If you're one of the 5 snowboarders who still rides a Craig Kelly Mystery Air with your wool pants, skip this post and go read one of Jonny's diatribes about skateboarding in short shorts or check out YoBeat! or something.
For the rest of the snowboarding masses, you read the hype, saw the boards, possibly demoed or purchased a snowboard with "rocker", "reverse camber", "banana", "rocking chair", "v-rocker" or one of the 8 million other terms used to differentiate different alternative camber theories in snowboard shape construction. Midway through 2008 and fully into 2009, the reverse camber trend was in full effect. With the crazy success of the Skate Banana by Lib, companies hurried and quickly brought their RC boards to the market in 2009. This utterly chaotic release left many snowboarders shaking their head as the boards were released without much explanation for the masses. You gotta remember: Most of us aren't smarter than a 5th grader.
The result? Lots of misinformation, board purchases that left consumers confused and frustrated, and in some rare cases, some really really really stoked snowboarders. Ok, may be I'm overstating things a bit, as most people who ride a RC board are pretty stoked, but in the middle of 2009, you'd be more likely to find a male shop employee who can explain what the clittoris is than explain what reverse camber is.
Now in 2010, companies have had time to prep, do their due diligence and actually thoughtfully explain this technology. Leading the charge (duh) is the mags. You'll see RC guides from Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboarder mag and Snowboard (to name a few). Of course, you'd have to subscribe, buy, find then read the article after being unindated with a billion ads for useless crap.
Instead, we've summarized all of those articles while adding our years of experience (aka bitter, over the hill and injured) to help you find the right type of reverse camber board for you. And if you need to see what the mags are saying, take a look at this quick one-pager from Snowboard mag (to the right). This was the most coherent description of the various types of RC, so much so that I have used it as a guideline (note to the kids at home: honest online writers reference their sources). Buy their magazine so Nuñez will get off my back.
Camber: Starting with the basics. This type of board is a "traditional" board. As the you move closer to the middle the board bows slightly upwards off the ground. When you ride the board and flex it through the turns, it creates a traditional arc in the snow. This is snowboarding, pre-2009.
Snowboarder type: Non-lazy, conservative/scared to change (aka someone who's job is snowboarding)
A solid example? Burton Uninc
Reverse Camber: Banana, V-rocker, RC, Jib-rocker, All-mountain rocker, 1985, this type of "reverse camber" has a bunch of different names all saying similar things. This is what you expect of rocker. It's traditional in the tips and tails then veers downwards like a V or a dirty sanchez mustache towards the middle of the board between the bindings. The best use of this type of rocker: Pow turns on your jib stick with a centered stance: no joke. Also great for flatland, spins and other 15-yo crap. But watch those 50-foot kicker landings, if you're not centered between your bindings, you're fucked. No sitting in the back seat on these boards.
Snowboarder type: JG said it best, "Rocker makes you lazy", someone with an open mind and open wallet, 100% of beginner to intermediate snowboarders will benefit from rocker as it won't catch an edge so say bye bye to scorpions.
A solid example? Lib Tech Skate Banana
Zero Camber +/- kicks: Confused by many, this is often called reverse camber but includes phrases like zero camber, flat kick, scoop tip/tail, upturns. No it's not a type of ponytail hairstyle, this board is flat across the length of the board like you're 5-yo old beat-up rock board, but often includes upturned tip and tail to ease initiation when doing butters, flatland spins, etc. It could be considered the poor man's reverse camber.
Snowboarder type: Any snowboarder who sees the potential of reverse camber, but isn't sold on the hype. These boards also float pretty well in the pow pow even without the moustache. They also feel more like a traditional deck.
A solid example? Nitro Rook comes with a zero camber option
Camber/Rocker combos: To add to the confusion, companies like Never Summer, Lib and Burton have released snowboards that mix Camber and Reverse Camber. Often there is camber or flat camber between the bindings to give you that traditional feel when carving, but has rocker outside of the bindings to give you that jibberific feel and benefit in the pow pow. This could be the future.
Snowboarder type: It's a toss up if everyone should be riding these boards. Out of all the RC-types, I have gravitated to these boards first. It's sorta "all the benefits of rocker and none of the downsides." The one that that I've found is that these boards tend to require a bit of tech (vario edges, MTX or PDE) to keep you straightlining, but that's a downside of any RC board.
A solid example? Never Summer's SL-R
The only useful piece of advice that I can give you the snowboard consumer is don't listen to my drivel, try before you buy. Go find a demo, borrow a board from a friend or stalk your local rep. Only you can tell if reverse, v-rocker, camber kicks is for you. Remember as Chris Farley (pour out a lil liquor for our homie) wisely said in Tommy Boy:
(A)ll they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.