I drove up to what can only be described as a small garage in a residential neighborhood and I tried to find a spot to park, while I wondered if I was in the right spot. As I approached the entrance, I saw the panda head on the door and knew I found it. I knocked and Nick quickly opened the door. A garage indeed, but a beautiful one for a bikepacker — filled with rolls of colorful X-Pac, rulers, buckles, large cutting tables, sewing machines and bikes. A perfect home for Nick and his operation, Rogue Panda Design.

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Rogue Panda Designs is a rather young bikepacking bag manufacturer based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff is a beautiful town in Northern Arizona that is host to some fantastic singletrack, good eats, and an astronomical amount of breweries. Nick has lived in a few great states in his life including Colorado and Michigan, where he went to and graduated from Michigan Tech in the beautiful Upper Peninsula. For the past 6 years, however, he has called Flagstaff home. He moved to Flag to work for the Conservation Corps, putting two years time into working on trails, including the Arizona Trail outside of Flagstaff. More recently he was earning a living as a math teacher at the community college, teaching 3 classes part-time.

Last spring, Nick’s life took a turn for the better. He found himself overwhelmed with Rogue Panda Designs, sewing 40 hours a week out of his room. His apartment was covered with sewing materials, and his bed became his work table. He soon realized that this could likely be a full-time gig, and he was right. He quit his teaching job, moved his shop to the garage and put his head down, cranking out bags for bikepackers all over.

Rogue Panda Designs

Nick has always been a handy man, fixing and modifying things, and he in enjoys doing it. He showed me some 45 year old panniers that he still uses today thanks to his handy work. Nick started with making what he needed for bikepacking, but also backpacking trips while teaching himself how to sew.

Nick sure has a way of going about his business. Since making Rogue Panda Designs his full-time job, he has been busy developing new bags while keeping up with his orders. Hidden within Nick’s professionally crafted and functional bags is his resourcefulness, efficiency, and smarts. Nick has a keen sense of what he is doing and what needs to be done, like pre-cutting fabrics and making parts for the smaller bags he makes to speed up the process. Nick has gone as far as creating his own python script code that helps him measure frame shapes and sizes from just a photo. A little over my head, but check out this link for how he does away with a frame template.

Checking things off the list.
Checking things off the list.

It’s all about the bags
“It’s kinda fun to watch a bunch of bags get put together… a lot of that is stuff I’m doing with employees now and It’s really satisfying to pay someone’s wage.” Because of the demand for his bags, Nick has one part-time and one full-time employee, and for Rogue Panda’s short existence, I would say that’s pretty good. Since January, the crew has been extremely busy, trying to keep wait times down to 2 weeks, but at times, it has been difficult to keep up with the demand.

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mass producing seatbags.

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While Nick enjoys sewing all of his bags, one that stands out among the rest is his custom frame bags, and it seems to be some of his most popular as well. He showed me the sizable stack of orders for this year alone, January and on. Nick tends to work on many frame bags at a time, so he can focus on tasks like getting all the zippers done at once, another efficient trait that Nick and the Rogue Panda Team has adapted.

Rogue Panda Designs

Nick also enjoys making smaller bags, and like I mentioned above, having pieces and parts pre-made helps streamline the process. The Oracle is a downtube bag, and his Alamo series of top tube bags round out his smaller bags. Nick also makes a handlebar bag called the Canelo Handlebar Roll as well as a Picketpost Seat Bag, which is a different take on the Saddle bag, but one he says reduces sway.

As far as the bikepacking industry is concerned, Nick mentioned that he has already exceeded over half of his sales from last year, and this was when we spoke in the middle of April. He also mentioned significant interest at his booth during the Sedona Bike Festival last month, saying there were over 200 people mentioning their interested in getting into bikepacking.

Nick makes bags for everyone, racers, folks that tour, and first timers, but recently Nick has seen a lot of repeat customers. In a competitive bikepacking industry, this is a great sign. While you won’t find any of his bags in bike shops in Flagstaff and Sedona, he would like to sell his top tube bags in bikes shops eventually. He knows this is not a big profit, but he sees it as more of a way to connect to and give back to the communities he loves. Currently you can find all of his bags, and order them directly on his website.

Nick is a motivated individual, with a vision and a passion to manage. Just from hearing him talk, he has seen a lot of success in the past year, and it seems like there are no signs of slowing down. If you are in the market for some new bags, head over to RoguePanda.com. Be sure to ask him how he got the name – it’s certainly comical.

Check out the video recently released by 4 Flag TV


  1. Steven Koellmer

    As an owner of two top tube bags from Rogue Panda Designs, I can attest to the quality of his products. I’ve stuffed them to the gills with food, maps, phone, beer, etc. and they are solid. I’ve also had a chance to compare his designs to other well known brands (Revelate, Bedrock, and Oveja Negra) and they are just as good, if not better. Plus, Nick’s running a small upstart business, which should matter to everyone deciding what bags they want. Supporting small business is so important. Look up some of his custom bags, especially the state flag ones, they are intricate and gorgeous​

  2. Thanks for the post, Neil! It was good to meet you back in April. Great job on the AZT!

    I’d like to add a small note to this – as of last week I’ve got some top tube bags in stock at Flagstaff Bike Revolution here in town! I’m psyched that it finally happened. 🙂

  3. Smithhammer

    I’ve been seriously impressed with every piece of craftsmanship I’ve received from Nick. It’s great to see him succeeding and getting recognition he deserves.

  4. I discovered Rogue Panda when I first got into bikepacking. Nick made a wonderful custom partial frame bag for me and made sure that I received it in time for the Oregon Outback last year. High quality and great design. It worked perfectly for my bikepacking setup and is the only piece of gear added to my rig for that ride to earn a permanent position on my bike. I still use it for my regular local gravel rides along the Phoenix canal system.
    I mentioned to Nick that my bike already had a few orange accents on it, and that if he happened to have some scrap bits of orange fabric laying around it would be cool if he made use of them at his discretion. He came up with a very nice balanced touch that I think looks perfect.

    Meanwhile, I second Nick’s congratulations on your stellar AZT run! My wife and I really enjoyed tracking your ride. Inspiring on multiple levels. Kudos!

    Finally, a thank you for continuing to offer such great and informative resources on this sport, including this site, the podcasts, and more. Much appreciated.

  5. Heck yeah Nick!

    Stoked to see some Flagstaff talent making its way. I will be testing out my Panda frame bag tomorrow…very excited! Nick has been very helpful every step of the way.

  6. Nick’s bags have held up better than others for me. He makes great stuff and has great customer service. BTW, I did see some of the top tube bags in Flag Bike Revolution the other day..

  7. Guy Mullins

    I’m a big fan of Rouge Panda. Discovered this company when I first got into bikepacking a couple of years ago. Nick was wonderful to work with. He made me a top quality custom partial frame bag that works great, fits perfectly, and complements the overall design of my bike very well. Good stuff!

  8. I got a 9″ picketpost from them a month or so back. No sway and solid as can be! Top notch.

  9. Nick is a loooong-time friend of the blog (Max, The Cyclist). I love his bags. Kelley and I both have Rogue Panda framebags and top tube bags, and we have an Oracle and Picketpost kicking around too. I’ve had some of his bags for well over a year, and they look brand-new. Every seam, every velcro bit, every zipper is tough and durable and reliable.

    I was super pumped to read just how fast things have been growing. I guess I was one of the early customers in Spring 2015, which is wicked. Honestly, with the quality and price Nick offers, he’s really putting the coals to the competition in the growing bikepacking market!

    Congrats Nick, great feature!

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