Parlor Explains: What Does Camber Actually Mean?

Parlor Camber from parlorskis on Vimeo.

Camber is one of the elements of the ski construction that's really important. It gives the ski a totally different feel. A flat camber ski and a traditional camber ski, even with identical dimensions, have a totally different feel. They respond really differently when you put pressure on them; a flat camber ski is more subtle in and out of the turn, a traditional camber ski, takes more effort to initiate the turn put provides more energy and pop at the bottom of the turn. The camber profile is one of the key design elements of the ski that we use to control the performance, and feel of the ski.

Traditional Camber

A traditional camber ski is off the ground in the middle and touching on either end. When you go to load that ski, you have to do more work to deform the ski to get it into the arc of the turn. It rebounds further and thus gives you more energy in the bottom of the turn.

Flat Camber

The flat camber ski is already a little bit initiated into the turn. When you go to roll the ski up on edge, it's a little bit easier into the turn and and the exit of the turn is a little bit smoother. This profile is much more user friendly in mixed snow conditions, bumps and off piste terrain in general.

flat camber

Traditional Camber with Early Rise

Some of our other platforms, for example the Kingfisher, we use traditional camber underfoot and then early rise in the tip and tail. If you picture the tips splayed really far apart, and that's going to give the ski a lot of floatation in the soft snow but allow it to ski much shorter on the hard groomers. It makes quicker turns on the groomers, and more elongated, surfy/fun turns in the soft snow.


Reverse Camber with Early Rise (Full Rocker)

As if there was not enough variation already, the industry throws a new term into the mix: Rocker. This is a term that comes from the surfing world, if you place a surf board on a flat surface and push on one end it rocks back and forth, the more extreme the curve on the bottom of the board the more rocking....hence "Rocker". It is not a term that really works well to describe a ski's camber, because more there is a bit more variation. 

reverse camber

For our wider platforms the Mountain Jay, Ja-pow, and Mcfellon Pro skis we use various combinations of fully reverse camber underfoot into longer tip and tail splays. Basically the more tip and tail rise, the less ski is on the snow when it is running straight, this leads to a looser ski, that likes to make smeary turns and gives more flotation in the powder. As the amount of reverse camber and tip and tail rise come down, you get more contact area on the snow and a more solid carving portion of the ski.