In Hilary Neevel’s home studio in Bellingham, she stitches her company’s popular “hip pack,” more commonly known as a fanny pack. The pack is just one of the items available at Pack Northwest, an e-store specializing in packs, bags, and accessories.
Neevel started Pack Northwest five years ago, as a way to apply her industrial sewing skills. She learned industrial sewing while making and repairing sails at a company in Bellingham. When the company closed, Neevel decided to start her own sail-repair business.
As part of her business, Neevel found herself in possession of old sails. Wanting to give them new life, she began making them into bags. The idea for a bike bag business clicked into place during Neevel’s daily ride to work.
“I just got tired of wearing a backpack for my commutes and that led to making more bike bags,” Neevel says.
Pack Northwest’s bike bags are designed to take the load off your back and attach whatever you need for your ride right to your bike. Some bags attach to your handlebars, but Neevel can also create a custom bag that fits securely to your bike frame.
“You can get framed bags that are stock items, but they don’t tend to fit the bike perfectly. But with custom frame bags, you measure the bike, make them fit perfectly,” Neevel explains.
After almost 11 years of running her sail-making business, Neevel officially closed up shop to focus on Pack Northwest full time. Neevel makes every product by hand, creating bags that are built to last, right in her Bellingham workshop. She takes pride in her craftsmanship.
“With coming from the sail repair world, I think I have a good sense of what goes into a well-made product,” Neevel says. “I used to repair all sorts of outdoor gear and just have a good sense for what lasts and what doesn’t.”
Pack Northwest carries a variety of packs, catering to beginning explorers and expert outdoorsmen alike. Along with packs you’ll also find wallets, koozies, accessory bags, and a Convertible Tote/Backpack ($95) that’s perfect for both urban outings and outdoor adventures.
Because so many of her products are suited for recreation, Neevel feels Bellingham is an ideal location for her business.
“[Bellingham] it’s a community where people really value supporting local businesses and having human connection. And it’s also such a strong outdoor community and so many, so many people are drawn here for the biking,” Neevel says. “Specifically, it’s a great place, good area to test [our] products.”
To learn more about Pack Northwest and shop products, visit packnw.com.