Maine Hunting Boots vs. Bean Boots

Every year, as if by clockwork, when the weather turns harsh, millions of LL Bean “Bean Boots” emerge from the depths of closets. It’s not hard to see why – they boast a timeless design, are proudly made in America, and are relatively affordable compared to other classic, domestically-produced footwear. There’s no denying the allure of owning a pair. Like countless others, you eagerly logged onto, credit card in hand, only to be presented with two options: The iconic Bean Boot or the rugged Maine Hunting Shoe. The choice is yours, but which one is the perfect fit for you?

Maine Hunting Boots vs. Bean Boots

If we were to travel back in time and pose this question to Mr. Leon Leonwood Bean, it would surely leave him perplexed. His ingenious creation, known as the “Maine Hunting Shoe,” featured a timeless design that seamlessly merged the lower half of a rubber boot with the upper half of a leather one. There was no mention of a “Bean Boot” back then. Mr. Bean solely focused on selling this singular product.

With time, this remarkable boot gained iconic status, becoming synonymous with the name LL Bean. While the company did offer a range of other products (including different types of boots), whenever someone mentioned acquiring a boot from LL Bean, it was always clear which one they meant. It had evolved into THE Bean Boot. Consequently, the company’s decision to officially adopt this name was merely a formality.

However, it wasn’t just the name that transformed. Over the years, LL Bean made updates to their boot to align with contemporary fashion trends and market expectations. Yet, as with any change, not everyone welcomed the modifications. In response to the desires of those seeking a boot more reminiscent of the original, LL Bean introduced a new product with the old name: the Maine Hunting Shoe.


At first glance, it may be difficult to discern the differences between the two. The Maine Hunting Shoe notably showcases a darker leather, while the Bean Boot boasts an extensive range of colors, as claimed by the brand. However, let us delve deeper into the true distinctions that set these two apart.


When it comes to the leather used, the distinction between the two goes beyond just color. While it may come as a surprise to those who bought the Maine Hunting Shoe for its “premium leather,” the leather on the Bean Boot is slightly thicker. This change was not made to cut corners on quality, but rather because the thinner leather of the Maine Hunting Shoe is designed to better conform to your ankle, sacrificing some durability for a more customized fit.

Furthermore, the pebbled leather on the Maine Hunting Shoe is noticeably softer. In fact, after a few wears, the upper loses most of its structure. On the other hand, the Bean Boot retains its structure. There is no right or wrong choice here, as different individuals will have different preferences in terms of appearance.

It should be noted, however, that neither of these shoes boasts leather that would impress you greatly. Both are heavily processed, prioritizing cost over quality. The design on the Maine Hunting Shoe is pressed in, lacking the natural variation found in genuine leather.

The changes in the upper are not limited to the leather alone. In comparison to the Bean Boot, the eyelets come with a well-developed patina straight from the factory. Additionally, the stitching and laces on the upper are dyed to match the brown color. Overall, the shoe aims for a more understated appearance.

As of now, there is no overlap in height options for the two shoes. Bean Boots are available in 8″ and lower, while Maine Hunting Shoes start at 10″ and go higher. This is a recent alteration, as traditionally there was some overlap where both options were available in 10″ and occasionally 12″. Only time will tell if this change is here to stay in the lineup.


A quick Google search will lead you to various forums claiming that the only difference between the two shoes is the upper. However, this assertion is simply not accurate. LL Bean themselves have stated that their intention with the Maine Hunting Shoe was to create a more “moccasin-like” experience. To achieve this, they not only modified the design but also made changes to the rubber compound. So, does it work? In short, the answer is yes.

The rubber used in the Maine Hunting Boots offers a noticeably softer and more flexible feel compared to the Bean Boots. Although it’s hard to imagine anyone using these boots for hunting, walking in the Maine Hunting Boots feels more akin to wearing sneakers rather than the Bean Boots.

The differences between the two boots extend beyond just the feel. In terms of appearance, the rubber on the Maine Hunting Boots is slightly lighter in color and less shiny than the Bean Boots. Once again, it’s a matter of personal preference without one being inherently better than the other.

Take Away on Materials:

It may come as a surprise, but the “Maine Hunting Shoe” is less durable than its counterpart. The leather on the upper is not as robust, although I don’t believe either will develop holes. Additionally, the softer rubber on the outsole wears down significantly faster. If I were to estimate, I’d say they wear out nearly twice as quickly as the Bean Boots.

However, in return, you gain a much higher level of comfort, aside from the potential challenge of putting them on due to their height. The upper is noticeably more comfortable right out of the box, and this comfort only improves with time when compared to the Bean Boot. Moreover, the softer rubber makes them much more bearable during long-distance walks.

Furthermore, the different materials used also give a distinct appearance when worn.

Some individuals find the Bean Boot to be a bit too “on the nose.” Similar to pants adorned with embroidered whales, they can sometimes feel like they are lifted directly from the Preppy Handbook. These people argue that by making slight modifications—such as toning down the color and details of the leather and reducing the shine on the rubber—you can achieve 90% of the desired look with only 10% of the associated connotations.

On the other hand, some argue that the reason for embracing a century-old design is precisely because they desire that design. If one intends to go hunting or hiking, it would be advisable to acquire a pair of Merrells instead. For this group, the Maine Hunting Shoe is, at best, an unnecessary expenditure.

Price & Buying

Having chosen your side in the Bean Boot vs. Maine Hunting Shoe debate, what’s next?

Let’s start with Bean Boots, which are generally more accessible. For instance, as of now, all three LL Bean stores within a 45-minute drive from my home have multiple pairs in stock. Not only that, even the three local Nordstrom stores have my size available for pick up today.

On the other hand, finding my size in the Maine Hunting Shoe is more challenging. Only one LL Bean store carries it, which means if you have limited options in your area, you might have to purchase it without trying it on. It’s difficult to evaluate the worth of the extra comfort if you can’t experience it firsthand.

While both boots offer a Gore-Tex/Thinsulate option along with the base model, Bean Boots provide even more choices. You can opt for a non-Gore-Tex Thinsulate version, a PrimaLoft option that falls between the base model and the Thinsulate, or go for the warmest option with the Shearling-Lined variant.

In the past, sizing options for the Maine Hunting Shoe were more limited. However, LL Bean has made efforts to improve this, and now the only notable difference is that Bean Boots come in narrow sizes while the Maine Hunting Shoe does not.

When it comes to pricing, the Maine Hunting Shoe tends to be slightly more expensive than the Bean Boot. For the base model, you’ll be paying an extra $10, and for the Gore-Tex/Thinsulate version, the price doubles. It’s worth noting that the Maine Hunting Shoe also has a slightly higher height.

The Compromise

If you find yourself indecisive even after careful consideration, and the cost is not a concern, but you desire the timeless charm of the Bean Boot coupled with the comfort of the Maine Hunting Shoe, then I have good news for you.

LL Bean offers a remarkable service of resolving Bean Boots when they become worn out. And if you kindly request, they can replace the sole with either a harder or softer rubber variant. With this incredible service, you have the freedom to mix and match any combination of uppers and lowers to create your perfect boot. And the best part is, you can achieve this level of customization for less than $200.

Indulge in the luxury of a truly custom boot that combines the best of both worlds.


Do LL Bean boots originate from Maine?

No, LL Bean boots are not originally from Maine. The company was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean in Freeport, Maine and the iconic Bean Boot was first designed by him in 1912 as a waterproof hunting boot. However, the Maine Hunting Shoe is a modern reinterpretation of the original design that was released in 2017.

Are the L.L.Bean Maine hunting boots waterproof?

Yes, the L.L.Bean Maine hunting boots are waterproof. The uppers of the boot are made from water-resistant leather and they feature a Gore-Tex lining for additional protection from the elements. Additionally, they have a Vibram rubber outsole that provides extra traction and grip in wet conditions.

Are both brands of boots suitable for hiking?

Yes, both the Bean Boot and the Maine Hunting Shoe are suitable for hiking. The Bean Boot has a Vibram® rubber outsole that provides excellent grip and traction in any terrain. The Maine Hunting Shoe also features a Vibram® sole for maximum traction on any terrain as well as an EVA midsole to provide extra cushioning and support. Both styles of boot are lightweight and comfortable enough for all-day hikes.

Are the Bean Boot and Maine Hunting shoes offered in wide widths?

Yes, both brands offer a wide selection of boot widths. The Bean Boot is available in narrow, medium and wide sizes while the Maine hunting shoe comes in medium and wide sizes. Additionally, both styles are offered in half sizes to ensure a perfect fit.

Is it possible to go hunting while wearing LL Bean boots?

Yes, it is possible to go hunting while wearing LL Bean boots. The Bean Boot and Maine Hunting Shoe are both suitable for hunting as they offer good traction in wet conditions and feature water-resistant leather uppers. Additionally, the Maine Hunting Shoe has a Thinsulate lining for extra warmth on cold days. Regardless of which style you choose, be sure to wear bright orange clothing for visibility to stay safe while hunting.

Should you size up or down in Bean Boots?

When sizing Bean Boots, it is generally recommended to size up by half a size from your usual shoe size. This is because the boots have a snug fit and may feel tight at first, although they will loosen with wear. If you are between sizes, going up to the next full size would provide the best fit. Additionally, if you plan on wearing thick socks with your boots, you should probably size up to the next full size.


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Leo Massy
Leo Massy, the hunting boots expert, seasoned hunter, and owner of the Hunting Boots Store located at 1460 West Franklin Street, Dothan, Alabama. With a deep love for the outdoors and a wealth of knowledge in hunting boots, Leo is the go-to resource for hunters of all levels.
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