What Ski Camber, Rocker and Sidecut Do I Need?

Whatever your style or ability, there’s a ski construction designed just for you. Learn what types of camber, rocker and sidecut are tailored for your own taste – and match your height up our suggested ski size – to wow the shop kids on the floor when you’re browsing new sticks this season.

Despite sidecut and tip-shapes looking fairly stagnant since the introduction of taper, rocker and fat skis there are subtle and incredibly important refinements made to your equipment that affect the way new skis handle. Slight changes to the sidecut, to the blending of the tip shapes into the sidecut and to the shape of rocker, have made skis more nimble, predictable and intuitive. At Armada, we focus our energies on making skis that perform to our athletes’ highest demands and, in doing so, develop technologies that benefit your own skiing.

As we look to engineer new products we need to understand where the skis are going to be used, be it Powder/Groomer and everything else mother nature throws at us. This gives us a baseline to tailor the amount of camber, rocker and the various sidecut attributes to maximize your enjoyment and performance.

 

CAMBER

A ski that spends 100% of its time on hardpack will receive a healthy dollop of camber, a suspension of sorts for your ski. Strong, tall and lengthy camber will keep your ski feeling energetic on groomers, returning the energy you put into your turn to literally propel you across the hill as you exit one turn and enter the next. Of course, some skiers don’t want this forceful rebound of energy, so we design various camber shapes to alleviate the high-performance attribute we’ve learned to create. Take a Powder Ski, for example: you want a minimal amount of Camber on these to reduce the “hookey” and unpredictable steering you get when you bring your Super-G skis into untracked snow. A basic rule of thumb here is that you want lots of camber when the terrain is firm and groomed, and you want minimal yet positive camber when you’re looking soft-snow focused.

Camber: AR Nose
Match your skis base-to-base and notice that the midsections arc away from each other, focusing the contact points with the snow closer to the tip and tail. That’s your ski’s camber.

 

ROCKER

Think of your skis’ rocker like the way a boat’s hull cuts through the water. Speedboats have those long, sleek, gradually drawn-up hulls that plane easily with excellent stability at high speed; but if you’re slower and attempting to wake-surf you risk taking water on board or even sinking. A similar concept goes for skis. If you’re aiming for deep untracked terrain with speed in mind you will prefer a long, low rocker shape in the forebody. This will ensure stability at speed with adequate float. If you prefer slower tree skiing in the deepest conditions, you’ll want a bit more mobility and pivot-ability – requiring a steeper rocker shape. Back to our seagoing comparison; a tug boat spins, re-directs and is generally more maneuverable than a speedboat, think of the maneuverable tugboat as your steep tip/tail rocker ski, and the speedboat’s gradual hull for your hot, nasty, badass fast freeride ski.

The JJ 2.0's steeper EST Rocker in the tip lets it float in soft snow conditions, and keeps it playful for buttering and boosting.
The JJ 2.0‘s steeper EST Rocker in the tip lets it float in soft snow conditions, and keeps it maneuverable for buttering, boosting and other tricks.

 

SIDECUT & TAPER

Sidecut is simply the difference in width between the narrower part of the ski underfoot and the wider tail (and even wider-yet tip). This “arc” creates the path the ski will follow in a perfect turn, giving you edge-hold on the carve and helping to dictate the turn shapes you make down the hill. A long ski with a less pronounced sidecut creates a longer turn radius for bigger turns that traverse the hill at a slower rate versus its descent – imagine a SuperG or Downhill ski. The opposite is more of a “slalom” ski – where a larger difference between waist width and wide tip and tail shortens the turn radius, meaning you cross the hill with every turn rather than descend the fall-line.

A tight turn radius can be exhausting for a skier always working to keep the skis moving with no time to relax between turns. Thus came the development of “Taper” to our sidecut shapes. With today’s tapered skis we employ a tight radius over a much shorter section of the ski to give you this tight shape when you need, but to also give you the ability to hold a turn shape different than the sidecut. With a tapered ski you benefit from more versatility while giving up little on the race / fall-line crossing ability.

The narrower waist - compared to the wider tip and tail - creates the sidecut on the Invictus 108Ti.
A narrower waist – compared to the wider tip and tail – creates the sidecut on the big-fast-turning Invictus 108Ti.

 

FIND YOUR SKI SIZE

Skier Height in feet & inches Skier Height in centimeters (cm) Suggested Ski Length (cm)
4’4″ 132 115-130
4’6″ 137 125-140
4’8″ 142 130-145
4’10” 147 135-150
4’10” 147 135-150
5’0″ 152 135-155
5’2″ 158 145-165
5’4″ 163 150-170
5’6″ 168 155-175
5’8″ 173 160-180
5’10” 178 165-185
6’0″ 183 170-190
6’2″ 188 175-195
6’4″ 193 180-200

THE BREAKDOWN

Skiers staying on hardpack want lots of camber with little taper – giving you unbeatable edge-hold for going like a bat out of hell. For quick turns a tight (small) turn radius will keep your skis traversing the hill, while a long radius will keep you pointed down the fall line.For soft snow you have to decide if taper is your thing, and how much rocker. Soft snow + fast speeds usually handle nicely with lower rocker and less taper. For a more versatile, playful ride the tip/tail rocker with lots of taper is the best ride for you.All of our men’s and women’s skis feature descriptions of their camber, rocker and sidecut – making it easy for you to pick out the perfect ride.

 

*When author Andy Hytjan is not engineering skis for us, he’s validating his position as the 5th, maybe even 6th best ping-pong player in the office. As the author he has taken his creative freedom rank higher than his performance allots.

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