As a way to help get people out on the trails and waterways of Humboldt County, Steve O’Meara started Kokatat, then Blue Puma, in 1971. On one fateful day he was approached by some friends to see if he would 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 of our team who has helped us build our business, brand, and our gear right here in Arcata,” said O’Meara. “I never would have thought back in the 70’s that we would be where we are now and 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 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.

“Our partnership with GORE has been instrumental to our success,” 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 the GORE-TEX fabrics paired with our designs deliver.”

Kokatat’s 50th anniversary coincides with the introduction of the 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. The 200 denier recycled and solution dyed fabric provides the uncompromising waterproof protection GORE-TEX fabrics are known for, but in a lighter weight package that is highly breathable and more environmentally friendly.

“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, GORE-TEX has been able to reduce the fabric’s environmental impact significantly.”

Compared to the previous GORE-TEX fabric used in Kokatat dry suits the 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.

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

About Kokatat Inc.

Kokatat has been manufacturing paddling gear in Arcata, California almost 50 years. At a time when many technical apparel brands were moving manufacturing offshore, Kokatat continued to invest in infrastructure in the United States. Kokatat founder Steve O’Meara was committed to the development of the finest and driest paddling apparel in the world and recognized the need to control and continually evolve the development of our dry wear. In the early days, Kokatat worked closely with W.L. Gore & Associates, makers of GORE-TEX®, to refine the sewing and sealing techniques required for full immersion suits and tops. Today, our hands-on approach to manufacturing continues to set the standard in paddling apparel. Into the water with Kokatat! Learn more at

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