Story

 

Our Mission:  Life Unleashed

TRAK has been manufacturing portable performance kayaks since 2006 in service of our mission, building awesome kayaks that transform paddling adventures.

From the beginning, this venture was launched and developed to provide the most amazing series of adventures possible. From the inventors’ dream through to entrepreneurial inspiration, and ultimately to our customers and TRAK owners, the experience is the same. We love adventure.  

Our story goes back thousands of years, to the original skin-on-frame technology of the indigenous first peoples in the Arctic. Today's TRAK kayak was also conceived in northern Canada, but as a solution to the challenge of transporting performance kayaks to remote paddling locations. This kayak needed to be cost-effectively and safely stowed inside a float plane to reach those locations. 

The inventors, Gord Espeseth and Dwight Abernethy, built cedar strip canoes when raising young families among the many lakes and rivers of northern Saskatchewan. They were outdoorsmen with a natural talent for craftsmanship and ingenuity, fueled by big dreams and fierce determination.

They were later joined by a few others, and together In the spring of 1996, after several iterations of design ideas and trials, they developed hand-built backyard prototypes and started testing on and off the water.

When the frame was assembled and being prepared for its pattern draping for the skin, the team noticed that adjustments made to the lengths of gunwale and keel tubing would cause the tips of the frame to alter: variable rocker was discovered. This was the beginning of a revolutionary breakthrough for the kayak industry.

These early prototypes were taken to a world-renowned expedition kayaker (Ed Gillet in California) that gave feedback and encouragement to the inventors in the early stages of development. He validated that they had the makings of something that shifts the paradigm of portable performance in a kayak.

We still recognize these original inventions that set TRAK apart as the first kayak to: 

  • have an adjustable rocker or change hull shape on the fly
  • use polyurethane for the hull
  • use polyurethane for both the hull and deck
  • use fabric welding technology as opposed to sewn seams

By 2005, the start-up venture was moved to Calgary and took on a life of its own with Nolin Veillard at the helm. Led by Gord Heisler and Francisco Aguirre, a lean manufacturing operation was born, thanks to the dedication, passion and experience of a great team of individuals and a group of dedicated investors. This collective team literally brought the TRAK portable performance kayak to life in 2006 for a 2007 introduction to the marketplace.

          

Our team was relentless in their pursuit to engineer a system that was simple, elegant and functional. Many late nights and weekends were committed to develop systems like the hydraulic jacks, the simple keder zipper system, the flat-profiled urethane ribs, and the seat pillars that tie the frame into the coaming elegantly. The result: a 10 minute set-up with ease, and a solid, durable kayak without compromise to compete head-to-head with hardshells. We exceeded our own expectations of what we believed was possible. 

In 2011, Nolin Veillard led a move to TRAK’s current HQ in Airdrie, Alberta and the next year relocated manufacturing from the Canadian foothills to the coastal town of Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines on Manila Bay. Nestled under the lush jungle-covered mountains and in the shadow of a towering dormant volcano, Mt. Mariveles, is a world-class outdoor gear factory and the manufacturing home for TRAK and our factory team. This company is internationally respected and sought after by reputable brands. 

Read more here: Our Extended Family: The TRAK Team in the Philippines 

Over the years, TRAK kayaks have gained a lot of respect organically through the experiences of our customers and the support of partners worldwide. Next was the pursuit of TRAK 2.0: the Ultimate Touring Kayak. This was a paddler-informed process, starting with TRAK paddlers and thousands of other avid sea kayakers, instructors and guides. New innovations like carbon fibre technology and technical backpack and travel bag systems give the TRAK 2.0 the edge for 2018 and beyond. Today, we see an opportunity to make TRAK products and services more visible and accessible to those that can benefit from them. We will continue to innovate and create products and programs that push the boundaries of accessibility, and give our customers a truly unique experience for decades to come.