Hands-on Performance with Co-founder Samuel Bail

Whether he’s sharing his design input or testing a new bag on a mountainside, Troubadour co-founder Samuel Bail has a hand in every aspect of product development. He explains how a quest for the right bag led him to the best job in the world.

Samuel Bail, Troubadour co-founder, on a rock face in cold weather gear

My co-founder Abel and I started Troubadour because we couldn’t find the perfect bag – so we decided to make it. Our jobs required a lot of travel, and we were often going away for weekends with friends, so we found ourselves searching for the right overnight bag. Something not too flashy, so we could use it for business travel, yet not too formal, so we could take the same bag on a weekend trip.

This need for “refined performance” fed directly into our design style and vision for the brand. We’re great admirers of minimalism and the idea that less achieves more, which is why clean lines and a modern aesthetic have driven our vision from the very first days of Troubadour.

Having grown up in a family of creatives – my mother is a potter – I’ve always had an interest in design, and the initial stages of product creation are very exciting. Our design process starts with a lot of discussion about what the product needs to do, and how we can refine its features without compromising on performance.

Creativity runs in the family: Samuel's mother, sculptor Frith Bail.

Our obsession with performance is rooted in a love of sports such as climbing, cycling, swimming and running – activities where it’s essential to have gear you can absolutely rely on.

Getting away from it all: climbing combines Samuel's love of the great outdoors with a focus on performance.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who shared her passion for adventure and the outdoors with me. Since I was 9, we have gone on cycling and hiking trips together nearly every year (she’s now 87 and still up for nearly any adventure), inspiring in me a lifelong quest for adventures, whether it’s Alpine Climbing, triathlons or swimming the English Channel.

Samuel and his grandmother, Ayala Manolson, on a bike trip in Africa
Inspiring a love of adventure: Samuel and his grandmother, Ayala Manolson, on a bike trip in Africa from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa.
Swimming English Channel
Swimming the English Channel.

Every time we develop a new bag, my athletic hobbies are combined with my appreciation of product design. I have the fantastic job of stress-testing new bags, and the more extreme the environment, the better. Earlier this year I went to Scotland with landscape photographer Richard Gaston to shoot the campaign imagery for our new Explorer collection. I took the bags climbing, cycling and running, and I’m happy to say I loved using them all!

Testing times: putting new bags through their paces in Scotland. Pictured: Explorer Off Piste Rucksack
Samuel with minimal Quickdraw Rucksack on mountainside
Pictured: Explorer Quickdraw Rucksack