Chris Jones, owner and founder of the outdoor gear company Space Bear Bags, is a networking engineer by day. But by night, you can find him sewing custom backcountry toiletry kits made from poop emoji-printed Dyneema.
“I can only imagine what the Ripstop by the Roll guys thought when they opened up the file for the first time!” he laughed of the one-of-a-kind pattern while referring to his Dyneema supplier.
The idea came to him even before he owned a sewing machine. “I thought it would be funny to get the poop emoji printed on fabric for some toiletry kits,” he said. “I love the reaction when people see the pouch. It’s the same reaction I would have had. Basically, ‘that’s funny’ followed by ‘I need it!’”
The more Chris and his wife Jennifer got into hiking and backpacking in nearby Anza Borrego State Park in Southern California, the more he learned of the popular lightweight Dyneema fabric. “I just figured it might be fun to create my own accessories!” he said.
Chris, who’s always loved graphic design, took his computer savviness to Adobe Illustrator and started learning some basics. From there, he began designing and creating his own toiletry and first aid kits, stuff sacks, and most recently, backpacks.
Soon enough, Space Bear Bags, named after one of his five adopted cats, began selling creations on Etsy as an official business. “It was just too cool of a name!” Chris laughed. “It just fit for the name of our company.”
Chris explained that Space Bear is the nickname for the Tardigrade, the only animal able to withstand life in outer space. “What a better way to describe bags made for backpacking that need to be indestructible?”
The logo, though sort of a joke at first, came about just as effortlessly. Jennifer drew up a quick, finger-drawn sketch in iMessage one day of a cat in an astronaut helmet, and it ended up being the exact logo they use today.
This playfulness carries through the brand. “We’re just trying to do something fun,” Chris explained. He hopes their gear will bring out smiles, even on the toughest outing.
“There are a ton of companies that make stuff sacks and pouches, but adding a bit of flair to the products to make them stand out is really what we’re going for,” he said.
For Chris, product creation and innovation are the most fun parts of the biz. “I love working on new designs and creating patterns in Illustrator,” he said. “I could spend all day creating, testing, and refining designs.”
“The creative spirit is just something I’ve always possessed; this is just the first time I’ve extended that creativity into the physical world,” Chris said.
That’s not to say product creation has always been easy. “The first batch of pouches I made were simply terrible,” Chris laughed. “The stitching was bad, the sizing was haphazard, and tabs misaligned. But lots of practice went into it and I’m extremely happy with the quality of the items I send out.”
The brand is excited to have just launched pre-orders for their debut Model K Backpack – named after the couple’s first cat, Kiki Meowser. Chris is stoked to get this 21.9 ounce frameless pack on the trails. “It’s going to be a hit!” he said.
Also in the New Year, he’s working on a fanny pack that can be incorporated directly into the backpack, or used on its own.
As for the future of Space Bear Bags, Chris teases, “When I backpack, I have three pouches in my pack that are important to me: a toiletry kit, a first aid kit, and another one that you’ll see on my site in the next couple months!”