March 29, 2022
For those of you cycling in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2022 season is kicking off. Chances are you might be thinking about making some updates to your bikepacking setup for the new season. We did a deep dive into the freshest indie bag makers around the globe, so you don't have to.
We all know those bigger companies, like Apidura or Ortlieb, that seem to be everywhere. Their products are great and I use both. However, bike bags are a lot like clothing: large companies design to hit the needs of the median—like buying a shirt off the rack vs. having one tailor made. If you have ever bought a tailored shirt, you know what I speak of. If not, go do it now.
Since starting BGDB, one of my favorite parts of the job has been meeting small gear makers. All the communication happens over Instagram, and I have been totally blown away by how many gear makers there are. Bikepacking at its core is grassroots, and it makes sense that an entire cottage industry of gear makers has popped up around it. They are filling a much needed gap that the larger companies simply cannot do—custom bags.
This list is an ode to the indie bag maker. Not every company listed has a website, some have 1000s of Instagram followers, some have 100s. It doesn't matter to us. Obviously, we have not been able to try every single bag listed here; but—what matters is that everyone on this list is rad, and we want you to know about them.
|7R Bags 🇺🇦||Jump|
|Backwann Bags 🇮🇩||Jump|
|Buffalo Bags 🇹🇭||Jump|
|Conquer Bikepacking Bags 🇹🇭||Jump|
|Copra Bikepacking 🇫🇷||Jump|
|Detour Studio 🇳🇱||Jump|
|Farsik Supply 🇨🇦||Jump|
|HMPL Design 🇨🇦||Jump|
|Jango Rolls 🇬🇧||Jump|
|Mack Workshop 🇬🇧||Jump|
|Orange Cat Packs 🇨🇦||Jump|
|Rogue Panda Designs 🇺🇸||Jump|
|Terra Rosa Gear 🇦🇺||Jump|
|VAP Cycling 🇮🇹||Jump|
|Wit Slingers 🇳🇱||Jump|
When I was compiling this list, every single person I asked mentioned 7Roads or 7R from Kovel, Ukraine. 7R was founded by Stanislav Kostak and Elena Semchenko, and creates a range of bags and racks. It is unclear if 7R is operating at the moment, but our hearts are with them and the people of the Ukraine. Elena has linked to a document on her Instagram account that lists trusted ways to help.
Ashdown bags are designed and made in Dorset, UK using the finest canvas in the region. Simple and clean are Ashdown's super powers. The Ashdown lineup includes top tube bags, bar bags, tool rolls and rucksacks (backpacks for us North Americans). One item that has piqued my interest is their 3 point camera strap which is a huge issue for me while reviewing gear. Durr. These bags are jonesing for your Instagram feed with their dark and subtle colors. Super sharp.
Backwann is a new name to the bag-making scene in Asia and hails out of Java, Indonesia. They seem to be getting started with some serious kit aimed at gravel riders. Their lineup so far includes handlebar rolls, quarter frame bags, top tube and saddle bags.
Bogeworks is a custom bag maker from Seattle, Washington. I absolutely love the self-explanation on the Bogeworks Instagram account: “built to roam & shred”. I don't mean to sound pedantic, but communicating these two opposing energies that effectively is tough stuff. Shred-roaming. Bogeworks was started by Bryce Kirk in 2019 and offers pretty much any type of bag you need. It's pretty simple really: Bryce's bags are cool and I'll definitely be talking to him for my next bag.
Buffalo Bags was started by a group of off-road bike nerds in Bangkok, Thailand in early 2020. The team loves drinking beer, hanging around bike shops, and building gnarly bags for big trips. Buffalo Bags' flagship bag is a handlebar called the Big Buffalo, which comes in multiple material types and sizes. The largest is a whopping 30L waterproof, rolltop bag that could probably fit your entire setup. Besides the Big Buffalo they also offer a range of sizes and bag types, including stem and saddle bags. Over the past year, Buffalo Bags' owner Be has become a friend. Be and his friends are the cornerstone of the Thai bikepacking scene. If you're going to Thailand make sure to hook up with them.
Conquer is another company from Bangkok, Thailand. Conquer offers a range of handcrafted bags including stem, frame, top-tube and pretty much any bag you can think up. Personally, I really like Conquer's design sensibilities—clean, utility approach accented with some bright punchy colors. Conquer doesn't have a website but is very active on their Facebook page.
If slick is what you are looking for, Copra Bikepacking needs to be high on your list. Copra was founded by Industrial Designer Timothée Concaret and is located in Paris, France. Timothée offers all the hits—stem, half frame, bar bags and more. The one bag that sticks out to me is a small down tube bag designed to hold a pump and smaller tools. I have been strapping stuff to my down tube for ages and never considered a bag for it. Great idea. Copra is well designed and I definitely plan on trying them out at some point.
Detour Studio is the one-man shop of Bas Overbeek who designs and makes his handmade bags in his attic in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Bas has done a great job turning Detour into a full-on bikepacking brand. He produces handlebar bags, tool rolls, wallets, hats and more. He also lines all his bags with the Detour brand orange, because well, it's his favourite color.
Farsik is the premier bag maker on Vancouver Island. I've often wondered about the Farsik name and recently found out that Farsickness means to ache for distant travel. The Farsik team consists of one person, Mike Zinger. Mike is a professional sports and cycling photographer which gives him some unique insight in the creation of solid bags. His lineup is pretty extensive, and includes hip bags, bar rolls, hip packs, panniers and even proper backpacks.
I've only recently come across HMPL from Vancouver. Founded in 2017 by Scott Schneider and Matt Churchill, HMPL makes anything you can (and I'm pretty sure everything you can't) imagine. They make top tube, stem, handlebar and custom frame bags. HMPL puts emphasis on its handmade approach and locally sourced materials; they also rigorously test their gear in one of the worlds best testing grounds—Vancouver's North Shore. A fun note on the name—HMPL is pronounced H.M.P.L, not "Humple" or " Hemple", which I have guiltily been saying in my head since discovering them. Apparently, H.M.P.L is a reference only Judas Priest fans would know. If you know it, get in touch with the guys.
I admire Jango Rolls for sticking to their guns and really nailing it. Jango Rolls does three products: bar bags, tool rolls and wallets. Jango Rolls are handmade in Windsor, UK by... Jim. I didn't get Jim's last name but I want to call him Jim Jango Rolls :) Jim explains on his website that 35 years of stuffing things into jersey pockets had to end, and that after many late nights, Jango Rolls was born. Jango Rolls bags are clean, simple, and have some fantastic colors. Jim purposely does not broadcast the meaning of the “Jango Rolls” name. You'll have to get in touch to find that out.
Since 2014, Jon MacKinnon has been creating bike bags in Weston-super-Mare, England. His business was born out of frustration with mass produced bike bags. His approach is simple: high quality, and good value-for-money products—anything other than that is “a waste of time”. Mack Workshop stuck out for me as a shop that is trying new things. Where many lock into the common bag formats, Jon is pushing the boundaries looking for new ways to store gear on a bike, and I will always be a fan because of it.
Orange Cat Packs is named after a cat, and I will let you guess the color of that cat. Founded in early 2020 by Maya Robertson in Hamilton, Ontario, Orange Cat offers a full range of stem, handlebar, frame and seat post bags. I absolutely love the punchy palettes Maya uses to create her bags. She also does custom jobs for any frame. I lived in Ontario for a good chunk of my life and love to see bikepacking taking off there, and companies like Orange Cat supporting it.
Headquartered in rugged Northern Arizona, Rogue Panda was founded by Nick Smolinske in 2010. In my personal opinion, Rogue Panda is the top shop for custom bag making on the planet. I contacted them over two years ago when I bought my spanking new 2020 Surly Krampus. The team already had a pattern for a frame bag and knew what I needed more than I did. Besides custom frame bags, Rogue Panda offers top tube bags and a unique downtube bag. My friendly experience with them made me feel like I was joining a family.
I'm not even sure what to say about Terra Rosa, other than their gear is stunning. Handcrafted in Melbourne, Australia, Terra Rosa makes so much more than bike bags. They also do anoraks, bivvies, AND tarps. They also offer custom work, which really tempts me to consider a full bag overhaul with a matching camp setup. Evan, the founder of Terra Rosa, calls both British Columbia and Australia home, which uniquely qualifies him to make some pretty awesome gear. The team experienced a shut down due to the Covid lockdown efforts in Australia, but is back and operating under full steam.
Some companies just look like they have fun doing their thing and Totka is one of them. Totka creates bold, beautiful bags and is apparently not afraid of color. Their latest custom bag was inspired by the Ghostbusters and in my opinion, they nailed the coloring of the 80s color. Super rad. Totka hails out of Wroclaw, Poland and offers all the right formats - bar bags, stem bags, half frame bags and backpacks.
Vap was founded in 2014 near Venice, Italy. Vap is the first Italian company (I have come across) that is focused on making impressive bikepacking gear. Looking at the Vap lineup, you can almost smell the quality. All the Vap products have a highly crafted and designed feel to them that you expect from Italian products. They don't come in many colors—dark and darker for that intense, ultra look. All the bags are waterproof and seemingly built for anything you can throw at them. My instinct is that we could be looking at the new Apidura here.
Wit Slingers was founded in early 2021 by a dutch bag designer based in Leipzig, Germany. I absolutely love everything about Wit Slingers' bags. It's easy to see that the founder, Tijmen, has impeccable taste. The details of the bags, the presentation—everything reeks of quality and love for craft. Tijmen and I had a funny conversation about what Wit Slingers meant. I assumed it had something to do with British banter but I was way off. Tijmen describes the meaning as “a Dutch pun on someone who sells (slings) white (wit). Back when I started out I refused to make anything but white bags. The white bags disappeared but the name stuck.”
In my opinion, indie businesses are the future of industry. Not just in cycling but in all facets of commerce. It takes guts to build a thing. Most don't even start. For those that do, the road is hard and thankless. I hope this list gives these indie makers a bit of a pat on the back and encouragement to keep at it.
I thoroughly enjoyed putting this list together. I was able to meet all the manufacturers and share words. As I mentioned above, everyone here is rad. This list is far from being complete or comprehensive and will change over time. Thanks to everyone who helped in building this.
What companies did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.
Barry has been cycling and creating digital products around the world for 20+ years. He was a design leader at IDEO, IDEO.org and Nike’s Innovation Lab.