If you’re the type to keep your ear to the ground on all things Slingshot, you’ve probably caught wind of the new Truce bags rolling out of their Portland shop. Durable as hell and emblazoned with kites we could no longer put to use on the water, these new bags are simply rad. The bonus: We get to partner with our friends (and one-time Hood River neighbors) from TREW Gear and fortify what’s sure to be an awesome relationship with Luke Mathers and his top-notch operation.
After we raised a glass to the incredible prototypes he’s rolled out of his shop, we sat down with this reduce/reuse/recycle visionary to get his take. Trust us, this is a guy you’ll want to get to know. And keep an eye out for the goods that are set to be hitting our website and Truce’s in the coming months.
Tell us a bit about your backstory—how did you come to find yourself creating (now incredibly sought-after) bags for a living? Do you come from crafty beginnings?
Luke Mathers: I used to be on the sailing team at Portland State, during that time I got a job at North Sails Oregon—it was my first experience with sewing, mostly sail repair and making things like boat covers. I started creating simple bags from scrap fabric for myself and friends after work hours, the first couple hundred were pretty terrible… Since then I’ve had incredible luck meeting the right people who’ve helped with design and construction.
I wouldn’t say I come from crafty beginnings, but since college I’ve become increasingly fascinated with how things are made and figuring out how to make some it myself. It’s kind of a problem.
Are you a creature of the wind/water yourself? Is that what prompted your original idea to create with sail and boat cover scraps?
LM: Definitely. I’m keen on sailing, surfing, and anything else that gets me outside. I love the process of designing and making things, but it’s even better when you can use it in the real world and figure out how to make the next one better. I used to ride bikes a lot more than I do now, but at first, I just wanted a comfortable bag for commuting. Enter: the Drop Liner Backpack.
We’re stoked you’re working with us at Slingshot? Had you ever experimented with kite materials before?
LM: It was a little hard for me cutting the crisper prototypes up into pieces, we could tell how much thought and work goes into making each one. Like with our recycled sailcloth, we make sure to wash the fabric beforehand so we don’t get dirt or sand in the machines here.
I hadn’t used kite material before, but I had made some simple shopping bags from old spinnakers a while back. Most of the time we work with Dacron sailcloth and PU-coated Nylon, the bulk of which is end rolls and leftover material from west coast drysuit factories.
Check out their store in Portland https://trucedesigns.com/pages/retailers
Have you spent any time kiting/sailing in Hood River?
LM: I’m an amateur kiter, and sad to say I’ve only been kiting out on the coast and at Sauvie Island. Hopefully this year I can finally spend some solid time on the water!
I’ve sailed in a few collegiate regattas in Cascade Locks, but don’t think I’ve ever sailed in Hood River either…I have to confess that a good portion of my time in town has been dedicated to stuffing my face after splitboarding on the mountain. Also, we use fiberglass batten stiffeners in our backpacks which are made right there on the river by RBS – those guys are great.
What are the best uses for these new-release bags? What’s next?
LM: We’ve been trying to make a good travel set—a backpack, duffle bag, shoulder bag, and dopp kit that can all be put together from an old sail or kite. We focus on making our core bag line, but are always excited to figure out new ways to repurpose old materials.
We also get fabrics like Dyneema® and Kevlar® laminates or our popular Air Rescue series, but like everything we make it’s limited to the amount of fabric we have to use.
The best is when we get to turn someone’s old, beloved sail or kite into something useful—they get a practical keepsake that’ll last a lifetime, as well as a little more free space in their garage. Most of the time materials like these end up in a landfill, so that’s a bummer.
For now, we’re excited to make more of these great kite bags, and thanks for featuring us!