The demand for hard-wearing, good-looking, and super functional bike bags has never been greater. Luckily, these 10 Canadian cottage brands are heeding the call with their innovative creations for pedal powdered pursuits.
Below is a list of superb, small-scale bike bag makers north of the 49th who are keen to craft custom, one-of-a-kind and ready made wares to keep you out adventuring, no matter the mission, no matter the weather.
HMPL - Vancouver, British Columbia
While scheming up solutions to carry beer on their bikes to the beach, Matt Churchill and his pal Scott Schneider tacked together some old couch fabric with a few random bits and bobs and birthed a saddle bag that made magic happen.
Over a decade later, HMPL is still in the business of solving people’s carrying conundrums with an expansive collection of cycling luggage that meets the needs of anyone who rides on two wheels — and even those who choose to walk instead!
HMPL aims to provide people with more than just durable, beautiful, performance-driven cycling accessories. They also want to help bridge connections within the cycling community, make riding bikes more accessible to all and have fun doing it.
Matt has his eyes set on lowering the barrier of entry to bikepacking, increasing their repair and recycling program, and continuing to collaborate with the ever evolving cast and crew that helps HMPL hum along, making great bags for great people to have a great time.
Atwater Atelier - Montreal, Quebec
Photo by Trevor from messkitmag.com
As a seasoned bike courier in the cycle-centric city of Montreal, QC, Narek Papian saw a demand for messenger bags that, at the time, was only being fulfilled by US companies with price tags too high for him to afford.
This lack of accessibility and affordability inspired Narek to handcraft his own bags, which held up to his high standards and hard wearing ways. Fellow messengers took note of Navek’s work, put in their orders and Atwater Atelier was formed.
Fast forward six years, Narek has two part-time employees, a laundry list of happy customers, and a large line of impeccably crafted bike luggage for every type of rider — from couriers and commuters to casuals and cycle tourers.
Alongside their strong focus on US and Canadian made fabrics and fasteners, Atwater prides themselves on the quality of their in-house production processes, offering a ‘Craftsmanship Guarantee’ on every item they make.
Shaka Packs - Kelowna, British Columbia
In search of a new creative outlet to replace his long standing career in landscaping, Julian Vicente relocated from New Jersey to BC in 2018, and began building bike bags for the burgeoning cycling community in the Okanagan area.
With years of experience using machines to move the Earth, Julian figured stitching together manmade materials on industrial sewing machines couldn’t be that much harder. After countless sewing tutorials, he got the swing of things and Shaka Bags began to take shape.
Julian’s custom frame bags and matching accessory offerings stand out with bright, bold colorways made exclusively from X Pac and Cordura fabrics; materials he feels are the best in the business for durability, functionality, weather resistance and aesthetics. As a one man band, Julian joyfully creates high-quality, custom bike bags.
Orange Cat Packs - Hamilton, Ontario
Maya Robertson began sewing in an effort to help meet the demand for masks during the pandemic. As the need for face coverings faded, she pivoted to her passion project and started making general purpose products like fanny packs and tote bags.
As word spread about her new design direction, cycle-centric friends swooped in from all sides with requests for custom made bike bags. Pleasantly surprised by the demand, Maya and her feline friend, Helo, fired up Orange Cat Packs and got down to business.
In just a couple of years, Maya has become a bonafide stitch wizard, building bike bags for the all-weather rider, with a strong focus on water-resistant fabrics, durable construction techniques and incredible attention to even the tiniest of details.
While Maya (and Helo) favor the use of EcoPak and X Pac fabrics for their handcrafted products, they are equally excited to see how Challenge Sailcloth’s new TX Ultra offering will hold up in the bikepacking market once it's released in the wild.
BB's Bags - Nelson, British Columbia
When Brittany Boyd couldn’t find any bike bags she liked for an overnight cycling trip to Salt Spring Island, she took matters into her own hands. She MacGyvered a pannier from a bucket, a bungee and a hanger, tied a cotton canvas frame bag to her bike and hit the road.
Four years later, the bucket lives on, but the bag has been replaced many times over as her sewing skills have progressed into what is known today as BB’s Bags, a brand that is bulging at the seams from her living room studio in her adopted hometown of Nelson, BC.
Using a combination of rescued materials, as well as waxed canvases and Corduras, Brittany brings beautiful and dependable custom offerings to life, using her talents in freehand embroidery to make BB’s bags stand out among the rest.
Whether you’re off on a big bikepacking adventure or cruising beachside for a day at the lake, Brittany’s goal is to continue making people’s bike bag dreams come true, and creating custom and off the shelf offerings that are accessible to everyone.
Wild North Gear - Canmore, Alberta
Making the most of a period between projects in his construction job, Steven Hussey bought a $90 sewing machine and started prototyping dog harnesses so he could take his four legged friends out on more adventures.
Seven years later, the harness still works and Steven has upgraded from his basement suite studio to a great little shop that operates full time under the umbrella of Wild North Gear; a solo enterprise that makes a whole slew of useful accessories from totes, duffles and fanny packs to chalk bags and of course, bike bags.
With an impressive collection of stunning, sturdy and colorful custom projects behind his name, it’s no surprise that people are lined up to buy some of Wild North Gear’s functional art pieces. His funky stitch work and fun one-off designs make each piece truly unique.
Motivated by inspiring makers all over the world, Steven continues to refine his design and construction techniques while aiming to stay true to the authentic vibe he has created with his Canmore-based cottage bag brand.
Pemberton Bag Company - Pemberton, British Columbia
As an environmentalist and advocate for slow fashion and minimal waste, Pemberton Bag Company’s founder and designer, Nina Babiuk prides herself on making bags that will last you a lifetime, but also break down into the dirt when their days are done.
After searching for a lightweight, Earth-friendly fabric that could also handle the elements, Nina settled on a tried and true textile — oilcloth. Made from ethical, organic cotton canvas that is impregnated with oil, Pemberton Bag sources it from one of the oldest mills in Scotland.
The remarkably handcrafted bike bags and backpacks are the perfect partner for day rides, cycle commuting, and one of Nina’s new favorite hobbies — bicycle glamping. Nina also offers card wallets, key chains and cord organizers made from her leather and oilcloth scraps in order to minimize waste.
Nina loves that her little bag brand connects her with the outdoor community and helps consumers think more deeply about what they purchase — where and how it was made and how each of those elements impacts the environment.
Atelier de la Chaudière - Lévis, Québec
Photo by @renaudemorin
Driven by a deep love of bicycles and a desire to make things for people to enjoy on their cycling adventures, Renaud Dion took the leap into the land of bike bag building. Learning through the lens of other bespoke makers on YouTube, he honed his craft and launched his brand.
Three years since its inception, Atelier de la Chaudière continues to evolve, offering Renauld a creative outlet handcrafting custom frame, bar and stem bags. As happy holding his handlebars as he is behind the bobbin, Renaud believes that bikes are the future of sustainable transportation, and he loves that he gets to be a part of every ride that his bike bags go out on.
With durable, dependable fabrics from Challenge Sailcloth and Cordura at the core of his collection, Renaud is proud to make sturdy soft goods on the south shore of Quebec City, his historic hometown.
Loophole Bags - Vancouver, British Columbia
Looking to breathe new life into a beat up 60L backpack that a friend donated to her, Cass DePetrillo chopped it up, pieced it back together and turned it into a one-of-a-kind fanny pack and a set of beautiful bikepacking bags.
Stoked on the outcome, Loophole Bags was born. In the three years since, Cass has become a closed loop, bike bag building aficionado, using upcycled, recycled and deadstock materials to create truly one-off products for hauling adventure gear.
Cass is enamored with the challenge of figuring out how to make the most out of the materials and used goods that she receives, aiming to create awesome new gear that can serve as a source of comfort, safety and security for riders while they are away from home and out on the road.
She favors upcycling gear that is made from durable fabrics, like Corduras, and pairing them with her ever-evolving, heavy duty construction techniques in order to create quality bike bags that will continue to dodge the landfill for years to come.
When she isn’t busy building bags, you can find Cass doing other inspiring things, like bike touring from town to town with repair gear in her panniers, fixing people's well-loved adventure utensils on the Reanimator Bike Repair Tour.
Thief Bikepacking - Jasper, Alberta
Six years ago, Mike Gurnham built himself a custom frame bag for a bikepacking trip on the Baja Divide Route in Mexico. Along the way, his bike (and his bags) were stolen, but his bike bag brand name, Thief, was born.
Since then, Mike has been busy building some of the best custom frame bags and snack packs in the game. He uses clean, smart, straightforward designs to keep things simple, functional, durable and incredibly easy to use.
While Mike relies on the durability and strength of X Pac’s VX21 and Cordura fabrics to build his bold, burley bags, he’s also quick to credit the equipment he uses, like his two industrial Titan sewing machines as being an important piece of the puzzle.
Mike (and his co-founder/cat friend Annie) aim to make bags that bring bike enthusiasts peace of mind — no need to worry about the seams breaking down, the zipper binding up, or wondering where you’ll put all your snacks. This Thief has got your back.
Know of any bike bag makers in Canada that we missed? Love one of these brands? Leave a comment below!
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker.
More articles about cottage bikepacking gear on GGG:
- 10 Cottage Makers of Bike Bags & Bikepacking Gear to Check Out!
- Cool Bikepacking Gear and Brands to Check Out!