Tyler Chorlton and DBK at the Bataleon Snowboards Team Week. Photo: Sam Oetiker
Once Shermen Poppen’s Snurfer had inspired the likes of Tom Sims, Dimitrije Milovich and Jake Burton Carpenter to manufacture and market snowboards, the three pioneers established the sport’s first brands – Sims, Winterstick and Burton respectively. Since these embryonic days in the 70s, the number of companies out there making snowboard-specific swag – or more broadly with a focus on us winter side-sliders – vying for your custom has mushroomed, and diversified from pure hardware to outerwear, eyewear, handwear and beyond. One ex-pro rider even started up a contraceptive brand by initially marketing his johnnies to party-loving shred rats. True story.
Whilst many brands have come and gone through the course of snowboarding’s history, others have endured since day one and nowadays it’s not uncommon for snowboard brands to trumped double-decade figures or more (Burton is now past 40…), and be it new upstart shaking things up or established brand with a certain gravitas, everyone has their personal favourites. Even many the brands who’ve long since been shuttered are remembered fondly – mention Atlantis, M3 or Forum to snowboarders of a certain vintage and watch their eyes glaze over with nostalgia.
“Mention Atlantis, M3 or Forum to snowboarders of a certain vintage and watch their eyes glaze over with nostalgia”
While the first wave of snowboard companies were ‘by snowboarders, for snowboarders’, once the sport became popular there was a rush by many whose roots lay beyond snowboarding to get in on the act, including ski companies, which caused a fair deal of consternation at the time. Especially in the case of the ski brands, who many riders perceived had been actively campaigning against snowboarding till it became financially necessary to jump on the bandwagon. That said, some came in with solid product and committed to snowboarding beyond a mere ‘get-rich-quick’ approach, which caused much of the initial skepticism to dissipate.
The best brands will, naturally, make great product, but in snowboarding that’s only part of the puzzle you need to complete to be successful. To do so you need to contribute to the sport’s culture, bring something new to the table and have a certain vibe that sets yourself apart from the reams of others making cookie-cutter product.
In the 2017/18 winter there’s certainly a tonne of brands out there making quality snowboarding goods; certainly fewer than there were when the sport was in its booming years of the 90s and 2000s, but equally more than enough for you to find product and an image that tallies with your own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of some of them…
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686 | adidas | Airhole | Analog | Anon | Arbor | Atrip | Bataleon | Bent Metal | Billabong | Bonfire | Burton | CAPiTA | Coal | Crab Grab | DaKine | Dang | DC | Deeluxe | Dinosaurs Will Die | DJI | Dragon | Drake | Dupraz | Electric | Endeavor | Flow | Giro | Gnu | GoPro | Head | Holden | Homeschool | Horsefeathers | Jones | K2 | Kemper | Korua | Lib Tech | Lifeproof | Lobster | Mammut | Mizu | Neff | Never Summer | Nidecker | Nikita | Nitro | Nixon | Northwave | NOW | O’Neill | Oakley | Patagonia | Picture | POW | Protest | Quiksilver | Ride | Rip Curl | Rome | Roxy | Salomon | Sessions | Skullcandy | Slash | Smith | SP Bindings | SP Gadgets | Spark R&D | Switchback | The North Face | ThirtyTwo | Transform | Union | Vans | Vimana | Volcom | WearColour | WEST | Westbeach | YES