Technical apparel brand Kokatat marks its 50th anniversary this year. In honor of the milestone, the company has released a collection celebrating its roots.
Steve O’Meara originally founded Kokatat, then called Blue Puma, in 1971 to help those in his northwestern California county get outdoors. Soon after, however, the brand rebranded to its current name and shifted its focus to paddle sports, a niche it has stuck with ever since.
Kokatat’s 5 Decades Limited Edition Collection revives the brand’s original Blue Puma logo and introduces a commemorative five-wave design—one wave for each decade. The capsule offers three new items: a paddling short developed in collaboration with the outdoor lifestyle label Dewerstone, a Gore-Tex dry top and a rescue vest.
The Kokatat x Dewerstone Life Short 2.0 is made entirely from recycled polyester and plastic bottles. It features four-way stretch for greater comfort and movement, surf leash-inspired waist closure and two hidden, zippered pockets. The short is available in men’s and women’s sizes.
The Ōm Dry Top is made with a new, lighter weight and more durable Gore-Tex Pro material. The result, Kokatat said, is its “most advanced dry top to date.” Additionally, a new pattern improves fit and mobility over past designs. Other features include neoprene over-cuffs on the neck and wrists and a self-draining pocket on the left shoulder. The top’s adjustable double-tunnel waist features Ariaprene, a sustainable alternative to neoprene, and “provides an infinitely adjustable perfect fit,” Kokatat added.
The collection’s limited-edition, teal HustleR Rescue Vest possesses all the same features as the brand’s standard rescue life vest, including its ability to fit a wide range of torso sizes, rugged 500D Cordura fabric, a quick-release chest harness and a D-ring attachment for standard cow tail or river tow tether.
Kokatat also recently signed Uganda National Team paddler Sadat Kawawa to its global team. As part of the partnership, Kawawa will paddle exclusively in Kokatat dry tops, dry suits and life jackets.
“Sadat is a great addition to our team as he inspires other young paddlers to follow their dreams through his accomplishments,” Lisa Kincaid, Kokatat’s promotional marketing manager, said in a statement.
Kawawa was first introduced to the sport by paddlers visiting his hometown on the banks of the Nile. Enamored, he began carrying boats for tourists in exchange for paddling lessons and used gear. He quickly progressed in the sport, entered local competitions and went on to international events, including multiple world championships. Last year he won the title 2020 King of the Nile.
“I’m proud to be a part of the Kokatat Global Ambassador Team and hope other Black men and boys around the world will see me and know that paddle sports are possible for them too,” Kawawa said.
Antionette Lee Toscano, the founder of Diversify Whitewater, an organization whose mission is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in whitewater paddle sports, profiled Kawawa last year for her XOTV channel Whitewater TV and connected him with Kokatat.
“Sadat had been on our radar for a while, but thanks to our partners at Diversify Whitewater we learned he was in the market for partnerships and we moved quickly,” Kincaid said.