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LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate Review

These durable duckboots are the perfect cross-over, both stylish and capable with excellent durability
LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate
Credit: L.L. Bean
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $209 List
Pros:  Storied history, great crossover performance, stylish, proven durability
Cons:  Expensive, unremarkable traction
Manufacturer:   L.L. Bean
By Richard Forbes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 17, 2022
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Weather Protection - 30% 4.0
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Traction - 20% 4.0
  • Warmth - 15% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

Our testers have spent a lot of time on farms in rural Maine, and while you're up there, you can't stomp in a puddle without splashing someone wearing the LL Bean Boots. After spending the winter and spring in them, we understand why. They're both stylish (according to a certain style) and also impressively capable workhorses. We also know, from surveying infinite reviews online, that they're still handmade in Maine and regularly last for decades. As a result, it was easy to give these boots an award for their crossover performance. We wish they had a slightly grippier outsole, but beyond that, they performed well in our tests.

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Price $209 List$150 List
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Pros Storied history, great crossover performance, stylish, proven durabilityGreat traction, adjustable fit, everything we want in a bootExtremely warm, grippyHighly waterproof, stiff construction for rough terrain, great tractionGreat looks, extremely warm and comfortable, versatile
Cons Expensive, unremarkable tractionA bit pricy, cushioning in midsole is slightly lackingToo warm for most uses, too tight to easily slip on and offLooser fit, lacks insulationExpensive, included wool insole can be too warm for all conditions
Bottom Line These durable duckboots are the perfect cross-over, both stylish and capable with excellent durabilityThese boots are just about perfect for most applications and perform excellentlyThis impressive boot will keep you toasty when all else fails, though they'll be far too warm for normal conditionsThis workhorse boasts a very fair price for such a rugged bootWhile admittedly pricey, these good-looking boots can do it all
Rating Categories LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex... Bogs Workman The Original Muck B... Baffin Enduro Blundstone Thermal...
Weather Protection (30%)
4.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
3.0
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
9.0
Traction (20%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Warmth (15%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
3.0
8.0
Style (10%)
9.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
9.0
Specs LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex... Bogs Workman The Original Muck B... Baffin Enduro Blundstone Thermal...
Weight per Pair (size 13) 3.91 lbs 5.11 lbs 5.35 lbs 5.49 lbs 2.93 lbs
Flood Height (inches from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft) 8" 14.75" 17.6" 16.3" 6.7"
Mouth Circumference (inches) 15.5" 16" 15.25" 17.5" 9.75"
Lining/Insulation Thinsulate 7.5MM Neo-Tech waterproof insulation Fleece Synthetic Thinsulate
Upper Material Full grain leather Neotech/Rubber Rubber Rubber Leather + Elastic
Outsole Material Rubber BioGrip slip resistant outsole MS-1 molded outsole Rubber TPU Outsole
Insole Cushioned footbed Modular Algae-based EVA footbed EVA molded midsole with contoured footbed and 2mm thermal foam underlay Gel-Flex shock-absorbing heels and midsoles Removable sheepskin insulated insole
Unique Features Steel shank Seamless Construction to reduce weight + Heel Lock Neoprene shaft, thick insulation, and aggressive outsole Aggressive outsole Cushioned Midsole
Width Options Narrow, Medium, Wide Regular Regular Regular Regular + Wide
Sizing info Order next size up Order next size up Order next size up Order your true size Order next size up

Our Analysis and Test Results

Ever since Leon Leonwood Bean started making Bean Boots in 1911, they've been popular. You've probably seen a pair on someone's feet, especially if you're from the Northeast. And while they've become a highly sought-after boot over the last decade, there's a good reason. Regardless of whether you like their looks, they last forever, they're warm, waterproof, and will fit just about anyone (as long as you wear thick socks). While they don't have the same heavily-lugged outsole as some of the competition, they make up for it with their handmade construction and solid weatherproofing. As a result, they're stylish and casual enough for kicking around town while also being fully legitimate workboots.

Performance Comparison


LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - these boots are worthy of their classic reputation.
These boots are worthy of their classic reputation.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Weather Protection


While you can waterproof the unlined LL Bean boot with waxes, we went with the Gore-Tex/Thinsulate lined version to test one of the more protective variants.


When we got them, we were impressed — the lining goes all the way up to the top of the boot, so we got a full 8" of waterproofing. Other low boots we've tested over the years have been docked points for their low gussets, so we were happy to see the extra lining here.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - the goretex/thinsulate lining was crucial in making these waterproof...
The GoreTex/Thinsulate lining was crucial in making these waterproof up to the top right out of the box - otherwise we would have needed to apply sealant to the leather.
Credit: Richard Forbes

We also weren't sure how waterproof the lining would be, but after 30+ minutes of wading around in Western Montana rivers and creeks in spring flood, we can say they're pretty dang waterproof. And while we haven't done this yet, we're planning on sealing the outer leather, which will keep things even more watertight.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - at least with the gore-tex/thinsulate lining, these boots are...
At least with the Gore-tex/Thinsulate lining, these boots are waterproof all the way up to the top of the shaft.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Comfort


We sized the LL Bean up a bit, and with thick socks, they were super comfortable. The laces let us dial in our fit, but because we're lazy, we tied "Eastland Knots." This turned them into slip-ons, allowing us to tighten or loosen them easily without tying our shoes. We also really appreciated the Gore-Tex/Thinsulate, which is lined with microfiber and helps keep things cozy on chilly mornings.


One thing to mention is that the uppers are made of thick leather, so they may be a bit stiff to start with. Just keep wearing them — they'll break into your foot soon enough and become much more comfortable.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - these boots were cozy and warm enough that we found ourselves...
These boots were cozy and warm enough that we found ourselves choosing them to comfort our feet after long ski tours.
Credit: Richard Forbes

We weren't super impressed by the insoles on this boot. We pulled them out, and they were remarkably floppy in our hands, especially in the forefront. This doesn't seem to be a new issue, and some reviews we found recommend getting LL Bean's shearling insoles to help add some heft and warmth. As is, these weren't the worst insoles in the test, but they also weren't the most supportive.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - the stock insoles could be a bit beefier, we don't love how floppy...
The stock insoles could be a bit beefier, we don't love how floppy they are, especially in the forefoot.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Traction


This metric is where the LL Bean didn't wow us. While they performed better than some of the more casual low-topped boots, we felt that their "cable-pattern" outsole wasn't deep enough to grab onto loose or slick material. Other boots feature deeply-incised lugs, while these tend to slip a bit more. They are perfectly adequate on most surfaces but get a bit squirrelly on wet wood and mossy rocks.


For what it's worth, LL Bean Boots are resole-able, so if the cable pattern wears away over time, you can send them back to Maine to get spruced back up.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - their lugs aren't super deep, so they're a bit slick on slippery...
Their lugs aren't super deep, so they're a bit slick on slippery surfaces like damp logs.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Warmth


We were impressed by how warm these boots are. The version with Gore-Tex/Thinsulate lining kept our feet surprisingly toasty in the cold Montana winter, and we barely noticed even when we'd been out in the snow for a few hours. The lining has microfiber on the inside, so they are warm almost as soon as you slip them on in the mornings.


Thanks to the lining, these boots did well in our ice-filled bathtub test, and we barely noticed a chill, even after 10+ minutes.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - even in a light graupel-ing (look it up), these fleece-lined boots...
Even in a light graupel-ing (look it up), these fleece-lined boots were impressively warm.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Style


We realize the LL Bean Boots might be polarizing. Not everyone grew up in the Northeast, where duck boots are a completely normal style. But duck boots have become positively stylish in the last decade, so we're confident that if you like the look, you can get away with it — though the further you are from Maine, the more comments you might get. In the same way that XTRATUFs mean Alaska, Bean Boots signify Maine and New England.


We especially like the leather uppers, which, after time and use, will become more and more weathered and broken-in.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - if they're your style, we're confident you'll like how these boots...
If they're your style, we're confident you'll like how these boots fit and perform.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Fit


There are a lot of forum posts and reviews about how Bean Boots fit, and there's a lot of advice out there. Here's our take: they're meant to be worn with thick socks. Most folks recommend buying your size, which will have a bit of room for thicker socks. We really like having some extra toe-room, so we sized up a size, and they still fit fine. If we really want to get them snug, we just tighten down the laces.

For some real specifics: our feet measure size 12 on a Brannock device, which measures American sizes. We bought a size 13 for these, and they fit just fine. Our feet are a D width, and these were perfect. For narrow or wide-footed folks, these also come in a narrow width (B) and a wide width (EE), so you should be able to find something that fits perfectly.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - when we needed to get the fit dialled, we could just crank on the...
When we needed to get the fit dialled, we could just crank on the laces!
Credit: Richard Forbes

Value


We know the Bean Boots are on the more expensive side of our test, and we're not arguing they're a budget buy. But no other boot in our test has the same number of testimonials guaranteeing their durability. Countless reviews discuss how these boots have lasted decades (with a few factory resoles). No other boots in the test have that kind of proven longevity, so sure, these are a bit pricy to start with, but they're pretty much certain to last. In our opinion, that makes them a pretty great value, especially when it comes to their impressive performance in our other tests.

LL Bean 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate rain boots - for boots handmade in the us, these are well-worth the price.
For boots handmade in the US, these are well-worth the price.
Credit: Richard Forbes


Conclusion


After years of living in Maine and the Northeast and seeing others wear these boots, we were excited to try them out. And, in our opinion, they lived up to the hype. They fit well, are warm, comfortable, and impressively waterproof. While their traction leaves a bit to be desired, they still outperform more casual boots in our test. We're confident that these boots are a great option if you're looking for a stylish but fully capable workboot.

Richard Forbes
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