About this project
Travel, and motorcycle travel in particular, fills your life with stories. Stories about people, places, rainstorms, and breakdowns. Stories about the friends who go with you, and those you meet while on the road. We want to help you live a life full of stories.
Traveling more than a day on a motorcycle brings with it significant challenges. How to pack, what to pack, and how you prepare for mechanical problems are all much different than they would be if you were planning for a drive or a flight.
Motorcyclists have always relied heavily on their gear. Sometimes it's the difference between life and death. No matter what purpose a piece of gear serves, it comes at the cost of adding stuff to a dream of traveling light. You only bring what's important and necessary. This detail brings depth and challenge to the adventure. It strips away things you've always clung to for comfort's sake, and with it you learn about yourself and the things you can live without.
For too long there have been limited options for packing your stuff onto a motorcycle, and really nothing that meets the demands of the classic motorcycle enthusiast. Hard cases are expensive, very motorcycle specific, and sometimes not a good look for your classic bike. Most leather saddlebags are marketed directly to a specific sect of our motorcycling family. Modern textile bags often lack the rugged build quality we need and fall short aesthetically.
Many of us have hacked together messenger bag setups that barely hang on, or ammo can boxes that might not offer as much convenience as we'd hoped.
Pack Animal is ready to bring new and much needed options to the market. Saddlebags and tool rolls made out of waxed canvas and leather that will compliment the styling of your vintage or modern classic motorcycle. Bags that can quickly be removed from your bike and carried as a messenger bag. Tool rolls large enough to carry the real tools you might need while traveling cross-country on a machine you love.
We need your help to make these products a reality. We've done rigorous design prototyping and testing and stand behind our goods, but cannot afford to make the initial production run on our own. Our suppliers require large minimum orders and our shop equipment isn't capable of keeping up with the production rate we'll need to keep in order for these to be affordable.
This is your opportunity to join us in building a brand you want to see in the motorcycle industry.
It was on a motorcycle camping trip in the summer of 2014 that we stripped down our packing list to the smallest, most critical items and stuffed it all into our backpacks. We rode through the North Cascades in Washington and had an incredible time; the only real problem was how sore we were from carrying everything on our backs.
Immediately we knew we needed to find a better way to carry our gear. After searching for saddlebags, we realized there was nothing available that suited us and our old bikes. There were options, but they were either too small, or designed for huge adventure bikes, or had more tassels and fringe than really fit our style.
We teamed up with our good friends Chris and Jess to see if we could make our ideal saddlebags a reality. At the time Chris was working at Filson, where he'd spent years involved in the process of making hard wearing and beautiful luggage. Together we began drawing up ideas for the saddlebag we'd been searching for. Something classic, made from waxed canvas and leather. Something that could come on and off the bike easily.
After a few months we made our first prototype. It was rough, but had much of the function and style we had been looking for. We finished making this prototype around midnight the day before Jenny went and field tested it on a trip to Joshua Tree for Babes Ride Out 2.
When she got home we began revising and planning the next prototype. We purchased a couple of industrial sewing machines and made some new bags just in time for Motos in Moab.
Once again, Jenny loaded up her old CB550 and hit the road. She got caught in several rain storms and we were pleased to find the bags kept her gear dry through all of them. The saddlebags, however, were too small for such a long trip.
Again we hit the drawing board, took what we had learned and put it to use, making a new pair of bags before we set out for Montana and Wyoming to ride the Beartooth highway, Yellowstone, and the Tetons with the Iron & Air crew on their Westbound 2015 trip. The bags were slightly larger and functioned exactly how we wanted, keeping the weather and mud out, coming off the bike quickly and easily, and even proved their adaptability as we mounted them to two different bikes.
Aside from a few cosmetic revisions, we have finally created the saddle bags we'd been wanting all along. We've chosen some new materials, tweaked some minor details, and the design is ready. Now we need your help to bring this product to market.
We use the highest quality waxed twill and canvas paired with rugged leather that will last a lifetime. The bag is weather resistant and will keep your gear dry through any weather you find yourself traveling through.
How do the bags attach to my bike?
The bags attach using halter snaps that click onto d-rings on the bike mounting kit. The same halter snaps make for a seamless transition from saddlebag to messenger bag with our shoulder strap.
The bags work as a pair, or individually, so you can decide how much you want to bring along. This is a great option if you have a high mounted exhaust on one side.
The entire backside of the bag is shielded by a thick piece of leather that rests against the side of the bike and protects the bag and it's contents as you rack up miles.
Can the bags fit any bike?
Everyone's bike is different, and motorcyclists have always been a creative class of people making their rides unique. These bags are very universal, and we've already tested them on several styles of bike, but there are some things to note:
- The bags work easily on twin shock bikes. If you have a mono shock setup, you will need to be sure there is something preventing the bags from touching the wheel. Pack Animal does not currently offer a solution that does this, but there are other companies out there making steel mounting frames to work around this issue.
- If your motorcycle does not have a tubular frame design, you'll need a different way to attach the seat hardware. Please contact us at email@example.com to see if we can make something work.
- The bags absolutely must not touch your exhaust. It will burn them. High mounted exhaust — beware!
So far we have tested the bags on vintage Japanese motorcycles, modern Triumphs, modern Harley-Davidson Sportsters, vintage BMW's, and vintage enduro bikes. If you're wondering about your bike, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What fits inside a bag?
• a book or two
• sunglasses hard case
• wallet or business card carrier
• pens, pencils, or wrenches
Our tool roll is made with the same premium waxed twill and bridle leather as our saddlebags. Not only do they aesthetically match the bags, they perform accordingly through the elements — aging well in the rain, dirt, or just rolling around in your truck bed.
The two straps holding it closed are adjustable to fit as many tools you choose to stuff in there, and they're a dream for mounting your tool roll to pretty much anything (motorcycle frame, bicycle frame, the outside of your luggage, etc.).
Road Trip Guide
We're road trippers through and through. We've sifted through our most memorable road trips (and those of our well-traveled friends), both in cars and on motorcycles, and compiled a guide full of our recommendations, most helpful apps, to-do's and not to do's, and a list of the things you didn't even know you'd need for the road. Even the most seasoned traveler might pick up a new tip or two.
Pack Animal Camp Mug
Pack Animal Yak T-Shirt
Pack Animal Key Fob
We're also going to throw in a premium key ring, so you wont have to go scavenge some inferior ring off an old key-chain. In fact, all of the hardware used in this product is top of the line, and we know you'll notice the quality when you're using it everyday.
True story: our co-founder Chris once rejetted his carbs using only these screw keys.
We still need to complete the technical package for manufacturing. The bag functions and looks like we've hoped it would, but now we need to ensure the design is affordable to produce, and flawless in its construction.
So far we've been working with sample quantities of material, but it's time to begin ordering full rolls of fabric and multiple hides of leather. We've also been fabricating the bags without the industrial tools we need to produce them sustainably. It's time to upgrade our equipment so that we can make these products faster.
The reality is that without your help, there is no next step. We must join forces to build the products that we all want!
• Anesthesia for letting us use their new song Aphelion in our kickstarter video
• Tracy Nystrom for shooting and editing all the killer footage for our videos
• Alex Roka for designing our full branding package
• Brian Howe and the Impact Hub Seattle team for providing us shop space where we've worked more late nights than we can remember
• Matt Bressler at Wickett & Craig for his help and support with leather samples for prototyping
From the outset we've known this will be a challenge, but we've been preparing diligently for months to ensure our project's success.
Manufacturing soft goods is a tough business. There's no hiding it. Profit margins are low and the challenge of maintaining both high quality and affordability is real. For us this is a passion project. The love we have for traveling on two wheels and the love we have for rugged gear that gets better with age — that's where our heart is. Our focus is helping others get on the road. We've spent months building a supply chain for materials and laboring over designs. Building and testing over 4 generations of prototypes ourselves has allowed us to overcome the majority of our obstacles.
The challenges that remain are primarily related to successful production management. We have several cut and sew manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest who are ready to work with us, but as this is the first run, hiccups and delays are inevitable. Fortunately, Chris has spent years as a production manager in the luggage manufacturing industry and Mike has extensive experience in project management, so we have a bit of an unfair advantage when it comes to problem solving. We've prepared an overview of our budget with real price quotes from our vendors so you have some understanding of what this will take.
One challenge many projects face is they aren't able to scale in the event that their project grows larger than expected. Since we aren't planning to sew every bag by hand ourselves right off the bat we're well positioned to accept orders that exceed our expectations.
Risks and challenges
No matter what issues come up during this project we will keep each and every backer informed on our progress. We want you all to be a part of Pack Animal — involved in the final design decisions and informed of the struggles. We want to share the excitement of the first rolls of canvas and hides showing up, and the thrill of the first bags coming off the production line. We want everyone involved to enjoy this as much as we do.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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