LL Bean Boots

5:47 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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I have the typical Bean Boot or Maine Hunting Shoe from L.L. Bean. What type of product should I use to treat the leather or maintain the seam and where can I buy it? Also, unrelated to this forum, but would these boots be appropriate for my first couple backpacking trips in moderate, shoulder season weather?

6:19 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Bean boots are great boots, for what they were designed for...tramping around in marshy country, canoeing, etc. The standard sole doesn't have much grip for typical backpacking. I would also say that they don't offer a lot of support and in combination with a heel that is slightly narrow, it is possible to roll your heel. What type of terrain will you be on?

As far as leather treatment, this has been discussed elsewhere on this site. Generally, boots with chrome tanned leather get a silicone based treatment like SnowSeal. Oil tanned leather(vegetable or animal) get something along the lines of Hubbards Shoe Grease. Dubbin works well, any brand. The manufacturer(LL Bean) can tell you what they recommend and can probably send you a can.

2:02 p.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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i received a new pair of maine hunting shoes earlier this winter; it happens they have bison leather rather than cowhide.  when i asked Bean about waterproofing products, they recommended a product they sell called Boot Guard that is beeswax, lanolin, and 'natural oils.'  [no silicone, so it makes me wonder a little how effective a waterproofing agent it is.] 

i ended up using limmer boot grease recently, after the leather got beat up some, which has similar ingredients but also has some silicone. 

due to the totally waterproof rubber bottom and very light tread, you mind find backpacking in maine hunting shoes to be (a) sweaty and (b) slippery.  my new ones have a steel shank, so they have some degree of support and foot protection.  i think it depends on your preferences and, as Erich observed, the terrain.  if you are walking on dirt or forest floor trails, leaves and pine needles and such, they might be fine.  they would not be my choice for steeper terrain or for rocky trails. 

for a typical shoulder season hike, i would opt for trail runners or light hiking shoes, normally, but again depending on terrain, i might hike in minimalist shoes (vibram fivefingers) if i'm carrying light and not on abusive trails. 

2:10 p.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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Obenauf's LP (leather preservative)

7:33 p.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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I'd call Bean's and ask them. They have incredible customer service and an incredible return policy...if you use what they recommend and something goes wrong, you are pretty much promised a new pair of boots based on their return policy. If you do your own thing without checking and potentially ruin the boots or cause damage in some way, I don't think they'd take them back.

7:39 a.m. on February 22, 2013 (EST)
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LL Bean will tell you to use their own product, Boot Guard.  That is what they told me.  

3:35 p.m. on February 23, 2013 (EST)
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it depends on what tanning the leather has. the obenauf's is a good choice, if you can find it. as far as backpacking in them goes, I think they would be a bad choice.

2:37 a.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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I had a pair of Maine boots I used for work (outdoors in sometimes muddy terrain). I don't remember putting anything on them, but if I did, it was Sno Seal, which I used on my old Asolo full leather boots. I  ordered mine by mail, just from the picture.  I bought them for one specific job and for what I needed them for, they worked out really well.

However, I do not consider them hiking boots. The soles are not all that grippy, they don't give you a lot of ankle support and the fit was a bit sloppy for me.

I would get a real hiking boot or a trail runner if you want to go lightweight, something with a Vibram or similar sole on them. I have a newer pair of Asolos (not full leather) but there are many other good brands. I also have a pair made by Adidas that are pretty comfortable.

If you want an inexpensive lightweight hiking boot, I used to buy Hi-Tecs. I wore them for work, too, and while they didn't last all that long, they didn't cost much either. I was working in jungles, forests and on the beach some of the time, so my boots got pretty well abused.

It is best to try boots or shoes on, as you probably already know. But, otherwise, get them from REI or someplace like Shoebacca or Zappos which will let you return them at little or no cost if they do not fit.

3:23 p.m. on February 27, 2013 (EST)
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Asolo tps 520's. no better boot on the market. best to go to a store that has a boot fitter. nothing worse than boots that don't fit right.

4:58 p.m. on February 28, 2013 (EST)
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I wear 2 pair of LL Bean boots every day working in 3 seasons, living in Tamworth NH.

I consider these snow and mud slippers at best. I hunt upland birds in these boots and snow shoe in these boots, but i never step in water over the 3 line seams.

These are not pack boots where you go off in snow land winter, wearing these and carry a pack.

Mine are lucky if they get wiped off..

 If i were going to be feeding the leather i would use pure neatsfoot oil, but that is for the leather not for water proofing.

 

If i were wanting to water proof the leather I would use well warmed 100% bees wax and on well warmed boot leather, and allow that to soak in by a warmed wood stove over hours.

 

But to my way of thinking there is no real point since the boots are not made for wading and or serious packing.

 

May I ask what 'Shoulder Season' is? The best i can guess is it is a typo, but for my life I can't understand what the typo might be.

 

My pet peeve is almost never knowing the in general areas of intended use for gear. I am going to assume this time it isn't for use in any of the 5 American Deserts in the south west. 

7:08 a.m. on March 1, 2013 (EST)
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Trailjester said:

Asolo tps 520's. no better boot on the market.

Why? Based on what?

The Triple Power Structure sole is very hard to resole and not many can do it. Nor are there many individuals authorized by Asolo to perform the repair. 

Plus there has been more than one account of them delaminating. I have read quite a few accounts of this occurrence.

Most recently one I can think of is Tipi's boots did it to him if I recall correctly.

I have owned both the 520s as well as the Power Matic 500s and I will say that the 500s were definitely a more solid boot in every regard as far as construction goes.

Heavy too.

Overkill for most folks imo.

I personally think there are much better boots on the market(Scarpa, Lowa, Hanwag, Meindl, blah blah blah...)

I could go on and on with different manufacturers but saying something is "the best" is a pretty strong statement.

Especially when it comes to footwear. 

July 29, 2014
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