L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Leather
Price Paid: $170
I live in the UK, where L.L. Bean is completely unknown, but having tried various leather backpacking boots that are popular here in Europe (Meindl, Raichle, Scarpa) and not being particularly happy with any of them, and having seen the reviews on here and on www.outdoorreview.com I thought I'd give the Crestas a try.
All I can say is WOW. These really leave the rest of the brands mentioned above in the shade as far as I'm concerned. They feel absolutely amazing, and are in no way heavy or stiff feeling (even though they actually are), in fact they almost feel like wearing a pair of basketball boots. I can't vouch for their longevity, as I have only just started using mine, but comfort-wise they really are streets ahead of anything else I've tried.
With regards to the customer service I received from L.L. Bean themselves, all I can say is "if only more companies behaved in the same way". The first pair I got were a size 7.5, which is my normal shoe size, but was advised to go for that by their customer services as they are designed to be worn with thick socks. When I received them they felt great straight out of the box, however on my first day out on the hills they started to crush my toes on descents. I phoned L.L. Bean and they said that I obviously needed another half size up, and were happy to take back the ones I currently had, even though they had been worn outside. I've now received the 2nd pair and it is obvious straight away that they are perfect. This kind of attitude really takes the stress out of buying boots online.
All in all I couldn't be happier with my Crestas, and am over the moon with the service I've received from L.L. Bean.