Disappointed with Kokatat PFD

Bought a new Kokatat Poseidon PFD from an online retailer on 1/27. Looked great and fit well when it arrived, so I ordered the Tactic accessory pack. I paddled in the PFD 1 time for about 2 hours. When the Tactic pack arrived, I started to install it and realized that the stitching on the shoulder webbing had failed in one spot and was already coming loose in two others. I contacted Kokatat through their website and still haven’t heard back yet via email.

I called them the next week and they instructed me to follow their Warranty Inspection guidelines on their website. I did so and paid the $11.95 shipping. Turns out that fee is for the return shipping and I’d still need to pay to ship it to them. Kind of frustrating to pay ~$25 in shipping charges on a brand new PFD. I had a local marine upholstery shop look at it and they said it was simply not backstitched in the areas where it failed, so I just had them restitch the bad areas.

I used the PFD for the second time yesterday for about 2 hours. When I went to put it away after drying out, I found the stitching is now failing on the front pocket webbing. 2 outings and 2 failures.

Since I had an independent shop fix the shoulder webbing, I figure I’m SOL on any help from Kokatat. I’ve owned and still own a lot of Kokatat gear and it’s always been very good. Maybe this is a one-off occurrence but I’m pretty disappointed. Guess I’ll go back to using my old PFD that’s never had an issue.

Has anyone else had this kind of issue on a Kokatat PFD?

I have the same model going on about 2-1/2 years of pretty regular use of all buckles, sliders and zippers. It so far has lived up to the Kokatat reputation of well designed and sturdily built gear. I do not have any warranty experience with them for this PFD or any other items.

Please let us all know Kokatat’s response and warranty outcome.

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No, have a Kokatat PFD for years with thousands of miles paddled. Well made.

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Was the original purchase from a reputable online dealer?
I’m wondering if you were sold a factory second or someone else’s returned item.
All my Kokatat gear is old and still servicable.

Wow. That is very discouraging. I had a Poseidon for a couple of years and no problems with the stitching. Currently using my 14 year old MsFit (she won’t die) and a Neptune that I’ve had for a year or so. Both are fine. Looking at the stitching failures they both appear to me to be due to defect unless you had a dumb bell loaded in that Tactic Pack. The yellow webbing issue looks to me like a case of insufficient seam allowance.

I’ve had a lot of Kokatat gear over the years and had probably more experience than most with their warranty department. I suspect that Covid may be playing a role in their disappointing response. I can say this, that as a retired outdoor retailer with nearly 48 years experience of looking at product failure either one of these issues would qualify for repair, exchange refund, your choice.

Very sorry about this. Wish I could help.

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I bought it from Backcountry.com, so very reputable seller. All retail tags were intact and it looked absolutely brand new in every way.

The stitching on the shoulder webbing occurred after the first 2-hour paddle, before the tactic pack was ever installed.

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I would have contacted the retailer fist and then Kokatat if they couldn’t help you. With a brand new PFD I’d be surprised if someone would not work with you on shipping costs. Every experience I’ve had with Kokatat they’ve gone above and beyond on warranty issues and repairs.

Now that you have had two different companies do repair work on it I would think that you are now SOL on any future warranty claims.

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I sort of agree, however, the failures were well documented and, while some sellers and manufacturers are free to use that as an “out” IMHO companies that we support through our choices should have the flexibility to look at this and acknowledge that it should have never happened in the first place. The local repairs should have not been necessary.

Should the seller own it? No. Kokatat should. They produced it and probably shipped it, however, if the seller (Backcountry.com) takes a total hands-off approach they are dead to me and I promise I will never be one of their customers.

Maybe a hard line to take but we have choices where we spend our disposable income. This was a defective product that was sold to you. It shouldn’t matter who sold it. It’s easy to say that if you had bought it from a local shop you wouldn’t have been having this problem. The thing is Backcountry.com is competing for those dollars and if they don’t step up and do the right thing or if Kokatat doesn’t then there are other makers and sellers who will.

The retailer offered to take it back and pay for shipping; they were great. However, they no longer had the size/color I wanted for an exchange.

I’ve only had one local shop fix the shoulder webbing stitching, so I’m not sure what you mean by ‘two different companies do repair work’.

In my email to Kokatat (through their website) I offered to provide pictures. As mentioned, they have not replied to that email, which I believe I sent on 2/18. In my subsequent call to them, they instructed me to do as I explained in my original post.

After the local shop thought the stitching was simply not backstitched, I decided to have them fix it instead of dropping $25+ to ship it back to Kokatat for warranty consideration. At this point, I feel that was a good decision as the front pocket stitching issue arose on the next use. I could have spent $25+ for the first repair, just to turn around and spend another $25+ for a second warranty evaluation. $50 out of my pocket for a defective product doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.


I want to reiterate that I have multiple pieces of Kokatat gear that I am well pleased with. I’ve used their stuff for ~20 years I’d guess. I have always been a Kokatat fan.


Kokatat has been straight up with me over the years.
I understand the choices you made having a repair done locally. Totally makes sense.
Sounds like you aren’t as unhappy as I initially understood.

Still, to me, an outdoor retailer, when someone sells defective gear and wants the buyer to jump through hoops I’m out.


I have 4 kokatat PFDs no problem. I did get a new $1.2000 drysuit without asking. Things happen but once you tried to fix it I think you probably SOL.

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Disappointed, really. I like the feel and function of the PFD and had zero qualms about buying a Kokatat product.

Was excited to get it, bummed that there was a problem. Then bummed that I didn’t get an email response, but things are weird right now. I wasn’t thrilled that I had to pay to return it for evaluation, but after thinking about it, decided it wasn’t totally unreasonable (though if they would have reviewed the pics I think it could have been determined that it was a warranty issue). I then followed their online process and paid for shipping, thinking I would receive a shipping label. Nope, I was paying for the return shipping, so I was bummed to learn I was on the hook for shipping both ways on a brand new PFD.

I then made the call to have the local shop fix the shoulder stitching. I figured I’d get it stitched up and save myself time and the shipping aggravation/cost. I’ve always had great service out of Kokatat stuff, so I honestly figured I’d have the shoulder webbing fixed then use it for 5 or 6 years. Now, after only the second paddle, there is a failure in a completely different area.

So yeah, mostly disappointed. I have a great-looking and presumably functional piece of (not cheap) gear that I can’t trust.

Does anyone have a valid email contact for someone at Kokatat?

I think the payment is to guarantee return shipment. I don’t think it is charged until they actually go to send it back, along with any other charges you may incur. I am pretty sure that if it was warrantied, it would have been no charge for return shipment.

You might try Trask Bailard who helped me with GoreTex delamination. The email address I have for him is trask.bailard@kokatat.com
I don’t know if he is still with the company as I retired from the industry 1 1/2 years ago.

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Peter, that is not how I read it on their website. Warranty Evaluation

We recommend using a shipping service that allows for parcel tracking and insurance. You will prepay for return shipping during checkout. Repairs take 2-3 weeks at the factory plus shipping time. Please ship your repair to Kokatat, Inc. within two business days of receiving your order confirmation number. The confirmation number will expire if we do not receive it at our Arcata, CA factory within 10 business days of its creation.

If they cover the return shipping on a warranted item I don’t see it mentioned. I did not read their policy thoroughly and mistakenly thought I was originally paying for shipping to them for evaluation.

I’m surprised the retailer didn’t just order a replacement of the exact color and style from Kokatat. They might even have had the ability to have it drop shipped direct to you.

For the defects you have described in a new product Kokatat certainly would have simply replaced it rather than repair it. They would probably would have wanted to examine the return to find out what went wrong and determine if it was a one-off or a systemic production problem.