burton snowboards

Burton Snowboards is a company that you could well be purchasing from regularly during your time as a snowboarder, as they are currently the world's largest manufacturer of snowboards. The firm stocks quite a considerable range of snowboarding gear, including snowboards, bindings, boots, outerwear, and accessories, and is based in Burlington, Vermont, where the company's flagship store also resides.

However, this company also boasts a fascinating history - one intertwined with the development of snowboarding as a pastime and professional sport.

Such a history can be traced back to 1977, when one Vermont native, Jake Burton Carpenter, wowed onlookers at a Michigan snurfing competition with a special board which he had secured to his feet using bindings. Since the age of 14, Carpenter had enjoyed snurfing, a pastime which can be traced back to the modified skis Michigan engineer Sherman Poppen had given his daughter back in 1965.

Later in 1977, Carpenter founded the Burton Snowboards company in Londonderry, Vermont. The snowboards manufactured by Burton, made of flexible wooden planks with water ski foot traps, did not initially sell huge numbers, due to the perceivably high snowboard price of $38. However, Carpenter famously continued to do his bit to raise the profile of snowboards and snowboarding.

In this respect, Carpenter's appearance at the first ever World Snurfing Championship in 1979 was a landmark moment. Carpenter came to compete with a snowboard of his own design, enraging many of the other snurfers present, who insisted that Carpenter should not be allowed to compete. However, others, including top snurfer Paul Graves, begged to differ. The result was that a separate competition was created, which Carpenter won as the sole entrant. That event is now widely considered the first true snowboarding competition.

Carpenter's Burton Snowboards continued to play a hugely influential role in the development of the design and nature of snowboards from the 1980s onwards, in this manner joining other snowboard companies like Tom Sims' Sims Snowboards, Chuck Barfoot's Barfoot Snowboards, and Mike Olson's Gnu Snowboards.

Today, Burton Snowboards products are sold internationally throughout over 4,300 stores, over 1,500 of which are located in the United States. From 2003, Burton Snowboards products were also increasingly sold online, thus only increasing the presence of the brand.

However, it is easy to be misled by the name, as Burton Snowboards stores do not necessarily only sell Burton products. There are also, for instance, several sub-branded products available, focusing on more obscure market niches. Particularly noteworthy sub-brands include Anon Optics (snowboard goggles and eyewear), RED (helmets and body armor), Analog (outerwear) and Gravis (footwear). Another sub-brand, Forum Snowboarding, was added in 2005, when Four Star Distribution sold four of its snowboard brands to Burton.

The products sold by Burton Snowboards today fall across three rough categories: 'freeride', 'freestyle', and 'park'. The 'park' category is intended to cater for freestyle disciplines like half-pipe and park. Each category sells various products of varying prices, and catering to different levels of performance. There are also snowboards sold across the categories of 'men', 'women' and 'youth'. Snowboards sold by Burton Snowboards are typically priced between $300 and $1,500.

By 2008, the worth of the snowboard equipment industry had grown to $487 million. Depending on the category, Burton Snowboards boasted between 40% and 70% of these sales. This, along with Burton's continued sponsorship of professional snowboarders like Shaun White, Jeremy Jones and Kelly Clark, ensures that, whenever you go to a snowboarding event or to a shop to purchase new snowboards or other snowboarding equipment, the instantly recognisable Burton Snowboards logo should never be too far away.