Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Southern Staple: Bean Boots

In spite of their Yankee origins, Bean Boots from LL Bean are some of the best shoes for the South. Given our recent monsoon-like weather, this has become even more evident.

I personally have two different pairs. I have a pair of the Rubber Mocs which get worn year-round. They go with jeans, khakis, cords, and even shorts during warmer. They can be worn with our without socks (though if you go for the latter approach, loafer socks are a must) and with or without rain.

I also have a pair of the 10-inch Maine Hunting Shoes. These don't get nearly as much wear as the rubber mocs, but they area nice to have for going out in particularly cold, rainy, or muddy conditions, and work well in the dove and quail field (provided you don't run into any snakes).

Now, in spite of how well-suited for the South these boots are, it is interesting to note that their popularity is not spread out very homogeneously. I remember my mom having a pair of navy blue rubber mocs in her closet when I was growing up, but I'm not sure I have ever seen another pair in Georgia (though I do understand that they are quite popular at UGA). I got my first pair after I went off to school in Alabama, though that decision was based on their endorsement in the Official Preppy Handbook. I have seen a few people wearing them in Birmingham, though they were not popular at my college.

Interestingly, though, when I went to school at Clemson, I found that nearly all of my classmates that were from Charleston owned a pair, and many students at Clemson could be seen wearing them throughout the year (though I'm not sure if I ever saw anyone wearing a pair of the rubber mocs). It is my theory that this is best explained by popularity of hunting and other outdoor activities throughout the state. One of my friends from Charleston inherited his pair of Bean Boots from his dad and they are almost completely bald. I've let him know that LL Bean does have resoling services, but I don't think he was interested.

Here is a friend of mine from Birmingham sporting the 16-inch Bean Boots he bought for med. school in West VA

I would be interested to hear anyone else's observations of these shoes south of the Mason Dixon.

13 comments:

Skip Brooks said...

I also got my rubber mocs while in college because of the TOPH. I wear them all year-round but I never tried them without socks.


Love the blog!
-Skip

Memphis88 said...

I also bought my Bean Boots because of the OPH. I haven't seen anyone else in Memphis wearing them and I sometimes draw funny looks from people when I wear mine. I'm going to get a pair of the mocs soon.

longwing said...

If I ever get out of the southwest, a pair of Bean boots and a Barbour will be my first acquisitions.

DAM said...

Clutch.

I have the same combo pair of Bean Boot Mocs and 8" Boots. Throw in a pair of the Bean Mocs and that completes the bean shoe collection.

The mocs are a lifesaver and kicking them year round - to run outside for a minute, round the house, in the rain, when I take a car trip they go with me, just in case, their awesome.

Everyone should have at least this pair.

Anonymous said...

Trip,

The bean boots or "duck boots" were everywhere in the South in the 1980's. They went through a decline in the 1990's as a purely fashion piece, but managed to survive largely due to their ability to function well in inclement weather. I still have a pair I purchased in 1988, after my other pair was lost/stolen from high school. There is zero tread left on them!

I also received another pair several years ago and still wear both regularly.

Cheers,

Mark

RHW said...

Loafer socks with the Bean Gumshoe? Seriously? Cotton or wool rag socks in oatmeal or really any crazy color is fine for the Gumshoe or go sockless.

You forgot about the LLBean "lounger" duck boot also. These are the 9" high boot without laces that have the strap and brass buckle and pull-tab in back. These are the best, and accompany my Gumshoes and Blucker mocs on any trip I take.

RHW

trip said...

RHW,

Loafer socks are socks like these that are designed to give the appearance of socklessness without the nasty sweat and odors.

Anonymous said...

Trip,

Nice post. I believe you have the 10 inch Maine Hunting shoes pictured. They only make an 8 inch in the Bean Boot. Did you replace the laces on those? The Maine Hunting Shoes laces always seem to pull or unravel in some way. The Bean Boot laces which I think you have on there are a bit more durable.

I've worn Bean Boots since middle school. I even remember when they used to make a green/brown version of the Boots in the late 90s. In terms of the South and Bean Boots, I wore them from freshman year on at Wake Forest.

There weren't too many around there until about 2006/07. I wore the Mocs all the way into the supposed final Phish shows at Coventry. The Mocs get way too funky after a few years and it makes sense just to send them back and get a new pair.

I think Virginia would be the area you would see these most frequently below the line. I remember seeing lots at WSP shows in DC and Richmond back in 03/04. So we're talking about UVa, W&L, HSC types. One of my friends from Richmond at Wake always wore them, along with my ex girlfriend. Keep up the good posts!

Tommy said...

I'm in Nashville now (formerly West TN born and raised), and I have to say that I have not seen too many of these running around. It's still a lot of Clark's and "huntin'" boots.

These do have a really classic look, though.

trip said...

Anonymous,
Yes, you are correct, those are the 10 inch version, I was mistaken. Those are the original laces that came on there, but towards the tips they have begun to show signs of weakening, which is strange.

Anonymous said...

Rubber mocs are quite common in the duck camps around Arkansas, but I've never seen anyone wearing them outside of camp.

brado said...

I have a question, my mocs are pretty tight on me and I'm ordering my boots anyday now. Do the mocs and the boots run the same size wise or do the boots run a little big?

trip said...

Brado-
If you are referring to the rubber mocs, they should be sized the same way as the boots, so you might consider order up a size. If you're referring to the blucher or camp mocs, the Bean boots do run larger than those. It would probably be best to call Bean and talk with a sales rep there to make sure you get the right size.