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Backpacker Magazine – Editors' Choice Snow Awards

Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: L.L. Bean Ultralite 850 Puffy

The ultimate bang-for-buck ratio jacket.

L.L. Bean Ultralite 850
L.L. Bean Ultralite 850

[new-tech down bargain]
 Who says high-tech always has a high price? This versatile jacket, stuffed with 850-fill DownTek (feathers have been individually coated with a molecular-level polymer to repel moisture), lets you upgrade to cutting edge without taking a financial hit. On the outside it looks like a standard, midweight down layering piece, but after our crew exposed it to some truly nasty weather, the Ultralite proved there’s nothing standard under the hood.

“I wore it shell-less for three straight days in northern Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, with afternoon downpours, evening sleet, and drippy morning fog,” says one tester. “I convinced my partner to wear a standard 800-fill jacket as a control. Within a few hours, his had collapsed to a sodden nylon windbreaker, but my Ultralite stayed fluffy and warm throughout the trip. And it dried fast in my bag each night.” $179; 13 oz. (w’s M); m’s S-XXL, tall M-XXL, w’s XS-XL, petite XS-XL; 


kenny jenkins
Nov 22, 2013

First off the concept of hydrophobic polymer finish down clusters is what we down lovers have been wishing for for decades. I praise LL Bean for getting a product out there.
I have this jacket in Large Tall and these are my opinions. This item is advertised at -25.....not rated but advertised. My experience says no way. First off there is no listing of the down fill amount. I called Bean and their hard-working staff could not tell me how much 850 loft down is in this jacket. This jacket stays flat.....has little loft even after time in a dryer set on AIR. Body and arms are just flat.
My current weather is freezing ice crystals with a 12 knot wind making the temp feel like six degrees. Sitting outside on a stool with my back to the wind after 20 mins i can feel the cold
migrating thru to my body....or my body heat migrating out.
Changing to a Montbell Alpine Light Down with 4 ozs (listed) of 800 loft in a XL (no tall available) and immediately going back outside and sitting as before i can feel the difference within a few the positive.
Granted that with the MB i will have to use a lite weight rain shell to keep the down dry but that was not used in this comparison.
The MB has sewn thru construction with large tubes.....the LLB has sewn thru construction but with the current stylish narrow tubes. Could be the difference is the outer surface material in regards to wind shedding ability or maybe the narrow tubes don't allow the 850 loft (of undetermined amount) to loft to permit the dead air insulation needed to trap body heat.
I predator call for relaxation and to assist ranchers and sitting still for 30 mins to an hour is common and the LL Bean will not work.....just my application.
I will admit that the MB down can settle to the lower regions of the down tubes but the loft of their 800 rated down keeps that issue minor.
I own many many down items.....going back to the original Eddie Bauer line.
In praise of the Bean....having a tall line,THANK YOU. Good pockets....good tall zippered collar.
I do own two older Bean down coats (550 loft?) that i utilize when weight and bulk aren't an issue. If they didn't perform i would have donated them away.
Bean needs to adopt the inside pocket waist tension system......having the cords dangle and flop around outside is a hazard and an irritation.
I doubt i will keep this jacket. The above is just my opinion based upon my use.
And i do purchase LL Bean gear.

Star Star Star Star Star
valerie parker thurman
Jan 04, 2013

my daughter is always cold and this keeps her warm.


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