Owner comments indicate that the L.L.Bean Cresta Gore-Tex Hikers are extremely stable and supportive. "The boot saved me from at least one rolled ankle and I never felt a single rock the entire trip," writes one user reviewer after a 5-day, 75-mile backpacking trip. The editors at Backpacker magazine praise the Cresta for its fit, waterproofing and sturdy sole, but wish it had more underfoot cushioning and a rand to protect the leather. Users say the break-in period is shorter than you'd expect from an all-leather boot, and a few report good comfort right out of the box. Waterproofing seems to work well; one user took them to the Central American rainforest where he "truly enjoyed the comfort of the boots and dry feet."
The Crestas are available in three widths and most owners are very happy with how their boots fit, even for wide feet. They also like how L.L.Bean's customer service department worked with them to help get the proper fit. However, some users report problems with a proper heel fit that gave them blisters. A number of others say their feet were tired and sore by the end of the day; many choose to wear liner socks, in addition to heavier hiking socks, for extra cushioning.
Aside from their heavy weight and stiffness -- which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your hiking philosophy -- the biggest complaint we found about these boots was that the eyelets deform when you lace the boot tightly. One owner says several eyelets ripped completely out of her boots, leaving her to finish a long hike in sneakers. Owners tend to be either fiercely loyal to this boot or fiercely opposed because of the problems mentioned above; if you're not a fan, the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV (*Est. $290) and Asolo TPS 520 GV (*Est. $280) both receive excellent feedback from experts and users alike.
We found an authoritative, although brief, review of these boots in Backpacker magazine. There are also numerous user reviews on OutdoorReview.com, Trailspace.com and LLBean.com. Other retailers (such as Amazon.com and REI) don't sell these boots and thus aren't potential sources for user reviews.
This very short review describes the Crestas as "proven classics," but nothing fancy. The editors awarded the Cresta top honors in a comparative test for its fit, waterproofing and sturdy sole, but wish for more underfoot cushioning.
Review: Boot Review: L.L.Bean GTX Leather Cresta Hikers, The Backpacker Editors
The men's Cresta Hikers draw a 4.55-star (out of 5) average score after nearly 50 reviews. The majority of reviewers like the boot's stability, durability and ankle support, although a couple of reviewers struggled with a poor fit in the heel area and ended up with blisters. Many users report wearing liner socks in addition to heavier socks in order to achieve a comfortable fit, and say that after long hikes their feet were tired, but not sore.
Review: L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers Mens Hiking Backpacking Boots Review, Contributors to OutdoorReview.com
Like OutdoorReview.com, users navigate directly to this site to leave reviews about their gear. More than 40 users give the Leather Cresta Hikers a 4.5-star average rating, with one happy owner declaring that "They are the best all around boot I have ever owned." Users comment favorably about the boots' fit and waterproofing, but several cite the lacing eyelets as a weak point. One warns that the eyelets can bend if you lace the boots tightly, and another says that the eyelets came out entirely, leaving her to finish a long hike in sneakers.
Review: L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Leather, Contributors to Trailspace.com
More than 200 reviewers give the Cresta a 4.8-star rating out of 5, reporting that it runs true to size in both length and width. They describe it as comfortable, durable and a good value, although some had to wear thick socks to avoid ankle discomfort.
Review: Men's Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Leather, Contributors to LLBean.com