The Most Influential Gear of All Time: L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Shoe


L.L. Bean Boots

L.L. Bean Boots     Photo: redjar/Flickr

Avid outdoorsman Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean returned from a hunting trip with cold, damp feet and a revolutionary idea. Bean enlisted a local cobbler to stitch leather uppers to rubber workmen's boots lowers to make a durable and weather-resistant boot suitable for exploring Maine’s woods.

In 1912, working out of the basement of his brother’s apparel shop, Bean obtained a mailing list of non-resident Maine hunting license holders and prepared a three-page flyer that boldly proclaimed, "You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are not properly dressed.” He touted his Maine Hunting Shoe as designed by a hunter who has tramped the Maine woods for the last 18 years—referring to himself. Bean guaranteed that the boots would give hunters “perfect satisfaction in every way." Of the 100 orders that came in for his new product, 90 were returned when the rubber bottoms separated from the leather tops. Bean refunded the purchase price, borrowed more money, corrected the problem, and mailed more brochures.

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