The Evolution of the Crumpler Bag
It’s 1992. A young man sits hunched over his grandmother’s old sewing machine in a shed in Ballarat, Australia. He’s trying to get the machine to sew through a truck tarp, so he can make a bag strong enough to carry a slab of beer home on his bike. Grandma may have helped with the prototype, but it was a parachute-maker who in 1993 really helped Stuart ‘Stu’ Crumpler on a path to making better bags.
‘I went into his shop to buy some material and he looked at the bag I’d made, grabbed it off me and ripped it apart. Then he showed me a better way to stitch it back together.’
Some products are a business idea, but Crumpler bags evolved simply out of Stu’s creative desire to make a great bag. ‘Here is the design for the first bag,’ Stu says, showing a piece of wood with a pattern drawn on it in pen. ‘It’s called “Mr Pattern”’ The bags were cut from a single piece of tough fabric and sewn together on another old sewing machine he bought for $20 at a flea market. Each took quite a while to make and if a mistake was made, well, it would be back to Mr Pattern.
‘I used a circular saw to cut out all the linings, but it melted the edges of the fabric. But, because no one could see it, I just sewed over it.’ Stu laughs. ‘When I couldn’t sew through a tough section of a bag, I used a staple gun and hid the staples... There was so much material and off-cuts on the floor when I was making the bags that it all used to hang off my chair like seaweed.’
So, one bag at a time, Stu kept working at his vision. When bike couriers came across his bags and started using them for their deliveries, they offered him feedback about what did and didn’t work. Stu ran their ideas across his machine and kept on sewing.
A Melbourne bike messenger company, owned by Dave Roper and Will Miller, ordered some of Stu’s first bags for their riders and noticed that they loved them, not just because they were strong, but also because they could open and shut them without taking them off.
They had a brainwave... ‘I met Stu in a pub,’ Dave remembers, ‘and I said, “Hey, do you want to start a bag company?” He said hell yes, and we leased a floor of a building in Flinders Lane so we could have a place to work from. We went to an auction and bought all these sewing and cutting machines...’
And,’ Will says, ‘we ditched the messenger company.’ In those early days, they spent ‘about a bazillion hours’ cutting strips of Velcro for the straps and pieces of bag lining.
They carried rolls of material to the workshop in Flinders Lane on the back of an old postman’s motorbike: ‘The rolls were really heavy and so you’d put them on the back of the bike and the thing would just about do a mono, unless I’d lean forward.’ Stu says.
Soon the bags were made from water-resistant and stronger materials and the sometimes mismatched colours made them hard to ignore. The locals started noticing these brightly coloured messenger bags and wanted a piece of the action. They followed the trail back to Crumpler’s then workshop in Flinders Lane and, with the money from sales, they bought updated equipment and improved materials.
‘We have to be at one with the bag,’ Stu laughs, showing a prototype for the latest trolley-style travel bag. He sits it next to one of the original messenger bags, faded and creased like a faithful pair of jeans. ‘We have to feel really good about them before going into production.’ Stu says his original ignorance about how to make bags turned out to be a big advantage. ‘Whether for better or worse – and it was often worse – we worked it out for ourselves. We found our own way and that’s what makes us different.’
These days the Crumpler range has greatly expanded beyond cycling (with a slab of beer) to include professional camera and photography bags, laptop and technology bags, backpacks, casual bags and luggage. But despite the evolution in style and use that Crumpler bags have undergone, the principles behind ‘Mr Pattern’ have basically remained the same – simplicity, a willingness to experiment, a big dose of humour – and a determination to make the best bag you can scissor from a single piece of fabric.
How do I clean my bag?
Spot clean exterior stains with lukewarm water and mild soap, then remove any soap residue with a damp cloth. For heavy soiling, lightly wipe with a damp cloth. Always dry in the shade. Never submerge your bag in water, unless you both want to smell mouldy. And don’t ever let it be dry cleaned, tumble-dried, ironed, treated with harsh chemicals and detergents or scrubbed like a hospital floor. Doing so will trash the protective coating on its fabric – or worse.
Where can I get more detailed information on one of your products?
Each product page on the Crumpler website has three tabs – Features, Sizing and Reviews.
The Features tab reveals detailed information about specific product features. Some of the technical terms may not mean much to you, so we explain them elsewhere in these FAQs.
The Sizing tab contains information about – you guessed it – the physical dimensions of the bag, plus some additional information depending on the product in question.
The Reviews tab holds reviews we think have the potential to help you decide if a bag is right for you or not. After buying your Crumpler, you can write one, too. Good or bad – so long as it contains useful information we’ll most likely publish it.
After consuming all this bumpf, if you’re still hungry for details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on +613 9372 1204.
Are you sure my laptop will fit in this bag?
Pretty much. But to be 100% certain, you might want come into a Crumpler store. If that’s geographically impossible, or you’re too gen-whatever to venture beyond WiFi range, check the laptop sleeve measurements under the Sizing tab for each relevant product. They represent the dimensions of the largest poota we reckon will fit comfortably. Remember, if you buy a Crumpler online from us here and your lappy don’t fit, you can return it as per our returns policy.
How do you measure your bags?
We reckon the most accurate way is to fill each bag first, then measure. Not Christmas dinner chock-a-block bloated, but enough to achieve its intended shape and true usable volume. Just remember Crumpler bags are not square boxes by and large, so our quoted measurements are generally taken at the widest point, within reason.
If you have a specific sizing question, email email@example.com or phone us on +613 9372 1204.
How do I use my 3rd leg?
Clip it under your left arm, then adjust your strap lengths and shoulder pad position. Badabing! The bag is stable and your load is on your back right where it should be.
How do I remove the waist strap?
The waist strap is threaded through a loop at either end where it attaches to the bag. All you need to do is undo the waist strap velcro and pull it out through the loops.
What do I do with excess strap?
You can make a long strap shorter, but not vice-versa. If this is a problem for you, either: a) grow up, b) tuck the excess strap through your bag’s side accessory loop, or c) if you’re artsy-crafty and brave, trim off a few inches, then seal the new end with a lighter or match to prevent fraying. If in doubt, bring it to your nearest Crumpler store and we’ll shorten it for you.
What's that long skinny doo-dad in your laptop bags?
It’s our incredible velcro-mounting Adapt-A-Sausage. Although it has a protein content not dissimilar to your typical supermarket banger, its destiny is not to be burnt and smothered in sauce. It exists because some 13-inch pootas are small for their size. As are some 15-inch and 17-inch ones. Whack in the Adapt-A-Sausage though, and your precious lappy will always be hugged tight by your Crumpler baggery.
What is Bar Tak?
Similar to buttonhole stitching, Bar Tack is a short, highly dense burst of zigzag stitches that maximises the load bearing of a fabric seam or join.
What is Rip Stop?
It’s a nylon fabric crosshatched with thick reinforcement threads at regular intervals. The lining of Crumpler bags is most often either 300D and 600D Rip Stop, which are both super strong, lightweight, durable and resistant to fraying, tearing and ripping.
Will you sell my personal information to the highest bidder?
No chance. Personal information collected on this site is treated as confidential and is protected by the Privacy Act 1988. Personal information is information relating to an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained from the information provided. Personal information collected on this site will not be used for any other purpose other than for that it was intentionally submitted. On request we will provide any information collected about you through this site in accordance with Information Privacy Principles 6 and 7 of the information Privacy Act 1988.