I have a great pair of LL Bean hiking boots that I’ve had for eight or nine years now. They get more comfortable with each passing year, and still look almost good as new. Maybe the latter means I should get off my butt and go hiking more, but that’s another blog for another day.
Considering our modern world of planned obsolescence and disposable goods, eight or nine months is a good run for a pair of shoes. I should be thrilled that those sixty-ish 1999-2000 dollars have been so well-spent (cost of ownership: $60/8.5 years = $7 per year). LL Bean merchandise is generally made to last, which justifies the higher initial cost.
Imagine my disappointment when the rubber sole detached itself from the upper a few months ago! Not to mention I nearly fell on my face when the sole peeled back from the toe as I took a step. Knowing Bean’s liberal return policy (I worked in their customer service department for a time), I knew they would cheerfully replace my boots with no (or very few) questions asked. I would of course feel very silly about demanding a replacement for eight-year-old boots, but bless old Leon Leonwood’s heart.
Since it’s taken this long to break in the boots to foot-heaven perfection, and they still look great, I didn’t want to give them up quite yet. Besides, a quick product search told me that my particular style was no longer available. I was fairly sure there must be a Bean-approved way of repairing the boot myself, and set this problem on the back burner for a while.
While wandering through their flagship store in Freeport one night, I did in fact find a product in their shoe department that solved my problem: Freesole, “a patented urethane rubber repair system”. Cost: about eight dollars.
A few days later, I had time for the boot repair project. I stuffed the toe of my boot with wadded-up newspaper (to retain the boot’s shape), and prepped the boot with a rubbing alcohol scrub. I applied the Freesole rubber cement to the area, and tightly wrapped the boot with duct tape. That would keep the sole and upper in contact while the cement dried. (Total prep/application time: 10-15 minutes. Drying time: 24 hours)
Now I have a perfectly good pair of hiking boots again! Let’s see if I can get another eight years out them.