L.L. Bean Boots Review
I’m a fan of these L.L. Bean boots, and while I inherited my first pair from my grandfather my sensibility trumps my sentimentality. For example, I’ve got a lovely “Woods” canvas duck and game coat, heavy durable canvas, wool lining, button up lower rubber lined segment that dates from the same era as these boots – its a lovely coat, but it has been totally eclipsed by modern materials which are lighter, warmer, more weatherproof and better able to adapt to changing conditions. These boots by contrast – still rock, and are in my opinion the best boots for hunting and hiking off the beaten track on soft soils (as opposed to rocky surfaces) let me count the reasons why…
- Right match of flexibility and support
- Rubber and leather – it’s a great combination that is probably the closest you can get to the flexibility of a leather moccasin with better wear and water proof capabilities. The leather uppers hit the right spot for flexibility when hiking and hill climbing while also offering ankle support and nearly as importantly protecting your lower legs from getting stuck poked and pinched as you scramble through the bush.
- I’m not saying it’s not nice to pull these off at the end of a long day, but if I had to live in one set of boots – these would be them. They are very comfortable.
- Light weight
- Now the reason that Wood’s coat often stays in the closet is because of weight. While weight isn’t going to be as much of a factor if you are staying close to a vehicle, if you are heading off into the bush what weight you carry better be well thought out. I’d rather toss in extra batteries for a headlamp, some candy, a second compass and another box of ammo – all useful weight rather than useless weight in a boot, these are just what you need and nothing more without being so lightweight you give up all the advantages of a boot over a shoe.
Waterproof way way up
- I often end up walking around swamps, wet spots, old logging trails, and peat bogs, lots of wet spots. The extra height of the leather uppers available with these boots is something I love. Quite often I might not lace them all the way up – unless the scrambling is going to get tough – but the height of the leather lets you choose the easier path which might be wetter. Get the highest leathers you can manage – you don’t want to be regretting not getting the extra two inches when walking through a beaver marsh or when wondering how deep the muck goes in that old skidder track. The same goes for snow – these make great winter boots. Get some dubbin and apply it a few times a year.
- Reasonable grip
- Note I say reasonable not aggressive. The tread looks on first glace to be one that shouldn’t be very sound, but in practice it gets the job done from walking through muck, on leaf and needle litter on steep slopes, on snow and ice. My guess is that the flexibility of the sole sees much greater proportion of contact which compensates for the less aggressive grip compared to harder thicker soled footwear.
- There are lots of gimmicks out there to dry boot liners, from stands over hot air registers to heated blowers specifically to help drying out the liner. I hate those felt or other materials, they wear and they are a pain to dry and they also limit the boot to one environment – usually winter. My Bean boots are sized to allow me to wear some nice wool blend socks – not cheap socks – but rather the kind of socks that your feet are happy the live in. I vary the weight depending upon the weather – in summer the socks are lighter, in winter heavier. If you should happen to get wet… well the drying procedure is remove boots, drain, switch socks and maybe the insoles. Oh yeah, in the light weight section I should probably have mentioned that part of the compensating weight I prefer to carry are a couple of extra socks. That’s it, that simple – and able to be done anywhere.
- This current pair is about twelve years old and has seen a lot of use in all seasons and is just as nice if not nicer than the day I unboxed them. They replaced a set my grandfather who was a forester passed onto me. Those lasted me a good piece of time, and undoubtedly served him for decades before, when they failed it was the sole of the rubber lower that wore out. That’s pretty good value.
So where wouldn’t I use these? Well if you are moving over a lot of sharp rock I’d want a tougher sole. If you are trail running, go with a trail shoe. But otherwise L.L. Bean came up with an awesome and timeless design for a great bush (and winter) boot. Treat your feet right and get a pair.