Product customization appears to be a trend hitting the outdoor industry. Nike began years ago with their custom colored running shoes and now smaller companies such as Somnio let you customize your level of running shoe support. Urban bags have been a particularly popular product for customization with Timbuk2 leading the way and now Rickshaw Bags launching their customizer tool.
Timbuk2 hand makes 50,000 bags annually out of their San Francisco factory in a combination of five silhouettes: the Classic Messenger Bag, Swig, Lex Pack and Cargo and Eula Totes. It takes exactly 7 minutes of sew time for a Classic Messenger Bag, put together from pre-cut ballistic nylon fabric pieces.
Out of the 50,000 Timbuk2 custom bags made in the San Francisco factory, only 1-12 each year are exactly the same. That is pretty impressive work from the handful of highly skilled, predominantly Chinese men and women who have worked in the Timbuk2 factory for the past 10-13 years.
I was given the opportunity to order my own custom Laptop Messenger after attending the Timbuk2 press conference earlier this month. I originally wanted to try out the Swig pack but found that you couldn't do as much customization as you could with the Messenger style.
Customizing your own Timbuk2 bag is straightforward and easy. The first choice you are given is the size of your bag. I would recommend that if you plan to carry your laptop in your bag, you measure the actual size of your laptop very carefully and choose your Messenger size accordingly.
Timbuk2 offers many colors and patterns to choose from for the ballistic nylon fabric of the left, center and right panels of your bag. After playing around with numerous color combinations, you can then add even more personal flare with different colors for the binding, logo and bag liner.
Timbuk2 lets you customize down to almost every last detail such as the type of reflector tabs you would like on your bag as well as whether you would like a left handed or a right handed design, depending on which shoulder you tend to sling your bag over.
The most impressive part of the Laptop Messenger customization process for me was that in less than 48 hours from designing my bag and placing my order on the Timbuk2 website, my personal baby was at the front door. Granted I do live just across the Golden Gate from the Timbuk2 San Francisco factory but still impressive none the less.
Again with the details, the packaging for my bag was made of a waterproof bike map of San Francisco, listing places you might find of interest on your daily commute such as Ritual Coffee in The Mission. I am now the proud owner of The GearCaster themed Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger.
Expect to see more outdoor brands opening up part of their product lines to customization. Quiksilver announced just last week their custom boardshort website available currently in Australia and New Zealand. So what do you think- do you welcome customization in the outdoor industry? Which brands and products would you like to be able to customize?