L.L.Bean North Col
The North Col has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best backpacking boots for 2023.
Good solid boots, but the footbed was as hard as rock. Needed to upsize a full size to get a good cushioned footbed in. Finally after two years, am returning them since I can't fit into the boots with the insoles. Had I been able to, certainly a very durable well made boot.
Had a similar pair last me 13 years without replacing the soles. Wore to college for 4 years and wore them 3 seasons every day during that time. Expected that these would be at least as durable. Used beez wax to waterproof them. Works great.
Use: hunting, day hikes, rough trails
Break-in Period: 2 years
Price Paid: $119
I wanted to love these boots, but just couldn't. Had them for about two years and they never quite broke in. Heavy (which I don't mind overmuch) and durable as hell and look nice too. Wore them for a bit of of the Chilkoot Trail and was fine and happy, but on an afternoon long hike at home in CT, wound up with blisters so bad I bloodstained the interior. For a hike of about 3 hours they were fine (regardless of terrain), but more than that led to pain. A lesson learned to make sure the boot is right for your feet: these weren't for me, but might be for another.
The upside is they are L.L. Bean, so you can return them whenever; thus, little risk if you want to give them a try.
The North Col hikers started out as a great pair of boots. After several weeks of wear the boots form to your feet and are very comfortable. They are not Gore-tex but a few coatings of snow seal and shoe polish will keep your feet dry. I wore mine on a few backpacking trips and wore them everyday around campus. After three months of wear the inside leather lining of the boot started to crack and actually shrunk away from the out leather. L.L. Bean was very understanding and gave me a full refund even though they quite beaten up.
Use: Heavy Backpacking/ casual wear
Break-in Period: Long
Weight: 4 lbs
Price Paid: $139
You get what you pay for. I am looking now for a new boot.
Use: heavy pack/mountain
Break-in Period: 150 miles +
Weight: est. 4 lbs.
Price Paid: $150
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Reviewers Paid: $119.00-$150.00