The L.L.Bean Bootmobile — a 13-foot-high, 20-foot-long, road-ready replica of the Maine Hunting Shoe — has been delighting fans for more than 10 years. Since its maiden voyage in 2012, the mobile boot has covered more than 350,000 miles and appeared at hundreds of events in 25 states, two countries and on dozens of college campuses. Most recently, the larger-than-life vehicle commemorated its 10th birthday by travelling through 10 states in 10 days, and will kick off a pop-up-shop tour in the fall of 2022 featuring iconic L.L.Bean footwear, apparel and gear.
We caught up with two Bootmobile drivers, each with years of experience behind the wheel, to get an inside look at the wild, weird and wonderful happenings that they’ve experienced along the way. From running out of gas on a New York throughway to participating in parades celebrating the Red Sox’s 2013 and 2018 World Series wins, the pilots of the Bootmobile enjoy something new every time the rubber meets the road.
The Bootmobile Draws Devoted Fans Near and Far
It’s hard not to smile when the Bootmobile passes by. Bootmobile drivers report that onlookers from highways and farm roads across the United States honk, smile, wave and take pictures when they spot the size 708 Bean Boot replica driving around. But fans don’t always wait for a spotting — they go out and find the Bootmobile themselves.
“There have been quite a few instances where people would travel multiple hours to find the Bootmobile and take a picture with it,” says Bootmobile driver and L.L.Bean employee Eddie Flaherty. “One encounter that always stuck with me was a little girl that drove two-and-a-half hours to meet the Bootmobile in the Chicago area. She had drawn a photo of the Bootmobile for us and wrote a letter.”
Flaherty and the team mailed a letter back to the young woman — with an L.L.Bean gift card intended to help on her next outdoor adventure. The team delivers these random acts of kindness in addition to offering games, giveaways and special L.L.Bean offerings, rain or shine.
In fact, driver Bob York describes a visit to St. Lawrence University, where the Bootmobile set up shop in the middle of a rainstorm. “Despite the weather, students and people from the surrounding community came out in force.” York recalls how attendees waited in line for hours at the L.L.Bean Boot Custom Lace Bar so that they could personalize their own pair of Bean Boots.
The Bootmobile has even made its way overseas. Flaherty had the distinct honor of serving as the L.L.Bean ambassador when he handed over the “keys” to the first Bootmobile to arrive in Japan, where L.L.Bean now has 24 store locations. “It was an incredible experience to travel to that part of the world and to be included in such a special moment,” he says.
A Moving Tribute to the Spirit of L.L.Bean
Crafted with the same dedication as our hand-made Bean Boot, the Bootmobile came to life thanks to a six-person team working more than 2,500 hours over seven weeks. That forethought and hard work is no accident. The Bean Boot is made for adventure, even when it is on wheels.
The Bootmobile once trekked to the top of Mt. Washington, an experience that Flaherty ranks among his favorites. “We climbed the mountain under the stars and watched the sunrise,” he says. “We weren’t quite sure how the vehicle would handle that type of adventure, but it took the challenge in stride — just like our actual Bean Boots.”
Those who experience the Bootmobile up-close are as excited to see the hardworking vehicle as they are to recount their journey with L.L.Bean. “No matter where we travel, our customers are always excited to share their connection with the brand,” Flaherty says. “It energized me hearing from customers about their L.L.Bean stories — whether it’s their annual trips to the Freeport Flagship store or the gear they’ve owned for decades.”
At its heart, the Bootmobile serves as a moving reminder of the restorative power of being outside – both for customers, and for the drivers themselves. “During my time on the road, we always focused on enjoying the outdoors along the way. Even though there were some incredible highlights — skiing in Colorado and catching my first steelhead trout in New York to name a few — the little adventures along the way always made us feel like we were truly honoring the essence of L.L.Bean.”
On each tour, the Bootmobile team extends the company’s devotion to outdoors enthusiasts, spreading some L.L.Bean love during outdoor adventures. “We’d bring gift cards and extra swag, creating special moments and ‘trail magic’ for people we’d meet who were enjoying the outdoors as much as we were.”
Starting in September, the Bootmobile will be road-tripping once again, “toe-ing” the L.L.Bean Pop-Up Shop to multiple cities and locations throughout the fall. If you’d like to catch this mobile store packed with iconic L.L.Bean products, or to request the Bootmobile for an upcoming event, visit the L.L.Bean website.