Inside DAKINE - At Home in Hood River

Nov 16, 2014
by Nathan Hughes  



Just as Sony is to sound and Budweiser to beer, Dakine is a name inseparably intertwined with extreme sports. Spanning the holy trinity that is snow, water and dirt for 35 years, the company continues to nurture some of the World's most idolized athletes and create their must-have equipment for snow-capped peaks to sun-burnt beaches. Beginning on volcanic shores back in 1979 on Maui, Hawaii, Dakine found its way to the foot of another volcano, this time on US mainland in 1986... now residing under Oregon's towering Mount Hood.

It was Pinkbike's privilege to accompany team rider Steffi Marth on her HQ visit to take an industry insider look at the inner workings of this iconic brand. Join us for the full tour and the chance to sample a little bit of the enviable lifestyle in and around the office. It would be irresponsible not to offer a small warning at this point: After-effects may include severe dissatisfaction with your current career path. Just a heads-up.

Way in
  Sandwiched neatly between Mount Hood and the green banks of the mighty Columbia River, rests the small town of Hood River.

Rust farm
In da Hood
Town trio
  At a glance it's a sleepy kind of place, but a closer look reveals it as a real hive of outdoor activity in the beautiful Pacific Northwest landscape. The wisest of hobby skiers, windsurfers, fly-fishers, bikers, hikers and hunters, to name just a few examples, call Hood River home.

Here...long term
  Dakine came to see what all the fuss was about 28 years ago and never left... and they'll be sticking around for time to come.

  Last year the company was purchased from Billabong by Altamont Capital Partners and took up all-new headquarters down the road from their old site, this time with more space and a prime view of all river activities. A great spot to monitor their products in action and the perfect motivation for their 50 new recruits to finish up their work and go out to play at golden hour.

Enter Dakine
  Quality set in stone... and steel. Welcome to Dakine Headquarters.

  A picture-perfect reception to welcome you on the way to your 9 to 5.

Street fashion 3
that s fresh
  Dakine have always been at the sharp end of fashion across the extreme sports industry. Obviously the early days in the 80s set the bar high.

Dakine got its start on Maui s North Shore in 1979. Rob Kaplan 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 with the kind of bombproof materials and stitching only someone who s lost a board to the rocks would know how to make.
  Introducing company founder Rob Kaplan, pictured here in the Cannery workshop in Haiku, 1982. What began as a fun side project to make sure he and his friends never lost another board to the rocks, ended as a thriving company that he would sell to the surf lifestyle giant Billabong in August 2008.

  The many faces of Dakine. Nowadays the company finds its way to the shelves in more styles than you can shake a surfboard leash at.

Gloves are off
  Those with place in their hearts for powder as well as dirt will be aware of the formidable army of snowsports superstars Dakine has been amassing in the last years. Sammy Carlson, Scott Stevens, Sean Petit and TANNER HALL no less, are just a few of the legends onboard the good ship Dakine.

textiler 3
Snippy steff
  Steffi has been with Dakine for three seasons now, making the journey out to HQ once before, but was super stoked to return when we were invited by Jennifer Ketler, Product Manager for Bike Apparel.

bigquotesI was really excited to come out to Oregon again where the lifestyle is just amazing. Dakine is so on top of it at the moment, getting it right with rad designs and pushing really hard on the girls' side! Jennifer is the coolest so it's tons of fun to visit her in the new offices, check out the new ranges and head to the trails with the staff! - Steffi Marth - Trek Gravity Girls

Sample check 3
Samles fisheye BW
  Jennifer takes Steff through the new range and shows off all the patterns and fabrics that will be finding their way onto riders' backs next season. Steffi as well as Thomas Vanderham, Geoff Gullevich, Matthew Slaven, Andrew Shandro, Graham Aggassiz, Darcy Turenne and Rene Wildhaber all slept easy knowing their wardrobes were well looked-after throughout 2014.

Around the office
Dax portrait
  The new office is light and spacious with the kind of relaxed vibe you might expect. It seemed perhaps surprisingly quiet for a company with such an adrenaline-based background, but whoever got finely-tuned, quality output from a team partying their way through the office hours? Dax Richey, Product Line Manager for men's packs and bags tells us about his career path as a Dakine product rep pre-2005 and his time spent in-house since.

Officing 3
Chico office with a view
  Shadow of a man, Chico Bukovansky, VP of sales, has been with the company since 1994. He gets an office with a view, just the same as anyone lucky enough to be on the right side of the new building.

All time imagery
  Two photos that can truly be described as 'all time'. Sammy Carlson airs in a Mount Hood ski heaven through the lens of Darcy Bacha and Thomas Vanderham rips Kamloops to bits in front of Sterling Lorence. Sponsor-correct inspiration isn't hard to find around the HQ.

Inside Dakine
  Steff takes a look at what's trending... creativity-wise. This is where the sprawling random world of internet can be condensed a little closer towards the look or feel of a new product.

Inside Dakine
  Meeting for two, Jennifer and Senior Graphic Designer, Christin Dunbar, talk about 2016 patterns.

Sketch up
  Technical Product Designer, Graeme Wagoner-Lynch, sketches up some fresh bag concepts before they go to prototype stage.

Lorne workstation BW
  So how to make a prototype without some kind of genius craftsman to make each and every one? That's a question Dakine doesn't need to contemplate... they have their own genius! Meet Lone Keopaseuth. Every backpack Dakine ever produced was first made at his sewing machine. Pinkbike were keen to know how it all began for him...

bigquotesWell I was a tailor looking for a job and I was into surfing. I saw all the 'Dakines' windsurfing around the water and I was curious to find out more on the company. My first day at work was in 1987 on Maui, Hawaii. I made mainly windsurf harnesses at first, then in 1988 I moved to the Hood River office to start making backpacks. - Lone - Pattern Maker Supervisor

One of the original packs outta bounds
  Above right, Lone builds packs with Erik Hauge in 1990, and above left, holds one of the original 'outta bounds' packs, returned in near-immaculate condition on its lifetime warranty... presumably by someone with a bit of a sense of humor.

Lorn at work
  After all these years, Lone is committed as ever to the brand and quite certain he'll be here until the end of his working days. That hopefully buys Dakine some time to think how they might find his successor... these geniuses don't grow on too many trees.

bigquotesThe best thing about my job is how I can always make new things. My favorite part of work is when I just make it happen and everybody is happy. I never say something is not possible.. If something isn't right or not good enough I just start again. Usually I make four or five different items per day, not only the packs. To begin with, the whole team starts talking about the new product and we change it until everybody says 'oh yeah this is the one!'. People first draw it on a paper and I start working with this and the materials they decided for, which are on huge rolls. I cut the right shapes out and for a typical backpack there's 15-20 pieces depending on the style. Every pack Dakine ever had, I made a sample for - Lone

Glove test station
  Once they have a prototype it's important to get to a bike or a board the fastest way possible to make sure it feels right. Enter the mobile, old-school, in-office, test station. Steffi gets the feel for the 2015 Covert glove, excited later in the day to find some changes in a few products she gave feedback for previously. Listening to rider feedback is all part of Dakine's success story.

jennifer i-phoning
When the end of day bell tolls it's time to blow out the cobwebs on the trails. And well, there's no shortage of ride buddies when you work for Dakine.

Go time
Between the trucks
  The guys pack up among a plethora of the World's finest tailgate guards. Thankfully product testing is a never-ending business.

Au Natural
slotting through the trees
  The Hood River wilderness awaits just a few clicks outside of town and the team regularly take full advantage of the amazing terrain.

Grouper 3
Jen group ride
Beer o clock
  Post Canyon is a stone's throw from the office and is top of the bill for a post work ride and beers session.

Chico beer up 2
Chico holster
  Chico's a man who never has to say 'hold my beer' before sending a gap out on the trail. Dakine's bike-specific hip pack, just the ticket for hot laps!

Steff BW social 2
  Even Steffi with her German roots gives full approval of American Beer, served ice cold & post-ride.

Ben locking them in
Syncline duo
  Jennifer's husband, Ben Ketler, is Dakine's fit model, product tester and something of a trail building genius, with WD40 in the blood. He's currently studying engineering and constructing an all-new, 3 mile, flow trail at Post Canyon, in honor of Matt Klee, who tragically passed away in a riding accident earlier this year.

Ben s mega berms
  Steffi rails some of Ben's previous handy work at Post Canyon. His super berms are a thing of beauty and maybe you'll recognize them from the Oregon Enduro Series several months back.

Woods fashion 3
Steff pushing the woods
  Dakine calls it right again with camo and daisies... so 2015. Steffi also wears the latest incarnation of the Drafter, Dakine's first minimalist bike pack, first conceived back in 1999.

Pan amp berm 2
  Abracadabra, Steff gets up close and personal with the forest brown pow. To us Europeans, this kind of gold dust coating the trails is like err, well.... gold dust.

  You know it's high quality dirt when your roost looks like angel wings.

bigquotesWow they have it good in Hood River! I'm not sure if it makes it easier to sit behind a desk all day when you know trails like this are waiting for you, or harder because you'd get so distracted... I guess the best is to earn your fun at the end of a long day like the Dakine crew manage to! - Steffi Marth - Trek Gravity Girls

The crew got wood
Special mosses 3
  That evening, Ben and Jennifer were keen to take us out of the deep, dark woods and up onto the World-famous long grass of the Syncline trail on the other side of Columbia River. It's not hard to see where Dakine find their inspiration for new colors with Oregon nature this vibrant.

Ben Syncline rail
  The Syncline is one of the most famous trails in the PNW, probably featuring in more magazines than any other and it wasn't hard to tell why. Ben knows the trails like the back of his Dakine gloves and was stoked to show us all the sweet-spots and keep us away from the poison oak and rattle snakes.

Jen syncliner
  Jennifer settling into modelling mode before dropping in up top.

bigquotesThere's a lot to love working for Dakine! I get to work closely with passionate, dedicated people who like their jobs and also like to play. I can travel the World, making factory visits in Asia and to the team in Europe, meeting a lot of fun people and talking about bikes and apparel the whole time! Of course we also get to do a lot of product testing... It's so cool to work on a short and jersey design for a week in Asia and then be out wearing it on the trails a few days later! - Jennifer Ketler - Dakine Product Manager for bike apparel

Steff Marth taking on the Syncline trail at Hood River aboard the Trek Remedy.
  Steffi powers through the signature sweeping turns above the Columbia River, as the sun starts to dip over the cliffs behind us.

Silhouette 3way
  Oregon turns out to be just as beautiful in bad weather as good. Three lucky riders ride the golden sunset away from a thunder storm on the horizon.

Sunset 2
Push upset sunburst
  The last light over Syncline and the end of an awesome trip to a fascinating brand in an incredible part of the world. Good bye Dakine, hello to reality...when we're ready to get back to that. It could take a while...

Article: Nathan Hughes

Massive thanks to Marco Zucchetti of Dakine Europe and Jennifer Ketler of Dakine US for making this trip possible.

Mentions: @dakinenews @DakineTV @natedh9 @steffimarth


  • 50 1
 Some companies are just plain and simple doing it right, so likeable and such a feel good vibe. There will always be money involved, but I sincerely feel they are making products because they want to make something cool, unique and strong. I only own a Dakine endurahhhoo fannypack, and if I could i would buy their entire line up.
  • 13 1
 Best Company Ever! Use them for all seasons.
  • 8 2
 I have been using DaKine stuff since the 80's but I am not putting them on some sort of corporate pedestal like I would say - Patagonia.
  • 5 1
 Bought a Dakine pack in 2007, one for myself, one for my sister, and one larger school backpack.
We still have all three, and I use mine on long rides. Dakine worth every dollar.
  • 6 10
flag Yetimylove (Nov 13, 2014 at 11:48) (Below Threshold)
 They remind me alot of Yeti. The prices are high but they are great people who genuinly love our sport who make a great product, i would love to work there
  • 3 1
 Great article. I was honoured to be on Dakine for a couple of years as a sponsored free rider. Awesome gear, especially the gloves and backpacks. Still got a number of pieces including their huge roller bag ideal for road trips.
  • 2 0
 IMHO/Best full finger MTB gloves available, for the last 4 years straight.

And still using daily using 2 separate Heli Back Packs purchased over 10 years ago.

Great company, great product.
  • 16 0
 I think there are worse jobs and places to be living. Can being stoked every day be dangerous to ones health?
  • 19 0
 Truly a big concern... Far more research must be put into this important topic Wink
  • 7 0
 In the name of science, take me life. I am your volunteer!
  • 10 0
 Dangerous levels of stoke are a serious problem, good insight in this news broadcast.
  • 2 0
 indeed, lots of video on the important topic of too much stoke
  • 1 0
 You guys just made my day!
  • 14 5
 Since all of their products are made in china they should be called DACHINE
  • 14 0
 like 95 % of all our clothes nowadays.....
  • 6 0
 Thats why i always search for the 5% Wink
  • 5 0
 These guys are doing it right, and not just if it serves short-term objectives. In windsurfing, a much smaller market than surfing, biking, skiing, snowboarding, they still sponsor up and coming athletes and grassroots events. The gear works and presents good value, and they support the community in every sport they serve.
  • 4 0
 Those "kinda camo" jerseys are sick (red and blue one and green and grey one being worn by Ben). Any idea when they are coming out or how I can get my hands on one? Aggy wore a black and grey version at rampage if I am not mistaken.
  • 2 0
 Spring 2015 collection
  • 4 0
 their hydropacks are amazing. but trying to get water out the bite valve is like trying to get water out a brick! also, i cant unlock the bite valve with 1 hand, which sucks. other than that, their stuff is brilliant
  • 3 1
 The entire CamelBak valve system fits perfectly into the hydropacks hose.

Dakine packs are the best around so why reinvent the bite valve wheel? Allow the hydration system to be "customized" and avoid paying out the nose for the use of another company's patent. Great idea all around.
  • 2 0
 because i cant go slowly up a hill and open the bite valve, cause i need 2 hands to do it.
this leaves me with 2 choices:
cycle really fast up the hill so i cant let go of the bars completely and play with the bite valve
or stop and play with the valve.

im not saying they need to reinvent the valve, not revolution, just evolution.

like putting a ridge on both the part that twists and the part that doesnt, so you can get a grip on it and unlock it with 1 hand
and making the plastic centre of the valve smaller and the rubber part that you bite bigger, so when you bite it it deflects more making a larger hole for you to drink out of.

they do those simple things, my only minor nitpick will be gone and their stuff will be perfect.
  • 2 1
 Camelbaks valves, hoses, and reservoirs are the best around. The bags themselves are pretty good, but I think Dakine's are better.
  • 4 0
 Da kine for packs, camelbak for bladders Wink
  • 1 1
 Going on 4 years of constant use with my Dakine hydropack. No problems whatsoever. Their gloves & jerseys are great too. For some reason their bike shorts don't fit me well (Alpinestars fit me great), but if they're using Ben as the model, that makes sense. I have a small spare tire around the middle, no doubt from the rivers of beer that are so plentiful in Oregon.
  • 3 1
 I just got a Platypus bladder to replace the bladder in my 9 year old camelbak pack. I would probably have gone for a camelbak one but the shop I was in didn't stock that brand. The Platypus one is better in every way than the Camelbak one, easier to open, fill, store, clean and drink from. Big win.
  • 1 0
 The DK packs will work with any system. My favorite is Osprey on that front - the valves just work, the mid-sized bladder (70oz) with the plastic handle keeping it from collapsing in the pack is genius, and they have ridiculously awesome customer service and stand behind their product. So that's my personal setup then - DK packs (both for biking and skiing - love the way they design their packs to work just right for avy tools and carrying skis) with the Osprey bladders.
  • 3 0
 I have a Dakine backpack/camera bag. It's going on 5 years old and it still looks almost new. My Lowepro before that lasted just over a year, and the crumpler just before that just over 6 months. If I ever need to buy another, it'll be a Dakine for sure!
  • 5 0
 What do I have to do to work for you guys? You got to have a need for someone with a finance background (MBA and Wallstreet) and a huge passion for mountain biking.
  • 2 0
 Thanks clemson, already on it!
  • 3 0
 These guys are awesome! I dropped in with a group of friends while on a trip to hood river and they were more than happy to show us around. They gave us some spare buckles for our packs and of course loads of stickers. I doubt a company like specialized would do anything like this.
  • 6 0
 awesome shots and nice write up Nathan
  • 2 0
 Sick pictures! The quality of stuff you'd expect in their product advertising kits or online. Thanks for sharing!
  • 2 0
 Whoa! There's no place I envy more than Oregon. So many great people and places. Hood River is epic.

For a moment I thought "how sick would a workplace like that be?" ....Then reality kicked in....and I realized the beauty of farming and being self employed provides me a great deal of rare benefits such as living in nature surrounded by beautiful creatures and epic views.
  • 1 0
 There are tons of farms and orchards right outside of Hood River.
  • 3 7
flag krahamgoats (Nov 13, 2014 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 Hood River sucks. It's a town full of pretentious wind johnnies and trustafarians. These fancy pictures make it look nice but don't believe it. So happy to be out of there
  • 4 2
 Hey, Altamont Holdings, know what will surely boost your 4th quarter earnings? Stop using ubermodels and foot out corner blowing images and start making quality shizz to rep your stuff. I'm a loyal Dakine customer, I own a ton of your stuff. Looks great, but it's falling apart. My gear bag? Partitions are blown out. Gloves? All 5 pairs? Velcro doesn't stick, logos fell off, seams blew out. Shorts? Seams blew out, threads all over (since the seams are all in the saddle region). Truck pad? How about making it Santa Cruz-proof so it doesn't get jacked when I'm at the store, for 5 minutes. But hey, who cares about me? You all look great!
  • 2 0
 in the land that is at the cusp between the PNW’s eastern dry desert and the loamy western rainforests (within minutes in either direction), i’m digging the photos of the ice cold cans of rainier in the forest post-ride. hoppy IPAs back at the brewpub for dinner are great and all but this is the true spirit, great article. very cool, dakine folks!
  • 2 0
 Good gear and good warranties! The zipper blew out on my 2008 Nomad pack, and they hooked me up with a new 2015 Nomad. My only complaint is their customer service was lacking during the warranty process. I didn't receive any confirmation after I submitted my warranty claim and photos online. I called about a week later and was told my claim had been approved and that I had been sent an email saying so -- which I had not. Then they sent the email saying my claim was approved and that I needed to submit photos of the destroyed product. I did that and didn't hear back for a couple weeks. Then I got an email saying my replacement pack would ship soon and that a tracking number would be provided at that time. Next I got an email saying my pack had shipped, but there was no tracking number provided. Kind of minor annoyances I guess, but they haven't quite got their communications protocols down with warranty claims.
  • 4 0
 l had a dakine snowboard tool back in the day that had a built in pipe. haha. doubt they make those anymore
  • 1 0
 Packing/moving this week. Forgot that I had one of their casual packs (laptop holder type), just found it. Zipper on it stopped working about the second time ever used. My backcountry snow pack of theirs has lasted years though (far more stout zipper). Batting .500 with them! Looks like a rad place to work regardless.
  • 4 0
 Love Dakine's stuff. Never disappoints me.
  • 4 0
 I want one of those beer holsters
  • 2 0
 This is exactly how every company should be. Working with rad people that are passionate about what they do. Dakine is doing it right.
  • 13 12
 $5 says she didn't go back and and fix that berm she "shredded". That ain't Washington/BC loam. A LOT of labor goes into making those trails.
  • 20 12
 $5 says nobody cares, she was riding with the trail builder. What is up with these trail nazis on here lately?
  • 10 9
 "The trail builder". Yeah, there are about 30 people involved in making that trail. For some reason I doubt they asked Hood RATS (the local trail authority) if they could destroy a trail, built to honor the memory of the deceased, for their photo shoot.
  • 16 3
 its the not the dirt on that particular corner that matters, its the glorification of 'shredding' corners that ultimately hurts the trails and sport.
  • 9 5
 No Leduke. You're not the only one who feels that way
  • 8 2
 @BryceBorlick , EXACTLY. Whether she fixed it or not isn't the issue.
  • 6 2
 the under-25 shuttlin-erreday guys never get it. Immature short-term thinking, kinda like buying a Dakine pack that comes apart at the seams.
  • 2 4
 Haha so people over 25 just ride in a straight line the whole way down the mountain? Look i get where you guys are coming from, i work on trails more than i ride now a days, but i ride how ever i want to and have fun not worrying about a little scrub here an there. The glorification of "shredding" a corner will never end if every other POD is a roost shot and every other video has some pro slaying a trail. Your complaining is falling on deff ears and i dont think a few comments online will change anything, so you might as well find something else to complain about.
  • 1 0
 Deaf* haha
  • 6 2
 My point is that I knew the man who died, and whose name graces this trail. I used to live and ride there, I know a lot of the guys who ride these trails every day, and I know the guys who maintain them. They don't ride like that, and might be a little upset if they saw someone doing that to the trails that they built to honor the memory of a dead friend. If everyone rode like that, you'd overwhelm the work capacity of the volunteers who build and maintain these trails. You can only work on these trails for a few months out of the year, but I'm guessing most people don't know that, or just don't care. You can't just send a work crew up there every Sunday morning during the summer when it hasn't rained in months. You can't fix those destroyed berms and brake bumps for months at a time.
  • 5 0
 @LeDuke you may have known the man who died but you clearly don't know what you're talking about when it comes to the Kleeway. The Kleeway hasn't even been built. As for the "30 people involved in making the trail", the first Kleeway build party brought in nearly 200 volunteers from all over the northwest for grunt work in poison oak and 100 degree heat. I imagine you didn't attend said event... I personally didn't know Matt but I do know a lot of his community and his spirit is alive and well within them.
  • 5 2
 What is shown in the above picture isn't exactly a "little scrub". That's a significant amount of dirt being blasted off the trail on purpose.
  • 5 0
 @PurveyorOfPost Thank you for the correction. When the first work party took place, I was probably on a combat patrol in Afghanistan. I haven't been back to Hood River in a couple of years, but I know that many of my friends are still very actively involved in the trail building and maintenance there, and would frown if they saw these trails being destroyed for a photo shoot.
  • 3 0
 I should have taken the warning more seriously...
  • 4 1
 There is some amazing beers in that area and they are drinking Rainier?
  • 3 1
 It's cheap, I guess, but yeah Oregon has some of the greatest beers anywhere.
  • 2 0
 Is this an introspective on Dakine or Hood River? Either way, I'm in both every day!
  • 2 0
 Tommorow I'm getting my very first DH bike and I think I'm going to jizzzzzz.
  • 1 0
 why is the dude drinking the beer wearing two different gloves? you would think dakine could afford to hook him up with a matching set!
  • 2 0
 Dakine is still not popular enough in Europe. If you guys only hire me, I can change it. Or at least die tryin'...
  • 2 0
 I love Post Canyon! I had no clue Dakine was out of Hood River! I'm gonna go visit!
  • 1 1
 ....Raaaiiiiiinnnnnieeeeeeerrrr.....beeerrrrrr..... and Dakine, how sweet it is. I have owned everything from DK leashes to stop pads to Backpacks, bags and clothing. Damn stuff refuses to die!
  • 1 0
 Dig my 8 track shoits and Drafter pack. Gottem with big discounts from the local online agents. New stuff looks beaut.
  • 3 1
 Gotta get back to Hood River
  • 2 0
 Check out the coast also. Tillamook makes great cheeses and it's not far from some beautiful beaches. I'm sure you could find some amazing local food as well with all the fresh meat, dairy and seafood.
  • 2 0
 HOME. I can't wait t get back.
  • 2 0
 Damn, I want to work there!
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 Are they hiring? This is where I belong.
  • 3 0
 Steffi is hot
  • 2 0
 those camo shorts fit very well indeed
  • 2 0
 This place looks absolutely fantastic !
  • 2 0
 Y'all just mad ya cant shred as hard as Steffi
  • 1 0
 I wonder if the recent change of parent company has anything to do with the exponential price increase of their pickup pads?
  • 1 0
 Great story about Hood River, horrible liner shorts.
  • 1 0
 I luv DaKine . so green! and sticky!
  • 1 1
 Post Canyon and Syncline are awesome, but when I'm in Hood River, it's all about riding Whoop Dee!
  • 1 0
 Their windsurfing harnesses are excellent quality too.
  • 1 0
 Nice article and great photos, thanks.
  • 1 0
 Steffi domer
  • 1 0
 Love it!
  • 1 0
 What about Gilbert?
  • 1 1
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