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L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Fabric/Leather

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Fabric/Leather backpacking boot

Shank not stiff enough; Toe scuffed badly after one hike; Upper lace hooks cut my finger.


  • Lightweight
  • Durable fabric
  • Leakproof
  • Traction on rock superb
  • Sensibly priced


  • Lightweight
  • Footbed/Shank flex; Rocks felt
  • Low rent lacing hardware
  • Toe section leather not as tough as it could be

This is a review of the Fabric/Leather Cresta.

I weigh 225 pounds. With a 40-pound pack the boot shanks flexed, transmitting unwanted surface contour sensations under my feet on/off the John Muir Trail in California. Been using Bean products there since the Reagan years.

No fit problems using a Birkenstock 3/4 length insert. However cushioning was an issue arising in bruised and blistered underside of one big toe descending the Golden Staircase. Nobody makes a Birkenstock compatible innersole up to the job.

Ankle support was beyond reproach. Carried the full pack over gnarly boulder fields up and down steep faces with no edging/ankle issues.

Dry year in the High Sierra, so I never needed to remove my boots at any water crossing in over 55 miles of hiking. Dry as a bone wading in the boots.

Fabric inserts around the instep kept my feet warm but comfortable even climbing out of the desert toward Taboose Pass in the afternoon.

Drew blood pinching the thin skin at the base of my finger between the lace and its hook putting the boots on. No problems lacing for a good fit after that. No toe smash against the front inside of the boots descending. 

Leather toe section of both boots are horrendously scuffed for so few miles. Soles are acceptably, minimally worn. Grip on Sierra granite is first class. No problems across snow fields. Montagna bloc derivative tread pattern is a good feature.

My biggest problem is that I own a resoled pair of Bean's Gore Tex Speed Guide Hikers (out of production) that have done over a dozen multi day high altitude hikes and several hundred 7+ mile day hikes climbing 2000+ feet that do everything better than these Crestas.

For safety's sake I bought new boots but they are a tough compromise to the point that I will go back to the Speed Guides I bought in 2003. They are barely scratched compared to the Crestas. Precipitous downgrade in lacing hardware from Speed Guide to Cresta is hard to get used to.

Bean's markets these boots for multi-day backpacking, but I feel they are limited to marathon day hikes by the flimsy shank. Frustrating because I really like fabric boots in my desert hikes.  

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $189

Just bought my second pair of LLBean Leather/Fabric Cresta boots to replace a pair that the sole lugs have been worn off on after one or two thousand miles of non-winter mountain hiking over the last four years.

I have a high arch, a sort of wide toe region and narrow heel, and need a fairly stiff sole to protect my calcium clogged big toe joints from excess flexing—all of which are well accommodated by the 7.5 wide Cresta (Crestas are the only footwear I've ever had where a 7.5 is not too small, even though I measure 7.5--i.e. they truly run true to size). Other than the sole lugs wearing down, which is to be expected, the boots have endured very well. I hope the new ones, which are made in Croatia, rather than in Italy like the last ones, hold up as well.

The boots are very comfortable for the 6 to 10 hours of mountain day hikes that I tend to do (bagged most of my 73 NEHH in them). I don't do much backpacking but they seem fine with a heavy load on the back also. I also have a pair of all leather Crestas, a half size longer (8W), that I use for winter hiking with Smartwool mountaineering socks and a liner sock—my feet stay warm and comfortable all day no matter how deep the snow or cold the day. Looking forward to the next couple of hundred peaks in my new Crestas!

Materials: leather/fabric w. gore-tex liner
Use: long mountain day hikes
Break-in Period: don't remember break-in being an issue
Price Paid: $169

After 10 years of ownership I am in awe of these boots. I wish i could find their "little, lighter, more breathable brother" — but it doesn't appear to exist. Yea, they're costly at $225, but they last forever, support superbly, and are insanely comfortable (aside from heat).


  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Durability


  • Price
  • Warm in summer (but great in winter)

Here's a review after living with these boots a while — like TEN YEARS. They rock.

Maybe it's me, or my feet, but in a mixed bag of real hiking, light use, and even around-the-yard stuff, these are possibly the most comfortable and supportive footwear I have — of any form — and this includes New Balance 993 running shoes, Alden oxfords, and other not-too-shabby stuff.

I keep shoes a long time, and my Crestas have maybe 1,000 days of at least part-time use — 1000. Incredible support, great comfort, however, can be a bit warm in summer.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $169

Comfortable midweight waterproof boot right out of the box.


  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Support sufficient for long backpacks


  • Cost, Cost, Cost

I have owned several pairs of these. Hands down my favorite boot. LL Bean is now charging 300 dollars per pair, and that is the end of that.


Nothing but good, but I am not ever paying for a hiking boot what LL Bean is charging for them now. Ridiculous. Time to change brands.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $169

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Price Reviewers Paid: $169.00-$189.00
Approx weight 3 lb 8 oz
Price MSRP: $179.00
Product Details from L.L.Bean »

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