Made in Wisconsin: SCOUT Bags

As someone becomes a seasoned cyclist, they start to learn what gear is great and what gear is lackluster. There’s a lot of hype in the bike world about the latest and greatest technology, fabrics, etc.

It can be difficult to know who to trust when it comes to the gear you tote hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Luckily we found SCOUT Bags based in Wausau, Wisconsin. SCOUT’s story is not unlike many small businesses. The owner, Seth, was looking for a well made, utilitarian bag he could use for cycling. After taking a look at an old messenger bag he had lying around, he figured “I can sew that”, but decided to put his own spin on it.

What started out as an experiment on an industrial sewing machine, ended up spawning a full line of bag offerings. SCOUT now offers two kinds of messenger bags, a roll top backpack, a backpack dubbed at the “Tomb”, tool pouches, laptop cases, tote bags, a bar wallet, and even a nice clutch for the ladies!

SCOUT also offers heavy duty pedal straps, a saddle bag, and if you ask nicely…a sweet beverage holster 🙂

Seth insists on on using heavy duty canvas, vinyl lining, nylon webbing, buckles, straps, and thread on all of his products. We’ve seen a good amount of his work in person and both of us own bags of our own. The custom Tomb bag that I (Cassandra) have has held up wonderfully over the past seven months. Every piece of the bag was thought out and serves a functional purpose. You can’t always say that about a commercially made bag. I’ve had my fair share of bags from Timbuk2, Dakine, Dickies, and a plethora of other companies who make “commuter” bags.

I can say with complete honesty that my current SCOUT bag has been my favorite. Maybe it’s because I got my choice of color scheme or because it was made in my home state. I’m not sure…it could be that it just works. It’s not too big, not too small. The only thing I changed about the bag was I added a reflective strip of iron on material across the back as I didn’t think to ask to have a loop attached for placing a light on my bag for night riding.

Keri has one of the awesome waxed canvas clutches and it works perfectly for fitting a phone, wallet, and other small items for going out on the town or keeping in her messenger bag.

You can find SCOUT Bags locally at Madison’s Revolution Cycles or hit them (Seth will sometimes call in reinforcements when the orders start getting crazy) up directly via Facebook. There was an online store set up for ordering bags as well, but I believe it is under construction at the moment. We’ll put out an update with info once we get that information. Often times Seth will set up shop at various bike swaps around the state and he says that as long as he gets requests from cyclists for gear, he’ll keep expanding his product line and churning things out.

UPDATE: order bags via

We have a feeling he likes a challenge, so if you dream it, SCOUT can build it err sew it!

When Seth’s not  sewing in his basement studio, you’ll catch him riding BMX or road riding. He claims to dig climbing hills, so if you run into him…challenge him to some king of the mountain 😉

Full disclosure: I paid full price for my bag as well as Keri’s bag. We are, however, most likely going to be working with SCOUT on some items for our upcoming online store. Stay tuned for the details.

Bike Swap Overview

The Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap was this past weekend. Sometimes swaps are hit or miss and much like flea markets, you have to get there early to get the good stuff. Fortunately, the goal of attending this swap was less about personal purchases and more about meeting new people who are creating new businesses, organizations, rides, and artwork that are geared towards cycling in our state.

There was definitely a good amount of folks doing really great things and we can’t wait to spread the word about them. The haul of the day included a lot wonderful contacts and even a new pair of winter riding gloves for quite a steal!

Overall the swap was a lot of fun. While there was a lot of not so great items that came out of the basements of bike part hoarders, there were some gems, such as sweet vintage frames and handmade bike goods. The Brazen swap is definitely recommended if you’re in the area, and the money helps support their team for their upcoming season!

Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap TODAY!

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If you are in or near Madison today, don’t forget to stop by the Brazen Dropouts/Machinery Row bike swap! It’s one of the biggest in the state of Wisconsin and is not to be missed. We weren’t planning on going because of some prior commitments, but it turns out one of us will be able to make it.  With the weather getting close to 50 today, there is really no excuse NOT to ride over and check it out!

p.s. The Mad Rollin’ Dolls have a roller derby bout over at the Alliant Energy Center as well today. Two awesome ways to spend a Saturday 🙂

Holiday Shopping: Keep it local, Keep it Made in the USA, Keep it Made in Wisconsin!

Yes, it’s that time of year again where all you see on TV and online are BLACK FRIDAY uber sales ads. We’re not here to tell you where to find the cheapest of anything. For us it’s more about supporting the up and comers or the folks who keep jobs in our fine state and contribute to growing our local economy.

Wisconsin is a mighty lucky state because we have a booming bicycling industry. We wouldn’t have such great riding if we didn’t have  Trek, Pacific/Schwinn, Planet Bike, Hayes/Sun Ringle, Fyxation, 1/8th Inch (aka Wheel & Sprocket), and many more cycling companies big and small. The only bummer about those companies is that they don’t do a whole lot of manufacturing within our state. A lot of it is simply either product development, customer service, or sourcing from other countries. (Don’t get me wrong. They are still creating jobs for people, but manufacturing has a long history with our state and it’s sad to see there’s not much of it left.)

Trek’s only actually MADE IN AMERICA bikes are the most expensive Madones, TT bikes, and I think one Domane series. All the rest are manufactured in Taiwan and assembled here. There’s some cloud over people who still believe Trek is able to offer $500 bikes that are made in the USA. WRONG. No company could offer bikes for that cheap (yes, $500 for a bike is considered cheap nowadays, sorry to break it you!) . If they did, they’d go out of business almost immediately. $500 barely covers the cost of steel/aluminum tubing and that’s not even counting the components to get you riding.

Schwinn/Pacific hasn’t been made in the US for YEARS. The days of Chicago made Schwinns are long dead and they were bought up by big box bike supplier Pacific, who also owns Cannondale. I don’t know if any Schwinn is made in the US anymore. Cannondale I think has a few that are.

Moral of the story…research before you buy and before you scoff at the $1500-3000 price range of a custom made bike in the US, know that cost of labor in the US is much greater and the cost of steel/aluminum,titanium tubing as well as sourcing carbon and molding it is SUPER expensive.

On to the point…there are a few companies base here that actually DO manufacture their goods right here in good old Wisco. We like to support them because they develop products, manufacture products, host customer service at their facilities, and are huge supporters of advocacy in our state.

We won’t get into the complete history of the Waterford company, you can find that on their website. They were basically born out of the ashes of the original Schwinn company going bankrupt.

Waterford makes custom steel frames for consumers and Gunnar is the brand they use for production style frames. The company had also been building bikes for Terry Bicycles, the all women’s brand, who later was bought out by another company so gone are the days of a good by women, for women USA designed and built bike. I’m sure Waterford could reproduce something similar to what Terry was asking of them.

Waterford also builds the famous Rivendell frames. The guys at Riv give them the specs and Waterford crafts their sometimes strange, but beautiful designs.

I personally dealt with Richard/Marc while planning for the Saris Gala and they are very generous people who have a great love for what they do and for supporting cycling culture here in Wisconsin.


Oh how we love Scout Bags! Scout master Seth runs a small, but efficient operation. His web store features a selection of pre-made bag designs, but he’ll gladly work with you on getting something done up in customer colors. I had approached Seth/Scout Bags about getting something sent over for the Saris silent auction and ended up ordering a bag from him. He was so nice and he’s local (Wausau, WI), how could I not have?!

I had my Timbuk 2 swig stolen out of my car last this past summer while out on a training ride and was feeling naked not having a good everyday bag to carry around misc. items. Once I gave my demands Seth quoted me a couple week lead time due to a few orders he was currently fulfilling, which ended up being perfect for me as I earned a commuter incentive that allowed me (Cassadra) to get some money towards the purchase of some commuter goods.

The bag showed up at my office right around the time he had quoted me and I was blown away. The quality is excellent and the size of the bag (the Tomb model) was big enough to lug around a lot of gear, without being TOO huge for my girly frame.


Selle An-Atomica has been churning out fine leathery goodness since 2007. They have a cult like following for people who were looking for something similar to a Brooks saddle, but with a cut out for the sensitive areas. The beautiful saddles are manufactured right here in good ol’ Wisconsin and are currently on holiday special for $99. For an amazing leather saddle, that’s quite the steal!

That’s all she wrote for now. We’re always on the look out for more made in Wisconsin and Made in the USA products. Send us some of your favorites!