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Meet Your New Everyday Pocket Knife Brand -- The James Brand

You need one of these in your pocket.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

When Ryan Coulter, the founder of The James Brand, was growing up in the Midwest, everyone kept a small knife in their pocket. They used those multipurpose knives to cut slices of cheese for lunch, whittle a stick around the campfire for s’mores, or clean out a fingernail. “I carried one everywhere,” he says. “Even when I was in elementary school.” 

It was a different time back then, clearly, but the usefulness of that small knife stayed with Ryan through the years. A trained mechanical engineer and industrial designer, Ryan was working for Burton Snowboards—his pockets devoid of any type of knife—when a friend handed him a small blade given out as a promotional item with Burton’s short-lived shoe line, Gravis.

“I was shocked at how useful it was, even in an office environment. I carried that knife around with me for a decade,” says Ryan. It may have been useful, but Ryan thought it left much to be desired in the way of design. He quickly realized that there were two types of blades to be found on the market: knives for hunters and fisherman, and knives people deep in the world of tactical and military.

“I’m culturally aligned to the world of skateboarding and snowboarding, and I wanted an ‘everyday carry’ knife that was minimalist, well designed, and not over-engineered,” explains Ryan. He couldn’t find what he was looking for, so he did what any good engineer would do…he made one.

The result was “The Chapter,” a steel single-blade that folds into its handle. It was the first product of The James Brand, a company that designs and manufactures knives, tools, carabiners, pens, and notebooks…essentially anything made of metal or paper that you would carry in your pocket day in and day out.

They create products that will become an extension of yourself, that move from your pocket to the top of your dresser, and back into your pocket the next morning.

Modern, minimal, and useful, that’s how you could describe anything that comes from The James Brand. Oh, and damn good looking. Let’s throw in alluring for good measure because when you pull that knife out for your pocket in the company of friends, you’re going to get a lot of attention. 

There is no James at The James Brand. The company was named after the amalgamation of three of the coolest James’ to walk the planet: fictional character James Bond, cultural icon James Dean, and 18th-century explorer James Cook. 

“We focus on people who are multi-dimensional,” says Ryan. “Those three James’, they could move seamlessly through different environments and generally remain cool. James Bond…he could win at blackjack, race an Aston Martin, and fly a helicopter all while wearing a tuxedo. He’d definitely have ‘The Chapter’ in his pocket.”

The James Brand speaks to people who choose to be many things, like the serious weekend warrior who goes from the office to the backcountry and then back to the office on Monday morning, smelling slightly of woodsmoke. The James Brand is for the people who use their 9-5 to fuel their other passions, and for those who have outdoor adventures as a part of your value system. It’s for those who love that analog lifestyle—but can still thrive in an urban environment.

You might just find that what you fill your pockets with is yourself in miniature…that what you carry says a lot about who you are. We think you’ll want to make The James Brand a part of that story. We certainly do. What is in your pockets?

Photos courtesy of The James Brand.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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