A Skier's Guide to Rocker and Camber

A Skier's Guide to Rocker and Camber

Ski shapes have come a long way since the first commercially-produced pairs of skis hit the slopes over a hundred years ago. Originally flat-bottomed with a simple upturn at the tip to prevent catching on ground hazards, skis now come with a variety of curvatures. 

While there are many different combinations of ski curvatures, they can all be boiled down to two simple concepts —camber and rocker.

What are Camber and Rocker?

Camber and rocker describe the curvature of a ski when viewed from the side.

Skis with camber feature midsections that are slightly arched off the snow when unweighted.

Example of camber in a ski
Camber refers to a slight arch in the midsection of a ski, shown exaggerated above.


Skis with rocker have tips or tails curving upwards.

Rockered ski, from the side

While pretty much every ski has upturned tips, these tips are typically not considered true rockered tips unless the upturn begins before the widest point of the tip.

Point at which an upturn would be considered true rocker.

An upturn that begins before the dotted line above would be considered rocker. An upturn that begins after the dotted line is just... an upturn.

Why is Camber Important for a Ski?

A cambered shape provides superior edge control, particularly when carving turns on hard, packed snow. The cambered shape also provides a slight "springy" or "bouncy" feel. This configuration has historically been favored for its precision and stability, making it a top choice for high-speed racers and groomed resort slopes.

As a drawback, a strong camber profile can make it more difficult to achieve float in powder conditions.

Why is Rocker Important for a Ski?

Rockered skis excel in soft snow conditions, offering outstanding flotation and easy turn initiation. They're highly maneuverable and work well for navigating powder, making them a favorite among backcountry enthusiasts and terrain park riders.

As a drawback, a rockered ski means the tip and/or tail are "rockered" up in the air, and you have less of the ski’s edge in contact with the slope when carving. This can make rockered skis less ideal in icy conditions. To compensate, skiers who choose a heavily-rockered ski will often choose one in a longer length.

Mixing Rocker and Camber

Over the years, manufacturers have found creative ways to combine both rocker and camber into a single ski to effectively address specific performance requirements. 

 A ski with a Camber/Rocker profile
A ski with a Camber/Rocker profile.
A ski with a rocker/camber/rocker profile
A ski with a Rocker/Camber/Rocker profile.


Selecting A Ski Profile

The exact combination of rocker and camber that will work best for you depends largely on your ski preferences and ability.

Groomed Slopes

Cambered skis are prized for their stability at high speeds and reliable edge control on groomed runs. Skis with a combination of rocker and camber can also perform well, especially in variable snow conditions.

If you ski primarily on groomed trails, consider a ski with one of these profiles — 

  • Camber
  • Camber/Rocker
  • Rocker/Camber/Rocker


If your ski day takes you through a variety of conditions and slope types, an all-mountain ski can be a good choice.

All-Mountain skis often come in a Rocker/Camber/Rocker profile. Different skis will have more or less pronounced rocker and camber, and many will have a flat or only slightly-rockered tail.


Fully rockered skis excel in deep powder thanks to their early-rising tips and tails, preventing edge catching. Skis with a blend of rocker and camber also perform well in powder.

Choose a ski with one of the following profiles, looking for a ski with especially pronounced rocker —

  • Rocker
  • Rocker/Camber/Rocker


Cambered skis offer a stability and springiness perfect for terrain parks, while rockered designs simplify transitioning from nose to tail and are popular for avoiding hang-ups on boxes and rails, making them ideal for jibbing.

Consider skis with a "twin tip" design (identical tip and tail shape), with a profile such as —

  • Camber
  • Rocker/Camber/Rocker

Putting it All Together

    Ultimately, the choice of a camber/rocker profile depends on your individual preferences and the conditions in which you plan to ski. Rather than getting stressed finding the "perfect" ski profile for you, just relax and remember, there's no such thing as a bad ski day. Grab some skis, have some fun, and don't be afraid to trade in and switch out your gear whenever you're ready to try something new.

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