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Made in Colorado (Winter 2023): Colorado Bushcraft’s Retro-Style Outdoor Bags

There’s a common misconception that the United States doesn’t manufacture much anymore. In reality, the country continues to out-manufacture China on a per capita basis, and domestic growth outpaced the global average for the first time in years in late 2022.

Colorado is a case in point. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that employment in Colorado’s manufacturing sector peaked in 1998 at 192,200 workers. That plummeted to 122,200 employees in 2010, but the state’s manufacturing workforce has steadily grown to surpass 150,000 as of late 2023.

With these dynamics front and center, this year’s “Made in Colorado” profiles illuminate 10 of the state’s pioneering manufacturers, makers of whiskey, satellites and just about everything in between. Today, we’re highlighting Colorado Bushcraft’s retro-style outdoor bags

READ: Inside the Colorado Semiconductor Industry Renaissance — CHIPS Act Sparks Manufacturing Revival


Colorado Bushcraft

Apparel & Gear

Golden, Colorado

Website: www.coloradobushcraft.com

Colorado Bushcraft product photo under a tree.

A self-described “computers” guy by day, Mitchell Sprinsky launched Colorado Bushcraft as a side hustle after suffering sticker shock while shopping for ultralight hiking and camping gear. He bought a 1920s-era Singer sewing machine from Ralph’s Power Sewing Machine in Denver and started making round-bottomed bucket bags and organizers. Hikers took note when they encountered Sprinsky on the Colorado Trail and other hiking routes, and he started selling his wares in 2015.

The designs are often based on gear from the 1800s. “I spent a lot of time at the Golden Pioneer Museum, looking at, ‘What did people use when they came here?’” Sprinsky says. “How do I make these things but put a little bit of modern touch on it so that they’re useful and they’ll just last forever?”

It follows that Sprinsky sticks with time-tested materials like waxed canvas and Scottish tartan wool to craft a wide variety of bags and pouches, ground covers, koozies and notebooks. However, he has swapped out his old Singer for a pair of modern sewing machines.

Colorado Bushcraft has moved into packs with a contract cut-and-sew operation in Commerce City, but Sprinsky says he prefers being in complete control of the manufacturing himself. “Most of the stuff — like 80 percent of what I sell — I make myself, so nothing ever looks the same,” he notes. “I’m not gonna say it’s perfect, but it’s rustic in a good way.”

Sprinsky also manufactures goods for private-label customers on a contract basis, and he even made some cowboy bedrolls that landed on prime time. “Those actually became famous,” he says. “They’re all the cowboy bedrolls used in the ‘Yellowstone’ TV series.”

While he’s nearing retirement from his day job, Sprinsky isn’t quite ready to stop with Colorado Bushcraft. But that doesn’t mean he wants to grow it much beyond what he can sew on his own. “At times, it becomes overwhelming,” Sprinsky says, citing a curve of “selling 10 things a month to selling hundreds of things a month” since the startup. “To go bigger means I have to do what I did with the new pack: outsource. And my brain just doesn’t work that way.”

 

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].