As a kid, a pair of clunky L.L. Bean boots were my first introduction to camping gear brands and, unbeknownst at the time, a first step toward a future spent trekking outdoors. I wore them everywhere, and dude, I looked cool (I thought so, at least).
Years later, L.L. Bean is still cranking out boots and outdoor equipment for serious campers and 5th graders alike. (They have a “bootmobile” now, too!) In fact, 2012 marks the brand’s 100th anniversary, which was founded in 1912, by Leon Leonwood Bean of Greenwood, Maine.
The company started as a one-room operation selling a single product — boots. The leather and rubber boots invented by Mr. Bean in his time were a waterproof innovation in outdoors footwear.
While the company has since expanded far beyond boots into the retail giant it is today, the rubber-bottom boot remains to be a piece of the brand’s soul.
To celebrate its 100 years in business, L.L. Bean has events planned throughout the year. Keep an eye out for the company’s Bootmobile, which will tour the United States.
Most notably, this winter L.L. Bean will continue to push a project to raise $1 million dollars to “get more kids outdoors.” Called the Million Moment Mission, L.L. Bean has raised $100,000 thus far.
How’s it work? You can submit a brief story or photo of an outdoor experience to the Million Moments page, check out L.L. Bean’s YouTube videos, or sign up for a company-sponsored outdoors class — anything like this will be counted as a “moment,” and for each moment L.L. Bean will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation.
The company is hoping to count one million “moments” this year to thus donate a million bucks. Simple as that.
Seems like a worthy promotion. Congrats to L.L. Bean for making it 100 years. Oh, and thanks for the inspiration in 5th grade. Those clunky rubber boots were a significant first step for me toward a lifestyle now of spending as much time as possible outdoors.
—Pam Wright is a contributing writer for GearJunkie and an editor at UpNorthica, a publication on canoe camping and the North Woods.