My L.L. Bean boots have held up well for four years. They are quality boots that have taken me through all sorts of weather, and have endured daily wear 6 months per year.
For just over $100, I definitely recommend buying a pair if you don’t mind their appearance and are sick of having wet feet or uncomfortable rain boots that break. You’ll be in love with reliable waterproofness, and the way these boots can accommodate thick socks to take you through autumn, winter and spring. This post is about flaws, but not the kind that should deter you from marrying these boots – these are just some issues to expect a few years into your happy marriage.
I got my 8′ womens L.L. Bean boots in November 2012 as a leaving home gift to myself. They were symbolic of my preparedness to move to the big city, Vancouver, which is almost as famous for rain as Seattle.
What has held up well
Overall, the boots are still functional, waterproof and comfortable. They are still my only pair of rain or snow boots. They are the only pair of practical and reliable shoes I brought with me to Europe for autumn/winter. I’ve counted on these boots quite a bit in four years, and have learned the limits to their quality.
- Every aspect of the design is durable
- They truly are waterproof (unless submerged well above the rubber)
- They have a good level of arch support
- Materials are low-maintenance
- Laces are a perfect amount of stiff, so that even when untied they will not slip off and the laces will not get in your way
- Casual appearance, lace-up design and roomy thick rubber makes these boots more flexible and accommodating to thick socks than rubber rain boots.
What is falling apart
This was the first issue to arise with the boots, and have been a consistent bother. The leather upper will slouch and crease as you break in the boots.
- This causes the middle-facing leather surfaces to wear down unevenly where the bunched areas occasionally rub together when you walk.
- Discomfort if you are not wearing thick, tight socks and plan to do a lot of walking. The creases will rub up against your heel. This has only been a unbearable issue once or twice, when the boots were paired with a lot of water or melted snow, the added moisture made these boots blister-city.
- After a while an internal flap of leather at the heel started to become loose from the insole. Now sometimes if the flap is not tucked under the insole it will become uncomfortable to walk on or rub against the heel. This is easily fixable, just tedious when it goes wrong.
- The insoles have worn down quite a bit, but I think this is an acceptable level of wear considering how often I’ve worn the boots in four years.
Rubber sole wear
- An immediate flaw is that the rubber provides only moderate grip to surfaces, and provides very poor grip on snow or wet metal. L.L. Bean have developed a few accessory solutions, but who wants the hassle of wearing spikes or chains over their boots? Especially when you’re just wearing these every day in the city.
- Bottom: The pattern of chain-link bumps on the sole started to wear smoother after only one or two seasons, but in the years that have followed have undergone very little further reduction. I am impressed with the quality even after they wear down, but it is a little slippery. The rubber chain texture has also worn down on the inside near the bunion-area.
- The heel has not worn down much. I have had to cobble many shoes because the way I walk causes me to wear down the external corner of my heels. However, after four years the wear has been surprisingly low! This was the feature that I’d anticipated would lead to necessary replacement first, but on the contrary I believe I could wear these another four years until I completely wear down the back of the heel.
Consequences of getting them wet internally
These have only recently arisen after my snow-shoeing trip last year, but have been persistent issues ever since. I highly recommend a pair of gaiters to prevent water/snow from falling into your boot, or soaking your socks that stick out of your boot, allowing the water to travel through the wet sock into your shoe.
- Smell – Since the heavy-moisture incident they have developed a bad smell when worn all day, which I think is partly coming from the insoles, and partly from the leather upper.
- Stain – The leather upper’s interior has begun to transfer an orange colour onto my socks. This was a small problem after about two years of wear, but after the heavy-moisture incident the staining has become a lot worse.
Although L.L. Bean has an unbelievable return policy, I think this was a good $120 spent on four years of dry feet. I am satisfied with my purchase, although key aspects of the shoe’s design have my eyes wandering for a different pair of boots when it finally comes time to replace these.
(I think I will probably replace them next year, mostly because of the smell and staining. However, I am confident that these boots would continue to be functional for another 3-7 years.)