Gear Review: Ultralight 850 Down Jacket (L.L.Bean)
Pre-thru-hike gear testing is helping me to decide what’s worth the weight and what needs to be immediately returned or replaced. While I’ve gone through this process with a variety of items, only a few seem worthy of mentioning before they’re put to the ultimate test. The first of these worthy candidates is L.L. Bean’s 850 Ultralight Jacket*.
Several weeks ago, I invested in a beautiful pink-orange down jacket. It is purportedly temperature rated to -25 (with moderate activity) and 25 (with light activity). At $199 retail, the 850 Ultralight from L.L.Bean is a fairly reasonably-priced, wonderfully warm addition to my gear.
As winter in Columbus has been strangely warm, I had to wait several weeks after purchasing my new, shiny toy to take it for a spin and to see how it performed. Now that it is finally cold enough, I have many wonderful things to say about this coat.
- It’s really light. They say this coat weighs less than a pound and this is true. It weighs in on my kitchen scale at about 12 oz.
- It packs into its own pocket. I sleep cold and hike warm. I love that during the day, I can stow this bad boy in an external (zipped) pocket of my bag so it is really easy to retrieve as soon as I hit camp and put on dry clothes. I’m not worried about it getting tangled in other gear, because hey! It’s zipped into it’s own pocket! To date, I’ve only stored it like this in my (day) backpack and my purse, but the future benefits are clear.
- It’s warm! This one comes with a little caveat and the coat’s only downside. By itself, the coat is not a great windblock. However, I find paired with a base layer and/or an external shell (depending on how cold the day truly is), the problem is completely mitigated and the down does a lovely job keeping my core toasty.
- It’s shaped well. Sure, it’s a little vain – but I like that the coat isn’t cut as a rectangle. It has a fitted cut, but it is still roomy enough for me to wear a base layer, shirt, and wool/fleece sweater under comfortably. It also has bungees in the bottom seam. These bungees allow me to tighten up the bottom of the coat so no cold air drafts up against my body. Finally, the sleeves are long enough. I can’t stress how hard it is to find a coat with sleeves long enough to fit my monkey arms. The fact that this one does makes me extraordinarily happy.
- In addition to the observable upsides of the coat, I also know it is filled with Downtek (treated down) that is highly water repellant. No, I’m not going to get my coat wet just to see what it does. However, after having done some research and after having seen the Downtek video, I have high hopes it will continue to perform even after its first thorough soaking. The coat’s exterior is also made of ripstop Pertex, a fabric designed to spread water droplets over a larger surface area (as opposed to letting water soak into the material), resulting in faster evaporation and a more quickly drying coat exterior.
Overall, I am looking forward to wearing this coat all winter and then having it in my pack as I embark on my adventure!
*Please note that I do have a seasonal position with L.L.Bean. However, I am not being paid or renumerated in any way for this or any future reviews about their gear. The photo credit belongs to L.L.Bean.com.
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I’ll second your positive review. I have the men’s from 2 seasons ago and it’s been great. The new version looks even better with the Pertex shell and Downtek upgrades. This is also one of the few technical outdoor jackets that is also available in tall sizes for men.