Tips on Choosing Your Ideal Ski Shape

Camber Ski Profile - Skiing

Shape defines so much about how a ski rides, but not just the sidecut and waist width. The camber profile, how the ski is shaped when you view it from the side, might be the most important feature to consider when purchasing a ski, because it impacts how the ski moves your energy down onto the snow. 

So how do you know what profile you want? How do you pick a camber profile? Or to look at it another way, what does a camber profile tell you about a ski? Let’s find out!


Before we go any further, let’s make something clear- when we’re talking about rocker, we don’t mean the visible upturn in the nose of every ski, and the tail of skis labeled as “twin tips”. That upturn (also known as a kicktail) is part of how a ski slides over snow, and isn’t considered part of the overall profile of the ski when discussing rocker or camber.

For a little more insight, be sure to watch our video explaining some of the differences between rocker and camber ski profiles.

Traditional Camber Skis

By far the most common profile, traditional cambered skis make a lot of sense with overall arched shape. When placed on the ground, a traditional camber ski will arch upward, pressing the tip and tail down while lifting the center of the ski upward. Since you stand roughly in the middle of the ski, the way traditional camber flexes underfoot allows you to spread your weight out further, giving you balanced pressure that boosts confidence while carving and makes it easy to engage the full length of your ski when turning.

Traditional camber also allows your ski to move as you shift your weight. Changing the way you weight the ski (for example by going through a turn) will change the overall shape of the ski, allowing it to smoothly absorb impacts, and snap back into shape when exiting turns for a powerful push that many find addicting.

Full Rocker Skis

The other end of the spectrum is the much less common full rocker ski profile. Placed on the ground a full rocker ski arches downward, so only the center of the ski is touching the ground while the nose and tail are lifted slightly upward.

Standing on the ski makes the shape more pronounced, so more than anything full rocker skis focus pressure under your feet. And that can be a good thing! Some ski racers prefer full rocker because it allows their skis to be extra agile, perfect for dodging between close slalom gates. And the focused pressure is great for punching into icy hardpack in places where other skis would struggle to find grip.

Overall though, full rocker skis are relatively rare, and most skis are traditional camber with some amount of rocker added in.

Rocker Ski Profile - Skiing

“Early Rise”

Also known as tip rocker, early rise skis are mostly traditional camber. The difference is a touch of rocker in the nose offers a significantly different skiing experience.

The most significant difference is how the rocker/camber hybrid ski handles. Skis with early rise have contact points that are closer to you compared to a traditional rocker ski of the same length. That makes them effectively ski like shorter skis, easier to handle and quicker to respond. But you still have the benefit of full length when carving, as well as all the surface area of the ski for float on powder.

The other thing they do is actually encourage proper turn technique. By moving the contact point behind the widest point of the nose, the ski is more willing to go on edge while turning. Perfect for skiers working on their form, whether they’re new to skiing or experts trying to push harder.

Tail Rocker

For some skiers, a touch of early rise isn’t enough, and they want some rocker in the back as well. Always found with nose rocker, tail rocker brings the rear contact points closer to your feet, making the skis even more agile and quick responding.

And that really is most of what you need to know. While it can seem complicated, ski camber is actually fairly straightforward. But if you still aren’t sure about something don’t hesitate to get in touch. Here at Peter Glenn, we’re always happy to help, and offer a wide range of skis to accommodate any skiers profile needs.