By Jon Gaffney
on 10.15.09

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The weather is turning quickly here in the Northeast. It’s starting to rain more; it’s colder. It’s only a matter of time before winter arrives. As this happens, the boat shoes and sandals we’ve been rocking all summer will no longer cut it. During last few rain storms here, we’ve been demoing L.L. Bean’s Gum Shoes and, after said testing, they have solidified themselves as our go-to crappy weather shoes.

Sold since 1912, we’re hardly the first to designate a pair of Bean Boots as our CWS (crappy weather shoe). Every pair of Bean Boots is still made one pair at a time in the great state of Maine. The Gum Shoe we tested is a short version of the iconic Bean Boots , looking more like a Chukka. It’s the perfect height to protect your feet from puddles, slush, snow, or just a cold day, without requiring you to lace up a big set of boots. Not to say we don’t like the full Bean Boots, we do, the Gum Shoe just lends to daily life a little better. Unlike a set of rubber rain boots, we found the Gum Shoes didn’t make our feet sweat horrendously, a very pleasant surprise. The sole has a steel shank to support the rubber bottoms and a chainlink pattern on the soles that provided good grip. They look good with jeans, cords, or even to save your dress shoes from a messy commute.

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One tricky issue with the Bean Boots in general is sizing. You’re recommended to give yourself a thumbs-width space in the boots with socks on, allowing air to circulate for better insulation, and they only come in whole sizes. Our Gum Shoes came with a card describing how to check the fit, and encouraging you to call customer service if you’re having trouble. We took them up on the offer, and called the toll free number. Our call was answered promptly by a woman in a call center (they have three…all in Maine), who talked us through sizing, and told us to wear them inside, outside, however we would use them and if we didn’t like them call back they’d switch the size. THAT is how you earn lifelong customers.

With some ragwool socks we’re ready prepared for whatever weather changing seasons throw at us.

Editor’s Note: Gum Shoes can also be refurbished should you ever wear them out, an excellent feature on the process can be found here, making their already low price that much more attractive. Oh and obviously they’re back by L.L. Bean’s rock solid lifetime guarantee.

Cost: $70

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