Sunday, October 16, 2011


Classic ANNIVERSARY CANOE-traditional canvas over cedar strip construction-limited edition of 10...built in Maine for L.L.Bean by partners Old Town Canoe $7500


Outdoor Retailer, SLC

words/images Judith Ecochard

Happy were we to discover more than just the third level (it exists!) of the Salt Palace Convention Center---it's was also where the celebrated lifestyle/sports/everything brand L.L. BEAN---took over a large space to display it's truly iconic wares for the upcoming season.

Even though these days e-commerce sales have overtaken the memorably catalogues--no surprise...given its international reach...

What did surprise us was just how many branded items (20,000!!!) are worthy of the L.L. BEAN imprint in addition to such keepers at the last forever canvas Boat and Tote Bag.

Founded by an avid outdoorsman named LEON LEONWOOD BEAN---who cobbled together the revolutionary idea to stitch leather uppers to workmen's rubber boots= the Maine Hunting Shoe®---

L.L. Bean the brand- was born outta a bro's basement- and organically morphed into a giant retailer- purveying high quality essentials of daily living ---outdoors or inside----that it is today.

Frankly, another surprise for us---was the breadth of high quality/value priced merchandise we saw---including tech savvy outdoor performance wear and gear made from cutting edge materials-in addition to --- highly rated pima cotton bedding, stuff for the dog that deserves the better than the children, and collectible limited editions that even an urban trendster ---allergic to the woods--- would love.


We started our 'tour' with some of the hand crafted, limited editions of authentic, L.L. Bean pieces that "hark back into our heritage."

FYI-extremely limited editions-all made domestically---some items in Maine- available in their Freeport, Maine and Tyson's Corner VA store (near DC btw)...and online/inserts special catalogues.

PACK BASKET handcrafted by master craftswoman Tracy Santagate using wood from her property, we were told. Based on the original Osgood Adirondack Pack Basket-hardwood reed, hand carved rim and handle, canvas web, brass hardware...$395

BEAVERTAIL CANOE PADDLE-made in Maine- from decades old, reclaimed spruce logs from the Penobscot River "originally sunk"-$169

we doubt Janie's getting this gun....


Merkel 16 gauge, 20-gauge, 28-gauge, and .410 Bore-from $15,000 (individual 20-gauge)-four gun sets ($75,000-only five available)...Luxury Turkish Walnut with gold stock medallion, custom hand engraved game scenes on hand detachable silver-grayed sidelocks, Holland and Holland automatic ejectors, double triggers...stunning.

MAINE SNOWSHOE-Steam bent Ash frame and cowhide decking with traditional leather  H binding-functional/classic $329

MAINE HUNTING SHOE manufactured by L.L. Bean Manufacturing in Brunswick, Maine-original 12 inch height, rawhide laces, full grain cowhide upper, gum rubber-original brick red colored outsole M/Ws-$139

Packet of Sno-Seal™ brand waterproofing included

COASTAL DECOY SET-we never got the appeal of these but plenty of folks do---set includes Black Duck Feeder and Stand-Up decoy...carved from the masters from George Soules' original decoy shop-hand painted by Steve Brettell, solid pine body with glass eyes. 100 numbered sets-$795

COLLECTOR'S KNIFE-we liked the beautiful wooden display box -stores the basket weave patterned with 3-row stitching-sheaf in a drawer under the knife

individually numbered 001-750, stag handle, 6 inch stainless steel blade, L.L. Bean countersunk brass medallion $749

SOULE COASTAL DUCK CALL-engraved and numbered (001-300) brass band clips to lanyard, walnut barrel with engraved logo, brass reed $149

Handcrafted by Rod Maker Steve Campbell of Thomas Rod Company in Brewer, Maine-based on the famous "Thomas Special" taper-nickel silver reel seat with walnut insert, signature, early 1900's intermediate wraps, agate stripping guide-7', 3-weight, 2-piece with extra tip

Limited production of 25-numbered individually---quite the holiday gift for gazillions of guys we know-better hurry-$3495


Plenty-for Spring 2012---outdoor gear and wear...all at very attractive price points-and smartly made. L.L. Bean items may retail for less than some of the pricier outdoor brands we cover---but they don't stint on the details or quality of manufacturing. And of course, their customer service is legendary. Even their Freeport store (really an entire complex) is open 365 days/24 hours-making this a great way to spend Christmas Day if you happen not to celebrate Christmas.

Double L® Fishing Vest-enough storage space/23  gear organizing pockets -work as a  photographer's vest, air mesh shoulders support gear weight & breathable $149
Helix II Waders-$329-"no leaks" proprietary technology "one wrapped" Helix seam design reduces seams and taping-plus extremely breathable and front pocket/hand warmer

LOVED!!!--MAINE GUIDE WAXED CANVAS Briefcase (c), Rolling Duffel (l), Rucksack (r)-made from same fabric used in L.L. Bean Filed Coats from the 1930's. Features-multiple pockets, full grain leather straps, weather resistant and rugged!

Rucksack top loading design with drawstring closures

EXPEDITION TRAVEL PACK made of tough diamond-ripstop nylon, exterior loops for gear, poles etc, padded tuckaway shoulder straps

Surprise for us-ASCENT GORE-TEX® JACKET (r)-Men's $349-made from cutting edge Gore-Tex Pro Shell 3l stretch fabric and Micro-Grid backer technology-protection & comfort. 2 way waterproof Vision® zipper, 3 point adjustable hood, interior stretch mesh&security pockets, droptail hem, drawstring closure @ waist keep the elements out, interior drawstring-reduces bulk---lots of bells and whistles that we see in pricier jackets else where. With 'matching' ASCENT GORE-TEX® PANT $329 and ASCENT PACKAWAY VEST -with PrimaLoft One Insulation/ultralight ripstop, weather tough fabric with permanent anti-static treatment , highly compressible

AT 35 DAY PACK $99-210 Denier high tenacity ripstop nylon w/perforated compression molded foam straps and lumbar belt, compressions wings each side for accessory attachments, dual ice ax loops, aluminum butterfly frames-nice price, nice color waves

Women's MOUNTAIN LAUREL 3-IN-1 JACKET-water proof, breathable shell with a zip-out synthetic Mountain Laurel patterned (pretty) liner-warm via lightweight PrimaLoft® Infinity Insulation, high fleece collar, feminine details like curved seam patterns. A great jacket for multiple weather conditions

Men's COOLWEAVE TRAIL SHIRT $44.95 From mountain top to city street-nylon seersucker fabric w/ UPF 30+, moisture wicking, front patch and hidden zip pockets, camp style hem looks good tucked or not...w/PATHFINDER PERFORMANCE PANTS nylon/spandex, UPF 50+ $49.95

KATAHDIN SLEEPING BAGS-warm with Primaloft's Synergy Insulation-warmth when wet, adjustable contoured hood, regular
 and long versions $119-$159 (l) and L.L. BEAN DOWN SLEEPING BAGS-650 fill Goose Down (-20 degrees is 750-fill), DWR treated shell, full length zip w/anti-snag tape, stuff sack+cotton storage sack $199

Assorted outdoor ready footwear-lightweight and supportive=-Pathfinder Hiker $69-$79, Explorer Sandal $69, Trail Sneaker $59 women's...Waterproof Trail Model Walker $99