HIKO Sport was founded in the year 1990, soon after the Prague “Velvet Revolution”. Europe had opened for travel and kayaking sport was experiencing a big increase in popularity. Unfortunately in the early 90s’, there was no quality paddlesports gear available in Czechoslovakia. “I asked my friend who had a life jacket factory in the U.S. to send me some material and I ventured to assemble the product here.” Marcela Hilgertová recalls the humble origins of HIKO. “In the evenings, after we put the kids to bed, we set-up a sewing machine on the family dining table and together with my husband we worked late nights.”
As the business grew and the foam for life jackets started taking up more and more space, they rented two rooms in a university’s dormitory. “And that’s how it went on. Every time we ran out of space we had to move to a bigger place.” Marcela summarizes. Today the company’s headquarters are located in Jíloviště, a village just out of Prague. There is a purpose-built factory and a warehouse, plus an administration building with a show room.
The company grew bigger and more family members joined the business. First on board was Ivan’s brother Luboš Hilgert and his wife Štěpánka, a coach and athlete duo that was collecting medals in world championships and Olympic Games around the turn of the millennium. Two-time Olympic champion Štěpánka Hilgertová now takes care of the company’s customers through social media and is partially responsible for the company’s test team.
(Insert Hiko Head Office in Jiloviste, Czech Republic)
The younger generation of the Hilgert family is involved too. Luboš Hilgert junior, also actively competing in water slalom, is an IT consultant, while Matyáš and Natálie take care of design and visual presentation of the company. Amálie Hilgertová, the youngest paddling family member, is two-time junior world champion and a member of HIKO Team. Hiko Team is a group of experienced athletes from various water sport disciplines – white water slalom, freestyle, extreme kayaking, seakayaking, and others, who help to develop and test new products.
(Insert: Lubos Hilgert sr competing in white water slalom)
Under the HIKO brand the company has been designing and manufacturing water sport equipment for 30 years now. And where does the name come from? The history tracks back all the way to the midst of the 20th century when Ivan’s and Marcela’s parents - Luboš Hilgert senior and Zdeněk Košťál met and together represented Czechoslovakia on white water. They taught their kids to love water and sport. HIKO is a composite made of the first syllables of their surnames Hilgert and Košťál.
HIKO Sport is a family business driven by philosophy that only the best is good enough and strives to provide its customers with top quality products and service. HIKO has always been a pure Czech company that designs, manufactures, and sells their own products.
Today, HIKO’s portfolio includes buoyancy aids and life jackets, paddle jackets, dry tops and dry suits, neoprene gear, wetsuits, neoprene boots and gloves, helmets, functional and thermal wear, safety gear and ample kayaking accessories.
(Insert: Amailie Hilgertova competing at Canoe Slalom World Cup 2019 in Ivrea - Italy)
KAYAKER Limited is New Zealand distributor of HIKO gear. Visit your local kayak store for our latest offer or browse this website if you prefer home delivery.