It can be challenging when purchasing a new board and seeking advice, as many snowboarders have soundly entrenched opinions of the best and worst brands. So, if you’re trying to get into this gig, to save you the headache of figuring out which brand is which, through trial and error, here are the worst snowboard brands you should avoid.
Defining the “worst” brands of snowboards is subjective, as every snowboarder has their preference which they swear by. Often even top brands have models that don’t please everybody. More critical is if the snowboard is durable, made from quality materials, well constructed, and fits your style.
Sometimes manufacturers miss the mark entirely and produce subpar quality equipment. Although quality products are more important than the logo on the snowboard, some brands have a reputation for being less than reliable. But what constitutes a poor-quality snowboard vs. a good-quality one?
- The Worst Snowboard Brands On The Market Today
- Snowboarding Board Brands That Are Best Avoided
- Are There Brands That Are That Bad?
- What Makes A Snowboard Brand Good Or Bad?
The Worst Snowboard Brands On The Market Today
Although the “best and worst” of anything is usually an exceptionally subjective matter, when it comes to sporting equipment, there are definitive characteristics and traits which set excellent quality gear and boards apart from awful stuff that had little thought put into its manufacturing.
Snowboard brands could fall into the “worst” category for several reasons, with personal opinion and preference as significant contributors.
When trying to understand why people have specific opinions regarding certain brands, we observe a particular trend in the quality, functionality/performance, and price of the “bad brands.”
Snowboarding Board Brands That Are Best Avoided
Relegating an entire brand may be a bit drastic, but some brands are far less capable of producing quality boards, while other “big named” brands sometimes slip up and release a less-than-great board. This list contains a combination of these elements.
1. Burton Snowboards
This brand is a bit of a surprise entry. Many snowboarder enthusiasts will argue that Burton is top of the range, and they are correct; however, there is a large contingent of snowboarders who don’t enjoy Burtons at all and steer clear of them at every opportunity.
You can expect to come under fire when you are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) snowboard brands.
Burton Snowboards started in 1977 and, over the years, have produced quality snowboards and gear (even those who dislike their boards still agree that their bindings are some of the best).
Burton also produces boots and other gear, which many find satisfactory.
Although Burton’s are considered top of the range, there are models out there who are less than satisfactory. An example of one of these unfavoured boards is the “Hate” range.
The discontent for this particular board and those who don’t like Burton in the first place include:
- Boards that are too stiff
- Difficulty in turning due to poor sidecut design
- The board width is narrow, making it challenging for people with larger feet.
- The “Hate” model tends to break when extra pressure is exerted on them.
- They are also not ideal for carving.
Overall, many snowboarders dislike Burton for comfort reasons, personal preference (which is also related to Burton being a big brand that purchased Forum and Specialblend), and the price tag, which is relatively high. Many of their boards are manufactured in China (outsourcing).
2. Head Snowboards
Although the “Anything” board hit the market relatively recently and snatched up quite the following, some of the older models of this brand are a bit suspect and not in good favor with the snowboarding community.
Head, which started in 1950, is better known for producing tennis rackets and skis, but their snowboards have been around for roughly 25 years.
A quick look on most forums and review sites shows that most snowboarders have had minimal experience with these boards. Often those boarders who do rent them.
The issue with rentals is they are generally not the top of the range boards; so, it is safe to assume that entry-level Head boards are not so great, but as you progress to the likes of the “Anything Lyt,” for more intermediate riders, the brand improves.
Some reasons for the general discontent with these boards include:
- The “softness” of the board’s flex, when it should be harder (for the type of board)
- The overall performance of the boards
- The comfort (bindings used)
- The durability of the board due to poor manufacturing
3. K2 Boards
Another big name in snowboarding to make its way onto this list is K2. Many people swear by their K2’s; however, like Burton, a large constituency of snowboarders decided K2 is not up to scratch.
Since 1987 K2 has successfully manufactured snowboards and snowboarding gear to the delight of many owners.
There are, however, a contingent of snowboards who prefer to give K2, and specific boards, in particular, a wide berth. The “WWW” from K2 is one such board.
Issues with K2 boards, and specifically the “WWW” board, include:
- K2 is a company associated with ski manufacturing more than snowboards. For that reason, many snowboarders have a set opinion of them.
- The “WWW’s” speed is not great.
- The “WWW” is also a flatter board, producing a less than satisfactory ride in the powder.
- These boards also struggle through harder snow, as the edge holds are poorly designed.
K2 as a brand still produces good boards and gear, but research is required before jumping on the hype train and grabbing the next K2 board that hits the markets, as they do have some hit and miss boards.
4. 5150 Snowboards
These snowboards have earned a lot of hate from the snowboarding community.
Commonly recognized as beginner boards, they have little scope in advancing to more advanced things regarding snowboarding. If you have no idea if you’ll continue snowboarding or not, then these are the budget boards you’ll choose.
If you buy one and decide to continue snowboarding, you’ll need to fork out more money to replace it quickly.
This brand has no higher-quality products, so once hooked on the sport at an entry-level cost, you’ll need to upgrade, which may be quite a drastic price jump.
Reasons to distance yourself from these boards include:
- Cheaper materials used in construction
- Cheaper/less refined construction methods
- Due to the overall substandard quality of these boards, safety becomes a factor.
5. Firefly Snowboards
As another beginner’s board, Firefly boards also fall into entry-level boards. Although these boards may work for those starting in the sport, they are limited in their performance, so you will need to upgrade sooner than later as you progress.
Some avoidable features include:
- The overall quality of the board
- Cheaper materials used in its construction, and less refined construction techniques
- The flex of the boards is also not so great.
Although Firefly is comparably cheaper than other brands, there is a reason.
If you’ve never been on a snowboard, are trying it out for the first time, and don’t think it’s a sport you’ll want to progress quickly in, then a Firefly may be the right board.
Alternatively, save money and get something better.
6. Sims Snowboard
Sims Snowboards was established in 1963. They have had an exciting journey of producing good quality, then general store-brand quality, and have begun producing better quality boards in the last few years.
Overall though, Sims are poorer quality snowboards which are alright for beginners, but as you progress, they do not compare to the top brands in the industry. One such snowboard by Sims is the “Blade.”
Some reasons to avoid Sims snowboards (and Blades in particular) include:
- These boards tend to be heavier with poor flex and are therefore less easy to execute tricks.
- The materials used, the manufacturing, and the overall quality are lacking.
- They have a basic design with no outstanding features.
7. Lamar Snowboards
Another brand is relegated to the “if you’re a beginner” category. A Lamar is sufficient for those who are not avid snowboarders; however, these boards are limiting if you desire to improve.
Some low-lights include:
- The materials, manufacturing, and overall quality is lacking.
- The performance of these boards is not outstanding.
- You can’t do any tricks with them.
8. Salomon Snowboards
Like Burton and K2, Salomon is a big name brand that sometimes produces less than satisfactory products (like the “6 Piece”).
Originating in France in 1947, Salomon manufactured skiing equipment and outdoor gear, moving onto snowboards in 1997.
Salomon has a reputation for producing good quality equipment, but many snowboarders still avoid these boards for several reasons:
- Another ski-producing company turned snowboard puts many snowboarders off.
- Particularly the “6 Piece,” little flex, with poorer quality materials used in the construction
- Boarders often find that Salomon gear has problems like toe straps don’t hold, boards cracking, and bindings failing.
- Customer support may also be challenging to contact
9. Rossignol Snowboards
Rossignol is another company that is stigmatized by the production of skis and is often remembered for that. Although some die-hards are out there, most snowboarders agree that these are not such great snowboards.
Some reasons include:
- Personal preference plays a significant role, many riders avoid it because of the stigma, but many big names also left partnerships with these boards for better ones.
- They are a bit limited in their functionality.
10. Morrow Snowboards
Morrow has fallen on hard times, although they were once a renowned company in the snowboarding industry.
As a complete beginner, you’d get away with riding one but would need to upgrade swiftly.
The most significant low light is:
- Poor quality everything, from materials to manufacturing. Overall a subpar quality brand
11. LTD Snowboards
Established in 1993, LTD boards are generally not on the shelves of mainstream snowboarding shops. Again, if you don’t plan on diving into this sport, these boards will be okay, but anything more than that is a bit of an ask.
These boards are not popular because:
- Poor manufacturing and poor quality materials
- Their overall ride is not tremendous,/performance is poor.
Are There Brands That Are That Bad?
It is important to note that you can’t rule out most brands completely as “terrible.” Most companies have various tiers of products they produce. Sometimes, a brand with excellent top-of-the-range gear produces terrible bottom-of-the-range stuff and vice versa.
It is probably not sufficiently fair to say that a particular brand is “the worst.” Still, there are some decisions that a company makes which will cause it to drastically fall out of favor and become less popular/reputable to other brands.
There are also many other factors to consider before worrying about the brand of the board. Your body features (height and weight), the area you plan to be snowboarding in (wetter or dryer snow, elevation, park, groomed paths, etc.), what you plan on doing while snowboarding (all-mountain, freestyle, freeriding, tricks, etc.), and your overall level of expertise in snowboarding.
Together, these factors will determine what type of board and equipment will suit you best. A great board for an experienced border, for example, won’t always be a good idea for a beginner.
While most brands aren’t outright horrible, some less than satisfactory boards exist in their catalogs. For this reason, “brand buying” is never an advisable venture.
The best method for snowboard shopping is to inspect the board, look at the craft, feel the flex, see if you can find one to take for a test ride, and then determine whether it is the right board for you.
Below we discuss some of the various “worst” brands and specific models of some of the better brands, which earn them a place on this list.
What Makes A Snowboard Brand Good Or Bad?
Most brands produce good and bad boards; you don’t strike gold on every hit. Snowboards are designed for various end uses and are therefore slightly different.
Beginner boards won’t suit expert riders, park boards won’t work as well as all-mountain boards and comparing freestyle, freeride, and recreational boards are challenging.
What truly separates a high-quality board from a low-quality one is the craft in its construction and the materials used to construct the board.
Critical Attributes Any Board Should Have
- Durability. Snowboards take a hammering while in use, from grinding poles and stumps to impacts after getting decent air; a snowboard is constantly battered.
The durability of a good board means it will last hundreds of these punishments, while a poor quality board will last much fewer (some boards may break after one to ten sessions).
- Aside from the overall durability of the board is the flex of the wood core (referred to as the “pop”). This pop gives the board its lift and overall springiness and assists with the cornering and performance of the board.
Good quality boards keep their pop for a longer duration than poor quality boards. On average, boards hold their original springiness for around 30 days, losing most by day 100.
An excellent quality board will be on par, or better this duration, while poor quality boards lose theirs sooner.
- Manufacturing standard. While the materials used in constructing a board are one thing, the way the board is put together is an entirely different issue.
The adhesive which holds a snowboard together is one of the first things to break/come apart in a poorly constructed board. Suitable quality board adhesive will eventually deteriorate over time but usually last for many years before it occurs.
- Sidewall vs. capped. In cheaper snowboards, they will often use a capped design on the board’s edges (where the top sheet slopes down to link up with the metal edge).
More expensive designs feature a sidewall design (where the top sheet remains distinct from the metal edge), allowing more straightforward repairs after striking solid objects (rock or stumps).
- Ease of repairs. All boards will suffer abuse and, eventually, they will need to be repaired/replaced. A good quality board not only endures these abuses for longer but is also easier to repair than a poorer quality board.
Additionally, there should be very little to no difference in the board’s performance after these repairs.
When it comes to accessories (equipment such as boots, bindings, gloves, eye protection, etc.), the most important traits are:
- Easy of use
Brands that achieve these swiftly set themselves apart from the competition.
There is no such thing as the “worst” or “best” snowboard brand. There are many brands out there who produce excellent quality boards, while at the same time, less than satisfactory boards. Each snowboarder will have their preference as to which board is best. The important thing is, what do you want to achieve and which board feels best in helping you achieve that.