The Bean Boot ranks among the all-time most iconic pieces of outdoor footwear. Leon Leonwood Bean created the leather and rubber boots in 1911 to fix the problem of cold, wet feet on hunting trips in the Maine woods. A year later, the Maine Hunting shoe went on sale under the new company name, L.L.Bean.
Over the past century, hiking boots and winter boots have changed a lot, with the advent of compression-molded foam midsoles, synthetic uppers, and grippy rubber treads. But the Bean Boot has remained virtually the same as when it first hit shelves a century ago.
Now, for the first time ever, L.L.Bean has let another brand into the design room to collaborate on a special-edition spinoff of the original duck boot. The company of choice: Flowfold, a small Maine-based maker of sailcloth wallets and backpacks. The new Flowfold L.L.Bean Collab Boot ($140) looks much like the Bean Boots we all know and love—it's got the same ankle-high silhouette, slight heel, and rubber outsole—with an upper made from Flowfold’s waterproof sailcloth. The result is lighter, airier, and more weatherproof than the original, but with the same durability and style.
Gear collaborations are a dime a dozen these days, with brands partnering on everything from sandals to fly rods. But I think this one stands out above the rest. I love seeing a heritage brand like L.L.Bean working with an upstart like Flowfold to add new tech to a classic shoe.