Notes On Camp

Last week I reported on LL Bean discontinuing its iconic camp moccasin. Soon after LL Bean sent me another message on Twitter saying that items often go in and out of the catalog, suggesting that the move may be temporary and that the shoe could be brought back with presumed fanfare. Isn’t that what happened with the Norwegian sweater?

Regardless, Bean’s timing may be poor. George at Oak Street Bootmakers saw the post and sent me the following:

I just saw your post about the Bean moc — can’t believe it. I am very surprised because the camp moc was our best-seller all summer long. Our sales have continued to climb year-over-year, this year hitting its peak of 75% more than last year!

I think most would agree that the Bean’s last shape (very square toe) has been lackluster for the past decade. The heyday was when they made them in the USA, with Horween leather, just like we do today.

So there you go. If you want a high-quality camp moc like in the old days, and are willing to pay $280 for Horween leather and domestic manufacturing, head over here to check out Oak Street’s version. In addition to the dark brown classic, they’re also offering the shoe in natural, navy, and other options. Below are some more shot of the classic with styling options. — CC

46 Comments on "Notes On Camp"

  1. Rancourt’s is priced at $250, though I wonder why.

  2. Does Allen Edmonds not make a version? I got a nice boat shoe for $90 during the clearance a couple weeks ago.

  3. Rancourt manufactures their own product. OSB’s were made by the Highland Shoe Company before Highland closed for business. I don’t know who makes them now. I did read that OSB may have absorbed some of Highland’s former employees, so they may actually make some of their own stuff now.

    The Allen Edmonds camp mocs are on a quite narrow last and are made in the Dominican Republic.

  4. I meant “are,” not “is” whoops. Quoddy manufactures their own shoes as well and their Camp Mocs (they call it a canoe shoe) are priced at $295, which is excessive for a casual shoe.

    I read that Highlandwas bought by Berkshire Hathaway so I don’t understand how they closed. I have a pair of their Maine-made Top-Siders from their old collaboration with Sperry. Very well made shoes, shame they closed.

  5. Almost $300 for moccasins is outrageous. I know labor costs in the U.S. are much higher but these shoes are mostly done by hand using machines so they are not truly “hand-made.”

    Rancourt offers a bison leather camp moc for $250. It is made in Maine and comes in two colors.

  6. Miles Coverdale | September 10, 2018 at 7:05 pm |

    @ Andrew: AE made a camp moc at least a year or two ago. I don’t know what the current offering is. But the ones I’m referring to were so-so quality and made off-shore. Everytime I wear them, dye bleeds off onto my feet.

  7. I have a pair of Rancourt’s camp mocs as well as boat shoes and penny loafers. I’m pleased with them all.

  8. I have two pairs of rancourt camp mocs, and two pairs of rancourt boat shoes. All four pairs in an e width. I had to wait about 3 weeks for each pair, but they fit, are made in America by Americans, and are extremely well made shoes. You get what you pay for.

  9. reppupstateny | September 10, 2018 at 7:40 pm |

    after seeing the original post, I went to my local Bean store to check out the “new” Blucher moc, a shoe I basically live in-the sole on the new shoe is just horrible. . .any suggestions on a new manufacturer?

  10. @repupstateny

    Rancourt makes a “ranger moc” . Take a look. It may be just what you want. Rancourt will refurbish and re-sole all their shoes. I believe this makes the shoes cheaper over the long run.

  11. Took delivery of some Bean Signature Camp Mocs today. Must say that I’m very impressed with what I got for 75 bucks shipped. Will see how these hold up, but I see no reason to doubt they’ll go 5 years, in which case they’re a true bargain.

  12. Reppupstateny | September 10, 2018 at 10:28 pm |

    @ Korn, thanks, def look like a possibility
    @ Owen, would try those but I need a wide width

  13. Reppupstateny | September 10, 2018 at 10:35 pm |

    Thoughts on Quoddy products? Worth the price?

  14. For the young among us who may not “get” the title, here’s a link to Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay:
    https://monoskop.org/images/5/59/Sontag_Susan_1964_Notes_on_Camp.pdf

  15. I have worn Sperry Top Siders all my life. What exactly is supposedly wrong with them? I find nothing.

  16. Old School Tie | September 11, 2018 at 6:50 am |

    Still say my GH Bass efforts are phenomenal – however, am about to toad test the OSB version, so we shall see…..

  17. Reppupstateny, Quoddy is worth the extra $. I have 4 pair of Rancourts (2 pinch penny camp sole colab with BB, 1 hard leather sole buckle penny, 1 ranger moc) and 3 pair of Quoddys (blucher and 2 boat shoe). Although not the same type of shoe or last, the Quoddys are superior to my Rancourts by a long shot.

  18. In what objective ways do you consider the Quoddys superior? Truly curious as I’ve never had a chance to handle Quoddys.

  19. Charlottesville | September 11, 2018 at 10:48 am |

    I have a pair of camp mocs from Allen Edmonds that look quite a bit like the ones above, although I think I like the Oak Street version better. I don’t recall where or when mine were made, but the AE version I saw a year or so ago was very different.

    I also have a pair of the LLB “Signature Handsewn Jackman Camp Mocs.” I don’t know where they were manufactured either, but they are extremely comfortable, lined in soft leather and seems well made. Still, I miss the chestnut brown, pebble grain leather and dark brown sole of the classic Bean camp moc. My wife still has a pair, and they look great after probably 20 years or more.

  20. “Vern Trotter | September 11, 2018 at 6:18 am |

    I have worn Sperry Top Siders all my life. What exactly is supposedly wrong with them? I find nothing.”

    I’m with you Vern. I’ve worn Top Siders for 40 years now and don’t see much difference between the current ones made in the DR or China from the ones I had years ago. They wear well, look good, are comfortable for casual wear (they are not walking shoes), and are often on sale.

    While I would love to support these boutiques sellers, I simply am not spending $250 + for their boat shoes or camp mocs.

  21. Yep, a dyed in the wool Sperry fan here too! Though I routinely walk the neighborhood (Illinois, Michigan, Merida, and Berlin) in mine during May-October months. A pair last me about four or five years before they fall apart.

    Best Regards,

  22. I have been wearing a pair of Quoddy´s for the last five years and they look and feel better now than they did when I bought them. The Horween leather alone makes a huge difference. I would be surprised if one could find the same quality and style for less Money.

  23. “Martin | September 11, 2018 at 2:54 pm |
    I have been wearing a pair of Quoddy´s for the last five years and they look and feel better now than they did when I bought them. The Horween leather alone makes a huge difference. I would be surprised if one could find the same quality and style for less Money.”

    I doubt you could but is it worth 2.5 to 3 times the price? Not to me. I get way more than five years out of my Top Siders, partly because I rotate between a few pairs (good to let shoes rest) and partly because I’m not hard on shoes.

    If I could link a photo of my now 10 year Top Siders to show what good condition they’re in, I would.

  24. I was a fan of the Sperry Top-Sider gold cup edition in college, but the generic frat boy (let’s call him “Chad”) who wears it without socks for 4 continuous months has soured their appeal for me.

    That being said there’s a great deal of difference between their Authentic Orginal Model and the Ultra, which is hideous. But I’m not a big fan of the branding on the Authentic Original, either.

    Leather makes a big difference. The chromexcel Rancourts I have fit me like a glove once they broke in.

  25. Sorry, but wearing boat shoes with socks is an unspeakable atrocity.

  26. “Andy Owen | September 11, 2018 at 9:00 pm |
    Sorry, but wearing boat shoes with socks is an unspeakable atrocity.”

    Nonsense. Even Ivy-Style’s favorite ivy leaguer (JFK) wore socks with boat shoes. Back in high school (for me, the mid-60’s), we often wore wool socks with boat shoes (Wigwams, I think). And when we owned a sailboat, in cooler weather, we usually wore the same wool socks on board. Summertime was about the only time I didn’t wear socks with them. This was in SoCal. I don’t know or care what others did. I often wear boat shoes with khakis year round, depending on the weather, and always wear socks with them. Today, however, I was in shorts and wore a pair of Sperry’s with sock liners. What’s an abomination is wearing any shoe without at least sock liners.

  27. We’ll have to leave this filed under “different strokes/folks.” In this sailing capital (Annapolis), only highschoolers wear socks with boat shoes. And I can’t remeber the last time I wore socks with any slip-ons, which I wear at least 1/2 the year. Socks and slip-ons just look affected to me in warm weather.

  28. Chris, I’ve only seen photos of JFK wearing socks with canvas deck shoes (which really can be worn with or without socks) and I have never seen a picture of JFK wearing leather boat shoes. If you can find a picture of him waring leather boat shoes, I’d be very glad to see it! There is this odd pictures, however, of him wearing penny loafers while sailing:

    https://www.mrporter.com/mrporter/content/journal/110912/theReport/mainImage3.jpg

  29. I meant “wearing” and “picture,” the perils of fast typing.

  30. GS, thanks for the link to the JFK picture. Looks like a pair of (well made) Weejuns or Weejunesque shoes. And how about that (presumably) Shetland sweater?

  31. Michael A Saur | September 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm |

    This whole thing is a bit of a straw man, don’t you think? The regular L.L. Bean camp moc has been ugly as sin for years. The better looking (and better made) Signature version is very much still available and costs a mere $99. Picked up a pair in Freeport a couple weeks ago and they’re pretty solid. Got the “saddle” color:

    https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/89261?page=signature-jackman-camp-moc-mens-regular

    I’ve had a pair of Rancourt camp mocs–and admittedly, these don’t quite come up to that standard–but the El-Salvador-made line of Signature footwear is decent, particularly when you take into account the price.

    So, just to get this timeline straight: 1) Bean lets classic product decline over time, 2) Bean releases a better version of that product and kills the old one, 3) Trad-o-sphere goes into convulsions about death of the crappy version while ignoring the continued availability of the better version for $99, and 3) Trad-o-sphere recommends a $300 version as if it’s the only viable substitute for the discontinued $70 version.

  32. Angel M. Ochoa | September 12, 2018 at 12:41 pm |

    @Michael A Saur

    Don’t the Signatures lack any width sizing that the original did? If they can add width to the Signature I’ll be a happy camper, considering I’m a 3E any width past D is a blessing.

  33. Charlottesville | September 12, 2018 at 1:04 pm |

    Michael A Saur – I agree completely that the standard LLB camp moc had deteriorated to the point that it was unwearable, and the newer Signature model is very good. As noted above, I wish that it came in brown pebble grain with a dark sole, but otherwise have no complaint. The Quoddy version looks great, but costs 3 times as much, which I am unwilling to pay.

    Mr. Ochoa – It looks like the Signature mocs only come in a D width. Sorry.

  34. Mr. Sour, I presume to speak to for the Trad-O-Sphere (capitalize our name next time, please)
    when I say that we just want Bean to offer a reasonably priced, simple camp moc like they used to. It doesn’t need to made in Maine it just needs to be made well and look something like the original. The Signature camp moc is nothing like the original, its color is off and the sole still isn’t right so it is not a “better version” of anything. The last iteration of the camp moc was near perfect except for its square shape, poor construction and sole. All Bean needed to do was change the sole back to the original and fix the shape, instead of discounting it in favor of its hipster-influenced cousin. These are our demands.

  35. Charlottesville | September 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm |

    GS, albeit tongue in cheek, has it about right. Almost by definition, traditionalists want things to go back to the way they were (at least some things; not intending to make a political statement here). This is almost a way of life for some of us on this site. I really do wish I could shop from the LL Bean and Brooks Brothers catalogs, circa 1965 or thereabouts, and while I like air conditioning and air travel, I think I could do without most new technology. Spinning LPs to hear music isn’t all that bad, and I don’t really need 300 TV channels. Unfortunately, without a time machine, we are stuck with what we have. I’m reminded of a sign I recently saw on another site:

    What do we want?
    Time Travel!
    When do we want it?
    It’s irrelevant.

  36. Michael A Saur | September 12, 2018 at 6:11 pm |

    GS & Charlottesville:

    I’m not one to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We will (most likely) never get back to the halcyon days of the perfect-yet-cheap L.L. Bean camp moc, but the Signature model is one step forward after multiple steps back, so to speak. It’s a rare step in the right direction. If the recently retired version of the camp moc represented a capital offense against the genre, I’d argue that the Signature version is merely a misdemeanor.

  37. Andy Owen, the stitching of the moccasin toe and the heel construction/stitching on the Quoddy boat and blucher are superior to Rancourt, in my opinion. The Rancourt’s toe stitching on their penny and ranger moc (a bona fide blucher style) is looser with more spacing between mechanically applied stitches. The leads to gaps in the top crease. The shape of the Quoddy moccasin toe box is preferable to the Rancourt’s narrow and long toe, but this is likely subjective to my preference. The Rancourt wrapped heel counter is stiff versus the less structured Quoddy design. The Quoddy camp sole stands up to abrasion better than the Rancourt, in my experience. The two are easily distinguishable in quality and design, but I like, and wear both makes regularly.

  38. Charlottesville | September 13, 2018 at 11:28 am |

    Mr. Saur — I quite agree. Like you, I settled on the Signature mocs from LLB, after sending back a pair of the standard version that had become so debased and is now discontinued. Very comfortable, reasonably priced, and with any luck they will one day be offered in something like the color of leather and sole I remember from 20 years ago. If not, there are more urgent things to worry about, and at least I have something comfortable to wear with khakis and jeans.

  39. Nem – Thanks for the detailed reply. All fair points.

    I agree with many others here that the Signature Camp Moc is a very good (not perfect) product at a very fair price. I’ve worn my new pair for a few days now and can tell that they will become a favorite. My main gripe is with the sole, which could stand to be just a wee bit larger (wider and higher), more cushioned, and grippier. That change alone might make these shoes the ideal budget option.

  40. Michael A Saur | September 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm |

    Charlottesville – I’m going to apply some mink oil later and see if that helps the color. Should add a little depth and make them slightly less orange-y.

  41. Michael A Saur | September 14, 2018 at 5:02 pm |

    Also, should anybody be concerned, I have not aged 10 years overnight–I just finally updated my photo.

  42. Charlottesville | September 16, 2018 at 11:55 am |

    Mr. Saur – Mink oil is a good suggestion. I look forward to hearing about your results.

  43. Regarding the Allen Edmonds camp mocs, I have a pair which I got on clearance for under $80. Very comfortable. My first pair of camp mocs, actually. The dye bleeding onto your feet is part of the charm! (And it’s not that bad, all told.)

  44. Plain Vanilla | September 24, 2018 at 2:19 am |

    Old Trad,
    Thanks for the link to the Sontag essay.

  45. Since the original post I purchased Rancourt’s Shearman Camp Moc (chocolate Bison) and Quoddy’s Canoe Shoe. I normally wear 7.5EEE went with 8EE with the Rancournt, 7.5EE the Quoddy. So I have about a $500 investment in these american made more upscale shoes which the factory will resole and restore… so I’m set for live, and now a month after the latter purchase the $89 LLBeans are back!

  46. I don’t get these (Camp Mocs). I continue to wear Sperry Top-Siders which look less silly to me than the so-called camp moc. Sure, they’re mostly made elsewhere now but I honestly don’t see much, if any of a difference, since I first started wearing them in the early 80’s.

    I actually travel and camp and boat shoes have been a staple for years to wear in camp.

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