about the bags

yngve o jhonmcliten

Carry things farmer’s way

Farmer’s racer is a one man company located in the south east of the Swedish spruce forests – dedicated to serve outdoor adventurers and urban hikers with a bag for their lifestyle. From this little workshop bags has been shipped to customers on every continent since 2012.

The origin of the farmer’s racer bag dates back to times when going to work meant leaving home for several days. Food, clothing and tools were sharing space in a one compartment bag brought on every daytime adventure. The top opening made it possible to use the bags on any transportation. Bicycles, mopeds, tractors or just over the shoulder of the walking owner.

The farmer’s racer bag is a top opening, one compartment bag to carry things one need for the coming days. No assigned pockets or custom made slots inside. Only a sturdy leather interior that may carry firewood one day and a computer the next day.

What you need to bring – this bag will carry for you, to work or wilderness.

Lars Gustavsson – founder and craftsman of farmer’s racer



The craft of making a bag

First – the materials. They might be new to some. The farmer’s racer bag is crafted from a single sheet of waxed cotton – a material with a long history. It began in the early 19th century – when sailors, seeking protection from icy spray and high winds, treated old sailcloth with linseed oil to create simple smocks. Two hundred years later, waxed cotton is still a first choice material for many adventurers and professionals. The cotton in our bags are custom made and waxed by Halley Stevensons in Dundee, Scottland. The cotton is packed with wax and weights over 900 grams per square meter – making the bag as water tight as any cotton bag can be. Find out more on how to keep this wax barrier functional and healthy under the header bag care.

The thick cotton canvas is a bag on its own. But to keep the characteristic farmer’s racer box shape, a sheet of 2mm full grain leather is sewn into the bag as a backbone. The leather is supporting the front, base and the back of the bag. Leaving the sides foldable for an easy closure. All leather parts on the bag is made from full grain vegetable tanned leather. The renown Swedish Tärnsjö Tannery is supplying farmer’s racer with crisp white ox leather. The different parts of the bags are cut from special parts of the hides, making sure that they all get the right thickness, stiffness and color. All parts are cut with hand tools and knifes. The vegetable tanned leather is quite dense and one can actually cut oneself on a leather edge. To prevent this, and to make the leather straps smoother, all edges of the leather is beveled and hand polished with beeswax using a cotton cloth. All leather parts are waxed with a farmer’s racer leather care before they are sewn to the bag. Read more about leather care and the recipe under the header bag care.

To keep the bag closed five fasteners are used. This is a heavy duty brass fastener with a special little lock. A small text is printed on every fastener cap, telling you to lift the dot. On one side of the fastener, or imprinted on the leather beside the fastener, there is a small dot. If you pull on that side, the fastener will open. If you pull on any other side, the fastener will stay locked. This fastener has been used on boats and car convertibles to keep textile tarps and covers in place since 1900. To make opening and closing easier the three main fasteners are mounted on a aluminum rail.



Tools and machinery

The first ten bags made in 2012 was sewn using a Singer 29k. A foot powered machine known to every shoe, bag or coat maker  as a very reliable machine. Even when electricity started to power most sewing machines, these machines were kept as a trusty backup. New parts are still being made in order to keep these machines running. Soon orders were coming in faster than the speed of my feet. Volt powered machines were added in the workshop, but the idea of using vintage machinery was kept. Two sewing machines is all that is needed to make a bag. One Singer 246K3 for overlock stitch, and a Dürkopp 239-525 for the heavy straight stitching. Both machines are geared down to manage the thick thread and the high piles of materials feed threw them.

The sewing is made by machines – the rest is all hand tools. Scissors, knifes, punches and bare hands. This slow craft is ensuring that matching parts is combined to make a bag.

The leather details are all carefully cut with a knife. Templates and rulers are used as guides for all parts. Critical dimensions are made slightly oversized and adjusted to perfect fit only minutes before they are sewn together. No less than 83 holes and slots are hand cut on each bag. Holes for fasteners, belts and straps. The cutting tools used by farmer’s racer is supplied by tool maker Vergez Blanchard.


Brenda Fisher, editor of Hearth Magazine, is referring to her dad’s long therm consumption:

My dad isn’t a flighty, trendy person. When he finds something he likes, he buys the best version of it and keeps it forever. This type of dedication to quality can be found in Lars Gustafsson’s beautiful Farmer’s Racer bags. Lars uses his Swedish heritage and background in design to create a rugged, practical yet stylish and unique bag that can be used to carry a multitude of items. I had the opportunity to talk with Lars and learn more about his bags and what makes them special…