The L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Shoe. Welcome to the last pair of boots you will ever need.
When Leon Leonwood Bean created the Maine Hunting Shoe, he may have had a week like we just had. The rain started Tuesday and didn’t let up until a few breaks on Friday. It rained constantly from Tuesday through Thursday. I dug out my trusty Bean Boots and my feet stays warm and dry even after twice daily dog walks on- and off-road.
I believe this is my second pair of these iconic boots. My first pair got me through my years in East Lansing. Parking at MSU is challenging to say the least, so I typically walked to class. The Fall, Winter and Spring in Michigan can be a wet, cold and tough on footwear. I wore my Bean bluchers, suede bucks, Sebago loafers and Vans as much as possible, but it seemed like the Main Hunting Shoes were called it to action for months at a time. And I walked hundreds of miles in them. I wore the heal down to a memory and the chain-link tread pattern was only visible around the edges. And when I packed up my room after graduation, I think my boots never made it in to a box. I hope I gave them a proper salute and heartfelt thank you for their service. I should have bronzed them.
I think it was the winter of 1990/1991 that I bought the pair you see here. They have gotten some action, but certainly much less than the original pair. They’ve shoveled and snow-blowed drives and walks, they’ve been bird hunting, they’ve been on wet, dark dog-walks… they’ve been great.
This pair has the Thinsulate lining which is thin and barely noticeable. I’m not sure that it’s make a huge difference, but they are a bit warmer than my first pair which had no real insulation to speak of. Also, these are the 10-inch tall style. I like the 10-inchers better I think, just because the proportions look better, although the 12-inchers look pretty sweet.
In college, it was pretty typical for me to roughly tuck my chinos or jeans in to the boots to keep my pant legs dry as I hoofed it to class. I would half lace the boots so that the tops were open and looked casual – not laced tight and military. These days, I wear them under my pants in a more subtle, shoe-like fashion. I kind of like the tucked-in look, but I think I’ll wait until we get a some snow for that approach.
For being almost 20 years old, these Bean Boots are not even fully broken-in yet. And I think they might last me for another 20 years now that I live in the South. But if I ever do wear these out, they still make the 10-inch Main Hunting Shoe. It’s $100, which is about what they were 20 years ago (probably $89). And it clearly says that they are still made in Maine. They look a little different, but not much. I bet they are warm and dry just lime my #1 and #2 pair. They may even be more comfortable with more modern insoles and a legit arch support.
If you haven’t got a pair, I suggest you get yourself some. Start breaking them in now and they should be perfect in 2035 or so. But not to worry if they ever let you down, they are guaranteed forever.