In 1989, Bonfire was started by Brad Steward, a pro-snowboarder and photographer. He grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and he started snowboarding there when he was fourteen years old. While he was working at Sims, he had come up with the idea of selling specialty t-shirts in Huntington Beach, California. They were being sold under the brand name Bonfire Think Tank Designs. His first shirts just featured the word “Bonfire” on them. Soon after, he contemplated making an outerwear brand. He didn’t just want to wear skiing or surfing gear, he wanted something that was specifically made for snowboarding. The company soon moved to Portland, Oregon in 1992, and released their first snowboarding outerwear. Steward said that “The idea was to be artistic, eclectic and find a way to keep snowboarding unique.” At Mt. Hood, near their new location, Bonfire was giving their products away to the top professionals of the era. These athletes instantly gave their support. Between 1992 and 1995, Bonfire was going international. Bonfire Japan became the first distributer to import US Skate brands into Japan. Then in 1995, they developed a branch in Europe.
When 1995 came around, Bonfire had managed to become one of the top selling apparel companies currently in the winter sports market. This was around the time when they had released The Fireman Jacket. This jacket is viewed as being one of the first attempts to integrate street wear into snowboarding apparel and is a main influence for later snowboard apparel. This same year the sporting good distributing company Salomon Sports, financially assists Steward, and helps Bonfire grow into Bonfire Snowboarding Inc. Distribution. During their growth, Bonfire started to release a line of outerwear that was designed for women. The following year, Monica Steward, the co-founder of Bonfire, and aunt of Brad, passed away from breast cancer. So Brad founded Boarding for Breast Cancer, a non-profit, fundraising, and awareness foundation whose mission is to increase the awareness of breast cancer.
With help from the Snowsports Industry of America, in 1998, Brad Steward and Jake Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards, sued U.S. Skiing. They were suing over the qualification process for snowboarders in the Olympics. The lawsuit was settled, and this led to the development of the Grand Prix for snowboarding and allowed them to enter into the Olympics. Two years later, in 2000, Steward left Bonfire in order to follow his desire to go into film. He directed music videos and commercials. Though three years later, he would return to the company he founded, and this time he played a much more active role in the company as Marketing Director.
The Bonfire Snowboarding team has been around since the company was started. The first athletes on the team in 1992 were Noah Brandon, Matt Donahue, Todd Franzen, Matt Goodwill, Mark Hibdon, and Jim Moran. Between 1994 and 1995, eight more members had joined the team. Bobby Meeks, Shannon Melhuse, Jason Ford, and Aleksi Vanninen just to name a few. By 2003, Kyle Clancy, Keiko Yanagisawa, Scott Gaffney, Espen Arvesen, and Jeremy Jones, along with seven other members joined the Bonfire team. Currently, there are 112 members in the Bonfire team. These include amateurs and professionals. They also have many international riders who come from all over the world, from Japan, to France, Spain, and Sweden.
Some of the members who stand out from the rest are David Benedek and Leanne Pelosi. David Benedek, who joined in 1998, won 1st for overall and quarterpipe, and 2nd for slopestyle at the Burton European Open in 2002. The next year, Benedek is named Snowboarder Magazine’s Rider of the Year, which is a title he keeps in 2004 as well. 2004 is also the year in which a young Canadian female rider named Leanne Pelosi is recruited onto the Bonfire Snowboarding team. She is featured in the 2005 all female snowboarding movie “…As If”. The same year the movie was released, Pelosi was awarded Female Rider of the Year by Transworld Snowboarding. Currently the main event held by Bonfire each year is the Bonfire Pipe to Pipe snowboard event. This event is currently on its 12th annual run, and is the longest running summer snowboard event in the world.
Bonfire offers a number of products. They sell boots, gloves, beanies, accessories, men, women, and youth gear. The boots that they offer were designed by a joint effort between Bonfire and Salomon. There are four styles of boots. The Men’s Bolt Boot has a soft feel liner and custom fit foam that allows thermo-formable customization. One of the boots in the women’s line is the Geometric Boot. It has a retro style, and makes use of modern materials. Heat and comfort are provided by the fur liner. The Women’s Flame Boot is designed for freestyle with the quality that is expected from Bonfire.
The company also offers a huge selection of men’s, women’s, and youth jackets. They have a long list of jacket designs, and most of them come in three or more colors. The jackets differ by their fit, waterproof, insulation, lining, and seams. Women have an added option for outerwear with Bonfire’s Puffer down vests. The number of jackets is equaled by the number of pants that they offer, each coming in a variety of colors and styles to match with your jacket and board. For clothing, there are also t-shirts, ponchos, socks, and hoodies. For accessories, Bonfire has a selection of gloves, mittens, hats, and belts to choose from in a multitude of popular designs for men and women.