Made in Arlington: Voyager Bag Works
Isaac Richardson's durable, hand-sewn packs and travel bags are made to last.
Isaac Richardson has been operating Voyager Bag Works, a hand-sewn line of travel and work bags, out of his Arlington basement for three years. He spent more than two years perfecting the design of his big roll-top backpack, creating different prototypes and using them on hikes and camping trips to see how they performed. “I needed to make sure it was going to work the way that I wanted it to,” he explains.
Made with waxed canvas (he uses Martexin Original Wax, a famously water- and stain-repellent material), his collection now includes a wide assortment of handy wares, from backpacks (starting at $265) and totes ($95-$150) to hip packs ($60) and Dopp kits ($65). He makes commissioned pieces, too.
Bearded and low-key, Richardson, 32, strives for utility, sustainability and durability in his creations. “What I really like is that it takes on a patina as you use it, like leather,” he says, noting how one of his personal packs has developed a gleam in certain spots. Every bag he creates comes with care instructions and a lifetime guarantee.
On the sustainability front, he’s working on a line of kit packs and gear bags made with 100% recycled polyester fabric, in a white plaid pattern. A portion of all sales goes to causes that speak to the artist’s ethos, such as José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen and the Trust for Public Land.
Ever the outdoorsman, Richardson says his current favorite place to hike with his wife, Annika, is in nearby Prince William Forest Park, and one of their preferred camping spots is Camp Grits in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains.
An avid cyclist, he also works at Wheel Nuts Bike Shop in Alexandria, where he has designed custom handlebar bags. He plans to sell his goods at local festivals and pop-ups this fall and winter.
“I like making things,” he says, “that people will enjoy using for a long time.”