When old man winter rolls in, keeping my core warm and comfortable becomes my top priority when backpacking. A solid, lightweight mid layer is vital to staying warm. The Hooded Jacket from L.L.Bean provides a good balance of warmth, weight, comfort, and looks.
About the jacket
The Ultralight 850 is a fairly straight forward designed jacket. One main zip, with two zippered hands pockets, a chest pocket and a couple stash pockets inside. The rear of the jacket is slightly elongated, blocking any cool breezes that might try to sneak in while tying your boots. A fluffy collar sits loosely around the neck and provides draft protection.
The jacket is packable, folding into it’s own “Stowaway” pocket. There is also a headphone port for enjoying some music around campus or on the trail.
The jacket comes in various colors and sizes, and retails for $219.
What I liked
Comfort comes first, and this jacket delivers. It’s very light weight, and is barely discernible on your skin while wearing it. The zippered pockets are warm, and really help when the wind is hammering on you. The materials are soft, smooth, and resist clamminess when you start to overheat.
The fit is designed to accommodate a mid layer, which means you’ll be able to fit that 200 weight fleece under this jacket without feeling constricted. The jacket isn’t so loose that it feels baggy without wearing something underneath it.
The high quality 850 down provides insulation that performs well into the teens without a supplemental mid layer. The DownTek water resistant treatment keeps it’s loft after perspiration or light precipitation.
It looks great, with smooth consistent baffling and an assortment of lively colors.
What I didn’t like
It’s advertised at -30 degrees. This jacket alone won’t make that happen. With the proper base and mid layer, and perhaps a shell certainly, but not the jacket alone.
The wrist cuffs are a little on the wide side for my smaller frame.
The L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 down jacket is a solid performer, and one of the warmest jackets I’ve tested all year. It’s lightweight, comfortable build and relatively affordable price bracket makes it hard to ignore. If you’re looking for a comfortable, warm, layer-able insulating layer, you can’t go wrong here.
Thanks to the manufacturer for providing this product. For full disclosure, see our about me page.