In my teens, I would have scoffed at the idea that I could give an opinion of the best surf brands.
See, I grew up in Kansas, several hundreds of miles from the closest beach, Ocean Isle Beach.
We occasionally visited the beach during summer, but I always wished we lived closer.
Back then, there weren’t so many surf brands. The unique surf “style” and boards were mostly inspired by the big surf brands like O’Neil, Roxy, and Rip Curl.
Today, however, the surf industry has changed.
Every time I visit the beach, I come across new surfboard brands, which tells a lot about the huge steps the surfing community has made over the years.
Nowadays, it’s less about the big-name brands. Of course, some are still holding strong in the game, but there’re plenty of new surf brands boasting of a great story, passion, and desire to create something meaningful.
These are the best surf brands. They may not necessarily be the most popular brands but have created a huge following and respectable reputation for their passion and dedication in the surfing world.
Now, I’m guessing you’re interested in knowing what some of these best surf brands are.
I’ll share everything you need to know about the top 17 surf brands in the guide below.
Top 17 Surf Brands
Patagonia is a reputable surf brand in the industry.
The brand didn’t start as an apparel wear company but rather made tools for climbers.
It shouldn’t be surprising, considering the founder, Yvon Chouinard, began mountaineering at a very tender age.
Alpinism still remains the core of Patagonia’s business model. But in addition to outdoor wear for mountaineering, the brand has also diversified to other disciplines such as skiing, surfing, fly fishing, snowboarding, paddling, and so much more.
What sets this brand apart from other surf-brands is their attention to detail and a focus on sustainability.
They’ve a clear supply chain transparency, prioritizing causing the least possible environmental harm.
A major highlight and developmental success in Patagonia’s manufacturing system is the Yulex technology.
Yulex is sourced for harvested rubber trees. It’s a sustainable and durable alternative to neoprene materials.
Surf wear made out of Yulex, performs better than the traditional material in terms of reliability, insulation and is easy to maintain.
2) Roark Revival
Roark Revival has been in the surf industry for slightly over a decade. It was founded in 2009 in California by the Ryan brothers (Sirianni & Hitzel).
The duo creatives behind the brand had experience in the surf clothing market, and we’re big believers in storytelling.
So, transitioning into the surf wear industry was an effective way for the duo to showcase their passion and love for performance surfing.
What started as a small business surf shop grew exponentially and is now comparable to most respected retail stores.
Today, the brand is trusted by many professionals because of its established credibility.
And the best part is Roark Revival has incorporated a team of highly-skilled and experienced surfers from various disciplines. It has brought in much-needed expertise, diversity, and proficiency.
Another major highlight of this brand is authenticity. The brand works hard to sell surfing as it truly is, rather than the whitewashed versions we’re used to.
Today, the brand is at the core of the surfing culture and has taken innovation to new heights, a bonus for the surf enthusiast.
Plus, the quality of their goods is top-level, chic, and handsome- everything on their manufacturing lists, from the boardshorts, backpacks to pocket knives, speaks of quality and ruggedness.
Quiksilver is probably one of the iconic surf brands.
The brand was founded on years of innovation and progression. It has been around since 1969, so you can imagine the amount of experience it has gathered for the period.
It started as a small surf shop, Australia, and today, it’s a huge contrast to its humble beginnings.
Quicksilver is now at Huntington Beach and is among the top clothing companies. It specializes in sportswear and sports equipment and has established a name for creating quality goods.
What started as a movement to showcase a surf lifestyle has spiraled its way into a monster, perfect for those looking for performance in their outdoor surf adventures.
The Quiksilver brand remains one of the top surf clothing companies, and they’re continually growing in popularity and acceptance because of their innovation.
Plus, the Huntington Beach brands had sponsored one of the greatest professional surfers, Kelly Slater, before forming his own brand.
Our list of the best surf brands can’t be complete without mentioning RVCA.
It’s one of the respected names in the surf industry and best known for its keen attention to detail and innovation.
It’s also popular because their designs, whether on their surf apparel or surf equipment, extend beyond the constraints of traditional designs.
Their designs are lifestyle-driven and will generally weather the passing trends with most surf clothing.
For the most part, the surf culture inspiring the designs on the RVCA are music, art, surf fashion, and modern lifestyle-something most users can relate with.
Along with the surf apparel and equipment design, RVCA showcases its surf culture through several events and programs.
One of their most popular programs is the RVCA Artist Network Program. The venture was created to provide a platform where the accomplished and beginners artists and best surfers in the world can showcase their talents.
RVCA’s primary purpose, however, is to promote the authenticity of the different surf cultures and subcultures while giving back to the community.
Their designs are awe-striking and will inspire todays and tomorrow’s generations. Meanwhile, all their products are of substance.
5) Billabong International Limited
Billabong is a renowned lifestyle surf brand that has been rolling some cool gear.
It’s an esteemed brand and is usually considered among the best in the surf industry alongside Quiksilver and Rip Curl.
Plus, it’s also considered part of the Original California surf, along with O’Neil.
The brand has been in the market since 1973 (Australia’s Gold Coast), so it’s an old hand in the surf industry. As expected, it has a lot of wealth and experience in the surf manufacturing domain.
In the grand scheme of things, Billabong’s wear comes at a price matching that of Quiksilver, but the look on their design is much more minimalist.
While the brand is primarily a clothing retailer, it has diversified its product line, and they offer different clothing lines starting from swimwear, wetsuits, and everyday clothing.
But more importantly, the brand provides its customers with the opportunity to customize their cool surf gear.
Simply put, the surfboard company emphasizes user fun, style, and a pleasant experience.
Hurley is another established surf lifestyle brand among the best surf clothing companies. It was founded in Costa Mesa, California.
The brand combines art and is sure to serve you with some nice looks with their chic and vibrant board shorts, t-shirts, and surf accessories.
Their beachwear leans on the vibrant and youthfulness, so it’s a great way to rekindle your happy moments as a kid.
On top of that, Hurley places a great emphasis on quality and inspiration. This is evident from the team of professional skaters, surfers, and artists the surf brand has incorporated into its design and development team.
As with Billabong, Hurley inspires their surfers with trendy designs, which are more colorful and vibrant.
But that’s not the only thing that sells Hurley. The lifestyle brand is known for its quality fabrics. They especially contribute to their popularity because of their long-lasting nature and reliability.
Outerknown is under the leadership of Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore.
It’s the perfect duo combo for an award-winning surf brand; Kelly Slater brought his surfing expertise, while Moore shared his design prowess.
But that’s not even the selling point with this surfing brand.
Outerknown diverges on the traditional supply chain and shows that it’s actually possible to produce performance-oriented and chic surf gear sustainably.
Today, Outerknown and other clothing brands such as Patagonia and Rip Curl have paved the way for an emerging alternative movement that focuses on sustainable and environmentally-friendly extreme sports wear.
Outerknown’s supply chain management also goes beyond the raw materials and keeps an eye on workers’ plight.
For example, Outerknown has partnered with Fair Trade USA, which ensures all the employees behind this creative label work under safe and healthy conditions.
Even better, for each of their t-shirts purchase, a percentage is channeled to the workers. Another percentage of the t-shirts goes to support the Ocean Conservancy charity.
Finisterre is remarkable for one thing, and that is how it takes sustainability at heart.
A quick visit to their website, for example, and you’ll see how they’ve well-articulated their positive impact report.
In particular, the brand has channeled its sustainability efforts and protection towards the oceans and seas.
On top of that, they’ve a sustainable process for sourcing materials that don’t harm the environment.
The brand, for example, utilizes Yulex rubber as an alternative to neoprene.
Their Nieuwland wetsuit is one of their top-selling Yulex-made products. The natural rubber used on this wetsuit gives it an edge over its competitors in lightness, usability, and performance. And more importantly, it doesn’t harm the environment.
Thirty-Square earns a spot on our list of the best surf brand because of its esteemed credibility and reliable products.
The brand has its roots in Scotland but has grown into a mega-company and fledging brand.
As with most surf companies on the list, Thirty-Square didn’t start ours as a surf apparel brand.
Instead, it tested the surf world by creating top-shelve wooden bodysurfing handboards.
From there, the brand expanded its wings to cater to other surf disciplines, and that’s how they got into the surf-inspired clothing and accessories.
Their accessories are the ultimate definition of beautiful and transcend all the other surf products I’ve seen. Their wooden hand planes, for example, are chic and wonderful to look at, and you could even purchase them to hang on your wall as a piece of art.
Cariuma may not be as popular as Quicksilver or Billabong, but once you get to know about them, you’ll probably never look for another surf brand.
It has a unique marketing strategy and only focuses on sneakers.
Two surf enthusiasts in Rio, South America, founded the brand, who felt the industry-standard classics were not up to the mark.
According to the founders, the existing options were uncomfortable and less practical. More importantly, they felt the big guns cared less about sustainability and nature protection.
So, they decided to reinvent the surf sneakers. And from the look of things, their endeavors seem like a game-changing option we’ve all been waiting for.
Their design is described as “old-school meets new-school.” Basically, they draw their inspiration from the old school designs, but with a cool touch of modern design.
Even better, the shoes are designed from a sustainability standpoint, yet they remain the pragmatism you expect from a high-quality surf shoe.
Cariuma shoes are made from rubber, sourced from the hevea brasiliensis tree. The workers use ethical tapping to ensure no trees are harmed in the process.
The brand also maintains that the excesses are used in manufacturing the next pair of surf sneakers, so basically, nothing goes to waste.
Nixon was founded in 1997 in CA, US.
The founders were not only entrepreneurs but also had extensive experience in surfing.
Unlike most surf brands that are all over the place, Nixon takes a unique marketing dimension and is dedicated to manufacturing watches and accessories.
It expanded its repertoire over the years and is considered among the premium brands in the market.
They were so successful in the game that they began attracting attention from other brands.
And in 2006, they were acquired by Billabong, which effectively turned Nixon into an exclusive surf watch company.
Since the takeover, the brand has grown tremendously in different aspects and established itself as a solid brand in the surfing space.
It even sponsored numerous events and snowboarders, which further boosted its credibility.
In 2012, however, Nixon parted with its mother company to become an independent brand again.
The newly-acquired independence hasn’t stopped the brand from making progress. They’ve now expanded their range of products. Along with the traditional watches, they’ve also shifted to other surf goods and accessories such as bags and leather goods.
As with Nixon, Vuori was founded in Encinitas, California.
It’s still a new-founded brand but it has experienced exponential growth over a short period and even gained credibility from professional surfers.
The brand was initially created to fill a void of yoga attire for men. It was a superb business idea, which catapulted the brand to fame.
However, with time, the need for expansion arose, and the brand evolved to something much better. They expanded their range of products to cater to the needs of surfing enthusiasts.
The best part with the new venture is their products came with a reflection of the San Diego surf culture.
Today, the brand has a cult following, primarily because of its smart and versatile design. Their surf clothes are also quite multi-faceted and will work well for different purposes, starting from heading to the beach, going for yoga classes, or even grabbing a beer with friends.
Along with versatility, all their quality apparel has a hint of activewear characteristics. So, think of boardshorts with moisture-wicking abilities, quick-drying, loops, stretchability, and so much more.
The fabrics used are also performance fabrics, so users will feel quite comfortable on these.
Volcom was founded in 1991, and its existence was based on the need for creating products that will meet the needs of surfers passionate about the sport.
The brand began when the founders, Tucker Hall and Rickard Woolcoot, took a snowboarding trip.
By then, snowboarding was looked down upon.
The duo, however, were relentless in their pursuit, and it wasn’t long before they pushed with their business.
Starting was a bit challenging because none of them had the experience of manufacturing clothes.
However, their overzealous nature, backed with creativity and spirits, pushed them to their limits and created room for new ideas.
In their first year, they made about $2,600, which was a feat. From there on, they expanded their business across the globe, and today, they’re one of the world’s action sports brands.
They’ve a cult and massive following, which in part is because they’re authentic and run with their initial forward-thinking philosophy. Of course, they’ve incorporated new ideas and added touch and class, and modernity in their processes.
Xcel should be at the top of your to-go brands if you love the great outdoors.
The fledgling brand has a diversified range of products that will cater to all your outdoor needs, from surfing gear to regular surf wear to sun protection.
And the best part is Xcel development models are based on sustainability. The ecological materials Xcel uses, including limestone-based neoprene and dope yarns, are simply incredible.
Everything you wear from this surf company is a healthy option, a win for humans and nature.
One of their major developments is Xcel’s Drylock design, commonly used in wetsuits. It keeps the surfer’s body warm and is quite a handy option, especially if you want to ride the waves in winter.
Vissla is an internationally renowned surf retailer.
The athletic brand embodies creative freedom while embracing the DIY attitude.
Usually, the brand draws most of its inspiration from its team of artists and surfers.
Their innovators and creators have developed a philosophy to make the surfing experience pleasant and comfortable.
And the good thing is they have a range of products to cater to every need of surfers and surfing enthusiasts. So, whether you need technical surf gear to hit the waves or simply something to rock on the streets, you can always find the right gear on the Vissla shelf.
However, the brand doesn’t market its products through large multi-brand retailers. Instead, it uses specialty surf stores.
It has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, and its popularity is also based on its push for sustainability.
Nineplus is a surf company with a great story.
It was founded in 1963, in St Agnes, Cornwall.
Richard Balding, the founder, would drive around the UK in his VW, stocked with products. He would attend surf events, and from there, he would coax people into purchasing his equipment.
From there, Richard teamed up with a California-based marketer to develop and sell surfboards.
That went on for some years until they developed their first neoprene surf wetsuit that would fit the needs of women.
That was their turning point, and from there, their popularity and fame grew by the day.
Today, Nineplus is one of the iconic brands in the market and is highly esteemed for its credibility and reliable products.
The brand’s credibility has been boosted further, considering the brand is actively involved in charities. One of the most popular philanthropic deeds is the founding of #warmclub. This is a charity developed to cater to the sleeping needs of the homeless.
17) Critical Slide Society
Critical Slide Society has been in the surfing world for 13 years now.
It was established in the sleepy seaside village of Central Coast Australia.
The brand has a unique philosophy and one that isn’t founded on competitiveness but rather the idea of an engaging surfing lifestyle.
Like any other high-end brand, Critical Slide Society works with a range of innovators and developers, starting from artists, surfers to designers.
One common trait with all the team members enjoined in this brand is their similar outlook inspiration.
Today, the brand is recognized as among the best surf brand in the market and develops everything from accessories to surf gear.
Best Surf Brands Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who owns Quiksilver?
A: On February 22, Quiksilver was sold to Nike.
So, yes, Quiksilver now operates under Nike, Inc. umbrella.
Q: Is Quiksilver a good company?
A: Yes, you can never go wrong with Quiksilver.
They’re among the old hands in the industry and are famed for their quality product and development.
Q: Is Billabong an Australian brand?
A: Yes, Billabong was founded in Australia.
It focuses its efforts on developing surf accessories, board shorts, skateboard and snowboard products, and backpacks.
We have it; that’s my list of the best surf brand.
It’s not in any order, but you can rest assured these are some of the high-end brands in the market.
Of course, some such as Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver, and Patagonia have established a name for themselves. But other newly-founded brands are giving them a run for their money and worth checking them out.