Craftsman Series: Bradley Mountain

Words by Matthew Vanatta

There has been a recent revival around the American craftsman as of late. As we forge ahead into the ether of the computer age and automation continues to progress, creatives and seekers are continually searching for inspired products that can match the ethos of their own individual philosophy. Products made by the hands of humans that share the same values, the same dreams, and same pursuits. In this day and age when many products feel mass produced and cheap a number of makers are focusing on manufacturing products by hand, with high quality materials and infectious inspiration.

Bradley Mountain, a small company founded in San Diego, California is one such brand. More than a label, Bradley Mountain is a group of makers, designers, and craftsmen all sharing the same passion for producing high quality, functional and stylish bags and accessories. We checked in with Bradley Mountain’s Tyler Axtell to find out what goes into making a Bradley Mountain bag, and why quality, form and function are a necessity for today’s style and adventure enthusiasts.

Inspiration

We all give input. We are a shop of six guys who all travel, explore, and use the products. Tyler, our founder designs each concept based off of trips and lifestyle choices that he embarks on. From there we will make a few bags, use them, and come back together to make the bags better.

The Wilder was designed for a trip Tyler took to Switzerland a few years ago. He wanted a bag that held the necessities for a 2 week trip and nothing more or less. This created a modular design with rings and a cinch-down area for a jacket. The simplicity of the bag allows for easy travel and quick access. Each bag is designed with similar ideas: What do we want to use the bag for and what does it need to accomplish? This is the main focus when we create a new design.

Materials

We source our materials from American companies. We love supporting the age old craft of quality American made products. Our leather is a veg-tanned and leather dyed with special oils and a waxed-finish. This is a custom method we have developed to bring our customer a leather that breaks in nicely and looks amazing over time.

The first step is cutting our raw materials: cutting the pattern for each bag out from our bolts of waxed or twill cotton canvas. Next we die cut our leather pieces from custom dies for each strap. Once the raw materials are cut and quality controlled we move into sewing and riveting. The products we make are all about the materials we use. Nothing works unless our leather is perfect, and our canvas is heavy duty and quality.

Photos: Left – Andrew Nguyen; Right – Bradley Mountain

Manufacturing In The USA

We believe that people should know who makes their products. This pulls the veil off of the consumers eyes. We have been manipulated for too long by big box stores who sell us poorly and unethically made goods, while telling us they are safe and of good quality. We like the idea of a world where you can buy a product, come visit our shop and meet us, use your bag every day for years and years, and send it over to us when you need it repaired. When you buy our bags, you enter into our family.

The Steps To Making A Bradley Mountain Bag

Photo: Andrew Nguyen

Step 1: As we mentioned before, the materials are step one. Cutting and assorting the components.

Step 2: Fold and sew trims and edges of the canvas.

Step 3: Apply zipper (depending on the bag) and/or leather trims. This would include sewing our logo on, hand stitching the premium pulls we offer on the Biographer and Wilder, and also hand riveting the intermediate stages on. Some bags require different steps and this stage. Interior leather components will be sewn on, holes punched and marked. The process is precise and organized.

Step 4: Sew pockets on, add secondary rivets to apply shoulder strap and catches.

Photo: Bradley Mountain

Step 5: Complete bag, burn thread ends, and quality check.

The Bradley Mountain Difference

You aren’t just buying a well design, durable bag. You are entering into an invitation to rethink your life. We often speak of this idea with our tag line “live adventurously.” Every bit of life can be a bit richer and a bit more special when you open your eyes to grasp the experiences underneath the surface. Our bags are a statement. When you wear one, you are saying you don’t want the status quo.

Photo: Bradley Mountain

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