Arbor was founded back in 1995 making it pretty old in snowboard years.They remained a pretty small brand until about 10 years ago when snowboard legend Brian Iguchi got involved.
The Brand has a classic old school feel with wood laminate lop sheet designs and beautiful custom artwork. More focussed on the freeride end of the sport they make some interesting shaped boards create for carving and floating through the powder. They also make some beautiful cruiser skateboards to keep you standing sideways in the off season
When Bataleon first started designing snowboards they threw out the old conventions and started with a clean sheet. A process which led to the development of Triple Base Technology, The idea was to replace the conventional single plane base with three separate planes in the tip and tail. This lifts up the contact points at either end of the bard and creates a loose playful feel which is perfect for freestyle riding. They got a real boost from high profile team riders the Helgason bros who used their boards to perform mind bending tricks, before they went on to set up sub-brand Lobster Snowboards which uses the same Triple Base Technology.
Burton is the biggest and most well known Snowboard brand. Founded in 1977 by legend Jake Burton, they have been at the forefront of the sport since the start. With countless innovations in equipment they have been a real driving force behind the sport. Over the years they’ve had legends such as Craig Kelly, Terje Hakenson, Shawn White, Mark McMorris on their books meaning they have pretty much always had the best riders on the planet
They have a huge range of products which pretty much cover everything you could need as s snowboarder; from boards, bindings and boots to outerwear and accessories and goggles and helmets under their sub brand Anon.
DC started out making skate shoes in 1994, before entering into the snowboard market in the mid noughties. As you’d expect from their skate background, their boards have a heavily freestyle influence, and are designed to give a real poppy playful feel. They also make great snowboard boots and were one of the first adopters of the popular boa lacing system. They’ve had some awesome riders on their books over the years, including Devin Walsh, Todd Richards, Torstein Horgmo and the new wonder kid Dusty Henrickson.
Gentemstick is a tiny brand, specialist with a big following. The Japanese brand has a real soul-surfer philosophy and they only make hand-crafted powder boards designed to float above the bottomless Japanese powder. They are in it for the passion and definitely not to just make money. A friend of mine who runs a snowboard store and stocks Gentemstick said that before they agreed to let him stock their product they sent over a team to meet him and make sure his store would reflect their ethos…definitely not how most brands operate! If I could justify the price, I’d definitely want one in my quiver!
Gnu is part of Mervin Manufacturing who are behind a few of the brands on this list as well as making skateboards and surfboards. Mervin and Gnu was founded by snowboarders Mike Olson and Pete Saari back in 1977, and since their inception they have been focused on making the most environmentally friendly snowboards possible. They also were behind many innovations such as the Magna Traction edges, which uses wavey edges to increase the effective edge contact and give more grip. They are also still hand made in the USA which is pretty much unheard of in the rest of the industry these days.
Jones is the brainchild of legendary freerider Jeremy Jones. They are another brand heavily focussed on the environmental impact of their boards, and publish an sustainability report every year. Their boards lean heavily to the freeride end of the spectrum and they have been at the forefront of developing splitboard technology to give you even greater access to the backcountry. They are one of many smaller brands under the umbrella of Nidecker Snowboards, based in Switzerland. They have a great team of freeride snowboarders and recently signed, one of my favorites Victor De Le Rue.
K2 was one of the first ski brands to get involved with snowboarding back in the 80’s. I’ve always liked them because they were the first boards I got for free under my little shop rider deal back in the day. With all their big brand, ski technology behind them, they are able to produce a huge range of products, with something for every type of rider out there and everything you need from boots to boards and bindings. Their team of riders reflects this diversity, with a wide range of styles including Olympic Gold Slopestyle medalist Sage Kostenburg.
Although I’ve never owned one, Korua Shapes is one of my favorite brands out there. Set up in only a few years back in 2014 by a group of friends wanting to shine some light on the lost art of the turn. Whether that be rail to rail carves on the groomers or laid out arcs in the powder, these boards are made with the sole aim of ripping turns. They are a pretty experimental brand, always producing new shapes to test out and have also produced a large range of split boards to suit a variety of styles. For a better idea of what makes these guys tick, check out their ‘Yearning for Turning’ video series.
Libtech is another brand from Mervin Industries. Back in the day they were one of the first brands to really get on board with freestyle snowboarding and signed snowboard legends such as Jamie Lynn and more recently Travis Rice. They have a larger range of boards than their sister brand Gnu with a full range of board for freestyle and backcountry and for men, women and kids. Recently they have started making more sustainable surfboards and skateboards and even got into making skis!
Lobster was the brainchild of the uber talented, Iclandic Helgasson brothers Eiki and Haldor. The brand was set up with help from Eiki’s former sponsor, Bataleon, and their boards use much of the same innovations such as Triple Base Technology.
They continue to be on the fringes of snowboarding and have continued to support some of the more creative characters out there such as ‘the Fridge’ who always rides park with a backpack. The Helgasson bros also have a binding company Switchback Bindings.
I’ve gotta admit, I hadn’t heard of Marhar until I started compiling this list. They are a new, small brand with a limited range of boards. But their main thing is making custom snowboards. Through their website you can select a model and then upload your own custom graphics. They have enough models to choose from that you’ll be able to find a board which suits your style of riding, for both male and female riders.
Even if you don’t end up buying the board it a pretty fun process to go through, being able to choose your own graphics.
Never Summer where there at the start, founded in ‘83 they have kind of flown under the radar, never really getting into the industry game of big name riders and competition podiums. However, they have a loyal following thanks to their reputation for building really solid, quality snowboards which will survive riding everyday on the hill till the spring. They keep the manufacture of their boards in house at their facility in Denver, Colorado and only allow stores which share their ethos to stock their product. It’s a brand that you can’t help but admire, and although I’ve never owned one of their boards, I sure would like to add one to my quiver.
Depending on how you look at it Nidecker is the oldest snowboard brand on the list, they’ve been around since 1887! Obviously they weren’t making snowboards back then but this Swiss family company has been producing snow sliding devices for over a century! The younger brothers took over the family business and started making snowboards in 1986, so I dont think we can accuse them of being a soulless ski brand jumping on the snowboard bandwagon!
Although they might not be the most well known brand, especially outside of Europe, they actually now own plenty of Sub Brands that you will definitely know: Jones, Yes, Slash and Volcom all have their boards made by Nidecker.
Nitro is another one of my favorite brands in snowboarding. Founded back in 1990 by Tommy Delango in Seattle, they’ve always maintained a real core snowboard ethos. They are one of the industry’s biggest brands, but managed to maintain their independence without getting bought out by one of the bigger companies. They have a huge range of products from boards to boots to bindings. Some of their biggest name riders are Eero Ettala, Bryan Austin and Marcus Kleveland. In recent years they’ve started coming out with some pretty funky shapes in their Quiver range, which are definitely worth testing out if you get a demo day at your local hill.
Founded in 1992 in Washington state, Ride were there to ride the way of snowboarding’s golden years. With a heavy skate influence they have always had an emphasis on the freestyle side of the sport. They are a medium size, independent brand, but they are comfortable with that status. In their own words: “For RIDE, it’s not about being the biggest … it’s about being the best at what we do and truly becoming a great snowboard company”
One of their boards which I love in the Berzerker which is style guru, Jake Blauvelt’s freeride board of choice.
Rome was founded in 2001 by Josh Reid and Paul Maravetz. The pair had previously worked for Burton, but after becoming frustrated with the big comperate mentality decided to go it alone. Rome has always been an independent brand so they have carved out their own path, and along the way recruited some of the best freestyle riders on the planet. For their current crop they have tapped into to the deep Skandinavian talent pool, signing Stale Sandech and one of my favourite current riders, Alek Oestreng.
Let’s face it, Rossignol are a massive ski brand who, over the years, have just kinda dabbled in snowboarding. That said, with all that ski technology behind them they do make good snowboards. Maybe their longest serving rider is freeride legend Xavier De Le Rue, who has continued to work with Rossignol to produce big mountain freeride machines. Definitely worth checking out if you’re the type of rider who just likes straight line speed!
Roxy is perhaps better known for making women’s surf apparel, as part of the Quicksilver group, but they also make women’s snowboards. Unsurprisingly, in a short space of time, they have risen quickly to becoming one of the most popular choices for female snowboarders. Many of the bigger brands only produce a limited range of girl’s boards, but Roxy produce a huge range of women’s specific boards so they are sure to have something for every style of rider.
I remember when Salomon first got into snowboarding in 1999, at the time I swore I would never buy one, seeing how they were soulless ski brands and all. Salomon have done a really good job at shaking off this image and repositioning themselves as a core brand who really care about developing products which will help the evolution of snowboarding. So, anyway I ended up having a few salomon boards over the years, and whilst they can’t completely shake their ski heritage they sure do make good snowboards!
Slash is the brainchild of Autrian ripper Gigi Ruff and is one of the Nidecker sub-brands, along with Jones, and Yes. They are a small brand and focus on boards suited to Gigi’s style of riding – all mountain freestyle. That means boards which are great for riding everything the mountain throws at you, from powder to piste and sidehits to big kicker lines in the park. As a father with young kids, Gigi has developed a range of some of the nicer looking, and better thought out kids boards out there.
Its a good job I’m nearly at the end of this list because I keep adding new boards to my own wish list! And United Shapes is definitely on their. This small brand has bucked the trend of experimenting with new and hybrid camber profiles, and stuck to what works best: Camber, directional boards.
Yes snowboards was founded in 2009 when 3 of the top Burton riders at the time, broke away from the company to set up their own snowboard brand. David Carrier Porcheron, Romain De Marchi, P Solberg and Tadashi Fuse. All four riders have amazing backcountry freestyle skills and this is reflected in the boards they make. Boards which are versatile and fun across the whole mountain. Their snowboards are manufactured under the Swiss super brand, Nidecker.
Once of their stand-out boards this year is the Greats Uninc which is one of the only freestyle orientated boards out their which uses an asymmetrical shape, definitely worth testing out if you get the chance.
Gone but not forgotten…
Maybe one of the most iconic boards brands out there which was sadly lost in 2012. The brand was set up in 1996 by a young Peter Line who would go on to become one of the most influential snowboards ever. The brand assembled a team of the best and most innovative snowboarders on the planet, who would become known as The Forum 8. With riders such as JP Walker, Deven Walsh and Jeremy Jones (the freestyle one) on board they quickly became one of the biggest brands in the market, producing their own videos and pushing the sport forward. The brand was bought by Burton who later dissolved it in 2012, one of the reasons Burton is hated by many still to this day!
The first board I owned was a Morrow so I am somewhat nostalgic for the forgotten brand. Set up by a 19 year old Rob Morrow back in 1989. At the time they were one of only a few freestyle brands out there, and where able to gain exposure through the halfpipe antics of Todd Richards.
Apo snowboards, AKA Apocalypse, AKA A Snowboards has had various incarnations since it was first set up in the 80’s by french shredder Regis Rolland. When I was a kid, Regis Rolland was the first snowboarder I ever saw in the absolute classic and bizarre shred fick ‘Apocalypse Snow’. Regis is also credited with inventing the ‘euro carve’ which makes him pretty cool in my book.