Kevlar® Dare Bigger™ Moments: Mad River Canoe

Kevlar® Dare Bigger™ Moments

Jim Henry, founder of the Mad River Canoe Company, tells the story of his Dare Bigger™ Moment more than forty years ago when the DuPont representative on his account told him that his business was the largest purchaser of DuPont™ Kevlar® in the marine industry outside of the U.S. Navy. He remembers that it took 55 yards of Kevlar® to build his Explorer canoe with up to 12 layers of straight and bias cloth for the expedition models. He then raced in – and won – the Downriver National Championship, and the rest was history. Mad River Canoe Company continues today as a world-class leader in canoe manufacturing.

From the beginning, Mad River Canoe explored new designs and experimented with new materials. They were the first to introduce Kevlar™ to the canoe industry and among the pioneers to first mold their own Royalex® canoes. Henry recalls how they dared bigger, continually pushing their designs to new levels of performance. Their efforts were rewarded with competitions won, and accolades earned. 

He vividly remembers the first time he took his newly designed canoes to the National Open Canoe Whitewater Championships on the Nantahala River in North Carolina. Both canoes placed FIRST. The lighter weight and durability that DuPont™ Kevlar® allowed raised the bar for performance.

Henry recognized that wilderness trips and family/solo canoeing were a bigger market than racing, but he raced the canoes to get the Mad River name out, in addition to doing wilderness river trips with writers for the free press and hunting and fishing trips with outdoor writers from various magazines.

“DuPont™ Kevlar® was used in different ways,” describes Henry. “One was an all Kevlar® lay -up, another was an airex cored canoe with Kevlar® and a rubber toughened vinyl ester resin – we won the SPE Marine industry award with that one.”

Henry jokes that as he got older, his canoes had to get lighter. DuPont™ Kevlar® enabled him and his team to break new boundaries of performance.

DuPont™ Kevlar® continues to be used in high-performance sporting equipment today and is a sponsor of ESPN X Games 2015.

The Dare Bigger™ brand platform represents inspiration for anyone who relies on the safety and performance of Kevlar®. The science behind this advanced material, coupled with its strength and durability, allows us to push boundaries, defy limits and challenge the conventional. From athletes to astronauts, law enforcement, military, first responders and industrial workers, Kevlar® enables anyone with an imagination and a job to do to Dare Bigger™.

Today, Mad River Canoe is owned by Confluence Outdoor and they have continued the tradition of combining innovative materials with craftsmanship. 

Visit the Mad River Canoe Company website to learn more about Jim Henry and how he was inspired to Dare Bigger™ with DuPont™ Kevlar®.

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