In this in-depth comparison guide we will explore how Sperry duck boots square up to the iconic LL Bean Boots. Both offer great waterproof protection, are well made and offer special insulation for colder weather. But which one is a better buy?
We’ll be breaking down the original 8-inch LL Bean Boot as well as the Thinsulate cold weather version. While on the Sperry side we will discuss the Sperry Decoy Duck Boot and the it’s cold weather brother the Sperry Avenue Duck Boot.
QUALITY, MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION Comparison
When it comes to quality craftsmanship few boot brands surpass LL Bean. Made in Maine, the Bean Boot is a testament to old world craftsmanship. The Bean Boot is made of waterproof rubber and full grain leather uppers. The leather used in the uppers is finished making it breathable yet weather resistant. The construction of the upper is robust and features heavy duty stitching. The rubber bottoms are triple stitched as well as glued to the leather uppers. This kind of attention to detail is often lacking in many mass market boots and is one to appreciate with LL Bean Boots.
LL Bean is known for standing behind their products and the Bean Boot is no exception. One issue that many people experience is that the rubber outsoles wear down and smooth out over time. Luckily these boots can be repaired and resoled. LL Bean offers a service where they resole your boots for a fee, making the Bean Boot the only duck boot purchase you’ll need make for a very long time. When you factor in the costs of buying new boots versus repairing you may find that LL Bean Boots are well worth their price tag.
Sperry Top-Sider has introduced a competitor to the LL Bean Boot with their Sperry Decoy duck boot. One notable difference is that the Decoy duck boot uses an EVA foam shell at the toe and bottom of the boot instead of rubber. This makes the Decoy one of the lightest duck boots on the market. The EVA shell also provides waterproof protection.
On the leather uppers Sperry uses stain and water resistant full grain leather as well has rawhide leather laces to prevent soaked boot laces. Instead of the classic LL Bean “chain” outsoles, Sperry offers a special design of their owned named Wave-Siping. These lugged rubber outsoles are waved with smaller grooves in between for great traction in the elements.
As for craftsmanship, the Sperry Decoy duck boot is about the quality you would expect from a mass produced boot. The EVA portion is triple stitched to the leather like the LL Bean boot but the overall quality of the stitching is not on par with LL Bean. When it comes to quality craftsmanship and attention to detail LL Bean is better overall.
The main difference between the two brands is that LL Bean offers a time-tested design with simple materials (Leather, Rubber, robust stitching) and the Sperry offers a similar style with newer materials and footwear technology. But both boots offer similar features as far as function. Both boots are waterproof, light weight and offer great traction in inclement weather conditions.
Sperry vs LL Bean: Warmth and Insulation
LL Bean offers different tiers of insulation options for their Bean boots. The base option is the uninsulated original duck boot. For even more insulation and cold weather protection Thinsulate and Goretex options are available at tiered prices. Here we are going to focus on the LL Bean Boot Thinsulate and Goretex version and how it compares up to Sperry’s cold weather Avenue Duck Boot.
The LL Bean Thinsulate + Goretex duck boot features the same design and features as the original duck boot with the added benefit of Goretex lining to further protect your feet from extreme wet weather. The added Goretex lining also gives the Bean Boot great breathability that allows for moisture to escape and minimizes your chances of damp sweaty feet. Inside you’ll also find Thinsulate insulation that provides extra warmth. This insulation makes a big difference during cold months and is definitely an upgrade from the original unlined Bean duck boot.
Sperry has also released it’s own insulated duck boot with the Sperry Avenue Boot. These boots feature thermal lining for interior insulation that actually do a pretty good job at keeping your feet warm during cold snaps. As with the Sperry Decoy Duck boot, the Avenue boot is waterproof and features leather uppers that are also water resistant. Instead of the lightweight EVA in the Decoy duck boot, the Avenue features a traditional rubber heel comparable to the LL Bean Boot.
As for insulation both brands offer great options for cold weather wear. The waterproofing along with the outsole traction makes either brand a good option for shoveling snow or walking during wet and cold weather.
LL BEAN VS SPERRY: STYLEs AND COLOR OPTIONS
LL Bean boots have very few style options and even fewer color options. They sometimes release special edition colors but their regular stock only carries one or two colors online. Sperry on the other hand offers multiple leather and rubber color combinations which is great for those who like to match their duck boots to their personal style. When considering color options alone, Sperry is the clear winner.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a pair of Sperry duck boots that will compete with LL Bean’s quality and craftsmanship. If you prefer a made in the USA boot that is built to last you years then the LL Bean Boot is your best option. LL Bean's repair service is a great feature and may end up saving you money over time.
For those who want a more affordable alternative that has many of the same features and a similar look, then Sperry duck boots may be a better buy. Sperry duck boots can often be found for about half the price of LL Bean boots which is a major plus for those on a budget. Another category where Sperry shines is their color options which allow you to taylor your duck boots more to your style. Sperry duck boots are a good alternative to LL Bean duck boots and are a great value for the price.