The Brand Story of Dakine
With spring being right at the door, we just have to wait a little while longer before we can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities again. Temperatures will start rising again, and that calls for activities that you might not have been able to experience for quite a while now.
So, if you did not have the chance to get familiar with their products during the winter, you will get even more opportunities to do so during spring. This is the brand story of Dakine.
The brand story of Dakine starts in 1979, when it was founded in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii by Rob Kaplan. Rob was a surfer first, but he was also a tinkerer who loved building stuff. Word got out, and soon fellow surfers began turning to him with their gear problems – most often busted surf leashes. After repairing enough leashes, he set out to make a new leash. A leash with the kind of bombproof materials and stitching only someone who had lost a board to the rocks would know how to make.
In 1980, Dakine introduced windsurfing’s first adjustable foot strap. In 1982, this was followed by a waist harness and a whole bunch of travel bags. After that, in 1983, they introduced windsurfing’s first seat harness, and then the now-ubiquitous thermo-molded waist harness. These advances in equipment design helped windsurfers sail faster, jump higher and ride in more intense conditions. They also established Dakine as one of the new sport’s most trusted brands.
By 1986, windsurfing’s center of gravity had shifted to Hood River, Oregon. While Dakine would keep a presence on Maui, its headquarters moved to the mainland. Hood River also sat at the base of Mount Hood, where snowboarders and skiers from all over the world trained in the summer.
Now, not only were they talking to some of the world’s best surfers and windsurfers, but they also had world-class snowboarders and skiers coming in and out of the office too. It was one of those snowboarders that led them to the first Heli Pack. He had come off the mountain and wandered into Dakine with a request: he needed an essentials-only pack for his helicopter trips to Alaska. Dakine created a custom pack that had everything he wanted and nothing more. That favor for a friend eventually turned into one of Dakine’s most iconic products ever.
By 2005, Hood River had grown into a legitimate mountain bike destination. Those same friends started to bring a different set of problems into the shop: what is the best way to load three bikes into a pickup without dinging the down tube? How do I ride down with full-face helmet and pads on, but ride up without sweating to death? Is there a way to carry a chain saw, hammer and a set of loppers up a trail on a bike? The answer Dakine found, was: YES!
In 2009, Billabong International Limited acquired Dakine for approximately $100 million. This led to the company moving into its new headquarters along the Columbia River in Hood River in 2013. The same year Dakine was sold again. This time the brand was bought by Altamont Capital Partners.
At Dakine, they always try to answer those kinds of questions with the same resourcefulness, integrity and craftsmanship that Rob built into that first surf leash. All told, Dakine is responsible for hundreds of products firsts that have helped snowboarders, surfers, kiteboarders, skiers, windsurfers and mountain bikers grab more days on the mountain and in the water.
Through every sport, Dakine’s approach has never changed: build gear of which they would be proud to give to friends who love being on the mountain and in the water as much as they do. They have illustrated that very nicely in the following quote:
“No need to spend our lives in a lab trying to figure out what people will need 10 or 20 years from now. There are plenty of problems that waste precious mountain or water time right now. And the best way to find them is to get out on the mountain and in the water yourself. Live it. Build it. Test it. Improve it. Then do it all over again next season.”
Dakine has a very practical, hands-on approach, which you can clearly see in their products. Test it yourself!