The Backpacker Boom – L.L.Bean in the Seventies

Did you know that the sport of “backpacking” didn’t always exist? True backpackers like the ones we’ve been hearing from through our Get Outfitted Gear Giveaway or Steve Gadecki of our “Discover Something” campaign didn’t really come around until the seventies. It was then that L.L.Bean started focusing on products for the everyday explorer, rather than exclusively for hunters and anglers.


L.L.Bean - Style of the Times - 1970

Current L.L.Bean employee Lincoln Benedict, modeling popular 1970s gear in our 100th anniversary book Guaranteed to Last.

As the story goes, after L.L.’s passing, his grandson Leon Gorman began to modernize the company, targeting the ever-expanding community of backpackers. As Gorman writes in Guaranteed to Last, “Wilderness, the rawest, purest expression of nature, became the grail sought by the legions of new hikers and backpackers. The point was to be alone in the pristine wilds, cut loose from mod­ern convenience.” Leon knew that. So he reinforced the brand promise of “satisfaction guaranteed,” built a strong Customer Service department and captured this new breed of outdoorsmen with strategic product development.


It was during this time period that people who enjoyed the outdoors broadened more widely to “outdoor enthusiasts.” They weren’t coming to L.L.Bean just for hunting and fishing anymore – now they also came for their backpacking, biking, canoeing and outdoor patio needs.


What type of outdoorsperson are you? What’s your favorite L.L.Bean outdoor product? Share with us in the comments, and you’ll help L.L.Bean donate to the Million Moment Mission.

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