Sometimes you never know what you are going to find. On a visit to the LL Bean Outlet Center last spring I came across a number of different hiking boots. Out of all of them, I sort of stumbled across LL Bean’s Leather and Fabric Gore-Tex Day Hikers. They looked to be a step up from your typical fabric hiking boots with significant portions of the boot being made from leather and with a stiff Vibram sole.
I looked and they were my size, so I tried them on. I walked around, I jumped up and down and I went up and down the stairs several times. They still felt comfortable, actually more comfortable than the boots I was using at the time for hiking.
So I splurged on them.
Once I got them home I started to wear them around the house a bit to break them in. I mowed the lawn a few times and wore them on shorter walks. The shoes fit snugly, but not so tightly as to become uncomfortable after wearing them for a bit. The leather worked out after a bit to fit my foot better and the sole provided for a comfortable fit.
Once I started hiking in them, I really was amazed. I hadn’t expected much but these boots have turned out to be a perfect mix of lightweight and heavyweight boots. They are great for pretty much any kind of day hike and even provide enough support and comfort for an overnight backpacking trip.
Gore-Tex Day Hikers Basics
These boots are like the child of a pair of leather boots and a pair of fabric boots. The majority of the Gore-Tex Day Hiker is made from leather, but portions of the boot are fabric (a nylon material) and the entire boot is lined with a Gore-Tex liner, which makes it waterproof but breathable.
With their weight, they are in between a classic leather boot and a fabric boot. All leather boots can be quite heavy and the fabric boots can be pretty lightweight. The Gore-Tex Day Hiker comes in between the two.
In addition, having the boot partially made from leather gives you significantly more ankle support than a standard fabric boot. This makes you surer footed while hiking and helps to protect your ankle should you trip or misstep. I also like the extra support and stiffness in the boot because its lets you use crampons with the boot. Now you won’t be climbing ice falls, cliffs or anything like that, but the boot is stiff enough to slip on a pair of crampons while hiking without any problems. I had worn crampons several times this winter and I recently wore crampons on the boots for about 5 miles and the boots worked fine. I didn’t have a single problem with them and the crampons stayed tight and didn’t have to be adjusted the entire time.
Like most hiking boots, there’s a Vibram sole on the boot. This provides great traction. I’ve found the boot to do well on all kinds of terrain from just walking through the woods to walking and climbing on rock. There’s enough cushioning within the sole to cushion your feet.
The boot comes in both a medium and wide-width (medium width is standard) and I have found that the boot offers more space in the same size boot than almost any other hiking boot I’ve worn.
I have had this boot for almost a year now and when it comes to day hiking boots, I have to admit out of all the boots I’ve worn, the Gore-Tex Day Hikers are the best that I’ve had.
Simply put, they are just really comfortable.
Not only that, but they are good all-around day hiking boots. They provide plenty of support, mold to your foot and offer protection from water (via the Gore-Tex) while still remaining breathable.
Even more, these boots while perfect for day hikes can easily handle shorter backpacking trips of a few days or less and for those of us who hike in the winter, crampons easily fit on the boots without any problems.
I’ve been consistently surprised by these boots considering what I paid for them at the outlet (and even considering their normal price). I’ve yet to get a blister or have a foot problem while wearing them, they have held up quite well to some pretty rugged use and most importantly they have remained comfortable.
These are pretty much my standard hiking boots now. I wear them on all my day hikes and while I wouldn’t wear them on a longer trip as I like the support and stability my full-leather boots offer when I’m wearing a heavy backpack, the Gore-Tex Day Hikers are perfectly fine for short backpacking trips.
Because of the Gore-Tex material inside the boot, there’s no need to waterproof the boot. Basically the only maintenance is cleaning the outside from time to time.
While I cannot say “just order this boot” since everyone’s foot and hiking styles are different, I strongly suggest that if you’re in the market for a boot, check out LL Bean’s Leather and Fabric Gore-Tex Day Hikers. To me, they seem like the perfect combination of a leather and a fabric boot – taking the best of both without too many of their problems.
It is one of the most comfortable boots I’ve worn and I’ve been through lots of hiking boots over the year.
Not only are they comfortable though, the boots provide good support and are strong enough to use on short backpacking trips and even as winter boots when you need to be wearing crampons on your hike.
These boots shouldn’t disappoint anyone looking for a solid day hiking boot. Like I said, go and try on a pair and see what you think.