Packraft maker Kokopelli pushes into bike gear, raises largest round yet

“Bikerafting” combines biking and rafting in one trip. (Courtesy Kokopelli)

Kokopelli is paddling into new territory.

The outdoor manufacturing company got its start in Denver making ultralight packrafts and eventually kayaks and inflatable standup paddleboards. Now, co-founder and CEO Kelley Smith said Kokopelli is expanding into bike bags.

“Why would a boat company be making bike bags?” Smith asked. “It’s a fair question.” 

The 11-year-old company is launching the new product in June, geared toward outdoor enthusiasts who want to “bikeraft” – biking down to water and then rafting. The waterproof Durango Bike Bag Series clips onto portions of a bike and holds any gear that needs to stay dry.  

“We wanted to create a product to bring wherever you go and with any transportation you choose,” marketing director Kyle Rajaniemi said. “All of our products are high-quality, lightweight … it’s so people can adventure further, past the trail line.”

Kelley Smith

Smith said the collection comes with five different bags: the frame bag, seat post bag, handlebar bag, top tube bag and the feed bag. Each individual bag retails between $89 and $109 depending on size. 

Bags are made from 420 double side coated TPU nylon and have the same welded seams as Kokopelli boats. Once at the water the bike, with the bags attached, gets strapped in place on the raft and is ready to go. 

“You can bike down the trail, unpack your packraft, paddle across the river and start a new journey,” Rajaniemi said. 

Smith said he got the idea after riding the Kokopelli Trail, which stretches from Colorado to Utah, and rafting down the Colorado River in November 2020. 

“It was pretty cold, and the last thing you want is wet gear on a multi-day, overnight trip where you’re not seeing people for multiple days,” Smith said. 

Unlike competitor’s bags, Smith said Kokopelli’s are fully submersible, noting one could even hold it underwater for an hour and no water would get in. 

In addition to bike bags, Rajaniemi said Kokopelli will introduce products for hunters and fishers by the end of this year. Overall, Smith said the brand is trying to explore every variety of outdoor adventure gear. 

“At Kokopelli we look at it as the triangle of backpacking, packrafting and bikepacking,” Smith said. 

The company has roughly 15 products, varying from $550 to $1,499. Smith said the Nirvana Self-Bailing Packraft, the Chasm-Lite Inflatable SUP and the Platte paddleboard are Kokopelli’s best sellers. 

Kokopelli also secured $3.45 million from investors last month, which Smith said will go toward product development, moving offices and potentially acquiring other companies. The company has raised a total of $5.7 million to date, according to SEC filings.

Kokopelli is currently leasing a 1,200 square-feet office space in Longmont. Smith said he’s looking for a new space that’s at least 5,000 square feet in Denver, Boulder or Golden.

Kokopelli has 13 employees and is sold in over 250 retailers globally. Smith declined to disclose the company’s annual revenue.

“Bikerafting” combines biking and rafting in one trip. (Courtesy Kokopelli)

Kokopelli is paddling into new territory.

The outdoor manufacturing company got its start in Denver making ultralight packrafts and eventually kayaks and inflatable standup paddleboards. Now, co-founder and CEO Kelley Smith said Kokopelli is expanding into bike bags.

“Why would a boat company be making bike bags?” Smith asked. “It’s a fair question.” 

The 11-year-old company is launching the new product in June, geared toward outdoor enthusiasts who want to “bikeraft” – biking down to water and then rafting. The waterproof Durango Bike Bag Series clips onto portions of a bike and holds any gear that needs to stay dry.  

“We wanted to create a product to bring wherever you go and with any transportation you choose,” marketing director Kyle Rajaniemi said. “All of our products are high-quality, lightweight … it’s so people can adventure further, past the trail line.”

Kelley Smith

Smith said the collection comes with five different bags: the frame bag, seat post bag, handlebar bag, top tube bag and the feed bag. Each individual bag retails between $89 and $109 depending on size. 

Bags are made from 420 double side coated TPU nylon and have the same welded seams as Kokopelli boats. Once at the water the bike, with the bags attached, gets strapped in place on the raft and is ready to go. 

“You can bike down the trail, unpack your packraft, paddle across the river and start a new journey,” Rajaniemi said. 

Smith said he got the idea after riding the Kokopelli Trail, which stretches from Colorado to Utah, and rafting down the Colorado River in November 2020. 

“It was pretty cold, and the last thing you want is wet gear on a multi-day, overnight trip where you’re not seeing people for multiple days,” Smith said. 

Unlike competitor’s bags, Smith said Kokopelli’s are fully submersible, noting one could even hold it underwater for an hour and no water would get in. 

In addition to bike bags, Rajaniemi said Kokopelli will introduce products for hunters and fishers by the end of this year. Overall, Smith said the brand is trying to explore every variety of outdoor adventure gear. 

“At Kokopelli we look at it as the triangle of backpacking, packrafting and bikepacking,” Smith said. 

The company has roughly 15 products, varying from $550 to $1,499. Smith said the Nirvana Self-Bailing Packraft, the Chasm-Lite Inflatable SUP and the Platte paddleboard are Kokopelli’s best sellers. 

Kokopelli also secured $3.45 million from investors last month, which Smith said will go toward product development, moving offices and potentially acquiring other companies. The company has raised a total of $5.7 million to date, according to SEC filings.

Kokopelli is currently leasing a 1,200 square-feet office space in Longmont. Smith said he’s looking for a new space that’s at least 5,000 square feet in Denver, Boulder or Golden.

Kokopelli has 13 employees and is sold in over 250 retailers globally. Smith declined to disclose the company’s annual revenue.

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