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About Us - Stohlquist

Stohlquist WaterWare Company

Stohlquist products are the result of a lifetime of hands-on paddling, entrepreneurial spirit, craftsmanship and design experience of the company founder and president, Jim Stohlquist. Each model we offer follows the lineage of 30 years of product innovation, refinement, incorporating the latest in raw material development and manufacturing know-how to provide our customers with the best WaterWare available today.

In early 2004, Stohlquist and Aqua Lung joined together as partners to capitalize on the synergies each has in the personal flotation business, both above and below the water. As president, Jim Stohlquist continues to steer the company providing the leadership, vision and guidance from a strong platform of partners at Aqua Lung. OK, Jim is an avid scuba diver, but his focus remains heavily on this passion for sailing and paddle-sports product... innovation, performance and excellence. We have committed a lifetime to watersports and our long line of innovative and unique products have been the natural result.

From the early days, Stohlquist has been a family company. Based in Buena Vista, Colorado the company operated in close proximity to the famous "Numbers" section of the Arkansas River. The focus ever since, has been on making the best possible product for comfort and safety in the wet and cold. As one of the first companies designing gear for paddlers and one of the few original designers left, Stohlquist continues to lead with innovative products designed for the true water-lover.

A little Stohlquist background...you may already know us.

Jim and Bonny Stohlquist live high in the Colorado Mountains in the remote headwater valleys of the Arkansas and Rio Grande.  But before then, while studying Engineering and Business at CSU, and serving as president of the CSU Outing Club, Jim started a boat building business making 22-pound kevlar/s-Glass Vinylester-Epoxy whitewater playboats for the university club and members.  Ultra-light/ultra-strong, nearly bullet proof, hand-made...expensive. To the boat-building Jim soon added a seasonal retail store in Buena Vista, and a year-round mail-order business he named Colorado Kayak Supply (CKS).

Soon after graduating, Jim & Bonny married, and the focus shifted to the innovation in design that propelled the growth and development at Stohlquist WaterWare.  There was very little available in the way of paddling gear available and the Arkansas river was always icy cold running off the nearby 14,000 foot mountain slopes.  There were no drysuits or drytops early on, just gear borrowed from other sports...wetsuits and coated nylon workout suits, hockey helmets.

On a cold February afternoon, Jim walked into a small, local cut-n-sew business in Salida, Colorado and shared his ideas for a special jacket,... "just for kayaking".  They were making waterproof motorcycle rain-suits, had a great supply but lacking in distribution. Jim's first paddle jacket was a hit where ever it was shown, it sold well. One new design followed another and the rain-suit shop quickly transformed into a paddling sew shop.  Boatbuilding stopped and the hot new designs came on, one after another.  Drytops, Drypants, Drysuits...each one unique, and each the "first-ever" introduced to paddling.  Life was good, the paddling was excellent, the business grew, the industry developed, the kids, RIck and Ryan got into paddling very young. Many still remember them for their work at SW and paddling exploits. We are often asked about them since the partnering with Aqualung, so here it is.  Both boys are in Denver. Rick is just finishing up med school and Ryan applying his passion and skills in graphic design animation firm.  Jim and his staff in Alamosa focus on paddling, sailing, the business, R & D to create new innovations.  If you have met Bonny, you know she is pretty busy in the community and still pretty involved with the success of SW, one way or another.

Fun....a  company trip on the "Sky"
Here we are, diving in, "testing out the gear", getting wet, staying dry...just a company outing, not far from here at the office in Arlington, Washington.  Management, reps, design, sales, marketing and all out enjoying the crisp air, the white and freezing water of the Skykomish, Boulder Drop section.


•Team "S" athlete-Boyd Ruppelt at FIBark in the Salida hole rippin it up, wife Sammie pointing the camera.

• When's the last time you saw a billboard on a country road with Steve Fisher getting tossed in Bus Eater?  This one's in Nathrop, south of Buena Vista.

• KanuMesse, Dusseldorf-Germany boating trade show September/Europe.

• Popular T-Shirt design.

• Back on the Skykomish outing, kayaking down Boulder-drop....pretty low, still pretty big.

More later...