Out of all the technical winter hiking and mountaineering boots I’ve worn, I’ve become a huge fan of the Bean Boot by L.L.Bean. They’ve been a good city boot for wading through New York’s slushy snow mounds and street gutter lagoons, and they’re also great for working in the yard or impromptu day hikes. In other words, they’re a great all-around boot—and they’re half off right now.
L.L.Bean sells a few versions of its Bean Boots. These are a limited edition, and they’re the warmest ones available, with puffy PrimaLoft synthetic insulation and a waterproof Gore-Tex lining—2 inches taller and a bit heavier than the standard unlined, non-insulated boots (seen here).
They’re also called duck boots, indicating they have rubber lowers and leather from the ankle up. Duck boots are less stuffy than all-rubber varieties and fit more snugly too, because they have laces you can tighten. I haven’t found L.L.Bean’s boots particularly slippery on ice, either; at least, not any more than other naked boots without crampons.
L.L.Bean still makes Bean Boots by hand in Maine, as it’s been doing since 1911, and you can send them back for repairs or resoling when they show wear.
If you get a pair, be sure to size up according to L.L.Bean’s sizing info. (Click to open it on the order page.) In my experience, it helps to choose one full size up, because you’ll likely wear thick socks inside these.
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more.
A Couple Extras
I recommend a tube of Gear Aid Seam Sealer from REI or Amazon to run around the seam between the rubber lowers and leather uppers. Duck boots aren’t particularly leaky, as far as winter boots go, but it’s always worth it to make them absolutely, completely watertight when you bring a new pair home. It’s not an L.L.Bean-specific thing or a mark against their quality. Even on cutting-edge, high-end technical boots, tents, and backpacks, it always helps to go over seams with seam sealer when new.
If you don’t own some great socks, get a pair or two of thick merino wool Darn Tough socks from REI, Backcountry, or Amazon. They have a lifetime guarantee and last a long time. They’ve been my favorite wool sock brand for the past seven years. We also have a full roundup of awesome high-tech socks.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
More Great WIRED Stories