What is camber?

This is the World Famous TelemarkTalk / TelemarkTips Forum, by far the most dynamic telemark and backcountry skiing discussion board on the world wide web. We have fun here, come on in and be a part of it.
D'hostie
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:06 pm

What is camber?

Postby D'hostie » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:49 am

Ski forums often toss this word around and every skier knows what it means to them, but how do you actually define something like double, single, camber-and-a-half, and alpine camber? What does it mean to you? Seems like there should be some consistency in the ski world so one actually knows what you are talking about when you refer to one or the other.

Grampatele
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:59 am

Re: What is camber?

Postby Grampatele » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:05 pm

Would be surprised if there is a math formula....But an e99 is double camber....A Fischer 98 (boundless) is a single camber.....(they had a double camber ski also)....Just look at a ski and if it looks like a 99 well there you go....Downhill skis are pretty flat....Most of the rest are somewhere in between....The old 109's had double but if LC says they are one and a half would go with his analysis....Finally LC how do the new 109's turn in the bush? Been thinking of getting them but don't like the thought of them not handling breaking in powder...TM

Rodbelan
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:53 am

Re: What is camber?

Postby Rodbelan » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:27 pm

I do not know camber. But I certainly know cam(em)ber(t). Stiff in the fridge but soft when at room temperature... Great with glass of white wine.

Ok, sorry for that...

Cannatonic
Posts: 449
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:07 pm

Re: What is camber?

Postby Cannatonic » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:58 pm

my explanation would be too confusing, here is a good page I found on the internet:

https://www.wagnerskis.com/journal/ski- ... ers-guide/

User avatar
dnt_upton
Posts: 113
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Drink Moxie

Re: What is camber?

Postby dnt_upton » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:30 pm

Simple, it's the arched curve near the middle of the ski, and sometimes there are two camber areas straddling the center of the ski. If the arch is high, it's called double. If it's flat, it's called zero. Everything in between is single. Doesn't need to be complicated. Oh, and if it's bowed like a rocking chair, it's reverse.

Rodbelan
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:53 am

Re: What is camber?

Postby Rodbelan » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:42 am

On a more serious note, there's a couple of things to take into consideration: the camber stiffness, the double or single aspect of it and HEIGHT too...

The Mfr make it even harder to find ourself by changing configurations from year to year for a given model. Just check the Fischer Europa Series...

And then there is Frankenstein: the Rossignol BC 90 and BC 110... a lot of sidecut for a ski of this type and stiff double camber (The BC 125 is another beast; I mean much better in terms of design). Result: not the best for tracking, not the best for turning. A counter nature compromise as far as I am concerned; some might like them though... It sounds like they took an alpine shape from the past and put a pronounced camber: cut and paste... Madshus (and Karhu) had a better integration of the 2 in his Eon, Epoch and Annum...

User avatar
lilcliffy
Posts: 1243
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: What is camber?

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:17 am

Cannatonic wrote:my explanation would be too confusing,

Ha! This made me laugh my friend- because I can relate! I make my living educating and training- and no matter how hard I work at it- explaining things is very difficult! Training is so much easier!
here is a good page I found on the internet:

https://www.wagnerskis.com/journal/ski- ... ers-guide/

This is a great explanation- especially from a downhill (i.e. "Alpine") ski perspective.

Part of the difficulty in explaining/describing it is that the type of camber profile is only one dimension in the physics of a how a ski functions when pressured by the skier. Camber profile, stiffness/resistance, flex pattern, sidecut profile, and construction materials all interact in a synergistic complex. Ski design and development is both a product of engineering as well as art. Amazing really.

As the above website so clearly explains, the function of camber from a downhill perspective is to produce an effective edge: "A ski’s effective edge is the section of ski that is used to make a turn, it is the length of the edge in contact with the snow when the ski is carving through a turn. As a point of reference, traditional race skis have significant camber, which helps ski racers track well on hard snow and initiate fast turns."

The Nordic skiing spectrum is much broader and deeper than the "Alpine" spectrum.

At the XC-focused end of the Nordic spectrum, the function of camber is about effective diagonal stride or "kick and glide". The combination of camber, stiffness, and flex pattern are designed to both offer enough for an effective downward "kick" and release; as well as an effective "wax pocket" that is intended to keep the wax/traction zone of the ski off the snow during the glide phase. At the extreme end of this spectrum are very stiff, highly-cambered Classic XC racing skis- designed for a Classic groomed race track.

Double-cambered skis designed for backcountry/off-track snow must have a softer flex otherwise it can be impossible to effectively engage the wax/traction zone of the ski- you just end up driving the tip and tail downwards without engaging the wax/traction pocket with the snow. For example, even my mellow track touring skis (Atomic Motion) are way too stiff for ungroomed snow. By comparison, my E99s have a full double-camber, but have a wonderful flex for fresh, soft snow- they still require good technique, with an effective kick...

For non-XC skiers even the softest-flexing double-cambered skis can be a bit frustrating to begin with. My wife for example- an expert Alpine skier- much prefers our softest and least-cambered skis (e.g. Eon/E109/Ingstad) over truly double-cambered skis (e.g. E99).

What some- including me- describe as "camber-and-a-half", is really a double-cambered ski, where the second camber is very low profile. Examples of skis that I own that all have this low profile second camber include the Eon, E109 and the Combat Nato (the S-Bound 78 that I tested years ago had this profile as well). Skis with this camber profile do not have as effective a "wax pocket" as a fully double-cambered ski (e.g. E99/Glittertind/BC70/Amundsen), but they do offer a much more effective downward "kick" and release than a single cambered ski. Each of these skis can and do have different degrees of stiffness/resistance. For example, the Combat Nato and the E109 are both stiffer than the Eon. I like pushing/pressuring my skis quite aggressively- I prefer the stiffer flex of the Combat Nato/E109. Many skiers prefer the softer flex of the Eon- especially when making downhill turns. The "camber-and-a-half" profile, from my perspective, allows a traditional Nordic touring length, with effective kick and glide performance on fresh, soft snow; while offering better climbing and turning performance than a fully double-cambered ski.

A double-cambered ski will have a second camber that completely resists being compressed- designed to offer a powerful kick/release, as well as preserve a "wax pocket" when gliding forwards.

A single-cambered ski does not have that second very resistant camber. The single camber is designed to produce an effective edge- as described above.

From a fundamental perspective- single camber's primary function is effective edge in a downhill turn; double camber's only function is powerful and efficient diagonal stride when XC skiing.

One context where things get blurred is in bottomless powder snow. Even the softest double camber ski will not work effectively in this context. The snow must be dense enough to support the tip and tail of a ski for a true kick to work with a double-cambered ski. Single-cambered work better as XC skis in bottomless powder than double-cambered skis. If I am going for a long-distance tour in bottomless powder I take my 195cm Annums- not my 210cm E99s. At least theoretically a camber-and-a-half ski could perform in bottomless powder. The only 1.5-cambered ski I have tested that does well in this context is my 210cm Combat Natos- it competes with my Annums in this context. Both the Eon and the E109 suck in bottomless powder (Although if you are light enough- like my teenage daughter- the Eon does work!)

Different manufacturers have and continue to take different approaches to the whole hybrid "XCD" context. For example, Fischer's S-Bounds have a fairly high (higher than a typical downhill ski) single-camber. The S-Bounds also have a relatively stiff flex (progressively softer, with increasing width- to correspond with ever deeper, softer snow). I can only assume that the S-Bound complex of camber, flex, and sidecut is to allow a "short" Nordic ski for a tight turning radius; with a relatively stiff flex to offer some reasonable XC performance. The Karhu/Madshus XCDs are different again- the Epoch and Annum also having single-camber, but with a much softer flex than the corresponding S-Bounds (98,112). Some skiers prefer the S-Bounds, some the Karhu/Madshus- what works depends entirely on the individual skier's context- weight, performance preferences, terrain, tree cover, snow conditions, etc.

I know that many skiers have, and continue to, downhill ski with fully-double cambered skis- myself included. Suggesting that a double-cambered ski is "better" for downhill skiing doesn't make sense to me...Unless one is using a non-XC length (i.e. a SHORT double-cambered ski). From a XC perspective, an effective "wax pocket" means that the camber underfoot cannot be fully compressed when both skis are equally weighted. If one can fully compress the camber of a double-cambered ski, when the skis are equally weighted, then the skis are too short to offer an effective wax pocket. I do ski downhill with my current 210cm E99s, but I do not make pretty, equally-weighted telemark turns with them. I initiate turns with a striding technique, and much of the time, most of my weight is on one ski, and then the other. I use my E99s when the context makes them the most efficient and FUN ski- long distances and a stable base to support the double camber. If I want to carve true downhill turns then I much prefer my single-cambered and camber-and-a-half skis.

At the other extreme, one can have a stiff single-cambered ski that is too long for the skier. Again if the camber is not compressed when both skis are equally weighted, then one will have to put most of their weight on one ski to produce an effective edge...
Last edited by lilcliffy on Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

User avatar
lilcliffy
Posts: 1243
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: What is camber?

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:32 am

Grampatele wrote:Would be surprised if there is a math formula....But an e99 is double camber....A Fischer 98 (boundless) is a single camber.....(they had a double camber ski also)....Just look at a ski and if it looks like a 99 well there you go....Downhill skis are pretty flat....Most of the rest are somewhere in between....The old 109's had double but if LC says they are one and a half would go with his analysis....Finally LC how do the new 109's turn in the bush? Been thinking of getting them but don't like the thought of them not handling breaking in powder...TM


The E109 is still double camber underfoot, but it's second camber is much lower profile than the E99.

The E109 is a fabulous turning ski- the easiest turn initiation in any double-cambered ski I have ever tested- due to it's tip rocker. The very soft rockered tip of the E109 works when making downhill turns. It also works when XC skiing in up to a foot of fresh soft snow- with a dense base underneath. But when XC skiing in truly deep soft snow, the soft rockered tip of the E109 becomes a liability- it is so much softer than the rest of the ski, that the tip tries to float leaving the waist and tail of the ski deep in the abyss...It really sucks actually- it might even be worse than the Eon in this context.

The E109 is a dream in the following context:
XCD skiing on up to 12 inches of fresh soft snow, over a dense base, in hilly/steep terrain, when there is a need/desire to cover a significant distance. This is the most typical context for my backyard backcountry skiing. The E109 has completely replaced the Eon for me in this context. It is as easy to turn as the Eon, but it is a much more effective XC ski than the Eon (at least for my weight and taste). My wife has actually caught on to my E109- even though it is 10cm longer than her beloved Eons...She is increasingly choosing the E109 over the Eon...
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

User avatar
LoveJohnny
Posts: 1411
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:11 pm
Location: Quebec / Vermont

Re: What is camber?

Postby LoveJohnny » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:11 pm

Thanks for that great essay on camber Lilcliffy... There is some very interesting points in there, I sure will re-read this post a few times...

If you ever write a book about XCD, you can be sure I will be the first one to buy a copy...! (Seriously, you should think about it...!)

Cross-Country Skiing: Uphill, Downhill And Everything In Between
By Little Cliffy
Limited Leather Cover Edition
353 pages, ISBN 10: 0914718320
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"Your heel (and mind) is not really free until you cut the cable..." -Me

User avatar
fisheater
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:06 pm
Location: Oakland County, MI

Re: What is camber?

Postby fisheater » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:29 pm

Gareth, I weigh about 185, would my weight be over compressing my Andes USGI 200's in the striding sense. I enjoy the ski, and am generally capable of making decent telemark turns depending upon the snow conditions. I am just trying to better understand your dissertation. It seems as though I may not have experienced the full double camber experience. If they were available in a waxable model you would have sold me an e-109, a foot of fresh is pretty good in these parts.


Return to “Telemark Talk Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 5 guests