"I wasn't sure how far I would take it or where it would lead. I stayed focused on solving the next problem and making a better product. That's still our challenge today." 

-Curtis Williams, North St. Bags Owner & Designer

North St. Bags turned 10 years old this month. To celebrate, we're taking a look back at what makes us tick - what steered us to this point, what we've done, and what we've learned in the first 10 years. Here's a summary of our First 10 - the first 10 years, and the first 10 principles that guide our process every day.

1. Have a Good Time!

woman smiling with her bike and bag

We want you to have a good time! Our favorite part of our day is seeing and hearing your stories about where you take your North St. gear.

We’ve gotten pictures of our gear all over the world - from Japan to the Alps and everywhere in between.  It’s amazing to see these bags doing what they’re built for - keeping you company out there and supporting some really jealousy inducing adventures!

cyclists on a road with north st bags
As much as it’s about the craft of making the bags, it’s also about where you go with them. 
a mountain adventure with a pioneer 9 hip pack
best pannier for cherry blossom viewing



2. Celebrate Individuality

lookin' cool with a north st. pioneer 8 hip pack
You know who you are. You know if you’re a hot pink and neon yellow kind of person, or if that black-on-black geometric screen print is your vibe.  It makes our day to assemble a cool, one-of-a-kind custom color bag and know that it’s going to be a companion to someone just as cool and one-of-a-kind. 

Don’t get us wrong - we choose our standard color options because we know they look good. You don’t always need a hot pink and teal fanny pack. But sometimes… you do. And we support that.
mushroom hunting with a red and grey north st backpack in a forest
two awesome custom north st. backpacks

3. Be Good to The Earth

hanging out on a mountain with some rad gear
You’re going to see the word community come up a lot when we start talking about what matters to us. We recognize that we’re a part of a lot of different levels of community, and we push to honor that on each level.

We are part of a global community. That’s why we source as close to home as possible - it reduces the emissions associated with transporting fabrics across oceans. It’s also why we practice lean manufacturing - its aimed at reducing all kinds of waste, and gives us a framework to look at the full life cycle of our gear.

In addition to the everyday actions we take to reduce waste, we’re also launching a bigger initiative to invest in our community resilience later this month! 

4. Own Better Things

curtis the owner of north st. working in his shop

Life is complicated enough on its own. That’s why we design simple bags, and build them as well as we can. It’s why we offer a lifetime warranty on our builds, and why we offer repairs outside of warranty. 

It’s about taking a step back from an economy that encourages excess, and evaluating what you really need. We want you to own better bags, so you can own fewer bags.

5. Life is an Experiment

the development of the woodward convertible backpack pannier
Successful experimenting requires failure. Back before North St. was even a thought, a guy named Curtis needed a bag. He needed something he could use as an all weather commuter living in a rainy climate - something that moved from biking to walking to hiking seamlessly.

He started experimenting with patterns, taught himself to sew, and put together the first Woodward convertible backpack pannier.

To this day over 10 years later, we still approach each day as an experiment. The gear that you put on your bike and your back every day is the result of months, sometimes years of testing and development.

6. Always Be Improving

If North St. had to pick one inspirational poster to line our walls, it would probably say “Mistakes are Opportunities”. Every point of rework that happens (and they happen - we are human!), gets us talking about what we can learn. Our goal is to operate without blame, experiment without fear of failure, and uplift our individual skills and perspectives to keep growing.

And when we don’t have any rework? That’s right, we’re still improving! We dedicate the first 15 minutes of every work day to making changes to our workspace. We’re optimizing our spaces and processes to keep us making your bags the best.

7. Give Back

2019 bag donation drive!
For us, an important part of walking our walk means that we give back to the community that supports us. We’ve invested in our communities at different levels over the years, including exclusive color ways and bag donation drives!

8. Keep Exploring

When you’re looking to answer a tough question, the best way to do your research is with experience.
Want to make a great bike packing bag? Go bike packing!
Looking to build the ultimate travel bag? Better do some traveling! 
Every bag we design comes from experience, and starts as a simple question: "what do I need?"
cyclist with north st hip pack

man loading and packing a pannier

woman wearing travel backpack in the airport

9. Stay Connected

chilling with a north st duffle
 We love being outside. We haven’t quite figured out how to move our operations into the great outdoors yet, but keep your eye out for rogue North St. stitchers out and about on your next Oregon hike.
Really, it’s that drive to go outside every day, to stay connected to the world around us that keeps us doing what we do. Whether you’re commuting through the urban jungle, or cavorting about in a literal jungle, our gear is here to help you connect and engage with world around you.
Best pannier for desert biking

#10 Embrace Community

man with backpack at a waterfall

You are an important part of North St. Bags - everyone who's bought something from us in the last 10 years, consider yourself a founding member of our awesome little U.S. made bag shop!


Thank you all for traveling well, adventuring right, and choosing to own better things with us all of these years. North St. wouldn't be North St. without each and every one of you and we can't wait to show you all what's next!

Curtis Williams