Hyperlite Mountain Gear was named the overall winner of the fourth-annual American Made Outdoor Gear Award, announced at this winter’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, Utah, beating three paddlesports companies – Jackson Kayaks, Werner Paddles and Wenonah Canoe – that also made the final cut for award, sponsored by Kokatat…
The contest annually celebrates outdoor companies with a commitment to American manufacturing and sourcing. Werner and Wenonah made the list in the 50-100 employee category, and Jackson in the 100+ employee division. Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes ultralight packs, shelters and accessories using state of the art Dyneema® Cuben Fiber in a repurposed mill in Biddeford, Maine.
Judged by a group of outdoor industry peers, the application includes more than 30 questions regarding the size, scope and success stories of domestic production. In the four years of the program the American Made Outdoor Gear Awards has received 290 entries from domestic manufacturers. Past grand prize winners include Liberty Bottleworks in 2013, Benchmade Knife Company in 2014, and Sterling Ropes last year.
“This is the fourth season we’ve honored the great stories of domestic manufacturing in our industry and we were amazed once again by the inspiring stories of the applicants,” says Kokatat sales manager Jeff Turner, whose company — known for its longstanding commitment to American manufacturing — founded the award in 2013.
“Each year we are impressed by the amazing made in America stories from all our entries,” he adds. “Hyperlite Mountain Gear was a clear stand out this year with how they have focused on domestic manufacturing to drive their innovation and growth as well as their commitment to their local community.”
“We’re thrilled and honored to be recognized for our American-made manufacturing as it is a driving force behind that commitment,” adds Hyperlite Mountain Gear Co-founder and CFO, Dan St. Pierre.
As winners, Hyperlite Mountain Gear will take one-year ownership of the “Sassy” travelling trophy — a two-foot tall, hand carved, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County, CA.
Kokatat’s hosting of the awards is rooted in its own history, as the brand’s founder and president, Steve O’Meara, recognized from the start that keeping production local was necessary in order to control quality and continually develop the finest and driest paddling apparel in the world. In addition to the overall winner, winners in several categories based on company size were also awarded. The category winners received a miniature version of the Sassy award during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market celebration.
Category winners of the 2016 American Made Outdoor Gear awards include:
100+ Employees: Farm to Feet (www.farmtofeet.com) of Mt. Airy, NC
50-100 Employees: Timbuk2 (www. timbuk2.com) of San Francisco, CA.
10 to 50 Employees: DPS Skis (www.dpsskis.com) of Salt Lake City, UT
Under 10 Employees: Duckworth (www.duckworthco.com) of Bozeman, MT
Adds Kokatat president Steve O’Meara: “I began Kokatat when there was no such thing as domestic manufacturing; all manufacturing was domestic. In today’s global economy, companies have many choices for suppliers and manufacturers and it’s fantastic to see so many of them choosing American first and keeping manufacturing from becoming a myth like our friend Sassy.”
Jackson Kayak: Jackson Kayak was founded in 2003 by four-time World Freestyle Kayak Champion and Olympian Eric Jackson and Tony Lunt. Located in Sparta, Tenn., near its hometown Caney Fork River, the family-run company designs, builds and manufactures leading whitewater, fishing and exploration paddlesports products. Operating under the motto “Build it like it’s your own,” all of its products are made in the USA, supporting support the local Tennessee economy. Market leaders in both the whitewater and kayak fishing, kayak manufacturing and strong in the exploration sector, Jackson Kayak continues to introduce new product lines each year; this year including a new cooler line, Orion Coolers. Jackson Kayak’s success is due to its passion for paddling and delivering high quality products, supported by an all-star cast of team members who. And, oh yeah, Jackson’s kids, Emily and Dane, are total rippers: Dane won the World Freestyle Kayak Championships this year on the Ottawa, and Grand Prix of Whitewater last year; and Emily, who’s married to former World Freestyle Kayak Champion Nick Troutman, has topped the podium two times.
Werner Paddles: 2015 marks Werner Paddles’ 50th anniversary of making handcrafted paddles, with the same attention to detail as when it was founded five decades ago by Werner Furrer. The family-run company makes paddles for kayaking, canoeing, sea kayaking, SUP and any other paddling application under the sun, all adhering to its mission statement of creating Ultimate Paddle Performance. Based in Sultan, Wash., the company also give backs to the paddling community every chance it gets through sponsorships of events and protecting the waterways its products are used on.
Wenonah Canoe: Wenonah Canoe is a small, independent, family-owned designer and manufacturer of high performance canoes and kayaks, sold and paddled around the world. Measuring its success by the success of its dealers and satisfaction of its customers, its mission is to fit people into the best boats for their chosen use, reflecting the values and the passion of founder Mike Cichanowski, who founded the company 42 years ago. Priding himself on producing the fastest, lightest, most efficient canoes around, Cichanowski, a longtime canoe racer, has since received numerous awards, from the prestigious Composite Fabricators Association Community Commitment Award and, most recently, the Boy Scouts of America’s Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, joining the likes of Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg, President Gerald R. Ford, Bill Gates and more.