Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Original Muck Boot Vs. L.L. Bean





We're having a household dispute over the merits of LL Bean Maine Hunting boots over The Original Muck Boot Company brand boots.

S. claims that the Bean boots are more appropriate for the snow and ice of the East coast. She considers the Bean boot's leather uppers and thin, chain tread inadequate for wet weather wear in the Northwest (specifically, for use in the heavy, high mud of our public dog parks and backyard). Her preferred boot model is the mid-calf Muck Boot (purchased from local, do-good mercantile, Down to Earth).

Friend Tom, a timber framer and West-to-East-to-West coast transplant, claims that steel toed Muck boots saved his foot (left or right?) from an errant chainsaw.

Despite functional claims in favor of the Muck Boot, I remain an admirer and dedicated user of the original Bean boot. For me, the Bean boot is all about its outward, vintage styling and that wonderful, abrupt transition from rubber bottoms to leather uppers (plus those great metal eyelets!). I admit that Bean boots, at times, can be a bit clammy and that the chain tread provides little in the form of a non-slip grip (in the end, the tread looks penciled on). However, the vintage, out-of-the-past styling of the Bean boots makes up for its functional limitations (Bean boots still keep my feet dry at the dog park). And I have to give a hand to LL Bean for building on the Maine Boot brand. While most of my favorite, affordable US shoe companies have moved production overseas (Sebago and Bass, for instance), Bean continues to manufacturer these boots in Maine.

It would be lovely if every US apparel and footwear company sifted through their backfiles and found one product, like the Bean Maine boot, that they could bring back and offer for sale in its original form (no updating or upgrading or boutiquing permitted). Mandatory: item must be made in the U.S.A. (preferably, near the original site of production).

8 comments:

Winter Bicycles said...

Bean boots are most appropriate for cold weather with their felt lining. For the "chain is 1950" crowd, they have been available with a lugged sole for a long time (though possibly discontinued now?). If properly treated, the leather and gusseted tongue do a stellar job of keeping water out. The ankle support of laces is also a deal closer. Muck boots are best kept for their intended purpose of shoveling barns.

It Tom kept his toes in steel toed rubber shoes, it was purely by luck. That boy needs to get himself a pair of chainsaw boots.

chainsaw boots

Winter Bicycles said...

Edit- The Viking and like boots are a different class, and only look muck boot ish.

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Anonymous said...

I am a lawyer in Bangor, Maine, and I often wear my 16" Maine hunting shoes to court in the winter. If you are moving, they are great to about + 5 degrees F., but if you are standing around, they can get cold. The chain tread on the Maine Hunting Shoe is much softer and stickier that the old Bean Boot chain tread, for better traction, but less protection from stepping on pointy things. In the spring, summer and fall I wear the Bean moccasin bean boots. They are so ugly they are beautiful, like the old Porsche 911 of the mid 70's.

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