We’ve all experienced the discomfort of walking home with cold, wet feet. Whether you bought cheap shoes, didn’t read the label, or wore through them; eventually, all shoes will leak. When we buy winter boots, we generally try to find waterproof ones, and when we buy rain boots, we expect them to be waterproof.
But what about duck boots? Are they waterproof? More specifically, are L.L. Bean boots waterproof?
We all know the classic bean boot–brown leather, rubber sole–but are L.L. Bean boots actually waterproof? Will they stand up to any weather? And if not, What can you do about it?
What Makes Bean Boots Special?
First produced in 1911 under the name Maine Hunting shoes by Leon Leonwood Bean, Bean boots were made to be shoes that could keep the feet dry while also providing mobility and comfort for hunting.
In 1912 when L.L. Bean established his company under the same name, his boots were an instant success. At the time of their conception, Bean boots were a sign of elite status, often worn by prep school boys and wealthy sport hunters. Today they hold a place as a more affordable shoe for those looking for something suited to outdoor activities.
Originally constructed from rubber and leather, Bean boots are still made in much the same way today. Though the process has become somewhat more automated, Bean boots are still made mainly by hand. Their unique design of a waterproof sole and flexible leather upper is a large part of why they are still so popular today.
If you would like to see the complete process of how L.L. Bean boots are crafted, check out this video:
Are Bean Boots Waterproof?
While the rubber sole of Bean boots is waterproof in the same way as a pair of rain boots, the shoe is only marketed as water-resistant. As the sole consists entirely of formed rubber, it is 100% waterproof. The rest of the shoe, however, is not.
On its own, leather is relatively good at keeping water out but keep in mind, as a natural material, it is not watertight. If submerged in water or sodden for long periods, leather is porous enough to let water through.
New and treated leather is better at keeping water out than old and untreated leather. Old leather can dry out and crack, and the more worn down leather is, the less material there is for water to work its way past. If you plan to stand in deep puddles or melting snow, your feet will eventually get wet.
L.L. Bean boots do have a sealed tongue, so you don’t have to worry about water getting in that way. If water splashes up onto the shoe and gets between the lacing, that’s as far as it will go.
The number one reason why Bean boots are not waterproof comes down to the stitching. The point at which the leather upper connects to the rubber sole is rubber cemented in place and then sewn. There are also several lines of stitching around the leather upper.
Each hole the needle makes as it stitches the shoe adds another point for water to slip through. The thread itself can also hold water and allow it into the shoe. Additionally, if the rubber cement connecting the two pieces starts to come loose, any seal it creates will be broken.
Overall, bean boots are very good at keeping water at bay and away from your feet, but they are not waterproof, so don’t expect them to be.
If you would like to see how they compare to some Bean Boot alternatives, check out this video here:
Can You Waterproof Bean Boots?
Though Bean boots are not waterproof, the good news is you can make them waterproof quite simply and economically. There are many products–usually spray-on solvents, waxes, or pastes–that form a waterproof coating over the shoe.
The bad news is that most of these solutions are not permanent, and you will need to reapply them each year or even every season, depending on how much you wear your shoes.
If you would like detailed instructions on how to use some of these products to waterproof your shoes, here is a short and concise instructional video:
Types of L.L. Bean Boots
When it comes to different styles of duck boots, L.L. Bean has you–and your feet–covered. While the classic Maine Hunting shoe is around 10” (25 cm), Bean boots come in various heights and styles today.
The tall Bean boots are 8”-10” (20-25 cm), but there are also 6” (15 cm) ankle boots, loafer-style duck boots, and even low-rise moccasin-style shoes. There are also shearling-lined and Thinsulate-lined versions of some of them.
Additionally, if you are looking for taller boots, the Maine hunting shoes come up to 16” (40 cm) tall.
The Sole of L.L. Bean Boots
When it comes to quality, Bean boots are second to none. While the upper of the shoe is handcrafted from premium leather, the iconic mark of these duck boots truly lies underneath. The heart and soul of what makes Bean boots is the sole.
What makes this boot so special is undeniably its single-piece rubber sole that extends up over the foot. It is the mark of any duck boot to have a rubber lower portion, but Bean’s boots are unique. The rubber is made through injection molding. This method ensures the most waterproofing as the bottom is all one piece.
Additionally, the bottom of the shoe is shaped for maximum comfort and includes a steel shank for extra support. The chain-pattern-relief sole is a trademark staple of L.L. Bean boots.
There are many reasons duck boots have remained popular for over a century. As shoes go, they are some of the most versatile ones on the market. Waterproof rubber on the bottoms, comfortable leather on top, warm, and flexible, it’s no wonder L.L. Bean’s shoes have survived so long.
While L.L. Bean boots are not, in fact, waterproof, they come pretty close. They are water-resistant and can easily be made waterproof with special waterproofing agents. Regardless, they are incredibly high-quality, long-lasting boots that are well worth the price.
L.L. Bean boots are versatile and practical. They can withstand years of wear and tear in some of the harshest conditions and can even be resoled. Whether you choose to use them for hiking, snow, or rain, they are a good investment that is sure to last, and we’re confident that you’ll love them.
What Are Some L.L. Bean Boot Alternatives?
If you are a fan of duck boots but are looking for something a little different, we recommend trying Sorel, Sperry, Cabela’s, or Land’s End as an alternative.
Are L.L. Beans Boots Worth the Price?
Beans boots are definitely worth the cost considering they are locally handmade from genuine leather and can last through years of wear and tear. They are more affordable than a lot of similar, lower-quality shoes.
Are L.L. Bean Boots a Standard Fit If They Are Handmade?
If you are worried that L.L. Bean boots vary in size because they are handmade, that is not a problem. Quality control ensures every size 9 boot is the same as every other size 9 boot, and so on.
While the sizing is consistent, L.L. Bean boots are known to run larger than standard sizing, however. Some buyers have reported that a size 7 fits like a size 8. While they are not a full size bigger than what they say, they do run large. All the better to fit thick socks in.
Do L.L. Bean Boots Last?
Absolutely. L.L. Bean boots are known to last for many years, even through the toughest of conditions. Many happy customers have worn their Bean boots until the treads completely wore off the bottom and then some.
Where Are L.L. Bean Boots Made?
Like the original Maine Hunting Shoes invented in 1911 by Leon Leonwood Bean, L.L. Bean boots are still produced in Freeport, Maine, USA.
Does L.L. Bean Do Returns?
L.L. Bean is so confident about their shoes that you can return them for any reason within the first year of purchase and anytime after one year if there are manufacturing defects. International returns are also accepted.
Are L.L. Bean Boots Only for Winter?
No, L.L. Bean boots are quite versatile. You can wear them for cold conditions like winter, rainy conditions, or just for muddy conditions like hiking. Bean boots come in insulated and non-insulated varieties.
Unless you plan to use your boots exclusively for winter or live in a frigid climate, we recommend the non-insulated boots as they are still quite warm.