A Closer Look: Bean Boots, Then and Now

I didn’t grow up wearing Bean boots. Unlike many of my fellow east coasters, I can’t claim them as a staple of my childhood (or adolescence). But, they were a lifelong go-to of my mother’s. So, when the time came for me to leave for college, and trade in the streets of my native Brooklyn for the corn fields of rural Ohio, she saw to it that I departed with a pair of Bean boots in tow (the Gore-Tex / Thinuslate model at that – she’s a good mom). That was in December of 1999 (I matriculated in the fall of 2000). And I am only now, after over a decade of regular wear (literally seven days a week for six to nine months a year), finally replacing that very first pair

Amazingly, almost nothing about the boots has changed; aside from the updated eyelets, I haven’t been able to spot a single difference between the old and new. For L.L.Bean to still be turning out the same product – built to the same specifications – despite its age, size and standing is a pretty remarkable thing. Say what you will about the brand moving the bulk of its clothing production overseas, the label knows what makes its most enduring item great, and, year after year, it continues to deliver. It’s comforting to know that ten years from now, when I’m in need of my next replacement, I’ll still be able to pick up a pair of made in Maine L.L.Bean Bean boots, and that the tradition can live on.

A big thanks to James for the photo help.

  • Sri

    Probably too late a response, but you do know that LL Bean will resole your old boots, right?

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      Yeah, I know. But they needed more than a resoling. The inside was trashed too.

  • tyler

    Hey man I just wanted to let you know I just ordered my first pair because of this

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      Enjoy ‘em!

  • tyler

    I will!

  • sam

    did your old ones stretch out at all over time? I just got a pair but they seem stiff and firm. Should I size up or will they loosen?

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      @Sam – Size up. The rubber part doesn’t stretch.

  • Cam

    I bought my first pair in 1989. A replacement pair arrived today. The rubber part is slightly different in that they are more form-fitted like a shoe. The old ones are more boat-like elliptical in section like a submarine. The new ones are too tight near the little toe and snug across the “knuckle joint” part of the foot. With the old ones, I could wear two pair of gym socks or a nice pair of wool socks. I can manage only one pair of gym socks with the new boots. …and I took the thicker foot bed insert out and replaced it with the very thin foot bed from the old boots. I cut the thick foot bed and will use a piece of it to shim my foot forward so the ball of my foot rests at the ball of the boot. Old and New boots are the same size and both are “GW” WIDE and insulated with Thinsulate. Length seems to match exactly, although the heel is farther forward on the new boots…which is good. I am not sure what I will do. Keep or send back and hope another pair will be wider. I plan to get the old boots resoled because the rubber is starting to split. Those things have 20 years and a bunch of miles on them. I had been putting tread on the bottom using 3M WindoWeld or urethane concrete joint filler. The interior is still almost perfect.