One to Watch: LL Bean Double L Copper
Tony Sculimbrene 02.06.18
LL Bean is one of the most ubiquitous brands in the America. There are stores everywhere. Their catalogs are probably about 10% of all US mail. And their return policy was the subject a great This American Life story. For most people LL Bean is the rubber-bottom boots and modestly priced bookbags. This side of the company is the profitable side of the business. But there is much more. There are tents, good hiking boots, and parkas good enough for some brutal weather. LL Bean has an extensive field testing operation.
Unfortunately LL Bean has yet to flex their production capacity and market dominance in the knife market. They have had some house brand stuff for a better part of a decade, but they have been bland options with below average materials. Occasionally LL Bean issued some cool knives. They have paired up William Henry in the past to make a special edition knife. There have been a few traditional folders with nicer features. But aside from the WH collab there has been nothing worth paying attention to in LL Bean’s knife line.
The Double L Copper changes that. This is a medium sized folder with European razor blade steel–12C27. It runs a pair of thumb studs and locks with a liner lock. The blade is a simple drop point blade and the handle shape is nothing crazy or odd. But the real eye catcher here is the handle scale material. The Double L Copper has solid copper scales in a hammered texture finish with a shield inlay and the LL Bean word mark.
The remarkable thing here, and the thing worthy of a “One to Watch” is just how tapped into the modern knife market this design is. The size is right. There is no tactical baloney here. And the copper, with its patina potential, is just what hipsters AND knife guys (to the extent they are not one and the same) want in a blade. For the first time since I saw their early (and dreadful) house brand stuff, I think LL Bean is poised to hit the knife market square on. They just might start flexing their muscles in the gear world. Short of an Amazon Essentials blade, this would be just about the biggest disruption the knife market has faced since Chinese made knives hit shelves both virtual and real.
Pictures and specs tell a story of nothing less than competence. The price, $50, is quite reasonable too. Only the weight–almost five ounces, is a concern but given the handle scale material, you know going in its going to be heavy. There is also that warranty–return the knife at any time for any reason for a refund–which is as good as anything else in the knife world. Curiously, AG Russell has basically the same warranty and as had it for years with much less media acclaim.
In all the Double L Copper is probably a very good knife. But its what the knife portends for the future that is really exciting.