An OMBE Guide to the Best Surfboard Brands
In this age of superabundance, it might be difficult to find a surfboard brand that you can trust. Read on to learn more about our favorite surfboard brands.
There are all kinds of reasons to love surfing and surf culture. It’s a great exercise to keep your body in shape and to keep your mind in place. It may sometimes get so spiritual that waves can lift you up to nirvana, and it allows us to forget life’s daily concerns (at least as long as you’re in the ocean).
Besides the benefits to your body and mind, there’s also a material aspect to surfing: you only need a surfboard (given you already have at least a pair of shorts), and then you’re good to go.
Back in the day, just any kind of board could have done the job as well. Just cut a piece of wood in the right shape, and you could surf at least for a little while. However, nowadays, the process isn’t that straightforward, regardless of whether you just want to have fun or dream of becoming a pro one day. You need to acquaint yourself with all the innovations that have gone into making surfboards throughout the surfboard-shaping history and pick the right surfboard according to your needs and skills.
Luckily for you, the industry is blessed with many great surfboard brands that have a board for anyone in their catalogs. Unluckily for you, the number of these brands can be quite staggering, and those who are new to the niche may find it difficult to navigate the sea of choice. And again, luckily for you, the OMBE crew is here with a list of the best surfboard brands so that you can navigate surf shop aisles as well as the waves.
10 Best Surfboard Brands by 2022
Below, we’re going to list our favorite surfboards brands that are currently active in 2022, but before going into that list, we thought you might want to check out some of our other surfboard-related guides, such as:
- surfboard shapes,
- surfboard volume,
- best beginner surfboards,
- soft top surfboards,
- fun boards,
- swallow tail surfboards,
- asymmetrical surfboards,
- and maybe most importantly, how to make your own surfboards and become a brand yourself.
Now, without making you wait any longer, let’s delve right into the most dependable names in the industry, no matter what you’re looking for.
Clayton Nienaber might be the OMBE head coach and, therefore, might have a biased mention in this guide, but truth be told, he’s one of the best coaches around. Regardless of his coaching experience with surfing greats, including the likes of Jordy Smith and Ricky Bassnett, though, back in the day, he was quite an accomplished surfer. More importantly, he’s been shaping surfboards for legends such as Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds for years. So, put simply, he knows what he’s doing.
Of course, you’re not going to turn into an award-winning pro all of a sudden, but you can be sure that these boards will provide you with all the high-performance qualities you’re seeking. Thanks to the SPINE-TEK Technology employed in the construction of the Clayton Surf products, you’ll find that they’re strong, responsive, and flexible.
In addition, SPINE-TEK adds a great deal to the durability of the board. It improves the structural integrity of the foam blank and doesn’t give way under pressure like a timber stringer or carbon layup would. In turn, you get more responsiveness, and you get to feel the energy of the wave in a less mediated way than with another board.
In short, if you’re an intermediate surfer who wants to try their feet on more performance-oriented boards and improve, Clayton Surf is surely worth considering. If you’re an advanced surfer looking for a long-term board that won’t fail you, whatever the circumstance, Clayton Surf is also probably the right surfboard brand for you.
Clayton Surf might be a brand that’s more appealing to advanced surfers, so it would make sense that Catch Surf follows it. The Catch Surf surfboards are beginner-friendly, as they’re ideal for what the brand name promises: catching surf. Therefore, their catalog houses some of the best beginner surfboards on the market, so it’s no wonder that these boards consistently end up on our lists.
However, you shouldn’t be deceived by the brand’s prominence as a soft top surfboard company because what they produce is not at all similar to your traditional foam board. They get design tips, feedback, and inspiration from great pro surfers, including Blair Conklin, Taj Burrow, and the Pipeline master, Jamie O’Brien. As a result, their boards womp, beat, slash, noseride, and kill crowds (in a good way). In that sense, they also make a case against the presumption that the foam surfboard is strictly for beginners.
The aesthetic appeal certainly shouldn’t be the main reason why you’re picking a certain surfboard, as you should always get a surfboard after assessing what you need and what your skills warrant. Yet, you can be easily forgiven if you picked a Catch Surf board based solely on its looks since their bottom deck designs are as artful as it gets. They feature a variety of interesting images like pineapples wearing sunglasses, an undersized croc riding a bloody dagger skate, and some Evan Rossell artwork.
All in all, whether you’re looking for a soft top board to kick off your surfing journey or you’re bored with the mainstream deck art (like that of the Wavestorm), Catch Surf is the best surfboard brand around. Even if you’re an advanced surfer, unless you don’t grimace at the idea of riding a soft top, there surely are high-performance boards they have on offer. The cherry on top? The Catch Surf boards are quite affordable, too.
The ocean is our livelihood, our joy, and sometimes, our best friend. So, especially after a couple of surf trips, where we get to take in the pleasure of being present in the most beautiful corners of the world, caring about the ocean and this beautiful planet of ours emerges as the common denominator among us surfers.
Thankfully, some surfboard brands share the same values. Almond Surfboards, a partner of Formula Fun that advertises a similar vein of eco-conscious board-shaping, is one of those brands.
We don’t know if the founder Dave Allee, who was only a student back then, had a lowkey surfboard revolution in mind when he started shaping boards in 2006 on the California shores. Still, with the help of Griffin NK, a former apprentice of the legendary shaper Bruce Jones, they gained quick success. In 2018, they introduced the Almond R-Series Secret Menu, the first recyclable surfboard in American board-shaping history.
Now they’re running their own recycling program for worn surfboards, which decreases the amount of foam and fiberglass that ends up in landfills. In addition, the Almond boards don’t require wax that—more often than not—contains petrochemical materials that harm the ocean and its habitat in the long term.
Being eco-friendly isn’t the only merit of the Almond surfboards either. They’re ideal for beginner surfers to start catching waves and intermediate surfers to start catching more waves in quite a bit of comfort. Be warned, though, that being conscious and comfortable can be quite expensive these days.
You might have heard the name Jon Pyzel as he’s an award-winning board-shaper and one of the contemporary pioneers of the board-shaping industry. He grew up in Santa Barbara, California and started surfing when he was only a high school pupil. Once he started believing in his abilities as a surfer, California couldn’t contain him anymore. So, in 1992, he moved to the North Shore, Hawaii, where the world's best waves constantly beat the beaches and reefs.
When he wasn’t surfing in Hawaii, he was working in a board company repairing dings and whatnot. Soon after, he learned the job and started shaping boards for the same company. The moment that set him on an award-winning journey came in 1998 when a guy asked him to shape a board for his son. That son was called John John Florence.
Since then, Jon Pyzel has shaped many high-quality and high-performance surfboards for champions, including Tyler Wright and bravehearts like Koa Rothman. Lately, though, he’s also been working on how to make learning fun for beginners with John John Florence. To that end, they founded a project called JJF by Pyzel.
Now, after all the worldwide recognition, it’s no wonder that Pyzel boards range quite wildly in terms of performance, construction, budget, and target group. It’s also no wonder that they are hailed as the best for the advanced and beginners alike. Whether you’re looking for fun or an instrument to slay nautical monsters, Jon Pyzel probably has something for you, and whatever he has, it probably delivers.
South Bay Board Co.
We love South Bay simply because they have everything for everyone, and whatever they have is simply the best in their category. They design and produce all the surfboard parts themselves, from the foam blank to the wooden stringers. They meticulously shape these boards to achieve ultimate performance, and no matter how high-quality their boards are, you never feel like they’re overpriced.
Are you looking for a beginner surfboard that you can easily learn the fundamental surfing skills on? They have a sufficient number of them for every budget and in every length, and the comment sections of these boards are full of parents who just bought a surfboard for their kids.
Some of them are joyous because their kids are having fun, and some are concerned that they’ll never be able to separate their kids from their boards. Yet, both sets of parents are testaments to how efficient South Bay is.
Are you looking for a high-performance longboard that you can take out regardless of the surf conditions? Well, they have some of the best hybrid surfboards in the market as well. These bring together the maneuverability and performance of a fiberglass board with the stability and buoyancy of a soft top, giving you the best of the two worlds. In addition, they have options for shortboards, mid-length boards, and pro-level performance boards, too.
Are you bored of regular surfing and looking for new thrills? Well, how about you take a look at the stand up paddleboards South Bay Board Co. has on offer?
All in all, no matter what your inclinations are, South Bay is there to provide for you.
Before the 1960s, surfers only had longboards. It meant that the number and types of waves that they could ride were quite limited, and big waves or tubes were only a dream to ride. Yet, there was no way to satiate the thirst for progress of pro surfers who seek bigger and bigger thrills. As they wanted to surf bigger and better, in the 1960s, the board-shaping industry finally had garnered enough technology and wave knowledge to respond.
Al and Terry Merrick were in the midst of that thirst for hardcore surfing and the surfboard revolution that succeeded it. He founded Channel Islands in 1969 in Santa Barbara, California to cater to the most prominent surfers of the day in accordance with their needs and demands. In other words, the company was conceived with high standards for innovation, performance, and quality.
If our word isn’t good enough for you, let us tell you about who’s been riding Channel Islands surfboards since the conception of the company: Tom Curren, who’s considered one of the most stylish surfers of all time; Dane Reynolds, who loves doing strange aerial maneuvers and some occasional experimental surfing; Lakey Peterson, who’s one of the best female surfers around.
After all these years, they’re still one of the leading companies in the industry in terms of innovation with their employment of new technologies such as Varial Foam, Fusion Dual Core, and Ecoboard Project, and they’re still setting an example for other surfboard brands on how to conduct business.
If you look at the history of innovation within the surf culture and surfboard industry, you’ll see that all roads lead to Hawaii. The surfer’s dream is riding the most dangerous waves on Earth, which—more often than not—happen to be in Hawaii. The board-shaper’s dream, though, is to make the ultimate surfboard that can perform well on these dangerous waves.
However, performance is not the only aspect you need to consider if you’re going to shape a Hawaii-compatible board. See, most of the Hawaiian breaks are actually reef breaks, and these reefs in question are solid lava formations that have spiky ends that might sometimes surface over shallow water. So, boards suffer from lots of dings, and some of them just break no matter how skilled a surfer you are.
Therefore, a board that bodes well in Hawaii should also be durable and affordable since the number of surfers who are rich enough to buy a new board every month is probably quite limited. At least this is what Bruce “Buzz” Hansen thought, the Australian surfer who founded NSP Surfboards in 2001, and that is what he delivers: durable and affordable high-performance boards that can endure the many dangers of Hawaiian shores.
The company was an immediate success. Since then, they’ve been producing and selling a wide variety of products, including all kinds of surfboards, SUP boards, foils, airwings, and beach accessories and apparel.
JS stands for Jason Stevenson, the proud founder and owner of the company who’s a world-class shaper. He’s also quite passionate about surfing, and his passion is reflected on the boards he makes to a great extent.
JS Industries is now a widely renowned and revered brand due to the high-performance boards that have been ridden by many great surfers such as Joel Parkinson and Bruce Irons. Especially the Monsta, the flagship board of the company, stands out as one of the most-ridden high-performance surfboards, and it’s also a testament to how Jason Stevenson likes to conduct his profession.
Every single detail on the Monsta was designed to optimize performance, from its medium rocker to the five-fin setup and the well-thought rails. As a result, you have a board that you can rip and shred, thrust and sail on waves that are more than double overhead, and have fun with when the conditions are no more than knee-high.
In short, JS Industries deserve their fame for producing versatile surfboards that can perform to high standards no matter the surf conditions.
Firewire’s advertising motto is “Future Under Your Feet” and they have a board called “Sci-Fi”. So, everything points out to the fact that the shapers of the company are aliens who decided to pay a visit to Earth on their way to an intergalactic sine-wave championship. They probably liked the surf here as well since they decided to stay and remain hidden among the unsuspecting crowd.
Although we cannot prove it, it’s also a pretty plausible explanation for how they got Kelly Slater to design a fair number of boards for them, including the Sci-Fi mentioned above and the puzzlingly-named Flat Earth. Still, they also deliver on the promise of the future with the incorporation of amazing new technologies and meticulous design.
In addition, they’re also aware of the impact any sort of industry has on the environment and climate, which have already been in crisis mode for a while now. Therefore, their production method emphasizes sustainability as well as performance since they think that “a company’s ‘performance’ is measured by the impact that their operations have on the planet and its people, not just how much profit they make.”
To that end, they support a fair number of environmental organizations around the world, such as Surfrider Foundation, Surf Aid, Share the Stoke Foundation, Parley for the Oceans, and Surfers Against Sewage.
Even if they weren’t aliens living among us with values just the opposite of the aliens from They Live, even if they didn’t produce anything else, just the fact that they have Kelly Slater’s designs and they’re doing their best to preserve the beauty of our planet and its people would make them worthy enough for recommendation and mention. But thankfully, they have many great boards in their catalog, too.
Haydenshapes, founded by surfer and innovator Hayden Cox, works on similar grounds with Firewire Surfboards in the sense that sustainability and high performance is emphasized in their business method. They produce their boards while also exploring ways to reduce waste and sustain a more green-friendly attitude.
In addition, they employ new technologies in the construction of their high-quality boards. These technologies include FutureFlex, which is an innovative core blend that enhances both the durability and performance of the board, invented by none other than Hayden Cox himself. Polyurethane Polyester technology requires the shaper to laminate the board by hand, provides the board with a brighter look, and adds to its durability.
Although most of their surfboards are designed for advanced surfers to enjoy hectic waters, they still have a selection that might help you conquer the small waves of your humble beach break. Moreover, the two soft top surfboards in their catalog are quite affordable for those who're considering where to start, and they’re among the best in their category.
Hayden Cox is quite active in the art scene as well, so his company collaborates with artists and fashion designers like Craig Anderson, Alexander Wang, Daniel Arsham, and Chris Stamp. You can head to their online shop for apparel and see for yourself whether their particular vein of art has any appeal for you.
Whether you’re looking for a surfboard brand that you can entrust your beginner needs to or the best high-performance surfboard that can endure Hawaiian reefs, our list has something for you.
Now, all you need is to learn how to get the right surfboard. Thankfully, we have the very program for that. See, the OMBE crew always has you covered on all fronts!