Ski Camber and Rocker Explained | Mpora Ski Workshop

Confused about ski camber and rocker profiles? Here's our guide

Understanding what camber and rocker is can be confusing at first due to the many different terms ski brands like to use. But it’s really pretty straightforward as, once you break it down, it simply describes the general profile of a ski. The profile of a ski is the shape they form when placed on a flat surface. The three main types of profile to understand are camber, reverse camber and rocker (or early rise). 


Traditionally skis all had a camber profile. This means that while laying flat on the ground the waist of the ski would sit off the floor whilst the tip and tail would make contact.

This profile provides edge grip to the ski on piste and on firm snow. When the ski is under pressure during a turn the ski can flex fully without the tip and tail losing edge contact. This traditional camber design is still fundamental to modern skis in all categories, with designers incorporating it into the vast majority of skis on the market today.

Reverse Camber

Just as ski shapes evolved in terms of width and sidecut, so did the camber profiles. Along with creating wider skis with sidecut, designers started to play around flattening the camber profiles and adding extra rise to tip and tails. In the most progressive examples manufacturers started to fully reverse the profile creating the iconic Volant Spatulas, designed by legend Shane McConkey.

A classic rocker, camber, rocker profile.

Shane drew inspiration from water skis and applied this to powder skiing, which resulted in a fully reverse camber and reverse sidecut ski. The reverse camber shape is the opposite to camber (as the name suggests), as when the skis are lying on a flat surface, the tips and tails rise up from the waist. This allows the tips and tails to rise higher in the soft snow creating better floatation and easier turn initiation.

Rocker or Early Rise

From the extreme shape of the Spatulas the rocker and camber profile of skis nowadays has generally mellowed out. The terms rocker and early rise have been adopted to describe the blend of shapes in between camber and reverse camber.

It can be confusing but these terms are often used interchangeably depending on manufacturer and the nature of the ski.  Broadly speaking piste skis still have full camber profiles (though some are starting to incorporate early rise at the tip), whereas almost all manufacturers are incorporating some form of early rise at the tip into the all-mountain ski category.

Most freeride, touring and powder skis will see early rise at both the tip and tail.

Picture this rocker-camber-rocker profile as a moustache shape. The ski retains camber underfoot for grip on hard snow while using early rise of the tip and tail to improve floatation and the ability to turn in soft snow.

It is this blend that will be unique to each shape and have a massive impact on the ski performance. If you have ever skied a rockered ski on piste and felt the tip flap you’ll understand why too much of this is not a great thing. On the other end of the spectrum if you’ve struggled to turn your skis in deeper snow you’ll be thankful for a rockered set on your next powder run.


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