Out of everything the technical winter hiking and mountaineering boots I wore, I became a huge fan of LLBean’s Bean Boot. They’ve been a great street shoe for wading through slush mounds and New York gutter lagoons, and are also great for yard work or impromptu hikes. It’s a great all-rounder and half the price right now.
LLBean sells a few versions of their Bean boots. This is a limited edition, and the warmest available, with PrimaLoft puffy synthetic insulation and waterproof Gore-Tex liner – 2 inches higher and a bit heavier than standard unlined and uninsulated boots (seen here).
They are also called duck boots, or boots with rubber stockings and leather from the ankle up. Duck boots are less stuffy than the all-rubber varieties and are more fitted too, since they have laces that you can tighten. I also didn’t find LLBean’s boots particularly slippery on the ice; at least not more than any other bare boot without spikes.
LLBean still makes Bean Boots by hand in Maine, as they have been doing since 1911, and you can return them for repairs or re-soling when they show signs of wear.
If you get a pair, please make sure the size according to LLBean’s size information (click to open on the order page). In my experience, it helps to choose a regular size, as you will most likely be wearing thick socks on the inside.
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A couple extras
I recommend a tube of REI Gear Aid Seam Sealer or Amazon to run around the seam between the rubber stockings and the leather upper. Duck boots don’t particularly leak, when it comes to winter boots, but it’s always worth making them absolutely, completely waterproof when you bring a new pair home. It is not an LLBean specific thing or a mark against their quality. Even on high-end, high-end technical boots, tents and backpacks, it still helps to go over the seams with a seam sealer when new.
If you don’t own great socks, get a pair or two of heavy merino wool REI Darn Tough Socks, Countryside, or Amazon. They have a lifetime warranty and last a long time. This has been my favorite brand of wool socks for the past seven years. We also have a complete overview of awesome high-tech socks.
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