Spencer takes us on a trip to Colorado to visit Winter Park’s local bag maker, San Util Design. Started as a one-man project, but ever on the up and up, the makers recently opened a new shop on the mountain town’s main drag and hired a few part-time employees. Boasting a range of products from hip packs all the way up to custom frame bags, San Util has some great handmade gear available. Let’s check it out below!
San Util roughly translates to “without satisfaction” and is a reminder to just enjoy things in life rather than be solely pragmatic, or at least that’s how Adam sees it. I met Adam at the Sedona MTB fest this past spring and was instantly intrigued by all of his hip packs and the plethora of colors he stocked. I had planned to visit a friend near Winter Park the following summer so I said I’d try and drop by, and drop by I did!
Since Sedona MTB fest got snowed out and thus no riding was possible, I was stoked to get a pedal in with Adam before we got down to talking business. He took me for a spin straight from the shop to the trails west of town. We caught up between breaths, or at least I did while trying to keep up with the 9,000ft elevation.
He took me on the trails that he had just helped found a nonprofit, Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Coalition, to help restore. Adam has a background in Enduro racing and it shows—I did my darnedest to keep him within eyeshot. After a decadent tour of the local goods, we rolled back to the shop. I have always heard about the bike park in Winter Park, but I’m happy to report there are some great trails on the forest land as well.
Adam recently leased space on the main drag through Winter Park. Sandwiched between a jewelry shop and a burger joint he seems a bit out of place in such a tourist-heavy town. Nonetheless, I was surprised at how much foot traffic he got through the shop. He even had someone ride in after their gravel ride to order a custom frame bag right on the spot. I’ll also note that Adam has a very short lead time for custom bags at the moment, wink wink.
The San Util shop is populated with a variety of handmade bags: different totes, handlebar bags, frame bags, and (as previously mentioned) many hip-pack options. The bike world has really been leaning into hip packs as a backpack alternative these past few years and San Util offers a variety from the very small Hide and Seek children’s hip pack up to the Whirlpool 3.5 liter pack.
All of these can be ordered custom in a large array of fabrics and colors on their website. I’m hoping to test out a redesign of the Covert in the near future so stay tuned for that as well. The lightweight panniers caught my eye as a simple and effective bag as well, if I ever get a rack mounted on a bike again.
In an attempt to make the space work for multiple uses, Adam has added a bicycle workbench. San Util will begin offering some limited bike maintenance services in the future in addition to all the sewing. Adam is also showcasing some locally rehabbed vintage bikes with some of his bags on them, of course. A smattering of old-school Specialized and Bridgestones make quite the display mannequins.
I pulled the Stumpjumper for a closer look. Sporting the classic Dart and Smoke tire combo and some steel riser bars this bike looked like a really fun ride. Parallelogram V-brakes make me think the mechanic is quite the connoisseur of rim brake calipers. Adam has outfitted the bike with his Toolsie Roll under the saddle, Nameless magnetic half-frame bag in the triangle, and Big Stache Daddy on the handlebars.
I had to take out Adam’s personal Cannondale Jekyll II as well. I’m definitely not a short person but I could barely get my legs over the saddle of this monster of a bike. Adam easily has a few inches on me and more than a few on my inseam. The sparkle paint always gets me with all the little oil-slick bits. He’s also rocking one of his Toolsie rolls on his personal rig in the front of the triangle.
Adam and the crew at San Util are pumping out some great bags ready to ship and can make anything custom as well. He’s got a lot going on in his shop from trail advocacy to collaborating with other local businesses, it seems he truly wants to build some community in Winter Park. Go see if any of their bags tickle your fancy and make sure to stop in if you are ever in Winter Park…