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< Inside L.L.Bean

Freeport, ME, September 17, 2021

The legendary L.L.Bean Continental Rucksack is a favorite among hikers and travelers alike—who value the versatile backpack’s load capacity, durability, lightweight design, stylish accents and more.

Bean’s original rucksack debuted in the 1964 catalog and, after a few name changes and color iterations, the Continental Rucksack premiered in 1985. Over the years, the company’s hard goods team has continued to make the pack even more sustainable by incorporating recycled fabrics and hardware to meet consumer demands for eco-friendly gear.

The pack’s main body is now made from durable, 600-denier recycled polyester fabric, lined with 210-denier nylon and supported by a bottom made of 600-denier Kodra nylon for extra reinforcement. Recent enhancements include a mesh back panel for ventilation and moisture wicking, and a tuckaway waist strap for improved weight distribution.

1968 L.L.Bean Catalog highlighting Bean's Lightweight Rucksack

Its large main compartment can hold a day's worth of gear, snacks and layers. In his book, avid outdoorsman and L.L.Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean referred to the rucksack as one of his preferred packs. “If you’re into hiking, camping or bushwhacking, this is the pack for you,” said Travis Lonigan, hard goods design manager. “Your hiking poles can fit through the pockets on the side lash tabs, and there’s storage underneath for a sleeping pad or bag.”

Steve Jordan, hard goods product development manager and 35-year Bean veteran, is quick to sing the pack’s praises.

“What’s great is it’s suitable for day hikes thanks to the padded shoulder straps, harness system and hydration bladder panel, but it’s also loaded with everyday features,” he said.

These include a laptop sleeve and fleece-lined pouch for sunglasses or other valuables. A plethora of easy-to-access interior and exterior pockets come in handy while on the go.

“It’s my go-to carry-on bag for short trips,” Lonigan added. “The pockets are great for staying organized while traveling. I utilize one to keep important documents like tickets and passports at my fingertips, the external access laptop sleeve is super useful when going through airport security, and the flap-open external pockets are great for water bottles or snacks. And it’s lightweight, which means it won’t wear you out while traveling.”

Continental Rucksack in Khaki

Continental Rucksack in Khaki

From weekend warriors to college students to active commuters, the Continental Rucksack is a multipurpose, all-season pack for everyone.

“We’re constantly surprised at the creative ways people trick them out,” Lonigan said. “It’s the Swiss Army Knife of functional backpacks.”

This fall, L.L.Bean will introduce a new 45-liter size of the Continental Rucksack—a slightly larger take on the original 32-liter option. “One piece of feedback we often get is that it’s a little too small for a weekend trip,” Jordan said, “so we’ve added a more capacity.”

Continental Rucksack in the Fall 1999 L.L.Bean Catalog

In 2019, L.L.Bean relaunched the Continental Rucksack with new colors and a waxed-canvas version with faux-sterling shoulder straps. Lonigan and his team continue to explore different design approaches.

“The Continental Rucksack is a clean slate for us, from a creative standpoint,” he said. “It’s such a classic design that lends itself to a variety of materials, from leather to wool, and fun color expressions. You can go completely stock tactical or military with it, or incorporate a hunting look with camo. It’s like denim in that it goes with everything.”