INDUSTRY NEWS: Kokatat strikes gold! Paddlesports leader celebrates 50th anniversary in 2021

Launches new GORE-TEX PRO styles and Anniversary Capsule Collection

ARCATA, CA – Steve O’Meara started Kokatat, then Blue Puma, in 1971 purely as a way to help get people out on the trails and waterways of Humboldt County. On one fateful day he was approached by some friends to see if he could design and build them some better paddling apparel for an expedition they were planning on the Alsek River in British Columbia.  Today, Kokatat is recognized as a global leader in performance paddle sports apparel and gear.

“I’m so proud and humbled by our team who has helped us build our business, brand, and our gear right here in Arcata,” said O’Meara.  “If it hadn’t been for that Alsek first descent, I’m not sure we would have pursued the paddle sports category. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”

Much of Kokatat’s success has stemmed from its dry suit business.  In the late 80’s Kokatat introduced its first dry suit for paddling and were an early adopter of GORE-TEX waterproof and breathable fabrics.  To this day, Kokatat is the only paddle sports company using GORE-TEX.

“W.L. Gore and Associates is one of our oldest vendor partners” added O’Meara.  “Paddlers depend on our gear to keep them dry in some of the world’s harshest water environments where it is literally a case of life and death, and our designs paired with GORE-TEX or proprietary Hydrus fabrics deliver.”

Kokatat’s 50th anniversary coincides with the introduction of a new GORE-TEX PRO fabric which is being integrated into Kokatat’s complete line of GORE-TEX dry suits, dry tops, and pants including its popular Meridian dry suit for Spring 2021.  Each of the pieces will use the highly rugged and durable version of the GORE-TEX PRO fabric. 

“We tested the GORE-TEX PRO fabric for over two years with our athletes and product development team and the response was unanimous – this was the best performing and most comfortable gear we’d made to date,” said Matt Porter, Kokatat product manager.  “Not only that, between using recycled nylon, solution dying, a new durable water-resistant coating, and other improvements, W.L. Gore has been able to reduce the fabric’s environmental impact significantly.”

The new GORE-TEX PRO fabric uses 47.2% less water in production and its carbon footprint has been reduced by 1.6%.  These and other factors resulted in the PRO fabric being bluesign approved and meeting the OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

The Legacy dry suit is the new foundation of Kokatat’s dry suit collection with GORE-TEX PRO.  The front-entry design suit has an adjustable bungee drawstring waist, nylon waterproof zippers, latex gaskets with neoprene punch through neck and neoprene lined adjustable wrist cuffs, and a streamlined leg pattern.  The men’s features a relief zipper flap as does the drop seat of the women’s whose wraparound routing reduces interference with boat outfitting.

In addition to adding the new GORE-TEX PRO fabric to its line-up, Kokatat is releasing the 5 decades Limited Edition Collection in celebration of its milestone.  Each piece in the collection features a special dew (teal) and mantis (yellow) colorway with a 5 decades wave graphic treatment, with each wave signifying a decade.  The collection includes limited edition versions of the HustleR rescue vest, the new ŌM dry top, which pays homage to Kokatat founder Steve O’Meara, and a new paddling short that Kokatat developed in collaboration with Dewerstone of Devon, England.  The Kokatat X Dewerstone Life Short 2.0 and ŌM dry top are offered in men’s and women’s specific styles.

Kokatat is planning a number of celebratory events throughout the year and a film chronicling the company’s history.  Details of the events and film are forthcoming.

For more details on Kokatat, its products, and its 50th Anniversary visit


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