If you are buying or already own a pair of skis, you may have heard about ski camber. You might also wonder what exactly this is, why it is important and if skis are likely to lose it over time.
This is important to know because it gives you a better idea of when skis may need to be replaced and also how to care for them. Knowing while types of skis are prone to losing camber is also helpful, so you know what to look out for and how likely your skis are to losing camber.
So, to better understand your skis and camber, keep reading for everything you need to know about ski camber!
Ski camber is the upward arch underneath traditional skis when placed on a flat surface. Camber can be lost over time if skis lose their ability to hold their shape through age or storage. This can be seen most commonly in older, less modern skis which can signify that they are worn out.
But what exactly is camber and why is it important? What can make skis lose their camber? It is also important to know that not all skis may be equally prone to losing their camber.
What is Camber? Why is it Important?
Ski camber simple described the upward ark that is a feature of the profile shape of traditional skis.
When placed base-down on a flat surface without the pressure of your foot applied to them, you should be able to see that skis are resting on areas near the base and tip of the ski. When you look at the profile of your ski from the side, you should see the slight upward curve of the ski.
Check out our easy diagram below to show you what is meant by ski camber!
Camber in traditional skis is designed to allow easy and sensitive turning and improved control, both of which are helpful when it comes to carving technique. This provides skis with a springier feel when turning and makes manoeuvrability easier, especially on groomed snow.
Camber can also provide better edge contact with the snow, making sure they have excellent grip when the slopes get icy. This is because, when the skier puts weight onto the centre of the ski, the weight is distributed evenly across the whole effective edge of the ski from tip to tail.
This isn’t to be confused with rocker, which you might also hear being referred to as ‘reverse camber’. Traditional rocker skis have a completely different profile shape- when placed on a flat surface they will rest on their middle, with the tip and tail of the skis curving upwards. This can give skiers better floatation and ease travelling over certain types of snow without catching.
However, many skis do not simply have either camber or rocker. Many varieties of skis have some combination of the two.
Can Skis Lose Camber Over Time?
It is possible that over time, skis can lose the ability to hold their original shape. In particular, it is possible for the shape of the camber to be affected and the ski to ‘flatten’ when placed on a flat surface.
However, most modern skis are designed so that this issue is incredibly minimal. For most modern skis, losing camber will not be an issue over the lifespan of the ski and many skiers do not have a problem with this.
However, if you have slightly older, wooden skis for example, this should be a thing you look out for as less modern skis are more prone to losing their camber.
Make sure to ask a professional to check that your skis are safe and not worn out before skiing. Remember, safety is always the most important thing on the slopes!
What Causes Skis to Lose Camber?
Skis losing their camber can be caused by a number of things. One cause can simple be the age of the ski.
Certain ways of storing skis out of season can also increase the risk of your skis losing camber. Some skiers find that storing skis horizontally with pressure applied to the camber by straps for example, can also cause the camber profile to change over time.
Try not to apply pressure or flatten out the camber of skis when storing them for long periods of time.
However, how much this will truly affect skis in terms of their lifetime is debated and in the cases of modern skis, may only make small changes to the profile of your skis.
Modern skis in particular are designed to hold their shape and camber for a long time, meaning the risk of losing this camber is lessened considerably.
How to Tell if Skis Have Lost Camber
To tell if your skis have lost their camber, ensure you place them base-down on a flat surface and look at them from a side-on angle.
You should be able to see your skis resting only on an area near the tip of the ski and an area near the tail with your ski curving upwards at the centre underneath the bindings.
If skis are flatter than they once were, or are incredibly easy to make flat with very little spring, they may have lost some of their ability to hold their shape and camber.
This only applies if your skis were designed to feature this camber shape.
Another trick to check if your skis have altered in their shape is to compare them to when they were new. Take a photo of the profile of your skis to compare to in the future. This will make it easy to see if there have been any changes to the shape of your skis or if they have lost any of their camber!
Is Loss of Camber a Sign that the Skis are Worn Out?
Skis losing their camber or ability to hold their shape is one sign that skis are becoming worn out and may need to be replaced. Some other signs of this include bindings being out of date or broken, bases being un-level or damaged, ski edges worn down or damaged, cracks in your skis and many more. Get your skis fully checked by a professional before skiing to make sure they are safe to use.
Camber is the shape of traditional cambered skis which feature an upward arch underneath the centre of the ski when looking at its profile. This differs from rocker, but many manufacturers combine both into many modern skis.
Camber or the ability for a ski to hold its shape can be lost over time through simply becoming worn out or from storage choices.
Typically, only older, wooden skis may experience issues with losing camber, as modern skis are designed in a way that makes this issue minimal or very unlikely.
It is easy to tell if skis have lost camber by placing them on a flat surface and checking that the profile of the ski still shows the upward arch. This only applies to skis with are designed to have camber as not all skis feature this.
Comparing the camber to the camber your skis had when they were brand new is an easy way to check if they have lost some of their shape.