For anyone that spends time outside in really cold, damp weather, quality footwear is a must. It really doesn’t matter if you’re working or playing either – having chilly, wet feet is just miserable. Luckily, the folks at L.L. Bean have been offering a solution since 1912. That’s the year they came out with their Bean Boots, and these 10″ shearling lined boots have been a favorite ever since.
Each pair is made in Maine, where they know a thing or two about cold weather. The upper is a thick, waterproof, full-grain chocolate-colored leather lined with shearling lamb and triple stitched to a durable rubber lower that features Bean’s own chain tread on the bottom. For extra insulation, the lower is also lined with 200-gram Thinsulate™, giving this boot a comfort rating that extends from 25 degrees down to -20. (I call that the “no thank you, I’ll stay inside” zone) As you can see from the photo, they’re attractive and rugged looking, with a design that still looks good even after 100 years. And for those that prefer to wear them rolled down, they do have special lacing to accommodate that, along with easy to follow instructions.
L.L. Bean was kind enough to provide a sample pair to this misplaced beach bum, which was certainly appreciated. Although I’ve been in Utah for more than five years, I haven’t fully acclimated. While 50 degrees would have been unseasonably cold in SoCal or Australia, there was at least one day during the review period when I tried the boots out in 10 degree weather, without complaints from my feet.
Since my preferred footwear has been minimalist shoes with either no socks, or thin wool blend socks, making sure to get a proper fit with these boots took a bit of experimenting. They’re intended for use with a midweight sock, and the recommendation is to go a size down if you wear half sizes, and up a full size if you prefer heavyweight socks. Despite the fact that I wear a full size (12), and was sent my size, they still felt a bit big, even with a heavy winter sock. After trying them out with the thickest socks I could find, I finally gave in and exchanged them for one size smaller. The exchange was handled painlessly, but I did have a short wait. Since they are made by hand, this was perfectly understandable. To their credit, the folks at L.L. Bean got the replacement pair shipped earlier than expected. Of course, once my feet and the boots were in full agreement, the temps soared to the 40 degree range, with not a single snow flake in sight. Since we had already missed the December deadline, the review was shelved for a bit, while we waited to see if winter was going to make a proper appearance or not.
Mother Nature finally cooperated, and like it or not, we got some snow. The resort closest to my home, Sundance, reported 26 inches of new snow in the last three days, with plenty of that making its way to the valley floor. Since my neighbor’s kids usually clear my driveway, that left me free to play in the snow with my dogs. I wouldn’t consider a 10″ boot ideal for running, but they’re acceptable for horseplay. Most importantly, my feet stayed warm and dry, and the sole offered sufficient traction on wet and snowy grass.
The verdict? Considering the performance and durability, the $159 price tag is a bargain. With their solid construction and materials, these boots should provide lasting comfort for many years. And the timeless design means they’ll still look good even as other fashion trends come and go. Like L.L. Bean the company, these boots are in it for the long haul. My only recommendation would be to very carefully consider your sizing needs, so you get it right the first time.