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Bikepacking Frame Packs Made in Bend

Sam Powell at the Gear Fix in Bend, Oregon.
Sam Powell with one of his bikepacking frame packs. Photo by Alex Jordan

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That’s certainly the case with Sam Powell, who started sewing frame packs and bikepack accessories a few years ago because he needed them for his own commutes. The creations soon turned into a small side business for Powell, who runs the sewing shop at Bend’s Gear Fix. He sews the hanging bike bags in his home studio and markets them under the name Three Sisters Threadworks. We talked to Powell, 34, about his side business and the allure of bikepacking.

You have a small business sewing/making frame bags and accessories. How did you get started?

I started just making bags for myself and my bike. I would then make new ones and sell the old ones at the Gear Fix, where I run the sewing shop, and then at some point I started making them directly for other people. Since then I’ve put together a little production shop in my garage so I can work when my son is napping and at other odd hours.

Have you seen much growth in demand for your products?

It seems like there is quite a bit of growth in interest, but I’ve only been doing this a couple of years so I don’t have a real long-term perspective on it. There definitely is interest though. We’ve done a couple of intro to bikepacking clinics at the Gear Fix and they were well attended.

Is it like Hairclub for Men, are you the owner and a customer, too? How often do you get out and use your creations?

I am my first customer, for sure, and, yes, both in the sense that I enjoy making the bags and also enjoy using them. I use the bags I make for daily commuting and I typically get out for four or five bike overnight trips each year.

How long have you been involved in the sport and what is the primary appeal for you?

I’ve been riding bicycles and camping for my entire life but only put them together a couple of years ago when I started making the bags. I started making the bags primarily because it looked interesting and then started camping with my bike after that. Making bags is a side business, so I try to only take on projects that are both interesting to me and for people who really appreciate it. I’ve really enjoyed having a consistent creative outlet beyond my day-to-day of repairing gear that other people have designed and built.

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