easily, which helps turn initiation.

Intermediate or expert?

Here's where things turn grey and individual preferences take over. If you've got some skill and experience, chances are you've already developed your riding habits, which means you know what you want out of a board. Usually, the better you get, the more aggressively you ride. This is why beginner boards have always been softer than models geared towards experts. Better riders ride with more authority. They go bigger and faster, and need a board that can get them there. Traditionally, camber has always been the answer. With the introduction of reverse camber, many good riders are struck scratching their heads. If you're skeptical of the power of reverse camber, consider that Travis Rice won the X Games on hardpack snow with Lib Techchnologies C2 Power Banana.

There are many misconceptions when talking about camber these days. One is that you can't jib on camber anymore. Well, we've been jibbing on camber for 30 years, so that's obviously not true. One thing that is true, though, is that reverse camber generally makes jibbing easier. Once a board's camber breaks the plane of being flat and passes into being reversed, the core and all of its materials are put at a disadvantage and effectively act weaker (softer). If you were to compile all the materials used to make a cambered board into one without camber, they would have completely different characteristics on snow. As a result, manufacturers are coming out with different variations of reverse camber. Here they are, broken down into four generalized, easy-to-remember categories.

Kinked between the feet

Kinked Between The Feet Snowboards

The kink in the board's waist lets the tips release easily, but when flat-based, the tips do make contact with the snow, which helps track straight and generally results in more power out of the tips for a more aggressive ride. These boards are usually a better choice than camber for riding powder, and are the most stable of all reverse camber on hard-pack. Examples: Lib Tech's Skate Banana, GNU's Park Pickle, Never Summer's EVO-R and Burton's Joystick.

Kicked up outside the bindings

Kicked Up Outside The Feet Snowboards

These are the freest-feeling boards you'll set foot on this season. The kicked-up tips make the board feel shorter than it is while flat-based. Once you tip it up on edge, the whole board is there for your use, but the short contact to the snow makes these boards a great choice for jibbing. They release from the snow very easily and allow you to stay centered over the board while ollieing. Conversely, they float the easiest on powder due to the angle of attack over the tip and tail section of the board. These boards will feel right at home while cruising at low speeds and in powder (depending on flex). Examples: Capita's Indoor Survival FK, DC's BDR, Ride's DH2 and Smokin's MIP DTX.

Dead flat

Dead-Flat Snowboards

As if reverse vs. camber was not confusing enough, now there is a new kid in town. Flat base is an interesting feel, to say the least. While it doesn't have the forgiveness of reverse camber, it doesn't have all the aggressiveness of good ol' camber. Some might say it's juuust right. Flat boards are right there when you need them, but are never too much to handle. While they might not be as easy to get floating in powder as reverse camber, the hold their own in the pipe, on jumps, and hauling ass down groomers. Example: K2's SlayBlade.

Standard camber

Traditional Camber Snowboards

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that camber’s dead. They’re wrong. One thing that most reverse camber boards are missing out on is stability. Sure, they are great for jibbing and powder, but what do we all ride the most from day to day? Groomed trails. This is where camber is right at home. The structural resiliency that is camber can’t be beat at speed on hardpack. Camber will always track straight, will always power you out of a turn, and it will always be there for you – just like that girl you dumped who you’re still kicking yourself about. Examples: Nitro’s Rook and Rome’s Mod.

That's a total of five things to consider when making your big board purchase this year. Which characteristic best suits your style, ability, and needs? Match everything up, and you'll have a great year. Don't believe all the marketing hype – just concentrate on the cold, hard facts.