Industry News: American Made Outdoor Gear Awards announces 2017 finalists

Four Paddling Companies In the Running for the Elusive 'Sassy' Statue

They say American manufacturing is a myth. ‘Sassy’ begs to differ.

ARCATA, CALIFORNIA, (November 25, 2016) – The American Made Outdoor Gear Awards, which annually celebrates the best stories from companies with a commitment to American manufacturing and sourcing in the outdoor market, announces the finalists for the 2017 awards. Winners will be announced and presented with awards at a ceremony on January 11, 2017, in Salt Lake City, UT, during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

The American Made Outdoor Gear Award was founded in 2013 by Kokatat, the paddlesports apparel and gear company known for its longstanding commitment to American manufacturing, to recognize the leaders in American-made quality, craftsmanship and creativity in the outdoor world.

Paddlesports companies are well represented in the 2017 class, with Blackfly Canoes, Alpacka Raft, Bending Branches Paddles and Wenonah Canoe all among the finalists. Other companies with strong paddling connections are also represented, including Thule, Frost River packs and Orion Coolers which is a division of Jackson Kayak. The finalist for the American Made Outdoor Gear Awards include:

Under 10 Employees:
Atayne, Brunswick, ME –
Blackfly Canoes, New Hampton, NH –
Cleverhood, Providence, RI –
Flowfold, Scarborough, ME –
SportPort, Charlotte, NC –

10 to 50 Employees:
Alpacka Raft, Mancos, CO –
Branches LLC, Osceola, WI –
Frost River, Duluth, MN –
LUNA Sandals, Seattle, WA –
ORION Coolers, Sparta, TN –


50-100 Employees:
Rock Exotica, Clearfield, UT –
Stormy Kromer, Ironwood, MI –
Support Enterprise, Jamestown, NY –
Timbuk2, San Francisco, CA –
Wenonah Canoe, Inc., Winona, MN –

100+ Employees:
Exxel Outdoors, Boulder, CO –
Farm to Feet, Mt. Airy, NC –
Outdoor Research, Seattle, WA –
Renfro Corporation, Mt. Airy, NC –
Thule, Seymour, CT –

The Grand Prize winner, selected from the category finalists, receives one-year ownership of 'Sassy,' a hand carved, 2-foot-tall, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County, CA. Category winners receive miniature versions of the award, and all entrants receive a certificate of participation.

Past keepers of 'Sassy' include Liberty Bottleworks ( of Yakima, WA, Benchmade Knives ( of Portland, OR, Sterling Rope ( of Biddeford, ME, and current warden of the trophy Hyperlite Mountain Gear ( also of Biddeford, ME.

Magic Den: A peak inside the Blackfly Canoe workshop in New Hampton, N.H., USA

"Over the past five years we've received so many fantastic domestic manufacturing stories and we're honored to share them with our industry," said Jeff Turner, Kokatat sales manager. "This year's crop of applicants was as impressive as ever, demonstrating the strength of domestic manufacturing in the US."

Judged by a group of outdoor industry peers, the American Made Outdoor Gear Award application includes more than 30 questions regarding size, scope, challenges and success stories of domestic production.

Kokatat's creation 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.

For additional information about the 2017 American Made Outdoor Gear Awards email

About the American Made Outdoor Gear Award:

Founded by Kokatat and shared with the Outdoor Industry, the American Made Outdoor Gear Award is a celebration of American manufacturing. First awarded in 2013, the American Made Outdoor Gear Award recognizes companies with compelling domestic manufacturing stories. Finalists are announced annually on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and the winners are recognized at an awards ceremony during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The company with the best "made in America" story receives one-year ownership of the 'Sassy' travelling trophy — a hand carved, 2-foot-tall, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County, CA — and all category winners receive miniature versions of the award. Along with highlighting company stories, the program tracks domestic manufacturing trends and insights in the outdoor industry. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter at @AMOGAward.

About Kokatat Inc.: 

Kokatat has been manufacturing paddling gear in Arcata, California for 45 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